Taking the Wheel
Ben Kweller in concert
7:30 p.m., Monday, June 22
311 E. Congress St.
Conor Oberst wasn't the only indie rocker to embrace his country side on a new album this year. Ben Kweller also jumped on the bandwagon (pardon the pun) by adopting an alt-country-infused sound on Changing Horses, which was released in February.
It's been almost a year since Kweller's last show at Club Congress, and this Monday, he will be back in the Old Pueblo to offer Tucson a taste of his updated sound.
Since that last Tucson show, in August 2008, the 28-year-old musician has come a long way. For one thing, he produced Changing Horses—his fourth full-length album—on his own. On his Web site, he reports: "I've been lucky. I've worked with some of the greatest producers and learned from them all. For Horses, it was time to take the wheel."
On this latest album—partially recorded in Austin—Kweller embraces his roots, having spent his childhood in Greenville, Texas. He produced songs like "Hurtin' You," which maintains the songwriting he's known for while upping the ante as far as his sound goes.
David Slutes, the entertainment director at Hotel Congress, says this year's show is expected to bring in a crowd of about 250 guests, just like last year. Slutes expects the concert-goers to include "a lot of indie rockers, but (Kweller) is so good, he's growing into his kind of 'cool' appeal. Old guys like me like him, too. He's a good songwriter."
The show is all-ages, and doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16. —A.B.
Journaling While Journeying
Author Lavinia Spalding speaks
7 p.m., Friday, June 19
411 N. Fourth Ave.
In an age when Facebook, Twitter and blog updates are all just a few keystrokes away, the notion of a handwritten journal seems like a charming, quaint thing of the past.
But Lavinia Spalding, author of Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler, says keeping a handwritten journal, especially while traveling, can be crucial to self-discovery.
"During traveling, you're out there in the world, and you're exposed to so many situations that really reveal who you actually are. You don't know the language; you have to figure out the currency or the ATM, and the reactions that we have to those situations can really be revealing," Spalding says.
Spalding, a University of Arizona alum, says that although she believes keeping a handwritten journal is crucial during travel, using tools like blogs are important as well, because they serve different purposes.
"I am not anti-technology," Spalding says. "I have a blog; I have Twitter; I have Facebook. I am definitely someone who uses technology."
The thing is, she says, blogs aren't private in the way that handwritten journals are—and journals become artifacts to look at years after the journey is over.
Writing Away, which Spalding will be discussing and signing at Antigone Books this Friday, covers topics like how to capture the rich experiences of travel, and how to stay on track with journaling during the journey, she says.
"A lot of the people who I interviewed for this book said that they took the journal, but when they were traveling, they came up against so many obstacles. ... They just stopped and abandoned it a week in," Spalding says. "So I tried to give advice for different ways to overcome writer's block and so forth." —A.B.
Hangars and Hot Cars
"Hot Rods and Dad's Day"
9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, June 21
Pima Air and Space Museum
6000 E. Valencia Road
Father's Day is fast approaching. The question is: What are you going to do for your old man this year? Tie shopping? Take him hiking? A day at the movies?
One option (if he's a local) is to take him out to see shiny, tricked-out hot rods and historic planes at "Hot Rods and Dad's Day," an annual event at the Pima Air and Space Museum, one of the world's biggest aviation museums.
This year's event will feature a hangar full of hot rods from the Arizona Street Machines Car Club in addition to the 75 acres of planes that the museum features.
The event starts at 9 a.m., and admission includes access to see both planes and cars, explained Leslie Hannegan, the Pima Air and Space Museum's special events manager.
"It's a day to enjoy the museum as well as the cars," she says.
The Arizona Street Machines Car Club, which was founded four years ago, participates in events around Tucson that feature classic cars and trucks, muscle cars and other hot rods.
On Sunday, there will be about 30 cars on display, Hannegan says.
The museum's regular attractions, like the flight simulator, will also be open, giving guests a chance to soar through the air and get carried away on Desert Storm or time-machine adventures—just two of seven simulated flights that lift off from right inside the museum.
"Quite a few fathers, sons and families do come to enjoy the museum on Dad's Day," Hannegan says. "There's a sandwich shop that's there if they want to have lunch; there's a museum store (and) all kinds of things to see and do."
Admission is $7 for dads, $13.75 for non-dad adults, $8 for ages 7-12, and free to children 6 and younger. —A.B.
In Creative Company
"Hero Worship" Art Happening
7 to 11 p.m., Saturday, June 20
Conrad Wilde Gallery
210 N. Fourth Ave.
This Saturday, Conrad Wilde Gallery will become Tucson's center for all things modern art as it hosts Bryce LeVan Cushing's latest in a series of "Hero Worship" Art Happenings.
Cushing, aka MoonFire Tower, is a sculptor and performance artist. He explains that each of his "Hero Worship" happenings give him the chance to focus on and celebrate the work of one of the many talented people he's been able to work with.
This particular installment will celebrate the life and work of drag legend—and Cushing's longtime friend—Needles Jones, who is famous (and infamous) for her act in New York City and Philadelphia. The main event of the evening will be an interactive video performance hosted by Needles' sidekick, MoonDoggie Israel (who also happens to be Cushing). Using Skype, those at the event here in Tucson will be able to see performances from artists on the East Coast.
Other artists present at the event will include Simon Donovan, who's best-known locally for designing the Rattlesnake Bridge; he's now venturing into performance art. Also featured are Rebecca Horton, Tammy West, Kim Olsen and Tom Kerrigan.
Cushing is excited to note that the event will debut the work of Barcelona-based digital painter Michael Maier. Maier will be interviewed as part of the Skype event.
As a New York City-style extravaganza, this event will give the various artists a chance to pool their collective talent—and give the public a chance to participate, too.
"It's a throwback to the '90s, radical-leftist performance art I used to do," explains Cushing. "This is something Tucson hasn't seen before." Although no more happenings in the series are planned for the summer, Cushing says he does have plans for next year.
A $5 donation is suggested. —S.J.