#1: John Jorgenson at Musical Instrument Museum, January 22
Multi-instrumentalist John Jorgenson’s gypsy jazz guitar might remind you of the great Django Reinhardt, and in fact, he portrayed Reinhardt in the 2004 movie “Head in the Clouds” starring Charlize Theron. He’ll bring his talented quartet to MIM for a pristine-sounding performance of gypsy jazz, with maybe just the slightest touch of bluegrass. $38.50-$45.50. 7 p.m. January 22 at Musical Instrument Museum. mim.org
#1: Dr. Ordovich’s Grand Exhibition at Alwun House, January 14:
Randall De Souza Clarkson is a world-traveling musician and illustrator – and now, he’s “Dr. Ordovich” for his latest multimedia project, a 27-song concept album and book inspired by his journeys through Mexico, the West Indies, Brazil and Ireland. This exhibition includes live performances augmented by circus-style sideshow acts. $9 in advance, $14 at the door. 7 p.m. January 14 at Alwun House. alwunhouse.org
#1: Jerusafunk at Valley Bar, January 8
In this show dubbed “East Meets West,” Phoenix’s own “klezmer gypsy jazz” band, Jerusafunk, performs their unique brand of boogie on a bill that also includes local rabab prodigy Qais Essar and his new backing band, The Qosmonauts, and L.A.-based Jewish cultural revival band Mostly Kosher. $5. 8 p.m. January 8 at Valley Bar. www.facebook.com/events/1607808399527245/
What better way to spend this twilight zone week between Christmas and the start of 2017 than by planning the perfect New Year’s Eve celebration? Because we all know New Year’s celebrations always live up to your every expectation… cough…
Even if you’re not delusional and are remaining realistic about how off the chain any given Sunday can be, get a leg up on your potential for fun-having by dropping by one of the many soirees being thrown across the Valley. We’ve got your run-down of NYE parities, whether you’re looking for a family friendly fiesta or an adults-only shindig to let loose in your sparkly finest.
#1: The Music of David Bowie at Symphony Hall, December 30
Backed by a full rock band and the Phoenix Symphony under the direction of conductor Martin Herman, vocalist Tony Vincent pays tribute to the late David Bowie, singing tunes from the flamboyant star’s vast hit list. Audiences can expect to hear renditions of “Rebel Rebel,” “Space Oddity,” “Fame,” “China Girl,” and “Changes,” among others. $59-$119. 7:30 p.m. December 30 at Symphony Hall. phoenixsymphony.org
#1: Blind Boys of Alabama at Musical Instrument Museum, December 23-24
Formed in the late 1930s at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind, Blind Boys of Alabama continue to tour and perform their spirited gospel songs. Tunes from their latest album, “Talkin’ Christmas,” will also be on tap this tour. $48.50-$63.50. 7:30 p.m. December 23 and 2 p.m. December 24 at Musical Instrument Museum. mim.org
#1: Cirque de la Symphonie at Orpheum Theatre, December 16-18
Aerialists twirl on festive red curtains high above the Phoenix Symphony in this spectacular collaboration with the Cirque troupe. The special holiday production also features seasonal music such as “Deck the Halls,” “White Christmas,” and movements from “Swan Lake” and “The Nutcracker,” performed by the symphony while painted strongmen, hula hoop artists and jugglers dazzle the audience. $30-$109. Call for show times. December 16-18 at Orpheum Theatre. phoenixsymphony.org
#1: “Mamma Mia!” at ASU Gammage, December 6-11
Experience all the audio magic of ABBA -- from “Dancing Queen” to “Super Trouper” -- interwoven into a humorous and heartwarming story of friendship when this Broadway hit’s “farewell tour” takes a final run in Tempe. $15-$225. Visit website for show times. December 6-11 at ASU Gammage. asugammage.com/shows/2016-17-special-engagements/mamma-mia
#1: Marilyn Szabo’s “Life & Death: Portraits” exhibition at monOrchid, December 2
For more than 25 years, Marilyn Szabo captured with her camera portraits of luminaries like Allen Ginsberg, Mohammad Ali, and Ray Manzarek, along with photographing people in her artistic and familial life, including sculptor Klaus Ihlenfeld and her mother and friends. Several of Szabo’s most striking and revealing images are featured in the exhibition “Life & Death: Portraits.” Free. Opening reception at 6 p.m., December 2 at monOrchid. The exhibition runs through December 26. monorchid.com
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There are few things I enjoy more in this world than copious amounts of comfort food and day drinking. And (I feel you reading this, Mom) quality family time, of course.
I like that it's the only holiday I can recall that feels distinctly American. Tangent: 10 years ago, I was studying abroad in England over the holiday and my host university attempted to cook us homesick Americans Thanksgiving dinner. It was a lovely gesture but no amount of dried out turkey breast and typically British, flavorless sweet potato pie could replace the epic meals we'd grown up with.
I suppose part of that is because Thanksgiving often falls close after Election Day, forcing far flung relatives of differing political persuasions into perilously cramped kitchens, paving the way for an innocent gravy burning to morph into a familial battle royale over who voted for who. Ahhh, the sweet smell of Democracy.
But most of all, I love that it's the everyman's holiday – about nothing more than friends and family coming together and sharing a really good meal. No required gift giving, no obnoxious music and nary a jingle bell in sight.
The PHOENIX Magazine offices are closed Thursday and Friday so we can recover from that third helping of pumpkin pie. In lieu of regularly scheduled blogs, we're instead giving you this round-up of Thanksgiving odds and ends from around the Valley.
From all of us here at PHOENIX, happy Thanksgiving!
#1: John Cleese & Eric Idle at Mesa Arts Center, November 21
The “Monty Python” icons will mix scripted scenes and improv with musical numbers, storytelling and “aquatic juggling” for a night of hilarious and brilliant British comedy. $63.50-$103.50. 7:30 p.m. November 21 at Mesa Arts Center. mesaartscenter.com
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