Arizona State Fair: The annual corn-dog carnival continues daily, through Sunday, at the fairgrounds, bounded by McDowell Road and Encanto Boulevard between 17th and 19th avenues. Along with the usual attractions--midway rides and games, livestock and agricultural exhibits, etc.--this year's fair features Thunder Lagoon, a manmade "rain forest in the desert"; Budweiser Party Gras, a New Orleans-style restaurant/bar located in the Mineral Museum building; and "Dino Island," a hot new interactive ride at AT&T Reactor. Final Veterans' Memorial Coliseum performances are by Steve Miller Band at 7p.m. Thursday, Randy Travis at 7 p.m. Friday, Brandy at 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Gallagher at 1 p.m. Sunday, and Gin Blossoms at 7 Sunday night (for details about the Brandy and Blossoms concerts, see below). Final Midway Pay-One-Price days are Thursday and Sunday (see At the Fair listing in Thrills), and Arizona Super Bowl XXX Kids' "In" Zone event is planned Friday and Saturday (see "At the Fair" in Kid Pics). All of the above are free with regular admission: $6, $4 for seniors, $3 for kids ages 5 to 13, free for those younger. For general information, call 268-3247 or 252-6771.
Writers Harvest: The National Reading: On Thursday, approximately 1,000 writers share their works at venues across the country in this fourth annual fund raiser. Authors Schim Schimmel, Jewell Parker Rhodes and Gloria P. Marshall host separate readings at Bookstar, 8919 East Indian Bend in Scottsdale. A percentage of the store's Thursday sales benefits Valley antihunger groups; call 4434909 for times and details. The Writer's Voice of Scottsdale/Paradise Valley YMCA and Tempe's Changing Hands Bookstore sponsor a reading at 7 p.m. at the bookstore, 414 South Mill, Suite 109. Featured readers are Rand Carlson, co-host of KAET-TV's Books & Co.; poet Beckian Fritz Goldberg; and authors Laura Tohe (Making Friends With Water) and Melissa Pritchard (The Instinct for Bliss). Admission is a suggested donation of $5, with all proceeds benefiting Mesa's United Food Bank. For details call 922-5467.
Nexus, and Phoenix Symphony: In conjunction with the 1995 Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), which continues daily, through Saturday, at Phoenix Civic Plaza, Second Street and Adams, and Hyatt Regency Phoenix, 122 North Second Street (see Music listing for details), Canadian ensemble Nexus joins the symphony and conductor James Sedares for performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. The program includes Takemitsu's From me flows what you call time, Weber's Overture to Oberon and Strauss' Don Quixote. Tickets range from $12 to $36, available at symphony box office and Dillard's. More information: 264-6363 or 678-2222. (Note: Nexus and the symphony rejoin forces at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for the season's inaugural Mervyn's California Family Concert Series performance; see "At the Concert" in Kid Pics.)
"Digital Creations": Works by computer-art pioneer Lillian Schwartz, a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science and the author of The Computer Artist's Handbook, are featured in this exhibit, which opens with a free reception for the artist from 4:30to 6:30 p.m. Thursday and continues through January 4, 1996, in Computing Commons Gallery, located on the first floor of Computing Services Building, Orange Mall and Palm Walk on ASU campus in Tempe. Schwartz gives a free, preopening lecture at 3 p.m. in Computing Commons Auditorium; for reservations call 965-3609. For general information, call 965-5968.
A Midsummer Night's Dream: Arizona Theatre Company has opened its season with Shakespeare's beguiling fantasy about the power of love. This week's performances are at 2 and 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8p.m. Saturday, 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Wednesday in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The production continues through November 18. Tickets range from $20 to $30, available at Herberger and Dillard's box offices. A Target Stores "Blue Jeans" performance is slated for 1 p.m. November 12, with tickets priced at $4 and $7. For reservations and details, call 252-8497 or 678-2222. See the review on page 69.
ASU Sun Devils' Homecoming: This year's free "Lantern Walk" to light the "A" on Tempe's "A" Mountain includes a performance by the Sun Devil Marching Band and a speech by football coach Bruce Snyder. It's slated for 7 p.m. Friday. The public is invited; meet at the foot of the mountain, on Fifth Street between Mill and Forest. The annual Homecoming parade is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2p.m. Saturday in Tempe; it starts on McAllister, travels west on University, north on Mill, east on Fifth Street and southeast on Stadium, ending in front of ASU Activity Center. This year's Homecoming football game, pitting Snyder's Sun Devils against the UCLA Bruins, follows at 4:30 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe; for ticket information, call Sun Devil Sports Box Office at 965-2381 or Dillard's at 678-2222.
Chuck Pyle: The Waterbug recording artist wrote the theme song to the PBS series Spirit of Colorado, as well as a solo theatre piece, The Road As Seen From Under a Zen Gallon Hat, which he expects to debut in spring 1996. As a craftsman of songs, Pyle has impeccable credits; he carries seals of approval from Chris LeDoux, Tish Hinojosa, David Wilcox and Christine Lavin. Touring in support of his latest album, Camel Rock, Pyle performs on Friday at Songsmith Coffeehouse at Congregational Church of the Valley, 120th Street and Shea in Scottsdale. Don Charles and Deb Gessner share the bill. Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission is $8, $6 for students. Call 860-9687 or 451-4565.
Ballet Arizona's Collaborations: The troupe's choreographer-intensive program features an unusual array of contemporary works by a quartet of noted dance "designers": Peter Pucci, director of New York's Peter Pucci Plus Dancers; Neta Pulvermacher, director of New York's Neta Pulvermacher and Dancers; and Michael Uthoff and Donald Dadey of Ballet Arizona. The pieces by Pulvermacher, Uthoff and Dadey are augmented with works by Arizona visual artists Jerry Gilmore, Linda Ingraham and Martina M. Shenal, respectively. Showtime is 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $16, available at the center and all Ticketmaster locations. Call 994-2787 or 784-4444.
Thunderbird Balloon Classic and Desert Glow: The 21st annual classic features 125 balloons competing in a "Hare and Hound"-style race; it's slated for Saturday and Sunday on the polo field at WestWorld, 16601 North Pima Road in Scottsdale. Inflation begins at 6:30 each morning; first launch is at approximately 7:15. The Desert Glow starts at 6p.m. Saturday, and features about 80 tethered and illuminated balloons. Admission to the classic is $7, free for kids under 12. Desert Glow admission is $3. Proceeds benefit Glendale's Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management. Tickets are available at Norwest Bank branches and Dillard's. For details call 978-7208 or 678-2222.
Vicente Fernandez and Alejandro Fernandez: Ranchero singer Vicente, known in some circles as the Mexican Elvis, passes on the torch to his son, Sony recording artist Alejandro, at 8 p.m. Saturday at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. The show is a stop on the Fernndezes' final American tour as a duo. Tickets range from $15 to $75, available at arena and Dillard's box offices. For details call 379-7800 or 678-2222.
The Idiot Variations: Renaissance man Rinde Eckert--performance artist, poet, dancer, classically trained musician, thinker--performs this one-man show, an exploration of the thin line between genius and idiocy, at8p.m. Saturday at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. The show is part of the venue's "On-Stage" series, in which audience members are seated onstage with the performer; space is limited. Tickets are $14, available at Gammage and Dillard's box offices. Call 965-3434 or 678-2222.
Brandy: The TV star turned R&B singer crooned "The Greatest Love of All" to Arsenio Hall when she was 11, and she's a grizzled veteran of stage and screen at age 15. Touring in support of her eponymous debut album, which launched the hit "I Wanna Be Down," Brandy performs at 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, in conjunction with Arizona State Fair (see Thursday). The shows are free with regular fair admission; limited reserved seating is available for a fee (see "In General" section in At the Fair listing). Call 268-3247 or 252-6771.
Gin Blossoms: The hometown antiheroes and A&M recording artists perform on Sunday at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, in conjunction with Arizona State Fair (see Thursday). The band will donate its guarantee from the show to Arizona AIDS Project's Camp Hakuna Matata. Dead Hot Workshop, and Refreshments share the bill. Showtime is 7 p.m. The performance is free with regular fair admission; limited reserved seating is available for a fee (see "In General" section in At the Fair listing). Call 268-3247 or 252-6771.
Phoenix Suns: Charles Barkley and company host the world-champion Houston Rockets at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Suns' regular-season home opener at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson. Tickets are available at arena and Dillard's box offices. For details call 379-7867, 379-7800 or 678-2222.
Lowen & Navarro: Dan Navarro is cousin to Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist David Navarro, but the two are musically unrelated. Dan and partner Eric Lowen, like many of today's Triple-A-format artists, can't dance, and they certainly can't slam dance, but they can write pretty well. Having penned tunes for the likes of the Bangles, David Lee Roth and Pat Benatar, Lowen & Navarro started playing their own songs--to increasing acclaim. They perform on Sunday at the Rockin' Horse, 7000 East Indian School in Scottsdale. Joel Rafael Band shares the bill. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $16 the day of the show, available at the scene and Ticketmaster. Call 949-0992 or 784-4444.
Lacy J. Dalton: The whiskey-voiced belter (real name: Jill Byrem) started her professional life as a Midwestern protest singer. After a stint as a psychedelic rocker on the Left Coast, she was lured to Nashville by Billy Sherrill in the late Seventies, and there she remains. Dalton performs at 8:30 p.m. Monday at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams, in a show sponsored by Tucson's Hospice Family Care, Inc. The show is free, but tickets are required; for details about how to get them, call 1-800-261-2051 and press 4600. Donations benefiting Gilda's Club International training centers are accepted at the door. For general information, call 262-7272.
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Dance Theatre of Harlem: One of America's finest troupes, DTH performs its signature piece, "Firebird," in a show planned for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Also on the bill: "Doina," "Adagietto #5" and "Signs and Wonders." Tickets are $19, $24 and $28, available at Gammage and Dillard's. Call 965-3434 or 678-2222.
Merle Haggard and the Strangers: Haggard and his band, named after one of the country singer's early hits, "(From Now On All My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers," perform a fund raiser for United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Desert Sky Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue. Heather Myles shares the bill. General-admission tickets are $15. Call 248-9191 or 254-7599.
Bobby Parker: Parker backed Bo Diddley in the mid-Fifties, and Eric Clapton backed Parker in the late Sixties. The latter gig was facilitated by Parker's early-Sixties hit "Watch Your Step," which influenced an entire generation of British bluesicians. The Washington, D.C.-based guitarist, touring in support of hissecond Black Top album, Shine Me Up, performs at 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. Cover is $5. For details call 265-4842.
Eric Liu: The former White House speechwriter, now executive editor of The Next Progressive, speaks on "The Debt That Generation X Owes Americans of the World War II Years" at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Student Union Lounge on the campus of Glendale Community College, 6000 West Olive. Admission is free. Call 435-3813 or 435-3650.