Blues Blast '98: Phoenix Blues Society's Blast, now in its seventh year, kicks off with an indoor dance party from 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday, February 21, at Mesa Centennial Hall, 201 North Center. Big Jay McNeely headlines the dance, backed by Valley ensembles the Rocket 88s, and Phonoroyale. The festival proper swings from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, February 22, at Mesa Amphitheatre, Center and University. Roots-zydeco masters Terrance Simien and the Mallet Playboys headline this show; also on the bill are the Dallas-based Smokin' Joe Kubek Band featuring B'nois King; Mississippi Delta guitarist Big Jack Johnson, backed by the Oilers; Johnny Rawls; Tucson's Bad News Blues Band; and the Valley's own Sweet Jeffrey and Friends. Admission to the Saturday dance is $5 at the door; tickets to the Sunday show are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Kids under 12 are admitted free to Sunday's show. 252-0599 (Blues Society), 644-2560 (Mesa Amphitheatre), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Matsuri Festival of Japan: If exciting Olympic coverage from the Land of the Rising Sun has whetted your appetite for things Nipponese, get ready for decorative and performing arts and crafts, music, food, beverages and "the second largest koi competition in the country" in this annual event, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, February 21; and the same hours Sunday, February 22, at Heritage Square, Seventh Street and Monroe. Admission is free. It begs the question, however: Where is the largest koi competition in the country held? 262-5071.
SamulNori: For more Far East dazzle, this internationally renowned Korean quartet performs its homeland's traditional percussion music and dance, from the ceremonial to the acrobatic. Led by founder Kim Duk Soo, master of the hourglass-shaped drum called the changgo, the group carried the torch for Korea in the 1988 Olympics. It takes the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday, February 21, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $20 and $24. 994-2787 (SCA), 784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
Marcel Marceau: Before mime-bashing became a standup-comedy cliche, Marceau proved what a rich art form it can be. Best known for Bip, his white-faced clown persona, Marceau and his company have performed complete dramas in mime, like his 1951 adaptation of Gogol's The Overcoat. Almost as exaltedly, he also starred--in a dual role!--in the bizarre William Castle fantasy-horror film Shanks, and spoke the one audible word in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie--"No!"--when asked if he wanted to appear in a silent movie. He performs his classic solo routines, such as "The Cage," "Walking Against the Wind," "In the Park" and "The Mask Maker," at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 22, at the Sundome, 19403 R.H. Johnson Boulevard in Sun City West. 975-1900 (the 'dome), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Roy Clark: Like Marceau, country guitarist Clark's pop-culture hokiness--a semiregular role on The Beverly Hillbillies, co-host of Hee Haw--may obscure his musical virtuosity. But this child prodigy from Meherrin, Virginia, can pick like few others, and his vocals, on singles like his cover of "Yesterday When I Was Young" or his country-chart No. 1 hit "Come and Live With Me," have their own brand of soul as well. He plays two shows, at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, February 22, at the Red River Music Hall, Mill and Washington in Tempe. Tickets are $20 and $25. 829-6779 (Red River), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Queen City Jazz Band: The Colorado-based ensemble, now 40 years old, plays Dixieland of the '30s and '40s. Up front is vocalist (and sometime TV actress) Wende Harston, winner of a 1989 Drama Critics Circle Award for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. The band performs at 7 p.m. Sunday, February 22, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $18 and $22. 994-2787 (SCA), 784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
James Burke: The art-and-science historian, host of the TV series Connections, Connections 2 and The Day the Universe Changed, lectures on a favorite subject--the interaction between art, technology and society in general--at 7:30 p.m. Monday, February 23, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Burke takes on such questions as what purpose the arts have in our changing world. Admission is free, but assigned-seat tickets can be had from Gammage. 965-3434.