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Wednesday 27

FLAUTED TALENTS. R. Carlos Nakai arguably put Native American music on the mainstream map. For nearly 14 years he's tapped his indigenous flute to trek across innovative traditional and experimental turf, most of which stubbornly defies classification.

In a performance tonight, Nakai and his quartet will further that odyssey, mixing Indian compositions with Latin rhythms, ethnic jazz, salsa, classical and even blues rock, and meanwhile push his latest recording, Kokopelli's Cafe.

He'll be joined by Tucsonans Will Clipman and J. David Muniz, and by Amo Chip, in an 8 p.m. performance at the Serendipity Playhouse, 7000 E. Tanque Verde Road. Advance tickets are $14, and available by calling 751-4445.

Thursday 28

TAKE A HIKE. Steaming heaps of dressing, greasy fistfuls of darkmeat, enough pickled okra to tide you over till the afterlife, and now your feeling...lumpen?

Well, pop a mint, our friends, head for the hills, and pick your teeth with a mesquite twig. Or, as granny so eloquently remarked, get yerself on outdoors and blow the stink off.

Enjoy the pleasant breezes adorning Tucson's verdant surroundings. Head to Mt. Lemmon, Catalina State Park, or Madera Canyon, and guaranteed all that okra will quickly become little more than a bitter, soggy memory. Take a stroll along the paths in Rillito Park, trek up Sabino Canyon's Phoneline Trail, or just hustle change from a park bench. You get the point: This dusty old town and its environs are simply chock-full of great outdoors waiting for you and your new baggage.

Friday 29

WELL LIT PLACE. The folks at the upscale St. Philips Plaza ring in the consumerist season with a holiday open house. As the sun's rays are doused, the plaza will officially be lit up for good tidings. Crosstown Transfer hauls out some live music, and merchants will be offering hot cider, alongside java on sale by the Common Grounds Espresso Co., and arts and crafts booths.

Gift wrapping will be available, with proceeds going to the Arizona Children's Home. The open house runs from 6 to 9 p.m. in the plaza courtyard, located at the southeast corner of River Road and Campbell Avenue. Call 326-9200 for information.

SCROOGED. Little Timmy will have a darned happy holiday despite Ebenezer, if the ingenues of the Southern Arizona Dance Theater have their way. And they likely will, with innovative performances of A Christmas Carol and A New Nutcracker Fantasy.

Now in its fourth year, the troupe features both veteran and relatively new high-steppers. Or, as Artistic Director Jane Matty Willett says, "We take pride in our efforts to utilize professional-level dancers as role models for young dancers, knowing that great lessons can be learned within the performance experience."

Learn your own lessons about what the Christmas season was truly meant to be with performances at 7 tonight, at 2 and 7 p.m. tomorrow, and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the PCC Proscenium Theater, 2202 W. Anklam Road. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for kids and seniors. Call 881-4288 for reservations.

Saturday 30

BITTER END. For several years they've filled the Southwest Center for Music with an army of dance-crazed dervishes. But word has it that the Tucson Symphony is taking over the building sometime in mid-December.

And that means this will be the last time Major Knucklehead Productions fire up their Club Rythym Dance Jam on the hall's well-stomped floorboards. It also means you'd better yank on those Berkies and head out to bid the spot a fond, albeit sweaty, adieu.

Part rave and part Rainbow Gathering, these jams offer an eclectic grab bag of music from reggae and calypso to funk, blues, and of course, the Grateful Dead. And kids are welcome, with childcare available with the price of admission--$5, $4 for KXCI members, and $2 for children under age 12. The action begins at 8 p.m. at the Southwest Center, 2175 N. Sixth Ave. Call 721-1710 for information.

GALACTIC PLAYGROUND. The vignettes range from a 1920s speakeasy to a Bowery street corner, from 1940s radio broadcasts to a World War II USO show, in Arizona Theatre Company's performance of Swinging on a Star: The Johnny Burke Musical.

One of the country's most popular and prolific lyricists, Burke's works include such classics as "Ain't No Shame About Mame" and "Pennies From Heaven." Now they come to life under writer and director Michael Leeds, who will stage this Southwest premier. "When Mary Burke Kramer, Johnny's widow, asked me to write a musical about his work, I started listening and was blown away by his variety and scope," Leeds says. "Since Johnny wrote over a 50-year time span, it seemed logical to use his career as a guidepost to take the audience on a musical journey through time."

Swinging on a Star previews tonight, with performances continuing through December 21, at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 Scott Ave. Tickets range from $23 to $32, available at the ATC box office, Dillard's, or by calling 622-2823.

Sunday 1

MUSICAL GOULASH. Hungarian-born pianist and composer Tom Barabas studied at the Venezuelan Conservatory of Music, and later opened for such jazz luminaries as Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and Ramsey Lewis. Now he's become something of a New Age fire-brand with his signature album, Sedona Suite, which has sold more than 200,000 copies on Tucson's Soundings of the Planet record label.

Now Soundings brings Barabas to town for the Magic in December holiday performance. The show will include composer Dean Evenson on Native American and silver flutes, acoustic originals by the local band Milkseed, and food and crafts. The free event runs from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Soundings of the Planet Courtyard, 3054 N. First Ave. For information, call 792-9888.

ILLUMINATI. "The day has passed," poet Elizabeth Ramadori writes in My House. "Ruddy as an old man easing, Into his warm bath, the sun sighs a low hope, Along the Horizon."

Sundown today will bring a reading by Ramadori, presented as another installment of the Lamplight Reading Series. Joining her will be L.D. Clark, author of four novels including The Dove Tree, The Fifth Wind, A Charge of Angels and A Bright Tragic Thing.

The free readings begin at 5 p.m. at the Blue Willow Restaurant, 2616 N. Campbell Ave. Call 908-0927 for information.

Monday 2

SEASON REASONS. The Flandrau Planetarium delves into centuries of culture and custom surrounding the Winter Solstice, which nearly coincides with Christmas. This laser-tech 'Tis the Season taps the traditions of folks ranging from the Nordes to the Egyptians, from the Celts to Jews and Hopi, in a show Flandrau spokesman Michael Midkiff calls "Outstanding educational entertainment for people of all ages!"

Catch this latest offering at the always fascinating planetarium on the UA campus at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Matinees also show at 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, from December 16 through January 3. Admission ranges from $3 to $5. Show ends January 5. For information, call 621-STAR.

HONORABLE CHARGE. UA associate music professor and topnotch guitarist Tom Patterson performs a fundraiser with the humble aim of purchasing new chairs in the Slonaker Concert Series on campus.

So this is the chance to hear some solos that may lift you to your feet and also help future listeners get off theirs. The performance begins at 7 p.m. in the Slonaker House, north side of Second Street east of Park Avenue. Tickets are $10, $3 for students. For information, call 621-6901.

Tuesday 3

MUCKRAKERS. Gossip everywhere, vicious, malicious and downright ornery rumors. Sound like your current relationship? Well, it's also the dark theme of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The School For Scandal, presented by the UA Repertory Theatre.

Directed by Harold Dixon, this production of Brinsley's most successful play drips "with strokes of pointed satire, a rich vein of humor, great genius and biting wit," says UA Theatre Arts Department spokeswoman Julia DeHesus.

You've got Charles Surface, who's happy-go-lucky and honest, though not real deep. That means his brother Joseph is required to be a scheming hypocrite. Charles and Maria are in love, and Joseph is subsequently obliged to woo her as well, even as he two-times young Lady Teazle. Meanwhile, the scandal mongers mingle behind the scenes.

The School for Scandal runs at 8 p.m. tonight through Saturday, December 7, and at 2 p.m. December 7 and 8, at the Laboratory Theatre in the UA Fine Arts complex, southeast corner of Park Avenue and Speedway. Tickets are $13 to $15, with discounts for students and seniors, available at the UA Fine Arts box office. Call 621-1162 for reservations and information.

Wednesday 4

BREATHE DEEP. Great Art by Students and Professionals, also known as G.A.S.P., is back with Glenn Michaels' and Rod Wright's Spirit In Art, showing at the Utterback Middle School.

Michaels' figurative paintings chase after themes of paradox, the "magic of the living universe of creation, and the endless cycle of destruction that accompanies it."

For his part, Wright's wood sculptures and staffs draw inspiration from the wilderness, with mice, rabbits, bobcats and lizards winding their eternal way of carved "spirit sticks."

G.A.S.P. Gallery is as unique as its artists, with the responsibilities for presenting the exhibits--from curation to security--falling to the students, under the tutelage of teachers Linda Poverman and Annette Guevara.

The gallery is open during school hours at Utterback, 3233 S. Pinal Vista. For information, call 617-6100.

BIG WINDS. The UA Wind Ensemble gives a premiere performance of Arthur Frackenpohl's Divertimento for Trombone and Band, featuring George Krem on solo trombone, along with works by David Maslaska, John Adams and Carl Nielson.

Krem is one heavy blower, who began his career with the Victoria Symphony, followed by a stint with the Winnipeg Symphony and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Orchestra.

He'll slide into a groove with the ensemble at 8 tonight in UA Crowder Hall. Tickets are $6, $5 for faculty and staff, $3 for seniors and students, available at the UA Fine Arts box office. For information, call 621-1683.

City Week includes events selected by Calendar Editor Mari Wadsworth. Event information is accurate as of press time. The Weekly recommends calling event organizers to check for last-minute changes in location, time, price, etc.

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