City Week

Old-Time Tunes

"Bringing It All Back Home" benefit concert

7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 8

Southside Presbyterian Church

317 W. 23rd St.


Deep in the heart of North Carolina, Mark Gordon Allen grew up with a love of music.

"In the early and mid-1960s, my generation was being affected by rock 'n' roll and the British invasion," Allen said. "I also grew up, like most people in the South, as a Baptist. Baptists, among other things, love to sing."

In particular, Allen said, 'old-time' Southern Appalachian gospel music resided deep within him.

Forty years later, Allen said, he still loves to sing, and is proud to bring the musical tradition he grew up with to the Southwest.

"My voice is my main instrument," he said. "What I have been able to gather for this event are some of the finer string players in the Old Pueblo."

In the banjo-picking, foot-thumping style of old Southern legends like the Carter Family, the Stanley Brothers and Flatt and Scruggs, Allen and the "Ever So Slightly Lower Than the Angel Boys" will be playing a benefit concert for Southside Presbyterian Church.

"This type of music is characterized by the banjo," Allen said. "Brother Dr. James 'Big Jim' Griffith plays the claw-hammer-style banjo, literally the thumb flailing the banjo."

Joining Allen and Big Jim Griffith will be Greg Morton and Dorothy Clara Reid.

"These songs are older gospel chestnuts," he said. "This music is our type of folklore. It really often comes from working men and women who know how hard life can be."

Allen said the concert is also tribute to his father, John Lewis Allen, who died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

"My mother, age 92, is driving up from Winston-Salem, N.C., for the concert," he said.

Admission is $9.99, with $1 off for spouses/significant others. Children get in for $4.99. —W.F.

Our Vibrant Core

Second Saturdays Downtown

5 p.m., Saturday, May 8

Throughout downtown Tucson

The empty lot by downtown's Indian Village Trading Post building will be far from empty Saturday evening. The faces of everyone's favorite Beatles will be projected on an adjacent wall, as Rock Band masters and newbies alike face off in a new grass park.

So maybe you can't shred on a (Rock Band) guitar like George Harrison, but you know how to enjoy the ultimate shredded-beef taco. Then it's a good thing that El Charro Café, along with many other downtown eateries, will be featuring specials all evening this Saturday.

At the inaugural Second Saturdays Downtown event, downtown merchants will pull out all the stops to show Tucsonans the lively and eventful place that downtown has become.

"People need to know that downtown is a destination spot," said David Slutes, the entertainment director at Club Congress. "I think every city needs an active and exciting core to be alive."

The event is meant to be an occasion for the whole family, maybe a date, or just a great outing with friends. The Rock Band competition, concerts by local bands, art-gallery showings and numerous pop-up vendors are meant to appeal to audiences of all ages.

"I want it to showcase a lot of the great talent we have, and show how we (have) a really safe, fun entertainment district," said Slutes. "It can appeal to the entire valley. "

If Second Saturdays sounds familiar, that's because similar events have been held in the past. (See Soundbites on Page 44 for more history.) This time, the event has the support of many downtown merchants. New restaurants such as 47 Scott and art galleries like Sacred Machine will be opening on the day of the event.

Most Second Saturdays Downtown events are free. —S.F.

Feel the Beat

Za Boom Ba

8 p.m., Friday, May 7; 2 p.m., Sunday, May 9

Leo Rich Theater

Tucson Convention Center

260 S. Church Ave.

Gabriela Masala knows what it takes to make a dream come alive.

When her husband told her about his dream of bringing rhythm into the lives of the average person, she decided she would do everything she could to support him. It turns out that "rhythm" was a term that would grow to include dance, education and involvement.

The product is an interactive performance called Za Boom Ba, which embodies the naturally uplifting spirit of rhythm and movement through professional performance and audience participation—all under the guidance of creator Kenya Masala. (See TQ&A, March 25.)

"It's an opportunity to share so much love and power when people come into the community and break the veil of spectator," she said. "They can see that (the performances) are about being alive, and it is not about watching, but about participating in that."

People who attend will get the opportunity to bang out rhythms on drums or with egg-shakers, creating an individualized sound that blends into the sound created by everyone else present. The event will also allow audience members to participate in a traditional ritual unfamiliar to most Tucsonans.

"These are ancient rhythms and dances that whole communities participate in from the moment they can walk to the moment they can't," Gabriela said about some other cultures.

After the group's two Tucson performances, the Masalas are looking to expand their audience beyond the Southwest. They want to show people all over the nation the untapped possibilities within performing arts.

"If ever there was a time to connect with humanity and feel our commonalities, rather than having all these boundaries and flags, why not now?" Gabriela said.

Tickets are $22 for adults, and $17 for children 15 and younger. —S.F.

Matters of Marriage

Same-Gender Marriage Discussion: Maggie Gallagher and the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy

7 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, May 11

Berger Performing Arts Center

1200 W. Speedway Blvd.

"Same-gender marriage" is a phrase that tends to polarize people into two distinct camps.

In an effort to facilitate discussion between those in support of same-gender marriage and those against it, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance, and Maggie Gallagher, president and founder of the National Organization for Marriage, will meet in Tucson to discuss their views.

"We want to look at these issues and see if there is a way to lower the tone of the conversation and see if people can find any common ground to move ahead," said Gaddy.

In the United States, marriage is an issue of religious concern, but it is also a matter of civil law, said Gaddy.

"No minister can officially declare a couple married without a license from the government," said Gaddy. "Our concept is that what is a right for one citizen is a right for every citizen."

On July 29, 2009, during a discussion in which both Gaddy and Gallagher were present, Gallagher pointed out that 57 percent of American people were opposed to gay marriage, according to the most recent Gallup Poll.

"The core justification of marriage has been until 2003 that marriage is about bringing together male and female," said Gallagher at the discussion. "These are the only type of sexual unions that can create new life and connect those children to their mother and father."

While both sides are far from coming to a mutual agreement, a civil forum is needed to advance the discussion, said Paul Barby, an event coordinator.

"The first step is to blunt the rhetoric so people will try to reason with each other," said Barby. "We think we have made some progress on that."

Admission to the discussion is free. —W.F.

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