Four years ago, Liverpool, England, the city that begat the Beatles, commissioned renowned choreographer Mark Morris to create a dance that would honor the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of the Beatles' most influential albums.
Two years ago, the Mark Morris Dance Group was touring the U.S. with the piece, dubbed Pepperland.
A tribute to the Beatles, the 70-minute dance was a jazzy explosion of color, with innovative modern dance moves and plenty of music, including six Beatles songs. The Washington Post found the dance ravishing.
“Pepperland is an ecstatic and provocative Beatles tribute,’’ dance writer Sarah L. Kaufman declared, “and like no land you’ve been to before.”
Regrettably, that dancing Beatle land did not come to Tucson that year. Because in the midst of all the praise, Pepperland went dark. COVID had descended and the tour shut down. Tucson would have to wait.
Like every other choreographer, Morris spent much of the past year and a half stuck in the studio, but he used the time to experiment with new ways to dance.
Instead of leading some of the nation’s best modern dancers across America’s stages, he put them in dance videos, filmed in lonely New York apartments, with the performers dancing solo. The online videos were a hit, and bit by bit, the troupe ventured carefully back into the world. During the past month, the ever-innovative Morris debuted new works created during the pandemic time. The dancers performed them outdoors in different parts of the Big Apple.
This weekend's Tucson Film & Music Festival will include the premiere of The Whole Enchilada, a documentary that explores Tucson’s music scene from the late 1970s through the mid-’90s.
Local filmmaker Maggie Smith captures the origins of desert rock through the words and sometimes fuzzy recollections of those who survived. The fertile scene arose from cross pollination between country, rock and punk, with the growth “largely fueled by the drug trade,” recalls George Hawke (The Dusty Chaps, Los Lasers).
The story unfolds in a series of exclusive interviews and never-before-seen footage with local luminaries: Country rockers Bob Meighan, Ned Sutton (The Rabbits), and George Hawke, alt-rock legends Dan Stuart (Green on Red), Howe Gelb (Giant Sand), Bill Sedlmayr (The Pedestrians, Giant Sandworms), Robin Johnson (The Pills, Gentlemen Afterdark), David Slutes (Sidewinders, Sand Rubies), Van Christian (Naked Prey), “wild child” Suzie Caruze and others.
Maggie Smith became involved in the project about a year ago when her husband (and Tucson Weekly columnist) Brian Smith met with executive producer of The Whole Enchilada Rich Hopkins.
“Brian is the editor of the liner notes/book of essays that accompanies the [companion] 3 LP set Whole Enchilada and I pitched the idea to Rich of directing an accompanying film,” Maggie Smith said.
Maggie Smith said she was already planning screenings at this weekend's premiere.
“We are planning to submit to other festivals, and to screen the film in Phoenix and again in Tucson at Hotel Congress to coincide with the box set release in March 2022," Maggie Smith said. "All people who purchase the box set will receive a code to watch the documentary via streaming."
Tags: Maggie Smith , The Whole Enchilada , Bob Meighan , George Hawke , Ned Sutton , Dan Stuart , Howe Gelb , Robin Johnson , David Slutes , Rich Hopkins , Van Christian , Suzie Caruze , Jim Brady , Xavier Omar Otero , Image
Join Arizona Public Media and the Pima County Public Library in celebration of the rich Mexican-American and Latinx cultural heritage of Southern Arizona during Mes de la Cultura! Enjoy a virtual celebration of Mexican-American and LatinX art, music, and dance with performances by Mariachi Estrellas de Tucson, Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos, and Ballet Folklórico Tapatío.
You’ll get a first look at Arizona Illustrated’s story about Carlos Valenzuela, a Chicano tile artist, and his work across Tucson’s south side. Plus, you’ll get an inside view of the Pima County Public Library’s Frank De La Cruz Borderlands collection!
After the show, performers will be sharing more about the rich cultural history of these art, music and dance forms, share some of their own experiences performing, and answering YOUR questions during a live Q&A. We hope you’ll join the conversation!
About the Performers
Mariachi Estrellas de Tucson is a youth mariachi group from Tucson. With performers ranging in age from 10 to 17 years old, the group has participated in the Tucson International Mariachi Conference in Tucson, Arizona, and the Rosarito International Mariachi Conference in Rosarito, Baja California, México.
Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos (LCF) is widely regarded as the first youth mariachi group and the first seed of the growing youth mariachi movement in the United States. The group includes twelve high-school aged musicians under the direction of Salvador Gallegos. Founded in 1964, LCF now carries a five-decade legacy of musicianship and dedication.
Ballet Folklórico Tapatío (BFT) is a non-profit folkloric dance group established in 1997 under the direction of Jose Luis Baca and Marissa Gallegos. This group is based in South Tucson, and has over 150 members. They have performed throughout the United States, Mexico and Colombia, and are recognized as one of the finest folkloric programs in the nation.
A number of local music venues will be requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to attend shows starting next month.
The Rialto Theatre, Club Congress, 191 Toole and the Fox Theatre announced Monday that they were part of a group of Arizona venues that would take the step by Sept. 20.
All four venues are in the process of reopening and will require patrons to wear masks at upcoming indoor shows before the vaccination policy kicks into place.
“The Rialto Theatre Foundation is extremely excited for our incredible lineup of shows,” said Cathy Rivers, executive director of the Rialto Theatre Foundation. “But with that said, we feel it’s important to be a part of keeping our community safe. Those of us who can get vaccinated should, so we protect those in our community who cannot. We hope to see you at a show enjoying live music again while also taking safety measures to look out for all of our community.”
She added that people should be careful about carrying their vaccine cards.
“I personally recommend people don't carry around their vaccine card,” Rivers said. “I would take a picture of it, put it in your wallet app on your phone, or make a photocopy of the card and keep that in your wallet.”
The Rialto has a wide range of performances in the coming weeks such as Amigo the Devil (Friday, Aug. 20), Neko Case (Monday, Aug. 23), and the Flaming Lips (Tuesday, Aug. 24). In addition, 191 Toole—a smaller warehouse venue that is also managed by the Rialto Theater Foundation—will have Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears (Friday, Aug. 20), Sian (Saturday, Aug. 21) and Nanpa Básico (Friday, Aug. 27).
Dave Slutes, entertainment director at Hotel Congress, said concert-goers would have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to attend shows inside the legendary Club Congress, but not for shows on the outdoor patio. Slutes said Hotel Congress will continue to follow CDC guidance, as well as honoring artist requests regarding COVID protocol.
Slutes said there has been a lot of interest in the return of live music.
"COVID aside, the artists have been eager to get back out there, tickets have been selling like hotcakes, people have been very eager to see live music again," he said.
But he said there have been unexpected challenges, from the Delta wave to technical issues.
"Did you know that disco lights go bad if you don’t use them for 18 months?" Slutes said.
“We certainly chose the Mavericks very intentionally,” Schock said. “They've got ties to the Tucson community and the bassist is from here.”
The Mavericks show kicks a packed fall season for The Fox. Schock says she’s “excited to get the venue sparkling and shining again, but at the same time we have some worry because we don't have any control over what happens next.”
Fox staff and volunteers are required to be vaccinated and Schock urged audience members to get vaccinated before shows.
The CDC recently urged vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks indoors in public spaces because the Delta variant is highly contagious. COVID is making a comeback here in Pima County, which recently moved into the “high transmission” category, according to the CDC.
Schock said Tucson has a hunger for live music, adding this season’s sales are breaking records, which is welcome news for Schock after 18 months of zero revenue. The live entertainment industry was one of the hardest hit by COVID and the Fox, the Rialto and Hotel Congress had to lay off most of its operational staff.
Both the Fox and Rialto are reopening with help from the Shuttered Venue Operations Grant from the Small Business Administration.
“I mean we wouldn't have been able to consider reopening with the number of shows that we put on sale at this point with zero revenue,” Schock said. “It was absolutely essential to our ability to book artists and to prepare the venue.”
WASHINGTON – Federal officials have awarded $45.3 million in COVID-19 relief funds to 68 Arizona concert venues, a vast improvement over the single grant awarded a month ago but still far short of the need, advocates say.
The Arizona funding was part of the $3.2 billion awarded as of Tuesday by the Small Business Administration under the $16 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.
The disastrous June rollout of the program – more than six months after funding was approved – led to a staff overhaul at SBA. While some venue owners and operators in Arizona said this week they were finally feeling some relief, others said they are still “anxiously waiting” months after applying for assistance.
Jenny Thomas, director of communications for the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, said she is “extremely appreciative of this essential support that has the potential to save the live performing arts industry.” But the grants need to be processed much faster, she said.
“According to the SBA’s latest report, only 28% of applications have resulted in an award, and only about 18% of awards, or just over $2 billion, have been disbursed, more than six months after the law was enacted,” Thomas said.
For organizations like Arizona Arts Live in Tucson, every day of delay hurts.
“We’re hoping the SVOG money comes through soon,” said Chad Herzog, executive director of the group that used to be known as UA Presents. While they wait for word on funding, he said, all their efforts to maintain business during the pandemic have come at “a tremendous loss.”
Of the total that had been awarded as of Tuesday, according to the most recent report from the SBA, just $2 billion has actually reached businesses. The remaining $1.2 billion that had been awarded was still pending disbursement.
It is not clear how many Arizona businesses are still waiting or have been denied: The SBA does not release those numbers by state. But nationally, the agency said it has received 14,884 applications and has awarded grants to 4,222 of the businesses, an approval rate of 28%. Just 364 have had their applications declined so far.
The return of live music has been a vague hope for more than a year, but downtown’s Fox Theatre now has a date: Thursday, Aug. 19, will see country band The Mavericks take the Fox stage and kick off its 2021/22 live performance season.
“This is a bit of a teaser of what is to come for the season ahead,” says Fox Theatre executive director Bonnie Schock. “It is certain to be a fantastic return of music and performance to downtown in the fall – with something for everyone. So, get ready for exceptional country, jazz, blues, folk and Americana, classic rock, comedy, personalities, lifelong learning, family, and film experiences once again."
Other planned shows include swing revivalists Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Saturday, Sept. 11; singer/songwriter Amy Grant on Sunday, Oct. 24; and Irish folk band Altan on Sunday, Nov. 21.
The Fox plans to announce next month a lineup of more than 50 shows booked through April, with tickets for the season available to the public starting Friday, June 18. Guests who purchase tickets to four or more shows in advance will receive a 10% discount.
For more information, visit foxtucson.com
KXCI Community Radio executive director Cathy Rivers won't have to move far for her new role: executive director of the Rialto Theatre. Well known to the downtown music scene, Rivers will assume the new role starting June 1.
According to the Rialto, Rivers was selected due to her talent and proven skill as a local leader, in addition to being a longtime community partner.
“The Rialto Theatre is a vital Tucson institution and a crucial part of downtown, and by extension, our entire community,” Rivers said. “It is crucial that she not only survive these unprecedented times, but thrive in spite of them. I am confident that my experience, combined with community trust, will aid in solidifying the Rialto’s place within the fabric of the Tucson community and expanding its local, regional, and national prominence.”
Rivers assumes the executive director role after Curtis McCrary, who has led the Rialto for more than 15 years.
Although the Rialto is still holding off on hosting live music, it is currently hosting the Rialto Theatre Gallery Project, a retrospective photo show documenting many of its concerts. For more information, visit rialtotheatre.com/gallery-project