Steve Waitt was introduced to the life of a touring musician at an early age: The Tucson native was a member of the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, and by the age of 13 was touring the United States, Europe and the former Soviet Union.
"Looking back, I still see that as kind of a really important part of my life," Waitt said.
His love of travel and meeting new people--particularly through music--remains an important part of Waitt's life and an inspiration for many of his songs.
"The songs are about people and stories of my life experiences with friends and people I've met in my travels," Waitt said. "And then the deeper meaning ... I somehow try to express that through the lyrics."
Waitt has traveled throughout much of the world, both as a backpacker and as a touring musician.
"When I just got out of college ... I traveled in Mexico and Guatemala and Belize. I backpacked with a guitar," Waitt said. "I still have a lot of songs from that time period that were on my most recent album."
Waitt's earliest musical influences were classic-rock bands such as Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan, and, later, jazz musicians such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Now the local music scene in New York fosters Waitt's music.
"The music scene there is incredible," Waitt said. "These are people that I don't think people hear of."
Waitt describes himself as a songwriter at his roots.
"At the heart of it, it's just me and my piano or my guitar," he said. "Everything starts with the lyrics and the melody and the music first, and then builds out."
His performance at the 17th Street Market is free. --C.C.
For classical-music lovers, the 18th century produced some of the greatest hits: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart ... the list goes on.
The popularity of 18th-century works is the reason why the Dove of Peace Lutheran Church narrowed the focus of its fifth season of free concerts.
"We found over the last four years that, while we were doing quite a variety of programming ... our biggest response came to those programs that offered classical music," said Eric Holtan, minister of music at the church. "So we figured that in focusing on the 18th century, we'd cover all the biggies ... and our first concert this year was a full house."
The series continues this Sunday with a performance by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Tucson Chamber Artists. They will be performing Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 as well as Bach's "Coffee Cantata," one of the composer's few secular cantatas--and it carries a peculiar subject.
"It's very serious music; it's wonderful music, but the texts are about this woman and her father arguing about the vices of drinking coffee," Holtan said.
The music series fulfills two important goals of the congregation, Holtan said: to provide high-quality music to the community for free, and to support local charities. The concerts are preceded by a brief presentation from a local charity, and the audience is invited to make a donation if they desire.
This Sunday's concert will raise funds for the St. Andrew's Children's Clinic, a binational charity which provides free medical treatment for disabled children from Mexico.
In celebration of the cantata, fair-trade coffee will be for sale at intermission.
"We thought we'd do that right after the first of the year--you know, cure your New Year's hangover with Baroque Java," Holtan joked. --C.C.
When horror-movie actress and filmmaker Elske McCain went out of town in early 2007, she gave her friend Matthew Reel a title and a concept for a film: It was to be called Jessicka Rabid, and it was to be about a female serial killer.
She left for two weeks, and by the time she returned, Reel had finished the script, McCain said.
Reel, a filmmaker and fellow horror-movie buff, initially thought that he would make a standard slasher flick, but he ended up going in a different direction.
"I'd been wanting to make a horror film that was rather different and try to make something that looked like it came from the '70s," Reel said. "It's almost more like a psycho-thriller than it is a horror film. It goes into very violent material and explicit material as the film progresses."
Jessicka Rabid (played by McCain) is abused at the hands of her crazed family; she's locked in a cage and treated like a dog. After years of mental and physical torture, Rabid snaps and goes on a killing spree.
"The rest of her family is deranged in one form or another, and they take for granted what they've been doing with Jessicka for all these years," Reel said. "She finally comes to the forefront and causes everything to go haywire."
The movie was filmed in Tucson, and many of Reel and McCain's friends helped out, McCain said. Both are excited about the hometown premiere.
"I'm just curious about (people's reactions), because I have made a movie that's rather unusual, in that people are probably expecting a normal horror film, but it goes off into some rather absurd territory," Reel said.
Admission is $5. Nobody younger than 18 will be admitted. --C.C.
About five years ago, a group of women began meeting, bringing together writers, painters and artisans for camaraderie, support and criticism, said Judy O'Toole-Freel, an author and artist.
The group meets once per month. The visual artists show their work, and writers read what they have written.
"It's like with any group of people; you've got all these divergent ideas and approaches," said O'Toole-Freel. "It's a very nice experience to see how well you can blend and get along and appreciate each other's endeavors."
Eight of the women--O'Toole-Freel, Claire Bray, Sylvia Garland, Berta Moulthrop, Dotty Mowatt, Elaine Perillo, Barb Scalia, Edlynne Sillman and Sharon Schwartz--will be displaying their work at the Ward 6 Council Office. The exhibit will feature many different media, including photography, watercolor, acrylic, collage and more.
The group nicknamed itself the Renaissance Women for both inspirational and practical purposes. The name recalls the group's search for self-discovery and exploration--but also serves as a way to distinguish the group's e-mails from others, laughed O'Toole-Freel.
"We're all trying to discover who we are and what we are, and how we fit into this whole picture," she said.
For O'Toole-Freel, who began painting later in life, the arts have allowed her to explore the world around her, and her place in it.
"It's a wonderful experience for me in life; I'm finding out what I can do," she said. "And finding out who I am, what I can do, what it's all about--that's the thrill for me."
Admission is free. A reception takes place Friday, Jan. 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. O'Toole-Freel will sign copies of her two books, and music will be provided by pianist Paul Mowatt and classical guitarist Michael Gleicher. --C.C.