Sedona resident Bruce Licher's instrumental aggregate Scenic is breaking a two-and-a-half-year performance hiatus at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art's opening reception for "southwestNET: architecture and design" on Thursday, May 29, followed by an encore performance the next evening at Modified Arts. Scenic, whose lineup includes Stinkweeds Records and Modified Arts owner Kimber Lanning on drums, creates soundscapes that concurrently evoke nature walks and space travel -- waves of sound not dependent on melody or conventional structure. The five-piece uses unorthodox tunings and effects on its latest CD, The Acid Gospel Experience, to craft an ethereal sonic journey that lifts listeners from the terra firma.
Licher is also one of the artists contributing to "southwestNET." His letterpress design work and tactile printing processes have long been aesthetic bonus prizes accompanying the output of Scenic and his former band, Savage Republic. His work has been commissioned by artists including R.E.M., whose Holiday Fan Club packaging has been done by Licher every year since 1990.
At SMoCA's "Sound Shower," which focuses sound directly on the listener, visitors will hear tracks by Scenic and Savage Republic while viewing a display of CD and record covers and other ephemera. The "southwestNET" opening is at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 29, at 7380 East Second Street in Scottsdale. Admission is free; visit www.scottsdalearts.org for more info. On Friday, May 30, Scenic plays Modified Arts, 407 East Roosevelt, at 10:30 p.m. Doors open at 9; admission is $7. -- Brendan Joel Kelley
Tonights special; the underworld
Anthony Bourdain is just as famous for his adventurous food writing (the best-selling Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour, inspiration for his series on the Food Network) as for his culinary talents as the executive chef of Manhattan's Brasserie Les Halles. But the maverick chef also knows how to take a bite out of crime. His fourth novel, The Bobby Gold Stories, gives readers a taste of the mob and the simmering underworld of New York's nightclub scene -- a sexy thriller infused with kitchen intrigue. On Tuesday, June 3, Bourdain signs copies of his new book at noon at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale (480-947-2974) and at 7 p.m. at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe (480-730-0205). -- Michele Laudig
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All In Good Taste
Stuff yourself to feed the needy
Fans of irony as well as fine cuisine will enjoy this weekend's Taste of the Nation, a gourmet fund-raising event to help fight hunger. That's right -- you can eat for charity, thanks to the gracious efforts of about two dozen of the Valley's best-known chefs, and guest chef Michel Richard from Washington, D.C.'s acclaimed Citronelle, who will dazzle guests with culinary creativity. Seatings are at 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. Saturday, May 31, at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, located inside the Scottsdale Galleria. Tickets are $95 ($150 for VIP), and proceeds benefit Share Our Strength, Waste Not, Westside Food Bank and United Food Bank. For tickets, visit www.strength.org/taste/phoenix or call 1-866-844-3300. -- Michele Laudig
War creates new trends
Blame it on the bomb -- World War II led to truly radical changes in American design in the '40s and '50s, as documented in "Vital Forms" at the Phoenix Art Museum. From Noguchi tables to Eames chairs, furniture gained a curvy appeal that's still popular (and also wildly collectible) today. Fashion, too, broke free of the Parisian standard, putting home-grown talents such as Claire McCardell and Charles James in the international spotlight. On Thursday, May 29, hear all about "Furniture and Fashion" of this era from David Sheflin, owner of chic local boutique Vintage Fashion Inc. Part of the museum's free ArtBreaks series, the gallery talks happen at noon and 7 p.m. -- Michele Laudig