It's a safe bet that NBC honcho Don Olmeyer won't be catching comedian Norm MacDonald's special show at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at the Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. He's the guy who supposedly was behind firing MacDonald from SNL's "Weekend Update" for the comic's penchant to crack wise about Olmeyer's pal O.J. Simpson. All the more reason to go. The performance, which promotes MacDonald's upcoming film Dirty Work (his starring debut), will give audiences a chance to study up close his weirdly deadpan, off-the-cuff style--shapeless, rambling non-jokes that derive their hilarity from their very lack of glibness. As a bonus, the evening will include a screening of the pilot episode of South Park, Comedy Central's popular animated scatology-fest. What do you suppose Olmeyer would make of South Park? Tickets for the show are $17.50. 267-1600 (Celeb), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
The hills of Northern Arizona are alive with the sound of you-know-what. The planners of the 14th annual Sedona Chamber Music Festival seem to hold the philosophy that if it ain't baroque, don't fix it. (Sorry.) But there's little about the program that needs fixing: It kicks off this week with an informal, catered performance/fund raiser titled "A Taste of Tuscany" by the award-winning Pacifica Quartet, scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at two private homes in Sedona--seating for this event is limited to 75 (call for details). The festival proper kicks off on Friday, May 22, at St. John Vianney Church, 180 Soldier's Pass Road, with a program of Haydn, Bartók and Dvorak, also played by Pacifica. The fourth annual, family-friendly Free Community Picnic Concert is slated for 6:15 p.m. Saturday, May 23, at Sedona's Brewer Road School--the artists this year are the Valley faves Quintessence, joined by puppeteer Sharon Swanick; the bill includes Peter and the Wolf. Pacifica Quartet plays again--Telemann, Leclair, Bach and Galliard this time--at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 24, at St. John Vianney. The acclaimed Muir String Quartet plays Haydn, Prokofiev and Beethoven at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, at the Museum of Northern Arizona, three miles north of downtown Flagstaff on Highway 180. Picnic admission is free; tickets for the other concerts are $20 reserved, $15 general. The festival continues through May 31, with events in Sedona and Prescott. 1-520-526-2256.
Regarded by some as "next in line for the blues crown," guitarist Joe Louis Walker visits the Valley to promote his Verve CD Great Guitars. The title isn't inapt--Walker, no slouch himself, plays alongside the likes of Little Charlie Baty, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Steve Cropper (who also produced), Otis Grand, Buddy Guy, Robert Lockwood Jr., Taj Mahal, Scotty Moore, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Otis Rush, Bonnie Raitt, and legendary wife-beater Ike Turner. Presumably Walker won't be bringing this whole lot with him when he takes the stage at 9 p.m. Friday, May 22, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School; still, some strong sounds can be expected. 265-4842.
The history of the truck, that venerable hauler of the American payload, is explored in the American Truck Historical Society's Antique Truck Show, an exhibition of about 500 restored trucks, from early chain-drive models to specimens from the early 1970s. The "rolling history museum" attempts to show the evolution of trucking--an often underrated factor in 20th-century life. It's on display from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 23; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, May 24, at Phoenix Civic Plaza, Second Street and Adams. Admission is free. 257-8788, 262-7272.
A new-Western dinner precedes equally delicious new-Western sounds as the Colly Soleri Music Center of Arcosanti kicks off its 16th annual concert season. Dinner--Quilchena Cattle Company Rum Ribs or, for vegetarians, a Home Ranch Marinated Eggplant--is served at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 23, in the cafe at the "urban laboratory" of architectural visionary Paolo Soleri located off I-17 at Cordes Junction near the town of Mayer, about 65 miles north of Phoenix. It's followed by the Arizona debut of a California ensemble, the New West Woodwind Quartet, in the Music Center (named for the late wife of the famed wind-bell artist). Reservations are required; tickets are $25 for dinner and concert, $12.50 for the concert only. 1-520-632-7135.
You've heard his dulcet warble on the album for Phantom of the Opera, or, in a less Gothic mode, singing "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" in the film of Hello, Dolly!. Now you can hear Michael Crawford in person--in the unlikely event, that is, that there are any tickets left for his performance at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 24, at Desert Sky Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue. Tickets range from $20.25 to $68.25. 254-7599 (Sky), 784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
In observance of Memorial Day, the faux Old West town Rawhide hosts a "Flag-Waving Memorial Day Celebration" from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, May 25. In addition to the usual attractions--a rodeo arena, museum, cantina, gift and craft shops, saloon, petting ranch, gold panning, stagecoach rides, antique carriages and wagons and a traditional Indian village, along with medicine shows, comedy revues, desert cookouts and staged shoot-outs--the park will offer free Arizona-flag bandannas to kids under 11, live country music by Way Out West and free balloon sculpture by that Rodin of rubber, Bubbles the Clown, and his pals. Regular hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, through Sunday, May 31. Main Street admission is free. 23023 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. 502-1880.
Guitar demigod Eric Clapton takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 25, at America West Arena, 201 East Jefferson. The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer, who has played with everybody from the Beatles to Frank Zappa, Ry Cooder to Robert Cray, is touring in support of his serene, low-key Reprise CD Pilgrim. Tickets range from $32 to $75. 379-7800 (AWA), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Instructors from Canyons and Coastlines Kayaking School present the series "Kayaking Workshops," Tuesdays through June 9, at Bookman's Used Books, Music and Software. On Tuesday, May 26, from 7 to 9 p.m., the instructor is the appropriately named Nancy Kanu, and the topic is "Planning Paddling Adventures." Admission is free. 1056 South Country Club Drive in Mesa. 835-0505.
Named by U.S. News and World Report as one of two "educational powerhouses," the Arizona School for the Arts presents its annual Spring Showcase in which the kids from ASA show their stuff in such disciplines as dance (the third act of Copelia as well as some modern-dance works), music (recitals of Vivaldi and Benjamin Britten by the school's symphony and vocal ensembles) and acting (a performance of "Image Theatre" by ASA's drama department). Tickets for the event, which begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams, are $10; a silent auction for the benefit of ASA will start in the Symphony Hall lobby at 6 p.m. 262-7272 (Phoenix Civic Plaza), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
The Valley group once known as the Suicide Kings has changed its name to The Revenants--not in fear of being associated with the recent Christopher Walken crime film, but rather because of a California band that shared its old moniker. In any case, this solid alt-country act, featuring Bruce Connole and former Gin Blossom Richard Taylor, shares the bill with Vic Masters (a.k.a. Serene Dominic). Showtime is 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, at Nita's Hideaway, 1816 East Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe. The cover is $3. 967-9531.