LATIN LIBERATION. El Parador Restaurant marks Mexican Independence Day with a big international blast.
Viva La Independencia, Viva Mexico will feature performances by local mariachi groups; a group salsa dance taught by National Dance Champion Jeannie Tucker; "Tucson's Hottest Salsa Orquesta," Raphael Moreno and Descarga; and exhibits by local Hispanic artists.
Your taste buds will also be liberated by plenty of great chow, along with beer and margarita specials. The celebration runs from 4:30 to 10 p.m. at El Parador Restaurant and Cantina, 2744 E. Broadway Blvd. For information, call 881-2808.
SKY HIGH. Getting out in the fresh air today will not only lift your spirits, it'll raise awareness for wilderness preservation. Join the Sky Island Alliance for another outback mapping party to inventory a potential wilderness area in the Peloncillo Mountains on the Arizona-New Mexico border. Volunteers are needed tomorrow through Sunday, and you can help for one or all days. An introductory training session meets at 7:30 tonight in the UA Water Resources Research Center, 350 N. Campbell Ave. Call 327-1129 for information.
SATANIC SCRIBE. Two-time Pushcart prize winner and Tucson Weekly contributor Stacey Richter reads tonight from her hot new book, My Date With Satan, at Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave.
If you've been hiding in a storm bunker the last few months, maybe you haven't heard about Richter's stunning recent successes, with her work excerpted in everything from GQ and Granta to Seventeen magazines, not to mention favorable reviews in the New York Times Book Review and Time.
The reading is free, and begins at 7 p.m. For details, call 792-3715.
ALICE'S RESTITUTION. Tiny Alice ranks among Edward Albee's most powerful works. Now the shocking drama gets a thorough dusting by Tucson's own City Players.
Starring Arizona transplant Angela Bowie (yep, that Angela Bowie), the play unfolds with temptation when a lawyer offers the Catholic Church -- via his childhood friend, now a cardinal -- an enormous gift from Miss Alice, the world's richest woman. Julian is the cardinal's secretary, and he journeys to the castle of Miss Alice to complete the transaction. But he soon falls prey to the sensual entreaties of this all-powerful woman, who tries to make him her lover.
Only then are the secretary's true fears and feelings revealed, in a dark juggernaut of religious ecstasy and physical pleasure.
Show time is 8 p.m. in the City Players Theatre, 37 W. 33rd St. Performances continue at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, through October 11. Tickets are $10, available by calling 620-6099.
FOLK FAVE. Erica Wheeler holds a prime spot among New England's folk music resurgence, and constant touring has stretched her fan base from coast to coast. Tonight she displays her personal, pivotal talent in a return Tucson performance.
Wheeler arrives on the heels of her latest recording, The Harvest, and a roster of opening gigs for the Indigo Girls, Shawn Colvin, Greg Brown and Iris DeMent. Her rise has hardly gone unnoticed: The Washington Post describes her songs as "insightful" and "imaginative," saying her "imagery can nail down relationships in a single verse."
Wheeler performs at 8 p.m. in The Unitarian Universalist Church, 4831 E. 22nd St. Advance tickets are $10, available at Antigone Books. Tickets are $12 at the door. Call 795-4135 for details.
HUMANE PAGES. You can help needy fellow creatures and land a good read at the third annual Book Sale for the Animals, hosted by Bookman's Used Books and the Foothills Mall.
Proceeds help the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, along with countless dogs, cats, hamsters, ferrets and the occasional potbellied pig. And shoppers will be treated to a panoply of bargain-priced books, videotapes, audio cassettes, compact discs, software and audio books.
The sale runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow in the Foothills Mall. For information, call 321-3704.
SINGING PRAISES. Get a rafter-shakin' lift at the fourth annual Gospel Music Concert, hosted by the Arizona Kidney Foundation.
This year's bevy of Bible belters will include KXCI's Dorothy Reid and Sister Shirley Moore; the Davis Monthan Inspirational Gospel Service Choir; the Gospel Music Workshop of America; and choirs from the Friendship Missionary Baptist and Southside Presbyterian churches. The concert is dedicated to some 64,000 folks awaiting kidney transplants across the country.
Show time is 7 p.m. in the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Tickets are $5, $2 for children ages 12 and under, available at the door or by calling 882-7604.
WALK ON BY. Pump up that ol' ticker at the Sabino Springs El Tour. This cardiovascular outing includes 10- and 5-kilometer runs, and a 5k walk, giving athletes of all levels a chance to trot through beautiful Sabino Springs. It's also part of the opening festivities for El Tour de Tucson season. There will be awards galore, and proceeds benefit Tu Nidito Children's Hospice.
Races start at 7 a.m. at Sabino Springs, off Snyder Road between Harrison and Houghton roads. Entry fee is $15. For registration and other information, call 745-2033.
CUBAN KEYS. Jazziz Magazine calls Chucho Valdés "the most complete pianist in the world."
As the decades-long freeze between Cuba and the United States begins to thaw, American audiences finally have the chance to hear this fine Cuban talent for themselves. And Tucsonans can witness his steamy sound up-close and personal at tonight's performance, hosted by the Tucson Jazz Society.
Valdés began playing piano at age 3 under the tutelage of his father, a well-known band leader, composer and pianist. By the time he was 16, Chucho had organized his first jazz trio; by age 18 he'd recorded two 45s for RCA Victor.
He went on to co-found the famed Orquesta de Musica Moderna, and later, the highly influential ensemble Irakere (which also featured seminal saxophonist Paquito D' Rivera).
Valdéz performs from 6 to 9 p.m. in the courtyard of St. Philip's Plaza, at River Road and Campbell Avenue. Tickets are $15, $8 for TJS members, and are available at the door. Call 743-3399 for information.
CULTURAL FOOTNOTE. In their heyday, the Casas Grandes people were major players in what now comprises the Mexican state of Chihuahua. You can catch a brief glimpse into their fascinating, ancient culture with a lecture hosted by the Arizona Archaeological Society.
Curt Schaafsma, curator of anthropology at the Museum of New Mexico, will discuss a new collection of articles about the large ruin of Casas Grandes, or Paquime. He'll also explore relationships between the Casas Grandes and Pueblo cultures of North and Mesoamerica, and evolving scholarly views of the time period.
The free lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in the UMC Duval Auditorium, 1501 N. Campbell Ave. Call 298-5167 for details.
BAD CATS. Johnny and The Blades call themselves the "hardest rockin' cats in the land." The San Francisco Weekly describes the New Mexico bunch as being "like a tumbleweed rolling down a dusty highway...this Taos rockabilly outfit feels like a band that has somewhere to go but is in no hurry to get there. The Blades take their time, seducing the crowd back into a simple era when men sung about their cars, their girls, and their hair with equal ardor."
What can we add to that? Tonight, Johnny and The Blades roll into the Old Pueblo for a nocturne of cactus-shakin' desert rock starting at 10 p.m. in 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St. Admission is $3. Call 670-9202 for information.
FACULTY EN FORCE. Staff talent gets a thorough airing with Faculty Highlights, now on display in the PCC Art Gallery.
Jewelry maker Kristin Beeler chronicles the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary times through a constellation of brooches. Suspended in mid-air, her pieces refer to compelling sheaf letters written just before the United States entered WWII.
Simple, everyday objects draw the attention of Christine Bricely. She takes such mundane notions as buttons or combs, churns them through the words of a song or a poem, and what emerges is "a new thing with a new criteria of meaning and understanding." Thus transformed, these otherwise mundane objects make their way into 20 small intaglio prints.
Common objects are also used by Susan Krause to reveal how we're oriented to manipulation as a form of communication. Her work deals with the human condition, relationships and insecurities.
Tina McNearney's work is based on images created by men of centuries past. She's most interested in "the male gaze" and how it engages us today. McNearney then recreates and places the context of these images into multiple metaphors of the "fruit of knowledge."
Faculty Highlights runs through October 5 in the PCC Art Gallery, 2202 W. Anklam Road. Visiting hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. For information, call 206-6942.
GO PHISH. Tucson gets a taste of the Grateful Dead reborn -- with an updated flair -- when Phish arrive in town.
Since their inception in the early '80s, Phish has become known for their improvisational, free-form performance style. Musically, they lean towards eclectic rock and roll spiced by jazz, pop, country and bluegrass.
Tonight's show kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Pima County Fairgrounds, 11300 S. Houghton Road. Tickets are $25, available at Dillard's or by calling (800) 638-4253.
MALE BONDING. Six acclaimed artists do their gender proud in Bonded By Glass: Men at Work, now on display at the Philabaum Contemporary Art Glass Gallery.
The artists -- Stu Braunstein, Barry Entner, David Garcia, Wes Hunting, David Lewin and Douglas H. Ohm -- are all leaders in the genre of transforming industrial glass into art. Officially called the Studio Glass Movement in America, this style was pioneered by Harvey Littleton, a University of Wisconsin ceramics professor whose main thrust was producing art glass pieces in a small studio -- a major accomplishment when compared to the big glass blowing factories of Venice, Murano and Naples.
The genre has matured through the decades, today being thoroughly and efficiently harnessed for use by studio artists; and this latest Philabaum exhibit is comprised of works by its foremost practitioners.
Bonded by Glass runs through November 6, with an opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. (and revised gallery hours from noon to 8 p.m.) on Saturday, September 18, in the Philabaum Contemporary Art Glass Gallery, 711 S. Sixth Ave. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call 884-7404 for details.
BUSINESS AND PLEASURE. The Old Pueblo's business and art communities collide for the fourth annual Tucson Arts Party.
Held in the TMA's newly renovated courtyard, this high-powered soirée will feature reps from UApresents, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Arizona Theatre Company, Invisible Theatre and other local creative forces.
The entertainment roster also reads like a local Who's Who, with performances by members of Arizona Rose Theatre Company, Barbea Williams Performing Co., the Civic Orchestra of Tucson, Mary Baker, the Tucson Blues Society, Tucson Jazz Society, ORTS Theatre of Dance, New ARTiculations and JJ Jazz.
Then there's the chow: great stuff from fine eateries too numerous to mention.
The Tucson Arts Party runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the TMA, 140 N. Main Ave. Admission is $10, $6 for Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce members. Call 792-2250 for details.