The corrido is a type of folk ballad developed in Mexico and popular both there and in the U.S. Southwest. It first emerged during the Mexican War of Independence in the early 19th century, and continued to flourish during the Mexican Revolution, when its literary and musical simplicity made it one of Mexico's main modes of transmitting information, news and even political propaganda. But the earliest corridos were actually adapted from Spanish romances and European tales about love, war and religion.
Anyway, the corrido, as a genre, is pretty darn old. But for the past eight years, the folks at the UA Poetry Center have been making it young again through their annual High School Corrido Contest, in which the corrido is taught to teenagers throughout Arizona, and students get to write their very own. Once a student's corrido is written, it can be submitted to the Poetry Center for the chance to be performed live by a professional musician.
Poetry Center program coordinator Renee Angle explains: "(We) saw a need for some kind of bilingual education that would honor students for writing in whatever language they knew--not just English. Also, we wanted to celebrate a form that's indigenous to this region, so that students could explore all kinds of issues that relate to it. ... It's exciting to hear these lyrics get put with music and to see young people giving new vibrancy to the form."
The corridos of this year's top three winners--who hail from Cholla and Desert View high schools--will be performed by musician and Arizona Illustrated producer Jacobo Ramirez, who's been working closely with the students to ensure that they have musical input. The performance will be part of the Tucson Madonnari International Chalk Art Festival--and it's free. --A.M.
Singer and performer Gilbert Gauthier has Frank Sinatra down pretty well. He looks like Sinatra; he sings like Sinatra; and he definitely has Old Blue Eyes' ability to connect with an audience.
But whatever you do, don't call him an impersonator.
"I gotta tell you, I enjoyed those Sinatra years," Gauthier admits. "A little bit of Mafia, a little bit of booze, a little bit of broads--that whole mentality appealed to me, you know? So when I turned 50 years old, I decided I wanted to do what he did, and that was to get up on stage and sing songs. ... But I don't care to be anybody else but who I am. When I'm up there, I'm not just being somebody else--I'm interpreting an era."
In the more than 15 years Gauthier has been singing Sinatra songs, he's come to feel very close to his idol. He had been "working with Frank" via his living room stereo for five years when one day in 1998, he turned on the news, learned of Sinatra's death and literally fell to the floor as he wept like a baby. Says Gauthier now: "That's when I first understood what bonding is all about, baby."
With that kind of devotion in evidence, it's no surprise Gauthier knows how to put on a good show. And he undoubtedly knows how to pack a room--whether it's with senior citizens who actually witnessed Sinatra's best years, or with younger people who just like to hear good music. The concert will cost $14 for adults and $12 for children. Doors open at 6 p.m. --A.M.
The Temple Gallery is joining forces with Tucson's ArtWORKS! Academy students to showcase the hard work of the talented youngsters and show the kids the ropes of running an art gallery.
ArtWORKS! Academy is a Tucson Unified School District alternative high school that provides a positive experience for students who are talented artists, yet who are at risk of dropping out of high school. The ArtWORKS! students learn from the best at the Tucson Museum of Art, including their teacher, Tucson artist Simon Donovan, who is very active in education and the arts community.
The program of ArtWORKS! Academy combines encouragement to complete the requirements for a high school education with creative training in artistic techniques at the Tucson Museum of Art.
Within the program, ArtWORKS! Academy students create pieces of art that range from all things Tucson to Japanese anime. Those works are on display at the Temple Gallery in The Young and the Restless.
"They have a variety of pieces: sculptures, photos, drawings, paintings. You name it, they make it." says Temple Gallery's Daphne Srinivasan.
Srinivasan says that the students have been working hard on their pieces all year, and that the entire exhibition space is devoted to them. The exhibition will provide the high school-age students with the opportunity to display and sell their work, as well as learn how an art gallery is run.
The Young and the Restless exhibition opens Friday, April 27, and runs until Wednesday, May 30. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and before all Arizona Theatre Company performances. Visit the Etherton Gallery Web site for more information. --K.H.
Have you ever cooked your food with the sun? Citizens for Solar, a nonprofit organization that educates the public about solar power and its benefits, has been using solar devices to cook food for 25 years.
To help celebrate their 25th annual Festival of the Sun, Citizens for Solar is again having a solar potluck, believed to be the longest-running solar potluck in the world. The celebration will also include live music on a solar-powered stage, solar activities for children and several lectures on different forms of solar energy, which will include the Biodiesel School Bus Learning Lab and Solar Energy Timeline. The festival will also offer a solar-appliance exhibition to showcase all of the different types of solar cookers, including solar ovens, fountains, lights and coolers.
"My favorite thing about this event is that it puts solar in people's stomachs," says Jerry Samaniego, of Citizens for Solar. "That makes it very real for people."
Samaniego also says that lectures will focus on harvesting solar energy for electricity.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Arizona State Parks, admission to Catalina State Park will be free for the solar potluck. Anyone can come out to cook with their own solar devices, or see how the sun cooking is done and sample food that has been cooked with solar energy. The potluck will begin at 5 p.m. after all of the festival activities. Visit Citizens for Solar for more information. --K.H.