Few festivals celebrate a culture's past and present simultaneously. Yet this is exactly the point of the American Express Invitational Native American Arts Festival, as guests see both modern Native American art and the traditions that influenced it. The festival is preceded by a free lecture and demonstration series, running through Friday, January 9, and giving guests a chance to see Native American artists practice traditional techniques. It includes demonstrations of such art forms as Choctaw petroglyphs, Navajo weaving and Hopi kachina carving.
The festival itself takes place Friday, January 10, and Saturday, January 11, at the West Valley Fine Arts Council Grounds, 387 Wigwam Boulevard in Litchfield Park. The celebration features performances by Navajo flutist R. Carlos Nakai, a Grammy winner who recently celebrated his 20th year of touring; and Brule, a pianist/keyboardist who fuses Native musical traditions with contemporary rock influences. Guests also can catch Native American dancing and storytelling while indulging in Pueblo-style cuisine and fry bread.
For a lecture schedule and festival information, call 623-935-6384 or visit www.wvfac.org. - Justin Guleserian
Back That Bass Up
Boat Expo comes to the Valley
Some days are wetter than others. Desert dry land this Wednesday, January 14, when the 33rd Annual Arizona National Boat Show & Fishing Exposition docks at the Phoenix Civic Plaza. Featuring some 350 watercraft -- from sailboats to 85-foot houseboats -- plus seminars, displays, demos and a kids' fishing pond, the show sails through Sunday, January 18. Call 602-230-7660 or see www.greenband.com for details. - Jill Koch
Paper Heart hosts bazaar of the bizarre
Not only do the members of Cut Throat Freak Show delight in being dubbed freaks, they profit from it. "Just the other night I chased a girl out of a bar because she wouldn't take a nail out of my nose," says Jeremy Kinison, the group's fire-eating, chain-saw-juggling, glass-walking freak. He's joined by Christine the contortionist; Princess Anna, who holds a world record for lying on a bed of nails; and Bitchface, the musical monkey.
The four-person side show brings its chaotic blend of perilous stunts and dizzying music to the Paper Heart, 222 North Fifth Avenue, Wednesday, January 14. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. Call 602-262-2020 or log on to www.thepaperheart.com for more information. - Ashlea Deahl
Behind Every Great Man...
Rhodes dishes on Douglass' Women
Frederick Douglass is known for his soapbox speeches on the issue of slavery, as well as his influence on Abraham Lincoln's presidency. Thanks to scholar Jewell Parker Rhodes, he also will be remembered for his ongoing relationships with two very different women. Rhodes, artistic director and chair of ASU's Center for Creative Writing, has just released Douglass' Women: A Novel, in which she investigates Douglass' relationships with both his wife and mistress. She sheds light on their lives (they all spent several summers together) and addresses how the two women supported the work of the famous rhetorician. Rhodes will discuss her novel as part of the "ASU to You: Coffee, Conversation & the Arts" series at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 13, at the Tempe Public Library. Call 480-727-6639 for details. -Maidi Terry
Feet of Strength
Longtime dancer keeps the beat
He's still in the swing of things. Frankie Manning, who turns 90 in May, headlines the New Year Swing Jam, Friday, January 9, through Sunday, January 11. Manning, an original Lindy hopper in 1930s Harlem who toured with Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald -- and appeared in Spike Lee's Malcolm X -- will teach (yes, he will be one of the instructors) jitterbug classes at North High School, 12th Street and Thomas, throughout the weekend. Once Manning's got you fleet on your feet, the 52nd Street Revival gigs it up at 21st Century Forum, Third Avenue and Earll Drive, on Friday night, while Dennis Rowland and a 12-piece big band throw down on Saturday night. Both dances start at 8 p.m. and cost $10 to $15 per person, including a beginning swing dance class. The other classes are $12 per person, and the full weekend package costs $110. For more information, call 602-717-ARTS or see www.SaveTheArts.org/frankie. - Joe Watson
AZ Rockfest rolls in
To the gem and mineral enthusiast, the term "rock star" has little to do with the men and women who clutter up our radio dials. For them, it's all about digging a little deeper into the field of earth science in an effort to discover the rare and hidden classics that can make or break a collection. Stone fans are expected en masse for the Valley's preeminent rock invasion, the 2004 Arizona Rockfest and Earth Science Fair, Friday, January 9, through Sunday, January 11, at Tempe's Diablo Stadium, 2200 West Alameda. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than 100 dealers and earth science organizations will be on hand for three days of rock debauchery, including a $500 gem and mineral giveaway, a rock petting zoo, stage shows and demonstrations, student expo, live reptiles and 100-ton Rockin' Fossil Dig. For details call 602-923-7802. - Craig Wallach
Plow and Then
Turn over a charitable time at Eagle Mountain Ranch
Meet the little engines that could -- and did -- revolutionize the world. Buckeye's Eagle Mountain Vintage Power Show, benefiting Make-A-Wish Foundation, features antique engines and tractors so elegant in design -- and so full of pocketa pocketa charm -- that any man strolling by will stop and toe the dirt in ecstasy. There'll also be tractor pulls, a silent auction and a swap meet. Let dad have his day this Friday, January 9, and Saturday, January 10, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Take I-10 west to exit 121 (Jackrabbit Trail), head south for nine miles to Narramore, and follow the signs west to Eagle Mountain Ranch. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for teens and $2.50 for seniors; little future farmers get in free. For more information, call Dale at 623-386-2316. - Kim Toms