RUSTY PARTS. Despite their name, the Rusty Boys have a well-oiled knack for blending traditional Chicago blues with down-home originals, in addition to the band's original interpretations of '60s and '70s rock.
Or at least they did have, back when the hometown rockers were regulars on the Tucson nightclub scene, with a play-list ranging from funky blues and straight rock to swing. They took their name from the Old Rusty Lantern, a one-time Fourth Avenue haunt of mythic proportions, where they met many years ago and played infamous open mic gigs.
Alas, time passes and boys move on. That's just what happened with the Rusties, when vocalist and founder Paul Gallant packed up and headed for the East Coast. Lucky for us, a hometown visit is a perfect excuse for a reunion of the boys, and back also are their time-honored interpretations of everything from Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth," and the Beatles' "Dear Prudence," to Jimi Hendrix's "Crosstown Traffic."
They'll tear up the Boondocks Lounge tonight, along with special guests Chad Stone -- another Rusty alum -- and Evan Dain. The Way Back Machine, a side project featuring percussionist Jim Lipson and guitarist Bruce Blackstone, rounds out the bill. Show time is 8 p.m. at the Boondocks, 3306 N. First Ave. Cover is $3 at the door. For details, call 690-0991.
LATIN BLAST. Dust off the ol' sombrero and head to South Tucson for the Norteño Music Festival.
The sprawling, annual family-fest is a real kick in the chimichanga, with dozens of food booths serving up great spicy grub, and an ongoing pageant of top Latin groups. This year also marks the return of the salsa competition, wherein capsicum alchemists battle for bragging rights to the best sauce.
The musical lineup includes Los Angeles del Norte, Peligro, and the always great Joaquin Brothers. Proceeds benefit the Pio Decimo Center, a non-profit agency serving needy families in these parts since 1946.
The festival runs from 4 to 11 p.m. through Sunday, August 29, at South Fourth Avenue and 36th Street. Admission is free. For details, call 622-2801.
PROGRESSIVE PEDALING. Peddle into a cleaner future with the Community Bike Ride.
Held on the last Friday of each month, these casual, fun forays remind us that there are alternatives to knocking bumpers and funding overpriced overpasses. It's a good way to make friends, make a point, and get a little exercise at the same time.
Join the two-wheeled community ranks at 4:30 p.m. from the Time Market parking lot, 444 E. University Blvd. Call 792-1334 for details.
FLY AWAY. You've seen them flitting about, their flashy colors catching the corner of your eye -- the stunning butterflies that call southern Arizona home.
Now the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum offers a delightful glimpse of these lovely, lilting creatures with Butterfly Watch in Southeastern Arizona, a family safari. This region is known for its butterfly diversity, with more than 100 species sighted in a single canyon. Join the museum's learned guides for a journey to a mountain canyon to witness this unique ecological display for yourself.
Today's outing is from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost is $40, $36 for museum members. For registration and other information, call 883-3025.
MELODIC BREEZES. Lázlo Veres and the Arizona Symphonic Winds blow into September with another heavenly series of free concerts under the stars.
This week's performance will feature clarinetist Elana Weber, and the ensemble's time-honored traditional marches, overtures and Broadway show tunes.
Show time is 7 p.m. at the Udall Park Amphitheater, 7200 E. Tanque Verde Road. For information, call 531-9836.
DO THE RIGHT THING. The Tucson YWCA helps shed light on an intractable problem with Unlearning Racism: The Color of Fear.
The workshop is designed as a forum for participants to "discover conscious and unconscious ways that racism has affected their lives." Participants will explore personal perceptions and issues surrounding race, conflict, and internalized racism. There will also be a screening of the film The Color of Fear.
The workshop runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the PCC Conference Center, 401 N. Bonita Ave. Cost is $15. For information, call 884-7810.
OLD PUEBLO PARTY. It already has a splashy new paint job, and now downtown's La Placita Village gets even livelier with the 1999 Fiesta de San Agustín.
The fiesta's roots date back to 1775 -- the year that the Tucson Presidio was established. Early organizers used it to mark the patron saint's death in 430 A.D., and the annual party continued until the turn of this century, when poor attendance marked its demise.
The fiesta was gone, but not forgotten. Fortunately, the Arizona Historical Society revived the cultural event in 1983, and it has roared on ever since.
Today, the all-day blast will provide a peppery spread of Sonoran entertainment, including plenty of live music, all geared towards reflecting Tucson's diversity. The festivities culminate with a street dance at 7 p.m.
The musical offerings range from mariachi and African-American drummers to Western singers, with a string of food booths selling traditional and Southwestern Mexican foods.
La Fiesta de San Agustín runs from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. in La Placita Village, at Broadway and Church Avenue. Admission is free. For information, call 628-5774.
POPS IN THE PARK. The Tucson Pops Orchestra celebrates the waning days of summer with some orchestral maneuvering in Reid Park.
These shows are the essence of our city's outdoor culture, and tonight's performance keeps up the tradition in fine style. The concert will feature nationally acclaimed pianist David Syme, who will perform Chopin's Andante Spianato Grande Polonaise Brillante, Opus 22, and Hungarian Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra, by Lizst.
The Pops performance is free, and begins at 7 p.m. in the Reid Park Demeester Outdoor Performance Center, Country Club Road entrance between Broadway and 22nd Street. For details, call 722-5853.
FIESTA DE FELINE. The Hermitage No-Kill Cat Center gets down and dirty, in a manner of speaking, with its second annual Litter Box Blues fundraiser.
For its part, the Hermitage takes on the humble task of sparing countless felines from the big yonder. Space permitting, new arrivals are accommodated at the shelter, with all the luxury that a limited budget allows.
That's where the rest of us come in: tonight's fundraiser will help the shelter garner much-needed cash, and will enlist a bevy of local celebs to help achieve that goal. KRQ's Betsy Bruce and Dave "Fitz" Fitzsimmons of The Arizona Daily Star emcee the event, with cat-wrenching blues by Tony and the Torpedoes.
Join in the caterwaul at 7:30 p.m. in St. Philip's Plaza, at the northeast corner of Campbell Avenue and River Road. Tickets are $20 for the music only; or $50 for the entertainment, a cocktail and dinner buffet (startiny at 5:30 p.m.) and one raffle entry for a vacation in Mexico. For reservations and information, call The Hermitage at 670-1481.
HEART OF SOL. Artist Michael Cajero's life-sized papier-mâché figures and masks represent the impermanence and vulnerability of existence -- but above all, they pay homage to the fun or "fiesta" in life.
He achieves this spiritual zest using everything from masking tape and gift wrap to raffia and foil. Those humble materials are bent, twisted and stretched over welded metal and aluminum wire frames.
Cajero's art turned towards the Southwest in 1976, when the artist felt the tug of the region's Hispanic heritage and powerful landscape. His latest works carry on this theme, with figures of Flamenco dancers, guitarists and the "Death Cart," all centerpieces in Fiesta, his new exhibit in the gallery at the Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort.
Cajero is an adjunct faculty member at the UA and PCC, and an art instructor at the Tucson Museum of Art School. His work has been noted in Who's Who in American Art, and is also displayed in the Phoenix Museum of Art.
Fiesta continues through September 28, with an opening reception from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, September 5, in the Hacienda del Sol Gallery, 5601 N. Hacienda del Sol Road. For information, call 299-1501.
PARK IT. Feeling a bit closed in by urbanity? Need a break from the gridlock of daily existence? Find a bit of freedom at the city's newest neighborhood park, in the Rolling Hills Neighborhood.
Created with a $200,000 grant from the Arizona Heritage Fund, with a matching contribution from the Tucson Parks Foundation, this little gem even has the politicos waxing proudly. City Councilwoman Shirley Scott calls it a major redevelopment project and a great success, "something the neighborhood can enjoy with pride."
The 4.5-acre park includes a playground for the kids, a picnic area, walking and running paths, and ballfields galore. There's even a tennis court for those Monica Seles wannabes.
The park is at 8900 E. 29th St., in the Rolling Hills Neighborhood. Call 791-4873 for details.
FRONTIER THREADS. Described as a "joyous and moving demonstration of American Womanhood," Quilters pays eloquent tribute to gutsy pioneer gals in a production by the UA Arizona Repertory Theatre.
This story of one woman and her six daughters blends a series of interrelated scenes, dance and music into a rich mosaic the New York Post calls "a show pieced together with love and stitched with pride...a thing of beauty, comfort and joy."
Show time is 7:30 p.m. in the UA Marroney Theatre, at the southeast corner of Speedway and Park Avenue. Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. through Saturday, September 18, with 1:30 p.m. Sunday matinees through September 19. Tickets range from $10 to $19, with discounts for seniors, students and UA employees. Call or stop by the UA Fine Arts box office (621-1162) for tickets and information.
WELL SUNG. Okay, maybe you don't sing in the shower, warble to your kids, or even pipe up for the Sunday hymns. But that doesn't mean there isn't raw talent lurking in your chords -- perhaps even a vocal majesty to rival Tony Bennett, Barbara Striesand, or at least Weird Al.
Then again, maybe not.
But what the heck -- down at Mutt's on Fourth Avenue, talent doesn't really count for diddly after you've downed a few suds and the karaoke machine roars into gear. You have permission to act like a bargain-basement idiot with special prices on beer every Wednesday (including $2.50 domestic pitchers, and $1.50 bottles of Ice House and Red Dog).
That means your inane indulgences -- including gushing renditions of Paul Anka's greatest hits -- won't matter until morning. So drink up, and cozy up to the mic. And remember -- it's only rock 'n' roll.
Karaoke happens every Wednesday night at Mutt's, 424 N. Fourth Ave. Call 628-8664 for information.