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A Grassroots Thing

Santa Muerte Music and Arts Festival

Art reception: 7 p.m. to midnight, Friday, Sept. 10

Sacred Machine Museum and Curiosity Shop

245 E. Congress St., Suite 123

777-7403;

www.sacredmachine.com

Concert: and 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 11

Rialto Theatre

318 E. Congress St.

740-1000;

rialtotheatre.com

In Tucson, the calaveras and esqueletos that look out from store windows, in their fine clothing and with their empty gazes, are neither odd nor novelties. We long ago became accustomed to the culture of Dia de los Muertos through our border location and the All Souls Procession, which finds its strength in the celebration of lives lived, and the creativity that stems from grief and loss.

The Santa Muerte Music and Arts Festival is a continuation of this theme, with local and international artists and musicians joining locally based businesses to create an organic art experience.

"The main focus for us was to keep it a very grassroots thing," said co-creator Daniel Martin Diaz, a local musician and artist who recently opened the Sacred Machine Museum and Curiosity Shop with his wife, Paula Catherine Valencia. "We didn't want any agenda in it; we didn't want any corporate vibe in it. It's just this thing created by artists and musicians. Everyone is in it equally, and everyone is promoting it equally. We want to kind of keep it like that as long as we can and make it a very community thing."

This first-ever festival takes place over two nights. A free art reception at Sacred Machine occurs on Friday, Sept. 10; on Saturday, Sept. 11, a $7 concert at the Rialto will feature various local bands and performances by Flam Chen. (See Soundbites on Page 39 for more information.)

Artwork submitted for the show will vie for the Best in Show title that will lead to opportunity to create the poster and artwork for the coming All Souls Procession. —E.B.


Una Experiencia Española

Second Annual Tucson Spanish and Flamenco Festival

Next Thursday, Sept. 16, through Sunday, Sept. 19

Casa Vicente Restaurante Español

375 S. Stone Ave.

884-5253;

www.tucsonspanishflamencofestival.com

We are closer to Mexico than Spain, but that doesn't mean you can't get the Spanish experience right here in Tucson. The Second Annual Spanish and Flamenco Festival packs the music, dance and food of Spain into a series of workshops, lectures and performances.

Last year, the Festival Flamenco Internacional de Albuquerque was canceled due to lack of funding, which led to an outcry in the national flamenco community. Performers suddenly were without the fellowship of the annual festival that had run continuously for 22 years. Vicente Sanchez-Gomez, co-owner of Casa Vicente, began planning a Tucson version in response.

"We didn't see it as an opportunity to take advantage of the situation, but as an opportunity to initiate something in Tucson," Sanchez-Gomez said.

Within three months, the first Tucson Spanish and Flamenco Festival was created.

"The response was very good. A lot of people came. We were able to lock in artists that, otherwise, we would not have been able to, because they would be in New Mexico or somewhere else. It came out so well, we thought, 'We have to do this every year,' Sanchez-Gomez said.

This year, the showcase events will be held Thursday through Sunday nights, with Thursday's performances focusing on Spanish guitar, and Friday and Saturday performances celebrating flamenco dance. Sunday will feature a rumba gitana and Latin music party.

"In Spain, it is pretty common to perform in a small plaza or in between two buildings—so last year, we were very happy with the look. Not just the action, but the look. You look, and you think we are in Spain," Sanchez-Gomez said.

Visit the website for a full schedule of events and ticket prices. —E.B.


The Street of Dreams

Rendezvous on Fourth Avenue

4 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 11

Fourth Avenue between University Blvd. and Ninth Street

624-5004;

www.fourthavenue.org

Mom and pop shops are being picked off, one by one, all over the country—so the next time you stroll up Fourth Avenue, take a moment to notice the rarity: In a six-block stretch, there's not a single corporate-owned business.

To celebrate and support this fact, Fourth Avenue is putting on a show to get you acquainted with these local vendors.

"It's a street of dreams," said Kurt Tallis, of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. "There's not a single corporation. ... The nice thing about Fourth is that everybody has a right to exist."

The association helps make the Avenue the divergent street that it is, by doing things like offering services from building maintenance to promotion for the string of 95 independent businesses.

"The city of Tucson doesn't pick up the trash; we do. ... We're like a mini-municipality," Tallis said. "We help ourselves; we don't wait for government."

The difference between streets like University Boulevard and Fourth Avenue—both destinations of many Tucsonans—is that University includes numerous chains, and the most unpredictable thing that might happen there is a bro fight.

So if you appreciate the character and diversity of Fourth Avenue, keep it alive by perusing its reasonably priced shops, brimming with unique clothing and other items.

A fashion show takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the Winsett Stage and will be accompanied by live music and followed by a performance from the Orbital Evolution Hula Hoop Troop. Three other venues on the Avenue will also offer free entertainment. —E.A.


Bard Under the Stars

Shakespeare in the Park: Much Ado About Nothing

7 p.m., Thursday-Sunday, Sept. 16 through Oct. 3 (no show Sept. 30)

Himmel Park

1000 N. Tucson Blvd.

791-4196

As far as gender-bending is concerned, Bowie may have been sexiest—but no one has done it more effectively or poetically as Shakespeare.

The El Rio Theatre Project is bringing one of Shakespeare's most-loved gender bending comedies to the open air with Shakespeare in the Park's Much Ado About Nothing.

Michael Givens is in charge of the show and is especially excited to see this particular production come to life; he said it's his favorite Shakespeare play.

"I love it," he said. "There are lots of different things happening in the same storyline: There's love, deceit, plotting and a bit of goofiness."

Yes, Shakespeare has been done and re-done in theater, books and movies to the nth degree, but the beauty of Shakespeare is that even the most avid fan can see or read one of his plays 100 times without catching every motif, pun or homophone buried within, making his plays continuously enjoyable after centuries.

The combination of the slowly cooling evenings and the (usually) clear night skies make the Himmel Park Amphitheater the perfect venue for the performance.

"It's really a neat space, very intimate ... with a lot of history. It was the original location of the Tucson Pops Orchestra in the '40s," said Givens.

Bring a snack, and create your own seating on the grassy hills of the amphitheater. Bring along the kids if you'd like (no worries; Shakespeare's adult themes are usually so cryptic that you'll barely catch most of them yourself) and support local theater. The event is free, with a suggested $5 donation. —E.A.

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