Balloon Mindstate

Ninety-nine red balloons in the sky might have been a big deal in the '80s, but that's nothing compared to the hot air of the new millennium. Witness the 2004 Arizona Balloon Festival at Tumbleweed Park, 2250 South McQueen in Chandler, and you'll see what we mean. The festival takes place over three days, beginning Friday, November 19, and concluding Sunday, November 21. Friday and Saturday night features "Desert Glows," a display of more than 30 illuminated balloons glowing in time to music. The "Hare & Hound" races take place Saturday and Sunday morning. The event is similar to its English counterpart, but the "hounds" are 50 hot air balloons, chasing a single balloon (the "hare"). When the hare lands, the hot air balloons drop small bean bags as close as possible to the target, accumulating points (sort of like aerial boccie ball). The festival also features a "Family Zone," with face painting, games and clowns. An appearance by the Wings of Blue (the U.S. Air Force parachute team), an arts and crafts expo, and a fireworks show cap off the extravaganza. Tickets cost $4 to $5. Children ages 12 and under are admitted free. Call 480-201-9249 or visit -- Niki D'Andrea

Grace on Canvas

Art rocks in Scottsdale

Sat 11/20
Here's to hoping Grace Slick's fine art is more "Somebody to Love" than "We Built This City," when the Jefferson Airplane, er, Jefferson Starship, er, Starship songstress debuts, in person, her paintings of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia on Saturday, November 20, at the newly opened Rock Star Gallery, 16451 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is free. To RSVP, call 480-275-4501 or see -- Joe Watson

Blues Explosion

Dr. John, Musselwhite play SCA

Sun 11/21
On Sunday, November 21, "Celebrating the Blues" brings the Southeast to the Southwest -- specifically, the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street -- where crooning country cowboys have long since dominated the local music scene. Mixing influences of Chicago- and L.A.-based blues with Southern influences are Grammy-winning piano man Dr. John, and renowned harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite. The voice of Harlem-born Shemekia Copeland, daughter of blues guitarist Johnny Clyde Copeland, has earned her appearances on Austin City Limits and Late Night With Conan O'Brien, as well as a Grammy nomination. These contemporary blues artists remind us of a time when music had a pulse. They belt it out at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, $36, call 480-994-2787. -- Melinda Peer

Star Gazing

Movies move outdoors at Mesa Amphitheatre

The advance of time and technology, while bringing us a great many things, diminishes certain experiences as well. Take moviegoing, an art form that reached its peak with the drive-in movie. What better way to indulge the big screen than underneath the stars, a universe removed from the generic experience waiting for you at the local 24-plex? With few exceptions, the drive-in may have gone the way of the dinosaur, but the city of Mesa is doing you one better with the second installment of Outdoor Movie Nights, Friday, November 19, and Saturday, November 20, at Mesa Amphitheatre, 201 North Center. Showtime is 6:30 p.m. Park yourself underneath an open sky for showings of Hidalgo on Friday and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on Saturday. Admission is $5 for individuals and $13 for families. Call 480-644-2560 or visit Craig Wallach

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