Pic Hits for the week

thursday
february 20
Beck: No matter who scores the statuettes at the Grammy Awards on Wednesday, February 26--and the Grammys have historically, and notoriously, gone home in the limos of questionable recipients--Beck (real name: Beck Hansen) remains the big winner in the year in rock. It's fashionable to link that thought to the 26-year-old's breakthrough hit, 1993's "Loser," but such puffery grows wearisome. This unwitting poster boy for Gen X has some serious soul, and he proved it with the compost-heap brilliance of his disc Odelay--a worthy showcase for the sample-mad musician's synthesis of folk/"anti-folk" and hippie/hip-hop, and the album of the annum, Grammy or no. Beck's scheduled on Thursday, February 20, at Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. The all-ages show starts at 7:30 p.m. Sharing the bill is techno act Sukia, which also performs a free set at 4 that afternoon at Tempe's Zia Record Exchange, 105 West University (call 829-1967). Concert tickets are $16.10, available at the scene and Dillard's; call 267-1600 or 503-5555.

Manon: Arizona Opera continues its season with Massenet's work about l'amour tragique, sung in French with English surtitles. Soprano Eilana Lappalainen enacts the title role. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 20; 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 21; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 22; and 2 p.m. Sunday, February 23, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Tickets range from $14 to $56, available at Dillard's. Call 266-7464 or 503-5555.

Chris Wall and Cowboy Nation: The California-born, Texas-based Wall previously worked as a bit actor, a bartender and a ranch hand, but his true calling seems to be dance-hall honky-tonk. Wall's a good performer and a fine writer; his best-known tunes are "I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight" and "Trashy Women," the latter which hit for Confederate Railroad. Chris and the Nation are scheduled on Thursday, February 20, at the Rockin' Horse, 7316 East Stetson in Scottsdale. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the club and Ticketmaster; call 949-0992 or 784-4444.

friday
february 21
Kronos Quartet: The daring new-music ensemble--cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, violinists David Harrington and John Sherba and violist Hank Dutt--returns to the Valley to premiere "Native American National Anthem" by Wisconsin-based Mohican composer Brent Michael Davids. Also on the program: "Tragedy at the Opera" from Vietnamese composer P.G. Phan's Memoirs of a Lost Soul; John Cage's "Totem Ancestor"; and works by Ken Benshoof, Arvo Part, Peteris Vasks, and Alfred Schnittke. Showtime is 8 p.m. Friday, February 21, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $18, available at the center and Ticketmaster; call 994-2787 or 784-4444.

Martin Luther King III: The son of late civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hosts an "open dialogue" at 2 p.m. Friday, February 21, in the Great Hall at Arizona State University's College of Law, McAllister and Orange in Tempe. Admission is free. Call 965-6380.

Waxing Local: Trunk Federation, Joe Myers: The Valley acts host back-to-back release parties at Mesa's Hollywood Alley, 2610 West Baseline. The Federation, a hooky and kinda kooky rock group named after a grisly local murder, unveils its major-label debut, The Infamous Hamburger Transfer, on Friday, February 21; Knapsack, and the Les Payne Project are also scheduled to perform at the all-ages show, which starts at 9 p.m. Indie and edgy acoustician Myers presents his third disc, distributed in a custom metal box and titled Under the Crazy Hat, at 8 p.m. Saturday, February 22. Call 820-7117.

Vital Signs: The most ambitious, and perhaps the best, work by enigmatic playwright Jane Martin (Keely & Du, Talking With . . . ). Arizona State University's theater department and the school's Institute for Studies in the Arts collaborated on a multimedia production of the by turns farcical and devastating 60-character study of American womanhood. Opening performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 21; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 22; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, February 23; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 25; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 26, at Paul V. Galvin Playhouse at ASU's Nelson Fine Arts Center, 10th Street and Mill in Tempe. A discussion led by director J. Robert Wills precedes Sunday's matinee. The run continues through Saturday, March 1. Tickets range from $6 to $12, available at ASU Fine Arts and Dillard's box offices; call 965-6447 or 503-5555.

Arizona Scottish Highland Games and Gathering: The Caledonian Society of Arizona presents this 31st annual event, which opens with an evening concert of Celtic songs and dances at 7 Friday, February 21. The gathering proper is slated for 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, February 22; and the same hours Sunday, February 23. Festivities include ye-olde games (hammer throw, caber log toss, etc.), a cultural fair, a dog show, and a tea-etiquette demonstration by former United States Tea Council ambassador Aubrey Franklin. The scene is Mesa Community College, Dobson and Southern. Concert tickets are $5, $2 for children ages 5 to 11. Gathering admission is $10, $5 for kids ages 5 to 11. For details call 431-0095.

A Grand Night for Singing: This show is a windfall for fans of Rodgers and Hammerstein, featuring numbers like "Some Enchanted Evening" and "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair" and lesser-known works like "Allegro" and "Pipe Dream." Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, February 21; 8 p.m. Saturday, February 22; 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, February 23; 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 25; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, February 26, at Phoenix Theatre, 100 East McDowell. The production continues through Sunday, March 9. Tickets are $20 and $22, available at the scene and Dillard's; call 254-2151 or 503-5555.

Manon: See Thursday.

saturday
february 22
Baseball's Back: "Grand Slam Gala," Padres/Mariners Fan Fest: The City of Mesa introduces the new HoHoKam Park, the winter home of the Chicago Cubs at 1235 North Center in Mesa, at the "Gala," which includes public tours, an open Cubs practice and more. It's scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, February 22, and it's free (call 644-2351). The San Diego and Seattle squads take the field at Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 North 83rd Avenue, for public practices at the annual "Fan Fest," also scheduled Saturday and also free (call 878-4337). The latter teams inaugurate the 1997 Cactus League miniseason with a match at 1:05 p.m. Thursday, February 27, at PSC.

"Desert Canals: At the Confluence of History, Art and Culture": Various exhibits and events are scheduled in conjunction with this "three-month exploration of the area's ancient, historical and contemporary canal system." The following installations open Saturday, February 22, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street: "Land Forms/Life Forms" by Barbara Jo McLaughlin; "Water Rites" by Thomas Strich and Michael Dollin; and "Los Zanjeros" by Dorothea Lange (for specifics and viewing hours, see the Art Exhibits listing). McLaughlin hosts artistic "boulder floats" at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, February 23, at the Cross Cut Canal, on 68th Street south of Thomas in Scottsdale (the "boulders" are billed as "biomorphic forms constructed of Fiberglas over a light steel framework"); a "Desert Canals" open house precedes at 11 at Tempe's PERA Club, 1 East Continental. A second round of exhibit openings is slated for Friday, March 7, at SCA. For a free schedule of related events, call 874-4677; for general information, dial 994-2787.

Ad Vielle Que Pourra: BeauSoleil's Michael Doucet labeled this Montreal-based quartet a band of "troubadour cosmonauts [who] transcend time and space. . . ." It's a cryptic, but, at second blush, appropriate description of AVQP, which plays gorgeous, traditional French folk strains with a generosity of spirit that's been out of style for quite a while and on instruments (like the hurdy-gurdy, or "vielle") that were never in style. Floorboard-pounding fun. (P.S. The act's name has the same basic translation as the Doris Day tune "Que Sera, Sera.") Showtime is 8 p.m. Saturday, February 22, at Tempe's First United Methodist Church, 215 East University. Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 at the door. For details call 893-3328.

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange: The Washington, D.C.-based troupe specializes in the elevation of the ridiculously pedestrian (like shopping for pantyhose) to the sublime. It wraps up an extended Arizona residency with a performance at 8 p.m. Saturday, February 22, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Tickets range from $19 to $28, available at Gammage and Dillard's; call 965-3434 or 503-5555.

Wiener Dog Nationals 1997: The third annual running of the amateur hounds--specifically, dachshunds, the "slowest canines on the planet"--is on Saturday, February 22, at Phoenix Greyhound Park, 3801 East Washington. Various hot-dog heats (and a new cocker-spaniel run, so-called) are scheduled between the regular greyhound competitions. Proceeds benefit United Cerebral Palsy of Arizona. For details call 273-7181.

Arizona Scottish Highland Games and Gathering: See Friday.
A Grand Night for Singing: See Friday.
Manon: See Thursday.
Vital Signs: See Friday.
Waxing Local: Joe Myers: See Friday.

sunday
february 23
Rory Block: Smokers and knee-jerk conservatives should avoid this show; the exuberantly liberal blues diva will have none of either. Rory's touring behind her new album, Tornado, which includes a song dedicated to Nicole Brown ("Gone Woman Blues") and Andy Barnes' anthemic "The Last Leviathan"; the latter's a lament for, well, the plight of the great whales, superbly sung by Block. The songsmith performs Sunday, February 23, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. Rena Haus and Rochelle Raya open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12, available at the club and Ticketmaster; call 265-4842 or 784-4444.

Star Trek Convention: The guest stars at Creation Entertainment's latest sci-fi confab are Marina Sirtis (Counselor Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation), Dean Haglund (one of the "Lone Gunmen" on The X-Files) and Jason Carter (Babylon 5's Marcus). Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, February 23, in Exhibit Hall B and the Phoenix Room at Phoenix Civic Plaza, Second Street and Adams. Tickets range from $7 to $18, available at Civic Plaza and Dillard's box offices; call 262-7272 or 503-5555.

Arizona Scottish Highland Games and Gathering: See Friday.
A Grand Night for Singing: See Friday.
Manon: See Thursday.
Vital Signs: See Friday.

monday
february 24
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown: The long-limbed Texan's a powerhouse guitarist/vocalist in the T-Bone Walker mold, but the blues is just Clarence's main squeeze. His musical mistresses are many, and he is to blues as Ray Charles is to soul, which is to say that he's just as likely to launch into a country, jazz or pop piece as he is to play one of his signature smokers like "Gate's Salty Blues." In fact, you really haven't lived 'til you've heard Brown's cover of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," a duet with Maria Muldaur from Gate's new disc, Long Way Home. Showtime is 9 p.m. Monday, February 24, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. Tickets are $14, available at the scene and Ticketmaster; call 265-4842 or 784-4444.

tuesday
february 25
Mame: Blame it on former Dallas star Morgan Brittany, who follows in the hard-to-fill footsteps of predecessors like Rosalind Russell, Bea Lillie and Angela Lansbury as the freewheeling title ditz. The 30th-anniversary touring edition of Jerry Herman's musical adaptation of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's Auntie Mame plays the Sundome, 19403 R.H. Johnson Boulevard in Sun City West, on Tuesday, February 25. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to $19, available at the 'dome and Dillard's; call 975-1900 or 503-5555.

A Grand Night for Singing: See Friday.
Vital Signs: See Friday.

wednesday
february 26
Paolo Soleri: The architectural visionary and founder of the perpetually-in-progress "urban laboratory" named Arcosanti gives a rare public address at 10 a.m. Wednesday, February 26, at Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, continuing the Barry M. Goldwater Lecture Series. Tickets are $11, available at Kerr and Dillard's; call 965-5377 or 503-5555.

A Grand Night for Singing: See Friday.
Vital Signs: See Friday.

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