Author Erika Lopez is growing out her grassroots. After writing four books for Simon & Schuster (with saucy titles such as Lap Dancing for Mommy and Hoochie Mama: The Other White Meat), the self-described "half Puerto Rican Quaker bisexual" gave S&S the finger, choosing to self-publish and tour backyards instead of bookstores. Lopez's fans now book and promote her shows, and she says she's loved the shift back to D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself, that is). "I felt like a kid who's in her own imaginary world, making the world her little insane lemonade stand, doing a show with a sheet on the clothesline behind her," she says. Her spoken-word show, Nothing Left But the Smell: A Republican on Welfare, comes to an undisclosed Phoenix location Thursday, July 15. "Our shows are secrets," Lopez explains. "Cranky, little, funny secrets." To get in on the hush-hush gig, fork over $10.50 in advance, which buys directions and admission, plus food and drink; seating is limited to 30 people. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.erikalopez.com. --Niki D' Andrea
Local band bridges genres
Get your groove on with Granola Funk Express on Friday, July 16, at the Old Brickhouse, 1 East Jackson. By blending hip-hop, rock, reggae and punk with original lyrics, the nine-member ensemble offers something for almost every musical persuasion. "The show is very eclectic," says William "Nature" Sharp, one of GFE's vocalists. He adds that most of the band members were once street performers just scraping by, but since teaming up in 1997, they've been able to make a living doing what they love -- without selling out. "Everybody in the band just tries to create good music," he says. The show starts at 8 p.m.; tickets are $7 at the door. --C. Murphy Hebert
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Kaz Bar uncorks Xmas in July
Jingle bells rock the Kaz Bar in Scottsdale during its third annual "Christmas in July" charity drive. The tree is trimmed and the stockings are hung through July 31 at Kaz Bar, a.k.a. Kazimierz World Wine Bar, 7137 East Stetson, as the staff accepts donations on behalf of the Arizona chapters of the American Red Cross, U.S. Marine Toys for Tots and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Marianne Markogianis, the restaurant's marketing director and self-proclaimed "queen of buzz and schmooze" calls the event "just a little wacky fun [and an] escape from the mind-numbing heat typical of Arizona in July."
Stop in for a mug of Christmas cheer and make a donation, and automatically get entered into a prize drawing to take place at the end of the month. Check out www.kazbar.net for more info. --C. Murphy Hebert