On the jazzier end of the spectrum, the Tucson Jazz Society once again presents its annual New Year's Eve Jazz All-Stars Gala, at the luxurious JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa, 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd. The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a Jazz Hospitality Hour, featuring drink specials, music and a silent auction. At 7:30 p.m., a gourmet five-course banquet dinner will be served, and at 8 p.m., the live music begins with the Junior Jazz All-Stars, followed by the Jazz All-Stars, which feature Brian Bromberg, Rick Braun, Richard Elliott, Jeff Golub, Ricky Lawson and Gregg Karukas. At 10:15 p.m., New York City's Urban Jazz Coalition takes over for dance music that will stretch into the New Year, complete with party hats, a balloon drop and a champagne toast. Tickets are $175 per person, or $450 for a package for two that includes a hotel room for the night. For more information or to order tickets, head to tucsonjazz.org, or call 903-1265.
The Downtown Tucson Partnership is launching what it hopes to be an annual tradition this year. Billed as "a New Year's Eve celebration of arts, culture and community," First Night actually encompasses several different events at seven locations downtown, all family-friendly and alcohol-free. Some events are free, while some require admission buttons for entry. Buttons are $12 for adults, $6 for children 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and younger. They're available at all local Bookmans and Food City locations, the Fox Tucson Theatre box office, and online at downtowntucson.org. Events begin at 4 p.m.; free street parking will be available starting at 3 p.m. Here's a venue-by-venue rundown of events:
• The Tucson Convention Center Leo Rich Theatre, 260 S. Church Ave., will host an evening of Hispanic roots entertainment featuring (in order of appearance) the Tucson Symphony Orchestra's String Quartet, Mariachi Aguilitas de Davis, Nelly y Javier, Ballet Folklorico Tapatio (traditional Mexican dance), Los Quatros Vientos (mariachi quartet), La Mezcla and the Santa Cruz River Band (Southwestern folk music). 4 to 11:45 p.m.
• The Scottish Rite Cathedral, 160 S. Scott Ave., will feature (in order of appearance) Rodney Housley Children's Magic Show, Mirror Image (a twin-sister jazz duo), DeGrazia Spanish Band (Spanish guitar), the Silver Thread Trio (folk), Leila Lopez (folk fusion) and Tim Wiedenkeller (bluegrass). 4 to 11:45 p.m.
• The Tucson Children's Museum, 200 S. Sixth Ave., will feature free performances by (in order of appearance) Thorton Willoughby, the Southwestern Wizard (magic), Human Project New Era (hip-hop dance), Sticks and Fingers (percussion group) and Puppet Muzik (puppet show). 4 to 7:45 p.m.
• Beowulf Alley Theatre, 11 S. Sixth Ave. will feature (in order of appearance) Stories That Soar!; Lisa Otey and Diane Van Deurzen (sing-along); Stories That Soar!; Lisa Otey and Diane Van Deurzen (blues); LaughingStock Comedy Company (improv); Angel Diamond and the Blues Disciples; LaughingStock Comedy Company; and Angel Diamond and the Blues Disciples. 4 to 11:45 p.m.
• La Placita Village Courtyard, 110 S. Church Ave., will feature free children's programming early, before moving on to family-friendly music. In order of appearance: The Dusty Buskers, The Rosano Bros. , Beatnik Dream Vacation, the Kate Becker Project, Stefan George, The Tryst, The Evolution and The Dusty Buskers. 4 to 11:45 p.m.
• The Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., will show children's movies from 4 to 6 p.m. and other films the rest of the evening.
• The TCC Leo Rich Plaza will feature free entertainment all evening, including performances by (in order of appearance) Amber Norgaard, The Shantowskis, The Mission Creeps, Beatnik Dream Vacation, Namoli Brennet and El Camino Royales, culminating in the grand finale at midnight, which will include a countdown laser show and music and dance from Batucaxé. For further information on all events, including performance times, check out downtowntucson.org.
For the second consecutive year, Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave., will feature a bargain hunter's dream party. Doors open at 7 p.m.; a dinner buffet begins at 7:30 p.m.; and live music from local country/roots rockers the Kevin Pakulis Band runs from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. All this for a mere $15 in advance (tix are available at all local Bookmans locations) or $20 at the door. Party favors and a champagne toast at midnight are included. Call 690-0991 for more information.
If a delectable dinner is just as important as great music, look no further than Acacia at St. Philip's Plaza, 4340 N. Campbell Ave., which will feature dinner seatings all night long starting at 5 p.m. Dinner is a four-course meal, with each diner selecting each course from a fixed menu. Jazz guitarist Ed DeLucia will perform for early diners from 6 to 9 p.m.; from 9 p.m. to midnight, the Amor/Grubic Quartet will perform swing, jazz and pop music from the '40s through the '60s for your dancing enjoyment. The night is $75 and up per person, or throw in a suite for two at the Windmill Inn at St. Philip's Plaza, and it's $285 per couple. Make reservations by calling 232-0101 or heading to acaciatucson.com, where you'll also find a full menu.
In one of the evening's most highbrow offerings, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra is joining forces with the lovely Arizona Inn, 2200 E. Elm St., for what promises to be a rather extraordinary evening. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Flandrau House Courtyard, where guests will be greeted with an open bar and hors d'oeuvres, and vibes played by Homero Cerón. From there, patrons will enter the Tucson Room for a performance of classical favorites from the TSO's Piano Trio. Then, diners will be seated in one of five rooms throughout the Inn for dinner, after which they'll be treated to performances by violinist Carla Ecker and clarinetist Jeremy Reynolds, both of whom will be accompanied by Paula Fan--followed by dessert. To cap off the evening, guests will move to "a magically-created elegant nightclub" featuring dance music from the TSO's Swing 'N the New jazz band featuring singer Martha Reed, where they'll enjoy additional nibbles as well as a midnight champagne toast. The evening costs $195 per person, all-inclusive; special room rates are available. Reservations are available online at tucsonsymphony.org; at the Tucson Symphony Orchestra box office, 2175 N. Sixth Ave.; or by phone at 882-8585.
Each year, Hotel Congress rings in the New Year by going all-out with a themed party, and it's not making any exceptions this time around. The theme this year is Circus Congress: The Greatest Show on Earth, and you know what that means: "aerial acrobatics and magical dramatics," "carnival curiosities" and "freakish monstrosities." Oh, and plenty of live music under the big top featuring The Jons, Calle Debauche, Jimmy Carr's Circus Band, DJPJ, Flagrante Delicto, DJ Buttafly and DJ Sean T. Tickets are $18 in advance, and $25 at the door (if there are any), or $60 for VIP. But be sure to get 'em early--this event sells out every year. For more information, call 622-8848.
The Tucson Fox and Hound Smokehouse and Tavern, 7625 N. LaCholla Blvd., will get things rolling at 10 p.m. with a live performance from local alterna-rockers Tongue Dried Sun. Your $10 admission includes a champagne toast and midnight breakfast. For more information, call 575-1980.
The Clarion Hotel Tucson Airport, 6801 S. Tucson Blvd., will present a New Year's Eve Night of Comedy featuring stand-up from Dave Membrila, at 10:30 p.m. Available packages include the show ($25.09), dinner and show ($45.09, tax and gratuity included) or dinner, show, hotel room and breakfast buffet on New Year's Day ($169.09 per couple). All packages include party favors, snacks and a champagne toast at midnight. For reservations or more information, call 746-3932.
Local '60s cover band The Retro Rockets will have you boogying into the New Year with a performance of classic rock tunes from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at the Savoy Opera House in Trail Dust Town, 6541 E. Tanque Verde Road. Your $45 ticket includes appetizers, party favors, a trivia contest and a champagne toast at midnight. For more information or to book a reservation, head to tucsonretrorockets.com, or call 403-1897.
Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., will ring in the New Year with two beloved Tucson acts and one of its most celebrated prodigal sons. Australia-by-way-of-Tucson one-man Delta-blues band Bob Log III will be on stage when the calendar changes, and he'll be preceded by neo-prog trio Mostly Bears and '60s-meets-21st-century rockers The Holy Rolling Empire. Advance tickets are available for $12 via plushtucson.com; they'll be $15 on the day of show. Admission includes a champagne toast at midnight. Call 798-1298 for more information.
Leave it to The Hut, 305 N. Fourth Ave., to usher in 2009 with a budget-minded night of reggae, ska and Irish music, as Warsaw and The Hounds keep you dancing all night long. Music begins at 9:30 p.m., and admission is only $5. Call 623-3200 for more information.
If you're looking for dancing of the more clubby variety, the Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave., has just the ticket. From 9 p.m. 'til 2 a.m., DJs Matt McCoy, Dewtron, Eric Meyer and E_Rupt will be mixing up the goods. Your $8 cover charge includes the requisite champagne toast. For more information, call 882-0009.
What's an old-school punk rocker supposed to do on New Year's Eve, you ask? Why, head on over to Vaudeville, 110 E. Congress St., for A Black Flag New Year's. Starting at 9 p.m., 10 local bands will perform 30 classics originally performed by the hard-core punk legends. Participating bands include Bricktop, Knuckle Junction, Blue Collar Criminals, F.D.P. , Pop Gestapo, Alarm, Full Blown Aids, Vanish Twin and Stripper Killers. For more information, call 622-3535.