This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

 Thursday, May 15
There were few things more ominous and terrifying than the atomic bomb in the 1950s, but somehow the devastating new technology inspired a renaissance of dynamic, biomorphic art and design in that decade -- just stroll through Phoenix Art Museum's current exhibition, "Vital Forms: American Innovation in Art and Design, 1940-1960," for countless examples. On Thursday, May 15, Prasad Boradkar, assistant professor of design at Arizona State University, gives insight on how society's perceptions of atomic energy were transformed in a free ArtBreaks lecture titled "The Domesticated Atom: Science, Design and Music in the Post-War United States," offered at noon and 7 p.m. at the museum, 1625 North Central. For details visit www.phxart.org or call 602-257-1222.

Friday, May 16
Full of zesty fiddling and infectious accordion rhythms, the danceable Cajun sounds of legendary BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet are enough to make anyone wish they were born on the bayou. Considered Cajun's premier performance group, BeauSoleil comes to Scottsdale Center for the Arts on Friday, May 16. Best of all, the show's outdoors, in the center's Amphitheater -- the perfect place to get up and shake your booty. Visitors are welcome to bring blankets and lawn chairs; food and beverages must be purchased on the premises. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. concert. General admission tickets are $28, or $32 on the day of the show; to purchase, visit www.scottsdalearts.org or call 480-994-ARTS (2787). Children under 12 get in for half price, and kids 2 and under are admitted free. The center is located at 7380 East Second Street in Scottsdale.

Saturday, May 17
Rap music has come a long way since 1985, when LL Cool J made his debut with the first album ever released on the now-monumental Def Jam record label. But while so many hip-hop artists have come and gone (along with the myriad trends they spawned, from flattops to backward pants), LL has managed to stay relevant. Sure, the man might be a movie star now, but as his new album 10 proves, he still delivers the goods that made him a hip-hop icon in the first place. Witness LL's skills firsthand on Saturday, May 17, when he comes to the Valley -- his only appearance west of the Mississippi in just a handful of show dates. General admission tickets are $42.50, available from Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 8 p.m. concert at Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street.

Sunday, May 18
Seattle-based songstress Jill Cohn serenades Phoenix fans on Sunday, May 18, with music from her just-released sixth independent album, Seven Year Surrender. The multitalented singer/pianist/guitarist has a voice that ranges from sweetly melodic to delicately bluesy in soothing acoustic songs accented with slide guitar and organ -- the kind of dreamily mellow music that'll make you forget that tomorrow is Monday. Cohn performs at 7 p.m. at Fiddler's Dream, 1702 East Glendale Avenue in Phoenix. Admission is $5. For details call 602-997-9795.

Monday, May 19
Mondays don't make for a typical girls' night out, but on May 19, ladies looking for a little hubba hubba will find a way to get out of the house when the legendary Chippendales take the stage at Celebrity Theatre. Imagine a packed house of squealing women (some donning tiny wedding veils) getting worked into a frenzy as sweaty, shirtless hunks gyrate to thumping pop songs. But rather than just straightforward stripping, it's a fully choreographed production -- sort of like Broadway in the buff, yet just wholesome enough to stop short of the full monty. Heck, with so much buns and beefcake, it sounds just like a picnic. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8:30 p.m. performance, open only to ladies age 18 and over. VIP seats, $75, include champagne -- perfect for getting rid of those inhibitions. Regular seats are $45 to $50; purchase tickets from the box office or through Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444. Starting at 10:30 p.m., for $12 at the door, men can finally come inside for a raucous dance party. The Celebrity Theatre is located at 440 North 32nd Street.

Tuesday, May 20
Boise, Idaho, owes its designation on the alt-rock road map to native sons Built to Spill, who've perfected off-kilter pop music and given newfound credibility to gratuitous guitar noodling, thanks in large part to influential front man Doug Martsch, the only consistent member in the band since its founding a decade ago. Although Built to Spill hasn't put out a new record since 2001's Ancient Melodies of the Future, Martsch released his first solo album, Now You Know, late last year, to much critical acclaim. Now Martsch is reunited with the rest of the band for a monthlong tour of the Western U.S., and Tempe's Marquee Theatre is one of the privileged stops. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m., with opening band Draw. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster; visit www.ticketmaster.com or call 480-784-4444. Marquee Theatre is located at 730 North Mill in Tempe.

Wednesday, May 21
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a highly anticipated outing on Wednesday, May 21, when they take on the San Francisco Giants. In their first series against the Giants this year, the D-Backs are in the peculiar position of being both the defending National League West champions as well as one of the current season's lowest-ranking teams, while the Giants, last year's World Series runners-up, are in first place as of press time. And love Barry Bonds or hate him, baseball fans are looking forward to seeing what he will do -- if he doesn't get walked. Game time is 6:35 p.m. at Bank One Ballpark, 401 East Jefferson, and tickets are available from the box office or by calling 602-514-8400. To find out more, visit www.azdiamondbacks.com.

 
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