Phoenix Firebirds Playoffs: The Triple A affiliate of baseball's San Francisco Giants, first-half champ of the Pacific Coast League's Southern Division, continues its first-round playoff series against the second-half Southern Division winner, the Las Vegas Stars, with game two at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, September 5, at Scottsdale Stadium, 7408 East Osborn. Tickets range from $3 to $7. Should the 'birds beat the Stars, they would host the first two games of the PCL Championship Series at 7:05 p.m. Monday, September 9; and the same time Tuesday, September 10. Call 275-0500.
Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers: Distortion king Thackery, longtime guitarist for the semilegendary Washington, D.C., band the Nighthawks, has fronted the Drivers since '92. The Thackery trio has come of age with the hot-off-the-presses Blind Pig disc Drive to Survive. The album is good through and through, but its hind end--including the wonderful shuffle "Long, Lean & Lanky" (featuring vocals by drummer Mark Stutso), the tasty instrumental "Burford's Bop" and a traditionalist take on the Jerry Lordan chestnut "Apache"--makes Drive a transcendent blues experience. The group performs at 9 p.m. Thursday, September 5, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. The cover is $7.50. Call 265-4842.
"Legends of Latin Jazz" featuring Pete Escovedo Band, and Ray Obiedo: Percussionist Escovedo, a.k.a. "Mr. E.," is the father of rhythm queen and 7-Up pitchwoman Sheila E., and Pete taught Ms. E. everything she knows about wielding the sticks. Sheila's featured on keyboardist Obiedo's new Windham Hill disc, Zulaya. Rounding out the "Legends" lineup is One Nation (featuring guitarist Gabriel Manzo and percussionist Tony Menjivar), keyboardist Bobby Espinosa, vibist Roger Glen, and the Arizona group Straight Up. Showtime is 7 p.m. Friday, September 6, at Union Hall, Sixth Street and Van Buren. Tickets are $19 and $23, available at the hall and Dillard's. For details call 253-7100 or 678-2222.
"Strange Rencounters": Arizona State University theatre professor Bill Akins joined forces with stage designer Douglas-Scott Goheen and "integrated media" artist Steve Gompf--whose worthy exhibit "Distant Visions" is currently on view at Scottsdale's Lisa Sette Gallery (see the Art Exhibits listing)--for this interactive exhibit about the "death force and our comic rage against it." (P.S. The trio's preferred definition of the little-used word "rencounters" is "a hostile meeting.") The exhibit opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, September 6, and continues through Saturday, October 26, in the Experimental Gallery at ASU Art Museum at Matthews Center, located at the intersection of Cady and Tyler malls on the ASU campus in Tempe. Regular viewing hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free. Call 965-2787.
"Super Old School" Tour: Soul acts War, the Delfonics, One Way, Deniece Williams, Rose Royce, Friends of Distinction, the Dazz Band, and Don Julian and the Larks are scheduled to perform on Friday, September 6, at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets range from $16.50 to $21, available at the arena and Dillard's. Call 379-7800 or 678-2222.
CopperCon 16: Actor Alexander Siddig (Dr. Julian Bashir on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), author Lois McMaster Bujold and artist Alan Gutierrez are the guests of honor at the 16th annual sci-fi/fantasy blowout, sponsored by the Central Arizona Speculative Fiction Society. Also scheduled: panel discussions, demos, filking, a costume contest, an art show, and gaming, video and dealers' rooms. Proceeds from an auction of sci-fi memorabilia are split between Habitat for Humanity and the Phoenix Union High School District's Reading Is Fundamental program; a book drive benefits the Volunteer Nonprofit Service Association. CopperCon takes over the Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort, 7601 East Indian Bend in Scottsdale, on Friday, September 6; Saturday, September 7; and Sunday, September 8. Admission is $35, $15 for kids ages 9 to 13, available at the scene or Dillard's. For details call 237-2780, 991-2400 or 678-2222.
Clay Walker: The 26-year-old, chart-bustin' cowpoke from down Beaumont, Texas, way is the latest product to roll off the assembly line at the Nashville Cat in a Hat plant. Touring behind his recent Giant disc, Hypnotize the Moon, which has spawned monsters like the title track and "Only on Days That End in 'Y,'" Walker performs on Friday, September 6, at Desert Sky Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $30, available at Ticketmaster. For details call 254-7599 or 784-4444.