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Pic Hits for the week

june 6
Les Miserables: As overworked and overplayed as it is (the press kit brags that there have been "27 productions . . . in 14 languages, in 22 countries"), Les Miz still has the power to shame the best Lloyd Webber has to offer. The show's main claim to fame is that it's derived from Victor Hugo's doorstop of a novel about the French Revolution, but the true secrets of its immense success are Claude-Michel Schonberg's stellar, soaring score and Herbert Kretzmer's fine lyrics; the combination peaked on "I Dreamed a Dream," one of the most moving pieces in the musical theatre. Final performances of the touring production are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6; 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 7; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 8; and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 9, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Tickets range from $15 to $51, available at Gammage and Dillard's. Call 965-3434 or 678-2222.

Road Trip: Arizona Opera's Der Ring des Nibelungen in Flagstaff: The opera company's general director, Glynn Ross, and maestro Henry Holt were the forefathers of Seattle's outstanding annual presentation of Der Ring, and the two have been working on this, Arizona's first presentation of the complete, four-opera Wagner cycle, for about five years. Actually, it's two presentations. The first cycle concludes with performances of Siegfried at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 6; and Gstterdammerung at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 8. Cycle two begins with performances of Das Rheingold at 8 p.m. Monday, June 10; and Die WalkYre at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 11. The second-cycle productions of Siegfried and Gstterdammerung are scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 13; and 2 p.m. Saturday, June 15, respectively. The scene is Ardrey Auditorium on the Northern Arizona University campus, Knoles and Riordan streets. All shows are sung in German, with English surtitles. Remaining cycle packages and tickets to individual performances are available at the opera's Phoenix office and Dillard's; call 266-7464 or 678-2222.

The Drifters: The group's original leader, the incomparable Clyde McPhatter, died nearly a quarter-century ago, but the Drifters linger on, and many of the act's songs--"Honey Love," "Save the Last Dance for Me, "Up on the Roof," "This Magic Moment"--are for the ages. The doo-woppers perform beneath the stars on Thursday, June 6, at el Pedregal Festival Marketplace at the Boulders, 34505 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, continuing the facility's Music by Moonlight series. Showtime is 7 p.m. Admission is $5; space is limited. Call 488-1072.

Six Women With Brain Death or Expiring Minds Want to Know: Theater League presents a tenth-anniversary revival of the oft-revived all-woman musical inspired by soap operas, supermarket tabloids and other by-products of pop culture's ascension. Bob Sorenson directed this Six Women reincarnation, which stars Debby Rosenthal, Heidi Ewart, Melissa Spevacek, Renee Morgan Brooks, Sherri Hildebrand and Christie Klein. The run continues with previews at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 6; 8 p.m. Friday, June 7; 8 p.m. Saturday, June 8; 2 p.m. Sunday, June 9; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at the similarly revivified Scottsdale Playhouse, 7219 East Main. The production continues through Sunday, July 7. Preview tickets are $12.50, available at Dillard's; call 678-2222. For general information, call 952-2881.

june 7
Boyracer: This fine group from Leeds, England, has one huge strike against it here in America, land of the shriveled attention span: The band is extremely difficult to pin down, and, more important, to sum up. On its experimental but accessible Zero Hour debut, in full colour, the quartet creates a bloody great, utterly original soundscape sculpted from a stack of totally obvious influences--GBH is first among equals in a wide-ranging set that also includes the New York noise scene, R.E.M., punk, the Wedding Present, techno and the Velvet Underground. A speeded-up Galaxie 500 also leaps to mind, though it's a pretty safe bet that the obscure U.S. act never entered Boyracer's collective consciousness. Flake shares the bill. Showtime is 10 p.m. Friday, June 7, at Stinkweeds Record Exchange, 1250 East Apache, Suite 109, in Tempe. For details call 968-9490.

"La Bandera Vieja": MARS Artspace, 126 South Central, in Luhrs Office Center, hosts this mixed-media exhibition, an indie version of Phoenix Art Museum's institutional "Old Glory: The American Flag in Contemporary Art" (see the Art Exhibits listing). Rose Johnson, Anne Coe, Frank Ybarra, Ramon Delgadillo, Annie Lopez and about 20 others contributed pieces to "Bandera," billed as a collection of works reflecting "the responses of Arizona artists to the American flag as an image with viable abstract qualities and as an emblem of popular culture." The installation opens with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, June 7, and continues through Friday, June 28. Regular viewing hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Admission is free. Call 253-3541.  

Jim Brickman: The pianist is the unlikeliest artist on the Windham Hill roster. He got his start in the biz writing advertising jingles (the music to Pontiac's "We Are Driving Excitement" is his) and happy fluff for Jim Henson's Muppets. Brickman still performs "The Rainbow Connection," from 1979's The Muppet Movie, but he's better known now as a composer of pop-crossover instrumentals like the smash "Angel Eyes." Brickman performs at 8 p.m. Friday, June 7, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $23.50, available at the center and Ticketmaster. Call 994-2787 or 784-4444.

Les Miserables: See Thursday.
Six Women With Brain Death or Expiring Minds Want to Know: See Thursday.

june 8
Mainly Mozart Festival: Jeffrey Siegel is artistic director of the 11th annual tribute to Wolfgang and friends. The fest continues with Mainly Mozart Orchestra concerts at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at Paul V. Galvin Playhouse in Arizona State University Nelson Fine Arts Center, Tenth Street and Mill in Tempe; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 9, at La Sala, located in the University Center Building on the Arizona State University West campus, 4701 West Thunderbird in Glendale. The program includes the U.S. premiere of a movement from the title composer's unfinished Oboe Concerto in F major, completed in 1987 by Harvard musicologist Robert Levin; Mozart's Symphony No. 35 in D major ("Haffner"); and Schubert's Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major. A film, The Life of Mozart, is screened at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, at Kiva Hall on the ASU West campus. A final chamber concert, featuring Siegel at the piano, is scheduled at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at La Sala. The program features Mozart's Sonata in E minor for Violin and Piano, K. 304; Beethoven's Serenade for Flute, Violin and Viola, Opus 25; Hindemith's Kleine Kammermusik for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon, Opus 24, No. 2; and Brahms' Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano, Opus 40. Tickets are $20 and $23 for the orchestra concerts, $18 and $21 for the chamber concert, $5 for the film, available at Dillard's; call 678-2222. Festival events continue through Sunday, June 16. For general information, call 965-6447.

Gary Primich Band: The white-hot harmonica player is an instinctive bluesman, and one of the better purveyors of one of the form's better subgenres--the lively Texas strain, based in Austin, as is Primich. The musician's latest disc for the Flying Fish label, Mr. Freeze, is a roadhouse-rockin' delight, from the first notes of the razor-sharp opening romp, "Bad Poker Hand," to the final gust of hard wind he coaxes out of his harp. Showtime is 9 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. Call 265-4842.

Arizona Opera's Der Ring des Nibelungen: See Thursday.
"La Bandera Vieja": See Friday.
Les Miserables: See Thursday.
Six Women With Brain Death or Expiring Minds Want to Know: See Thursday.

june 9
Tish Hinojosa: Blessed with a birdlike voice in Emmylou Harris' range and the backbone of Joan Baez, the San Antonio-born singer-songwriter is equally adept as a performer of country-tinged pop with a light touch and of stark neofolk with a social conscience. Tish achieved the perfect balance between the poles on Culture Swing, her landmark album for Rounder, which remains her best work; see the story on page 96. Bill Miller shares the bill on Sunday, June 9, at the Rockin' Horse, 7000 East Indian School in Scottsdale. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the scene and Ticketmaster. For details call 949-0992 or 784-4444.

Band Slam '96: Valley acts Sistah Blue, Kongo Shock, Polliwog, the Fake McCoys, and the Mary McCann Band are scheduled to perform between rounds of full-contact "slam poetry"--the linguistic equivalent of performance art--at this third annual fund raiser. The top four slammers win spots on the Phoenix Slam Poetry Team and a trip to Portland, Oregon, for August's National Poetry Slam. Showtime is 7 p.m. Sunday, June 9, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. Admission is $6, $5 with a canned-good item for donation to St. Mary's Food Bank. For details call 265-4842.

Les Miserables: See Thursday.
Mainly Mozart Festival: See Saturday.
Six Women With Brain Death or Expiring Minds Want to Know: See Thursday.

june 10
Satan's Pilgrims: Despite its name and its campy stage show--the Pilgrims wear matching costumes and black capes--the group is actually one of the more conservative riders of surf's New Wave. The West Coast band specializes in tremolo, reverb and keen reverence for instro-rock's true pilgrims, like the Trashmen, Duane Eddy, the Mar-Keys and, of course, Dick Dale's Del-Tones. The Drags, the Fells, and John Cougar Concentration Camp share the bill; if the latter act can't play a lick, it's earned a listen for the groovy name alone. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. Monday, June 10, at Boston's, 910 North McClintock in Tempe. The cover is $7. For details call 921-7343.  

Superdrag: The mid-'60s-meets-mid-'90s sound of the Knoxville, Tennessee, quartet is often likened to that of Matthew Sweet; see the story on page 95. Touring in support of its Elektra debut, Regretfully Yours, and the single "Sucked Out," Superdrag performs on Monday, June 10, in the Fender Showcase Room at Electric Ballroom, 1216 East Apache in Tempe. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. The cover is $6. For details call 894-0707.

Arizona Opera's Der Ring des Nibelungen: See Thursday.

june 11
Desert Twilight Tour: The docent-guided, one-hour walk through Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway, in Papago Park, offers stellar sunsets, wildlife encounters and a relatively temperate way to experience the well-baked summertime garden. Tours are scheduled Tuesday, June 11; Wednesday, June 12; and each Tuesday and Wednesday in June. They step off at 7 p.m. from the tour waiting area. Participation is free with regular admission: $6, $5 for seniors, $1 for kids ages 5 to 12, free for those younger. For details call 941-1225.

Arizona Opera's Der Ring des Nibelungen: See Thursday.
"La Bandera Vieja": See Friday.
Mainly Mozart Festival: See Saturday.

june 12
Magnapop, Possum Dixon, and the Ass Ponys: Georgia's Magnapop boasts the refreshing set-up of a front-and-center female duo, vocalist Linda Hopper and guitarist Ruthie Morris, with the boys in the band, bassist Shannon Mulvaney and drummer Mark Posgay, consigned to back-up duty. Touring behind its new Priority release, the Geza X-produced Rubbing Doesn't Help, the quartet tops this triple bill of acts with one significant thing in common: an affinity for what Magnapop's Morris terms "fat guitars." The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at Electric Ballroom, 1216 East Apache in Tempe. Tickets are $8, available at the club and Ticketmaster. For details call 894-0707 or 784-4444.

Desert Twilight Tour: See Tuesday.
"La Bandera Vieja": See Friday.
Mainly Mozart Festival: See Saturday.
Six Women With Brain Death or Expiring Minds Want to Know: See Thursday.

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