Veteran actor John Ratzenberger is best known as the know-it-all Cliff on Cheers. He's less well-known as the father of a kid with diabetes, a vigorous activist in raising money for research into a cure for that condition, and an avid motorcyclist. Ratzenberger, now on Harley-Davidson's cross-country "Big Ride for a Cure," is scheduled to roll into the Valley, arriving at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 2, at Chosa's Harley-Davidson, 922 South Country Club Drive in Mesa. A party, with Ratzenberger as guest of honor, as well as dinner, raffle tickets, gifts and prizes, will follow about an hour later at Chuy's Restaurant, 1831 East Baseline in Tempe. Tickets for Thursday's event are $25 per person; joining Ratzenberger for the next day's ride to Kingman costs $200 per bike; it's $300 per bike if you want to join him all the way to Las Vegas. 861-4731, extension 108.
Local and national jazz biggies like Hans Olson, Dennis Rowland, Dave Cook, The Jay Busch Band with Jim Henry and Diana Lee and guest vocalist Kenny Goldberg jam at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 3, at the Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central, in a concert called A Jazz, Rhythm and Groove Celebration, as part of the venue's relaxing, inexpensive First Friday Jazz Concert Series. Tickets are $10, $6 for members. 257-1880, 257-1222.
Roughly a century's worth of tunes from the Great White Way, including selections by Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber, are the main course of Broadway by the Decade, the latest production of The Copperstate Players. Compiler Peter J. Hill directed the show; the company includes Valley vets Royce Lee Briggs, Kathy Edwards, Chris Eriksen, Susan Gerkin, Noel Irick, George Pollard and pianist Chuck Frietag. This week's performance is at 8 p.m. Friday, July 3. Despite the presence of Irving Berlin's music in the show, the theater's usual Saturday performance will not be held this week, in observance of Independence Day. The run continues through Saturday, September 26, at Max's Dinner Theatre; dinner precedes each show at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $24.95. Reservations are required. 6727 North 47th Avenue in Glendale. 937-1671.
There are plenty of opportunities to catch the rockets' red glare and the bombs bursting in air--hopefully without any militia involvement--as the Valley celebrates Independence Day with a variety of fireworks shows and other festivities. A few: Dwight Yoakam, Indigo Swing, Grant Man and the Island Beat, Sidebar, and Patti Williams are among the acts on tap at the annual Fabulous Phoenix Fourth blowout on the grounds of the Arizona State Capitol, 17th Avenue and Washington. In addition to the entertainment on six stages, the fun includes the Southwest's largest aerial fireworks display, carnival rides and games, a kids' area, magic shows, skydivers, fly-overs by World War II and jet fighters and more, starting at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 4. Admission and parking are free. (534-3378.) Arizona State University's Practice Field, located on the east side of Rural Road south of the Rio Salado (the entrance is at Sixth Street and Rural), hosts Uncle Sam's Family Jam, an event produced by Mill Avenue Merchants Association and presented by Kiwanis Club of Tempe. Fun here includes water activities for kids, a celebrity dunk tank, door prizes, 3-D glasses to enhance fireworks viewing, music by Swing Tips, Tempe High School Band, and the Ahwatukee Foothills Concert Band, an exhibition of the "Armadillo" from the movie Armageddon, food and drink, and more. The event runs from 4 to 10 p.m.; the fireworks start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5, free for kids 12 and younger; discounts are available with pre-purchase or with a Kalil products "bottle-necker" from Smith's/Smitty's or Albertsons. (967-4877.) The City of Peoria hosts the annual "All-American Festival" from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 4, on the Seattle Mariners' practice fields at Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 North 83rd Avenue. The agenda includes fireworks, kids' activities, a jet fly-over, parachute jumpers and music by CC Ryder. Admission is $3, free for those 12 and younger; parking costs an additional $3 per car. (412-7198.) Many other patriotic-oriented exhibitions and concerts are held around the Valley and the state; see Sounds and On the Road listings for other options.
Making its Valley debut, the soul trio H Town brings hits like "Knockin' Da Boots" and the recent release "They Like It Slow" to the Valley with a show on Sunday, July 5, at the Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Showtime is 8 p.m.; MYA shares the bill. Tickets range from $18.50 to $25.50. 267-1600 (Celeb), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
In support of her sophomore CD Places, jazz artist Khani Cole performs for free at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 5, at Borders Books & Music at Biltmore Fashion Park, 24th Street and Camelback, Suite 200. Cole will also sign her work. 957-6660.
The Arizona Wildflowers, a local affiliate of the American Association for Nude Recreation, joins with other clothing-optional groups around the nation in celebrating Nude Recreation Week from Monday, July 6, through Sunday, July 12, at the Shangri-La II resort, 46834 North Shangri-La Drive in New River. Highlights include land-and-water-based volleyball, horseshoes and more. The public is invited; don't skimp on the sunblock if you plan to get into the spirit of things. An open house is scheduled from noon through 4 p.m. Sunday, July 12. 465-5959.
Feng Shui practitioner Brayden Zeviar, an authority in this Asian art of "creating harmony in our living and working environments," speaks on the subject from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 7, at the Tempe Square location of Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock in Tempe. Admission is free; the talk serves as the introduction to a three-session class starting on July 21. 730-0205.
Warning: high grossness factor in this item! Those of us who occasionally suffer from the buildup of noxious, foul-smelling, hair-clogged earwax clots in our aural cavities know that they can, like the earwig of lore, drive one to the brink of raving criminal insanity. Enter the ear coner, who purports to use heat to cure this maddening affliction. Practitioners claim that this art "dates back to the ancient civilizations of China, Tibet, Egypt and the Mayan culture." Miracle cure or quackery? If you're willing to gamble the $18 tuition fee, you can find out for yourself with How to Do Ear Coning, a workshop held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, at Vision Quest Bookstore, 2525 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Massage therapist David Sobek teaches the class. 949-1888.
With the object of making local history come alive for kids, Phoenix Museum of History offers a series of six Wednesday workshops for those between the ages of 8 and 12. The first, "I Scream, You Scream, Kick the Can Ice Cream," held from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, July 8, at the museum, at Heritage and Science Park, Seventh Street and Washington, gives kids a chance to create that chilly gift of the gods in the old-fashioned manner, using a hand-cranked freezer and tin cans. Future workshops involve cattle driving and cowpunching; the use of pre-electric tools; old-time optics; Scherenshnitte--the German art of cutting paper into cool silhouettes; and the early-days marketing of Phoenix. The cost for individual workshops is $15, $13 for museum members; the whole series is $78, $70 for museum members. Snacks and materials are included. Space is limited, and reservations are required. 253-2734.