Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, and Carlene Carter: This might be called the "Family Tree Tour." Pam's dad is corn-pone crooner Mel Tillis, and Lorrie also has followed in the footsteps of her singin' pop, late Grand Ole Opry member George Morgan. Carlene, the least-known and -commercial member of this trio, sports the most interesting lineage: She's the offspring of June Carter Cash and honky-tonker Carl Smith, and the stepdaughter of the Man in Black, Johnny Cash. Carter's also the most impressive artist on the marquee; in contemporary Nashville style, that earns Carlene the anchor position on the bottom of the bill. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 22, at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. Tickets are $18.50 and $21.50, available at the arena and Dillard's; proceeds benefit the Second Harvest food bank. For details call 379-7800 or 678-2222.
"Traps": The wonderful installation by light heavyweight Al Price, a former Arizona State University instructor, comprises a series of kinetic sculpture that create changing patterns of shadow and movement; see the review on page 65. The exhibit continues through Sunday, September 1, in Lower Gallery at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Viewing hours are noon to 5 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, noon to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is free. For details call 994-2787.
The Samples: The Boulder, Colorado, ensemble is a model of self-marketing, having sold about 500,000 copies of its numerous indie releases for the Boulder-based W.A.R.? label in the '90s. And its popularity is largely warranted; though the quartet occasionally suffers from same-sounding songs and bland, fusion-style arrangements, it's capable of achieving the sublime, as it did on the resplendent "Everytime," from The Last Drag. Now signed to MCA, and touring behind their new release, Outpost, the Samples perform on Thursday, August 22, at Gibson's, 410 South Mill in Tempe. The Why Store shares the bill. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $8, available at the scene and Ticketmaster. Call 967-1234 or 784-4444.
Phoenix Firebirds: The Valley's Triple A affiliate of baseball's San Francisco Giants continues its Pacific Coast League season with games against the Albuquerque Dukes at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, August 22; 7:05 p.m. Friday, August 23; 7:05 p.m. Saturday, August 24; and 6:05 p.m. Sunday, August 25, at Scottsdale Stadium, 7408 East Osborn. The team's final regular-season home series is slated for Friday, August 30, through Monday, September 2, versus the Salt Lake Buzz. Tickets range from $3 to $7. For details call 275-0500.
Paul Kelly: The former leader of the Australian folk-rock group the Messengers (original name: the Coloured Girls) is akin to the down under Graham Parker. Kelly's a top-drawer narrative songsmith--in fact, the title of his 1989 A&M disc So Much Water So Close to Home was borrowed from the Raymond Carver story--but, like Graham's, Kelly's vocals come closer to croaking than to singing. That's one of the factors that's kept Kelly from making serious inroads on these shores--a real shame. He performs at 9 p.m. Friday, August 23, at Gibson's, 410 South Mill in Tempe; sets by Stone Bogart, and the Stumbles follow. Admission is free 'til 10, $5 after. For details call 967-1234.
The Lady's Not for Burning: Ethington Theatre at Grand Canyon University, 3300 West Camelback, kicks off its new season with British "blank verse" playwright Christopher Fry's offbeat, Middle Ages comedy about a disillusioned soldier and a woman bound for the stake on a charge of witchcraft. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, August 23; 8 p.m. Saturday, August 24; and 2 p.m. Sunday, August 25. More shows are planned at 8 p.m. Friday, August 30; and the same time Saturday, August 31. Tickets are $8, $6.50 for seniors and children. Call 589-2871.
"A Public Salute to Charles Barkley" featuring the Chi-Lites, and Lakeside: The busy Chuckster and former Phoenix Sun may or may not be able to attend his own bash, but he'll be feted, regardless, on Friday, August 23, at Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. The all-ages event features entertainment by Chicago's sinfully soulful 'Lites ("Oh Girl," "Have You Seen Her") and R&B outfit Lakeside ("Fantastic Voyage," "All the Way Live"). Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 the day of the show, available at the scene and Dillard's. Call 267-9373 or 678-2222.
Bill Maher: Maher's the host of cable's Politically Incorrect, which specializes in point/counterpoint pairings of highly unlikely pairs such as Harvey Fierstein and G. Gordon Liddy. The comedian performs at 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, August 23; and the same times Saturday, August 24, at the Improvisation, Rural and University (at Cornerstone mall) in Tempe. Tickets are $20. For details call 921-9877.
Dig: The L.A. group, named after leader Scott Hackwith's dog, commingles a mid-'70s melodic sensibility and that distorted-wall-of-guitar-and-Weltanschauung thing that rules the mid-'90s. A good example is the song "e.l.o.," from the band's new Radioactive release, Defenders of the Universe; the tune boasts a crunchy riff right out of the Jeff Lynne songbook and the decidedly un-Lynne-like refrain "It's a cold world when you're in need/And I'm a needy motherfucker." Oh, yeah; Defenders also includes an appropriately sludgy tribute titled "White Sabbath." Possum Dixon, and Yum Yum share the bill on Friday, August 23, at Nita's Hideaway, 1816 East Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $7, available at Ticketmaster. For details call 967-9531 or 784-4444.