Phoenix Firebirds: The AAA affiliate of baseball's San Francisco Giants, led by new skipper and former Firebird infielder Ron Wotus, opens its 33rd Pacific Coast League season with a home stand against the Salt Lake Buzz. Games are scheduled at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, April 4; 7:05 p.m. Friday, April 5; 7:05 p.m. Saturday, April 6; and 1:05 p.m. Sunday, April 7, at Scottsdale Stadium, 7408 East Osborn. The team's next home series is slated for Saturday, April 13, through Tuesday, April 16, against the Edmonton Trappers. Tickets range from $3 to $7, available at the stadium and Dillard's; season and group packages are available. Call 275-0500 or 678-2222.
Steve Earle and the Dukes: For a short time in the '80s, Earle looked like he could be country-rock's new messiah, but then he started acting out some of the seedier aspects of the lifestyle he'd written about on his twin gems Guitar Town (1986) and Exit 0 (1987), culminating in a 1994 conviction for crack possession. Dried out and sobered up, he returned to the studio in '95 after a four-year hiatus to make the acoustic Train a Comin' for the indie Winter Harvest label. It earned him another shot at the majors, and he's touring in support of his E-Squared/Warner Bros. debut, I Feel Alright, hailed by some as a return to form; see the review on page 100. Earle and his Dukes are scheduled Thursday, April 4, at the Rockin' Horse, 7000 East Indian School in Scottsdale. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $15, available at the scene and Ticketmaster. Call 949-0992 or 784-4444.
The Tradition at Desert Mountain: Defending champ Jack Nicklaus joins Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Tom Weiskopf, Ray Floyd, Hale Irwin and about 100 other duffers at this major Senior PGA Tour event, a 72-hole tourney played on the Cochise Course at Desert Mountain, Pima and Cave Creek roads in Scottsdale. Preliminary rounds are scheduled Thursday, April 4; Friday, April 5; and Saturday, April 6, with the championship round on Sunday, April 7. Tickets are available at Dillard's; call 443-1597 or 678-2222.
The Child Diego: Arizona State University's theatre department continues its season with Carlos Morton's free-associative take on the life of Mexican artist Diego Rivera. The work takes liberties with time and place, but begins and ends with Rivera's late-period painting of the masterpiece "Sueno de una Tarde Dominical en el Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Central Alameda Park)." Final performances are on Thursday, April 4; Friday, April 5; and Saturday, April 6. All shows start at 8 p.m. at Lyceum Theatre, located at the north end of Forest Mall on the west side of the ASU campus in Tempe. Tickets are $11, $8.50 for ASU faculty and staff, $6 for students, available at ASU Fine Arts and Dillard's box offices. Call 965-6447 or 678-2222.
Phoenix Suns: The Suns host the Utah Jazz at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4, and the Portland Trail Blazers at the same time Tuesday, April 9, at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. The team's final regular-season home games are at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, versus the Houston Rockets and at 7 p.m. Friday, April 19, against the Dallas Mavericks. If tickets are available, they're at the arena and Dillard's. Call 379-7867.
Charlie Haden Quartet West: The great acoustic bassist and former Ornette Coleman sideman is noted for being a progressive conservative, simultaneously steaming ahead of the pack and looking over his shoulder. His fifth Quartet West album, the gorgeous Now Is the Hour (Verve), continues the revolutionary tradition; it's a follow-up, of sorts, to the group's previous album, the "jazz noir" work Always Say Goodbye, a paean to the Los Angeles of the '40s and '50s. Now Is the Hour journeys back in time to the New York City of the same era. The quartet performs at 8 p.m. Friday, April 5, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $14 and $18, available at the center and Ticketmaster. A free lecture by jazz writer Patricia Myers precedes at 7 in the center's Cinema. For details call 994-2787 or 784-4444.
Ballet Arizona's Romeo & Juliet: The troupe closes its season with artistic director Michael Uthoff's reading of the romantic standard, set to music by Prokofiev. This week's performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 5; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 7, in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. More shows are scheduled Thursday, April 11, through Sunday, April 14. Tickets are $17.25, $22.25 and $27.25, available at the ballet box office and Herberger. Call 381-1096.
Sand Rubies: What's in a name? As idiotic as it sounds, these Tucson-based progenitors of "desert rock" have never really recovered from the loss of their original designation, the Sidewinders, in a legal dispute with the North Carolina pop band Sidewinder. The Rubies, still led by Rich Hopkins and David Slutes and reunited for a short tour in support of a new live album, perform at 10 p.m. Friday, April 5; and the same time Saturday, April 6, at Nita's Hideaway, 1816 East Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 the day of the show, available at the club and Alternatix. For details call 967-9531 or 244-8444.
Manhattan Rhythm Kings and Phoenix Symphony: The vaudeville-style Kings--Hal Shane, Brian Nalepka and Tripp Hanson--join conductor Clotilde Otranto and the orchestra for a program that includes a tribute to Leroy Anderson, a medley of works from Gershwin and Stein's Crazy for You and a batch of nostalgic tunes like "Smoke Ring," "The Jitterbug" and "Shanghai Lil." Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, April 5; and the same time Saturday, April 6, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Tickets range from $12 to $36, available at the symphony box office and Dillard's. For details call 262-7272 or 678-2222.