Say amen, everybody, as Black Theatre Troupe opens its 36th season with the rousing gospel musical Amen Corner. Adapted from James Baldwin's 1955 play The Amen Corner, the work is simultaneously serious and uplifting. It's centered on the internal struggle of Sister Margaret Alexander, a spiritual shepherd who loses stature in the eyes of her flock when both her bad-penny musician husband and her wayward son turn up simultaneously after years in the wilderness. Amen Corner features a high-energy score by Garry Sherman and lyrics by Peter Udell. The show premières at 8 p.m. Thursday, September 29, in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street. The run continues through October 16; showtimes vary. Tickets range from $22 to $30, with discounts available for groups, seniors, students, and military personnel. Call 602-252-8497 or visit www.herbergertheater.org.
Grab your lederhosen (or Levis) and hoof it down to Tempe Beach Park for the 33rd annual Way Out West Oktoberfest -- a Bavaria-meets-Old West fest that mingles brats and boots, oompah polka and country twang, Hefeweizen and Coors. The festival's main themes remain the same: eats and greets from around the world, brews galore, and a mélange of live entertainment on three stages. Acts scheduled to perform include Mogollon, the Dumpkoffs, Tequila Moon, Germany's Das Aubachtal Sextett, and China's "Little Cuckoo" Children's Arts Troupe. The Valley's Walt Richardson kicks things off with a performance at 5 p.m. Friday, September 30. The concert is followed by the Friday Night Parade of Nations -- which includes a pep rally featuring the Arizona State University Marching Band, the ASU cheerleaders, and ASU mascot Sparky -- as well as the all-important "Tapping of the Ceremonial Keg." The festival continues from 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday, October 1, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, October 2. Admission to all events is free. Tempe Beach Park is located at Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway. Call 480-491-3378 or visit www.wowoktoberfest.com.
Think globally, shop locally. That's the message behind the Certified Local festival on Saturday, October 1, at Duck & Decanter, 1651 East Camelback Road. Sponsored by Arizona Chain Reaction, a coalition of more than 700 "indie" businesses within the state, the event casts the spotlight on local products and artists. There will be food and beverage tastings by Valley eateries such as Teeter House, Carly's Bistro, That's a Wrap!, Spinato's Pizza, and Monti's La Casa Vieja; performances by local acts Rastafarmers, Loose Cannons Blues Band, and acoustic guitarist/vocalist Mikel Lander; free massages by the Back Rub Company; Linux demos by Red Seven Computers; and an egg-toss contest sponsored by Hickman's Eggs. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Call 602-274-5429 or visit www.azcr.org.
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There can never be enough Irish punk in the world, so plant a big, wet smack on the butt cheeks of The Kissers. The Wisconsin six-piece sounds so eerily like the Pogues -- sans Shane MacGowan's mouthful-of-rocks vocals -- that the bands might have been separated at birth. (Also like the Pogues, The Kissers' name is a play on pogue mahone, Celtic for "kiss my ass.") The aural similarity is not surprising, given that The Kissers started out as a Pogues cover band, and it's also not a bad thing, as the Pogues have been residing in Hell's Ditch since MacGowan went his own, sodden way. Touring in support of Good Fight, their latest album of original tunes, The Kissers perform on Sunday, October 2, at Jughead's, 5110 East McDowell Road. Showtime is 10 p.m. The cover is $5. Call 602-225-0307 or visit www.thekissers.com.
Expression yourself from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, October 3, during the closing reception for "Expressionists' World: Michael Moe & Kenneth Steimle" at Robert Roman Gallery at artspace, 4235 North Marshall Way in Scottsdale. Pacific Northwesterner Moe specializes in complex pieces brimming with biomorphic/geometric shapes. The work of Scottsdale's Steimle is more childlike and intuitive, heavy on pastel blues, greens and pinks. Admission is free. Call 480-947-4014 or visit www.robertromangallery.com.
Baseball season is almost over, right? Wrong, bucko. It's just starting for the Arizona Fall League -- a Major League Baseball finishing school for players bound for the bigs. Each MLB team assigns six top prospects to the AFL from its minor-league affiliates, creating a half-dozen local squads that slug it out in a 96-game mini-season. The teams -- the Phoenix Desert Dogs, Peoria Javelinas, Mesa Solar Sox, Grand Canyon Rafters, Peoria Saguaros, and Surprise Scorpions -- play at various Valley ball yards. The 14th annual AFL season begins with three games on Tuesday, October 4: Rafters at Javelinas (1:05 p.m. at Peoria Sports Complex, 83rd Avenue and Bell Road), Saguaros at Scorpions (1:05 p.m. at Surprise Stadium, 15754 North Bullard Avenue), and Solar Sox at Desert Dogs (7:05 p.m. at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, 5999 East Van Buren Street). Tickets are dirt-cheap: $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and those 17 and under. For more information, call 480-496-6700. For a complete schedule, visit www.phoenixnewtimes.com.
Imagine Philip Glass' Koyaanisqatsi with actors or Darren Aronofsky's Pi set to Glass' music. That's the sort of stark, dreamy quality filmmaker Carolyn Corbett brings to her indie effort Dakota, which was shot entirely on digital video. Says Corbett of her creation, "This film asked to have its own unique architecture and agenda. Life, real life, is not linear, and Dakota did not unfold as a linear narrative. It came through as a series of moments." Dakota has its Arizona première on Wednesday, October 5, as part of the "Film Nuit à la Paper Heart" series. The screening starts at 7:30 p.m. at Paper Heart, 750 Grand Avenue. Admission is $3. Call 602-262-2020 or visit www.thepaperheart.com.