We don't think of Johnny Cash as an elder statesman of country music: He's more a timeless, all-American classic. Of late, Cash has been wowing both longtime country and western fans and people from the rock end of things. His powerful, raw 1994 album, "American Recordings," is a simple and gutsy statement from a man, his guitar and his denim-textured voice.

Cash and company will stop in at the Civic Arts Plaza Auditorium, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, for an 8 p.m. concert. Tickets: $25-$45. Information: 449-ARTS. Tickets are also available at Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling, 583-8700.


Cal Lutheran University will hold its annual Kwanzaa festival, an African American holiday that honors family, community and culture, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Preus-Brandt Forum on campus. Traditionally observed from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, Kwanzaa is based on seven fundamental principles: unity, self-determination, responsibility, purpose, creativity, cooperative economics and faith.

CLU's festival, sponsored in part by the NAACP Saturday School, will include cultural expressions through songs, music, dancing and poetry performances. A Karamu feast will feature traditional African foods and ceremonies honoring ancestors. Admission is free. The campus is at 60 W. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks. Information: 493-3151.


The slow-moving, glowing boat extravaganza that is the Parade of Lights will return to the Channel Islands Harbor for its 30th annual offering. Once again, throngs are expected to line the harbor's walkways and business fronts for the two-hour holiday spectacle, which will commence at 7 p.m. About 40 vessels will be dressed in colorful lights, keeping to the theme "Victorian Holidays." An awards ceremony will begin about 9:30 p.m.

Daytime events will include the Anacapa Yacht Club's "Toys for Tots Dinghy Race," in which blind-folded boaters row (9 a.m.) toward the finish by following the directions of a seeing shipmate; children can play in real snow near the Whale's Tail Restaurant (10 a.m.). Information: 650-6611.

UP THE COAST * Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara will present a double bill of Truman Capote short stories, collectively titled "Holiday Memories," at the Alhecama Theatre, 914 State St. The two plays--"The Thanksgiving Visitor" and "A Christmas Memory"--will open Friday and continue through Dec. 31. Show times: 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $18-$23. Information: 962-8606.

* Undersea explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau will join a panel in presenting a special benefit multimedia show at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Hosted by the Marine Mammal Center of Santa Barbara, the show will include presentations by renowned whale photographer Bob Talbot and Santa Barbara photographers Tom Campbell, Earl Richmond and Peter Howorth. Cousteau will present a look at a number of his latest adventures. Proceeds will benefit the center. Tickets: $12. Information: 682-4711.

* Blue Dalmatian Productions will stage the premiere of Francine Greschler Feldmann's musical fantasy "The Secret of the Webbing Purple" at The Center Stage Theater (Paseo Nuevo Mall, Santa Barbara). Show times: 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Information: 963-0408.

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