Cheap Thrills

RHYTHMIC ROOTS: We've never quite figured out whether El Parador Mexican Restaurant is a fine eatery posing as a lush rain forest, or a lush rain forest with swell food service.

Little matter. Either way, this remarkable urban oasis also boasts rich wildlife in the form of steamy Latin jazz. The flora comes alive every Friday with Raphael Moreno and Descargá, and on Saturday with more salsa music and "rock en Español" by Latino Solido.

The music runs from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. each night, and begins with dance lessons on Saturday at El Parador, 2744 E. Broadway Blvd. Admission is $5. Call 881-2808 for information.

INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVES: Works by 30 top Native American artists are displayed in Native Visions, now showing in the GOCAIA gallery.

Organized and curated by the artists themselves, and co-sponsored by the Central Arts Collective, the show presents a dynamic vision of the past, present and future of Indian art. Proceeds benefit Tohono O'odham Community Action and the Pee Posh Project, both working to revitalize cultural heritage and create development on the Tohono O'odham and Gila River Indian communities.

The show is curated by Terrol Dew Johnson, an O'odham basket weaver, and Yolanda Hart Stevens, a Maricopa/Quechan bead worker. Contributing artists include Barbara Ornales, Joe Baker, Kay Walkingstick, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Faith Ramon, Rick Manuel, Brent Learned and Sadie Marks, among many others.

Native Visions runs through July 22 in the GOCAIA gallery, 302 E. Congress St. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Call 623-4588 for information.

CONTRA-DICTION: Learn the delightful language of old-fashioned high-stepping with weekly contra dances, sponsored by Tucson Friends of Traditional Music.

For the uninformed, contra is an energetic dance done with partners who change through the evening. Then there's the great music--reels and jigs from the New England, Appalachian and French Canadian traditions, played on fiddles, mandolin, guitar and stand-up bass.

Many steps are similar to square dancing, but dancers move mostly in lines of couples, rather than squares. And newcomers are always welcome at these zesty forays.

Dances run from 7:45 to 11 p.m. the first Saturday of each month at the Lohse Family YMCA, 60 W. Alameda St. Admission is $6, $5 for TFTM members, $4 for students. Dances continue the third Saturday of each month at the Armory Park Center, 220 S. Fifth Ave. Admission is by donation. For information, call 327-1779.

MALL CALL: Cool your heels and warm up your ears with a performance by local songbird Lisa Otey in the Tucson Mall.

Presented as part of the mall's Hot Nights--Cool Jazz series, the longtime local favorite will rip through her soulful repertoire of torch songs, blues-laced ballads and adventurous jazzy standards.

The free performance runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 11 in the Tucson Mall Center Court. Call 293-7330 for details.

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