"I thought we [Eyes Adrift] were in a holding pattern, so it was kind of a surprise," Kirkwood says. Luckily, Kirkwood had begun playing with Newmyer prior to the implosion of Eyes Adrift, crafting a vocally oriented, dual guitar project that makes its live debut this Friday, December 5, at Nita's Hideaway. Kirkwood is coy about the duo's sound, launching into an analytical diatribe about his artistic ventures: "I'm pretty uninspired, that's why I do it. I try to get away with stuff. I do things that are bad purposefully and try to sell them to people like the king's new clothes."
Kirkwood and Newmyer will play with Brent Babb (of Dead Hot Workshop) and Lovers of Guts (featuring members of Les Payne Project). Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 day of show. Call 480-966-7715 or see www.nitashideaway.com for more information.- Brendan Joel Kelley
A Storied Past
Historic homes open for touring
You may not know it, but the neighborhood between Seventh Avenue and Grand, and McDowell and Roosevelt is named after a 19th-century developer named Francis Quarles Story. He played a part in the development of Grand Avenue, as well as the streetcar system that originally ran along it. Now the F.Q. Story neighborhood is known for its historic architecture and its old-fashioned holiday home tour. This year's tour takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, December 6, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, December 7. Tickets, $10, can be purchased at the intersection of 11th Avenue and Portland during the event. For more information, call 602-258-9282 or visit www.fqstory.org. - Maidi Terry
Runway show benefits charity
The fashion world isn't always superficial. "Fashion Makes a Difference" is perhaps the first local charity fund raiser organized by members of the local design community. All proceeds from the runway event go to the Phoenix Shanti Group's AIDS and HIV programs.
"This is a cause that's near and dear to a lot of the designers' hearts," says participant Casey Pearson.
Designer and co-coordinator A.L. Matthews says it's a good way to commemorate World AIDS Day. "Now the disease is affecting more people, and fashion is a good tie-in to raise awareness, especially among young women," he says. "This is also a way to celebrate people we've lost."
The show takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday, December 7, at the Sunshine Hotel and Resort, 3600 North Second Avenue. Tickets are $25 at the door or $20 in advance, available at Shanti's Second Chances, located in the southeast plaza at the intersection of 16th Street and Indian School. Call 602-279-0008 for details.- Michele Laudig
Charge Of The Light Parade
Holiday spirit rolls down Central
With spectacular floats carrying an average of 8,000 lights each -- plus musical and dance performers sporting costumes worthy of a spot in the Thomas Edison collection -- it's no wonder the APS Electric Light Parade takes its place among the best and brightest of Valley holiday festivities. Step into the light when this year's ode to illumination, themed "Toyland on Central," takes to the streets of Phoenix at 7 p.m. Saturday, December 6. The parade -- which runs along Central Avenue between Missouri and Thomas -- annually draws more than 200,000 spectators. For more information, call 602-262-4627 or visit www.phoenix.gov. - Craig Wallach
Arts fest fills Mill
Even if we could trade lives with Paris Hilton, we'd still stick around for the Tempe Festival of the Arts, 'cause not even blonde billionaires have shopping this good. Five hundred artisans' booths offer unique, handmade gifts of showable, wearable and edible art. From Friday, December 5, through Sunday, December 7, browse the gift bazaar/art show/food orgy on Mill Avenue that beats Saint-Tropez any day. Nosh on goodies from barbecue to baklava and truffles to Thai as you shop to a live soundtrack of rock, jazz, blues and Irish music belting from three stages. Pay your little brother five bucks to carry packages and -- bam! -- you look like an heiress. And the festival is one shopping binge you can claim as philanthropy: Part of the proceeds provide art scholarships and benefit selected charities. For more information, call 480-967-2001 or see www.tempe.gov.- Kim Toms
Trek the Halls
Holiday Home Tour spotlights rooms with a view
There's no place like these homes for the holidays. The Valley's swankiest digs throw open their doors for the Tour de Noel 2003 Holiday Home Tour, this Friday, December 5, through Sunday, December 7. The Arizona North Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers and Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine present the 15th annual event, featuring five tours of homes decked out for the holidays, plus food from prominent chefs and caterers.This year's "new and improved" festivities kick off with a Friday-evening "Jingle, Jazz & Joy" progressive cocktail party at the residence of an ASID member. Saturday's lunch and dinner tours, taking in three Arcadia-area homes, begin and end at the Phoenician; Sunday's brunch and sunset tours through three Desert Mountain homes depart from the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. Silent auctions and raffles precede each tour's departure. Prices range from $75 to $125 per person, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Sojourner Center for abused women. Call 480-951-2950 for reservations or more information. - Jill Koch
Hang On, Snoopy
Concert celebrates Christmas
If Charlie Brown played Vegas, they'd bill him "Mr. Christmas" -- but lucky for us, tuxedos and pinkie rings aren't his zigzag style. At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 4, Chuck joins Al Jarreau, Melissa Manchester and Dave Benoit in A Concert for Christmas at downtown's Dodge Theatre. While the real live stars perform their greatest hits and holiday favorites, the Peanuts gang appears in classic footage on big screens above the stage, ushering in the holidays in the traditional way. Tickets start at $28 and are available at the Dodge Theatre box office, 400 West Washington, and through Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444 or www.ticketmaster.com. - Kim Toms
Big Fat Merry Deal
Mesa's Main event greets the season
The biggest holiday event in the East Valley happens Friday, December 5, from 5 to 9:30 p.m. -- and, yes, Santa will be attending. Mesa's Merry Main Street offers up not only personal visits with the cherry-cheeked man from 6 to 9 p.m. on the "Santa Stage," but also food and entertainment from a variety of cultures. Performances by salsa bands, pipe bands and bell ringers are among the featured events this year -- not to be outdone by the lighted costume contest, carolers and a gingerbread house contest. Kick off your holiday season at this free, comprehensive event; if you're lucky, it might even be cold. The event takes place in downtown Mesa, on Main Street between Country Club and Center. Call 480-644-EVENT or visit www.ci.mesa.az.us/calendar/merrymain for more information.- Maidi Terry