Remember when late-night TV legend Johnny Carson took extended breaks from The Tonight Show, leaving a revolving cast of guest-hosts (Bob Newhart, David Letterman, Joan Rivers) to crack jokes in his stead? The 2012-2013 season at the Phoenix Symphony will be kind of like that. Officially, outgoing music director Michael Christie is still in charge, but the 38-year-old maestro will be frequently MIA this year as he gets new tuxedo tails measured at the Minnesota Opera.
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Last March, Fred Tieken unveiled his wily vision of the First Friday art walk scene with “Buzzz,” a 126-foot-long mural at 124 W. McDowell Road. The creation features more than 50 characters, including the usual First Friday suspects – cops, a fire-breather, mohawked teens, and an assortment of art-scene regulars. “It’s a cross-section of a certain lifestyle that most people in Arizona don’t know exists,” Tieken says.
Former Scottsdale City Councilwoman Betty Drake has swapped politics for paintbrushes, though she hasn’t strayed far from the governmental sphere. She recently completed a commission for another well-known Scottsdale resident: a portrait of Jamie Drinkwater, daughter of the late Mayor Herb Drinkwater. “When I was heavily into the council, I didn’t have time to do any art,” says Drake, 67, a councilwoman from 2004 to 2009. “I am really enjoying getting back into the creative flow, post-politics.”
SMoCA Lounge coordinator Tania Katan calls the venue’s monthly fourth Friday event “a little bit This American Life and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.” We call it a counterculture Hee Haw. Done in wall-to-wall red with wood-pallet benches and limpid lighting effects, the Lounge has been the wild stepchild of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art since its debut last fall. On fourth Fridays, it also serves as ground zero for the Valley’s coolest variety show. The August bill of fare includes Comedy Central writer/performer Shaz Bennett, Scout Durwood from The Howard Stern Show, KJZZ commentator Robrt Pela and local musical guest The Pübes. See? Just like Hee Haw. Except with avant garde punk bands and a cash bar. August 24. Tickets cost $10. For more information, visit smocalounge.com.
Fans of Hot Tuna may wrangle grandchildren and hit the driving range in the here-and-now, but in the 1960s, it was all about hippies and free love, baby. Times have changed for Hot Tuna, too, but not their passion for guitar-based folkery. As members of Jefferson Airplane in the ’60s, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady sandwiched Hot Tuna performances between Airplane gigs and spun-off on their own in the ’70s. Over the years, the duo tweaked their sound to include blues, bluegrass and spacey folk jams, but lost none of their brio.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH
Glendale artist David Zadroga really puts some punch into his performance art. His latest interactive technique involves wrapping canvases around giant punching bags – a notion that came to life while “processing” a problem with his sister, who happens to be a psychologist. Later, during a workout with a punching bag at the gym, the idea hit him full force.