Folsky rhythms poured from the doors of the Crescent Ballroom lounge last night as The Sugar Thieves took the stage. It started with some simple strums of the guitar and plucking of the upright bass, then Meridith Moore's voice swooped in and quickly filled the room. Before playing for an admirable two hours – Moore is pregnant, after all! – I spoke with her about the band, Americana music and what the future holds for Tempe's own blues band.
“Dieciséis de Septiembre” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “Cinco de Mayo,” but when you’ve been oppressed by the Spanish for a century too long, potential holiday names for the future are not the biggest priority.
Some gringos may think Cinco de Mayo is synonymous with Mexican Independence Day, but in reality the two are separate occasions. In fact, the latter is not nearly as festive or margarita-filled in the United States, even though it’s a much bigger deal for our neighbors to the south.
Cinco de Mayo, actually a minor holiday in Mexico, celebrates the unlikely Mexican victory over French forces in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.
Mexican Independence Day, on the other hand, commemorates the day a Catholic priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla called on his people to free themselves from Spanish rule in 1810. This day marked the start of a revolt that would trigger the Mexican War of Independence. It’s a huge event – there are parades, festivals and el grito (the cry) for independence in town squares across the country. In the United States and here in Phoenix, where at least 28 percent of our population is of Mexican descent? Not so much.
Feel free to mark the occasion with guacamole, though—there’s nothing wrong with celebrating some centuries-old victoria mexicana with some good food. Or go the extra mile at these events around the Valley celebrating this Saturday, September 16:
Mamma Mia! – September 12–October 15
A mother, a daughter, three possible dads, and a trip down the aisle you'll never forget. Cleverly told through the songs of ABBA, Mamma Mia! follows Sophie and her journey to find her father, while her mother comes face to face with three men from her romantic past. 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. $35.00–$85.00. Phoenix Theatre, 100 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix, tickets.phoenixtheatre.com, 602-254-215.
In April of this year, a gaggle of talented musicians gathered in Boston’s intimate Red Room at Cafe 939. Berklee College of Music had invited renowned guitarist Kaki King to record a live album with the Porta Girevole Chamber Orchestra, made up of 12 Berklee students and faculty. The resulting live album, “Kaki King Live at Berklee,” will be released September 22.
When you think of King, you might think of versatile guitar chords and acoustic instrumental ballads. She was the youngest person (and the only woman) named to Rolling Stone's "New Guitar Gods" list in 2006. Since then she's enjoyed some pretty heady collaborations, including with Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Timbaland.
“Kaki King Live at Berklee,” King’s first album in two years, introduces many of her older songs re-envisioned, or rather, re-energized with an orchestra. It’s not only an album that is the first of its kind for King, but was a unique experience for the students. BirnCORE, Berklee’s own record label, gave students the chance to experience the ins and outs of recording and producing under an independent record label.
"Magazine" is the only single released prior to the album dropping.
Ahead of her performance in Phoenix this week, PHOENIX checked in with King to chat about her new album, the challenges of recording live and her thoughts on being a woman (and mom) in the music world.*
Check out King, along with guitarist Derek Gripper, at the Musical Instrument Museum this Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
After Labor Day it’s official: Summer 2017 is over. As Game of Thrones fans would say, winter is coming. (Also in Phoenix, just as in GOT, winter may be coming but it will feel like summer continues to last for approximately six years.)
But before you break out the pumpkin spice, check out these events and discounts happening over Labor Day weekend while Phoenix continues broiling in 105+ degree heat:
1. Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo + Toto at Comerica Theatre – August 29
Love is a battlefield as ‘80s rocker Pat Benatar and husband Neil Giraldo bring their “We Live for Love Tour” to the Valley. They share the stage with Toto, of “Africa” and “Rosanna” fame. $191 - $392. 7:30 PM. 400 W. Washington St. Phoenix, 602-379-2800, concerts1.livenation.com
The next offering from Phoenix’s No Festival Required film series isn’t one movie, it’s nine little movies. “The Rural Route Film Festival Touring Program: Short Films and Animations” is a compilation of the best shorts from the New York-based fest, which features non-urban subjects from around the world, often focusing on environmental issues.
If this sounds like a depressing or guilt-inducing prospect, don’t despair. It’s a surprisingly lively, engaging collection, often distressing but non-didactic and free of scolding (e.g. it’s your fault we’re watching sad polar bears floating away on melting ice). The selections are highly diverse in style and tone, and yet there’s a recurrence of themes and images between them that gives the show unity. Two of the shorts, for instance, involve the mining industry’s use of ill-fated canaries, Jesse Kreitzer’s Iowa-filmed early-20th century period mining drama Black Canaries and Marie Schlingmann’s disturbing, ambiguous thriller Canary.
On Monday, August 21, North America will see its first total solar eclipse in 38 years. The moon will come between the Earth and the sun, blocking the big fiery star from view (although protective eyewear is still required for safe viewing). The path of the eclipse will slope diagonally downward across 14 U.S. states, beginning at Lincoln Beach, Oregon and ending near Charleston, South Carolina.
Arizona isn’t on the total eclipse curve, unfortunately, but we can still expect some partial eclipse action. Meteorologists say peak viewing time is at 10:33 a.m. Let’s celebrate, (natural) black out style.
Party Planetarium Style
Tempe, Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff
Several locations throughout the state will be hosting viewing-parties for the big event. In Tempe, Arizona State University will host events from 9 a.m. to noon at the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4 and on Hayden Lawn. Experts will be available, telescopes will be set up and protective glasses will be provided to the first 2,000 attendees. For more info, visit asuevents.asu.edu.
In Phoenix, the Arizona Science Center’s viewing-party will kick off at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at noon. Protective glasses will be provided for the first 500 guests, and there will be rocket launches, eclipse-related crafts, food, planetarium shows and more. For ticket information, visit azscience.org.
In Tucson, University of Arizona will have a three-day celebration from August 18-21. The festivities will include "Create Your Own Pinhole Viewer" stations and showings of Tucson Sky and Beyond: Eclipse Edition. Protective glasses will be available for purchase. For more information, visit flandrau.org.
In Flagstaff, Lowell Observatory will open early at 8 a.m. and have a livestream from their experts in Madras, Oregon, the optimal location for viewing the eclipse. Telescopes will be set up for viewing in Flagstaff as well. For more information, visit lowellsolareclipse.com.
Grab Your Glasses
Libraries throughout the U.S. have received protective solar glasses from STAR_Net to help the community view the eclipse safely. Glasses-carrying libraries throughout the state include North Valley Regional Library, Northwest Regional Library, El Mirage Library, White Tank Library. Buckeye, Public Library – Coyote Branch, Goodyear Library, Salt River Tribal Library, Apache Junction Public Library, Pinal County Library District- Coolidge Public Library, Maricopa Public Library and Ak-Chin Indian Community Library.
For a “cooler” eclipse look, all Warby Parker locations are providing free solar viewing glasses, now until August 21. For more information, visit warbyparker.com.
Black Out, Snack Out
From August 19-21, Sprinkles cupcakes on Scottsdale and Camelback roads will have an ode to the eclipse with its “black out” dark chocolate cupcake, not that we’ve ever needed a meteorological wonder to convince us it’s time for cake.
As editors of a city lifestyle magazine with a travel section that covers locales far beyond our beloved Phoenix Valley, you can imagine that we get pitched A TON about new and exciting travel offers around the country. Of course, we can't fit everything into a 200 page monthly magazine that only allots five of those pages to regional travel. Sigh... 'tis the nature of publishing.
But it pains us too much to kill all of our darlings. So each month, we scrape a few travel tidbits off the cutting room floor and bring you Travel Bag Bites – bite-sized travel-related goodies (special offers, activities and deals) to snack on while planning your next great escape.
Get your daily dose of culture with our curated picks of the best events and experiences in the Valley, from art and music to sports and the outdoors. Culture vultures can sign up for our Things to Do and VIP List newsletters for even more hip happenings.