Things to Do

The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

Diana Burbano and Marlene Montes in American Mariachi.
Diana Burbano and Marlene Montes in American Mariachi. Tim Fuller.
Got plans? This week, you can get inspired at Arizona Tattoo Invitational, enjoy some Southern food at Southwest Cajun Fest, or surround yourself with desert cactuses at Watercolor Class. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

American Mariachi

It’s music to the rescue as a girl named Lucha forms an all-female mariachi band, eager to escape the routine of caring for her ailing mother. That’s the premise of a new comedy called American Mariachi, written by José Cruz Gonzales, former playwright-in-residence with Tempe-based Childsplay. It’s set in the 1970s, when men dominated the mariachi scene, and it features live mariachi performance. See the Arizona Theatre Company production at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, then stay for a post-show discussion with the cast. It’s happening at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street. Tickets start at $41. Visit Lynn Trimble

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Getting creative at Burning Man.
Gail Reyes Photography


Feeling burned out by the end of the week? Escape for a night of fire performance, live music, and art cars inspired by the famed Burning Man festival, during a free festival-sanctioned event happening from 6 p.m. to midnight on Friday, April 19, at Alwun House, 1204 East Roosevelt Street. It’s the official opening for an exhibition called “IGNiGHT!,” which continues through Friday, May 10. Expect plenty of interactive art for all ages Friday night at Alwun House and the art park they’re developing next door. Offerings will include a giant light wall, contortionist performance, play areas inspired by cat boxes, and LED sculpture made with upcycled bike wheel rims. Visit Lynn Trimble

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Debra Ann Byrd performs the title role in Othello.
Hubert Williams


Rumors have led to tragic deaths in modern times, making Othello feel more relevant than ever. Shakespeare’s play, first performed in the early 17th century, imagines a jealous man raging against his faithful wife, after trusting a man who claims she’s been untrue. There’s a 90-minute adaptation, starring an all-female cast, coming to Taliesin West, 12621 North Frank Lloyd Boulevard in Scottsdale. The Friday, April 19, performance starts at 7:30 p.m. The cast of eight includes Asian, black, Latino, and white women. Debra Ann Byrd, Harlem Shakespeare Festival founder, performs the lead role. It’s part of the current season for Mesa-based Southwest Shakespeare Company. Tickets are $35. Visit Lynn Trimble

Arizona Tattoo Invitational

Are you looking to get some ink done? Find the inspiration for your next piece of skin art at the Arizona Tattoo Invitational. Studios and artists from around the nation will be in attendance. There is also a custom car and bike show and the Miss Arizona Tattooed Pin-Up Contest with a $250 cash prize on Saturday, April 20. There will be tattoo contests throughout the weekend, a charity art auction, and an after-party.

Get inked up starting at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 19, through Sunday, April 21, at Renaissance Glendale Hotel and Spa, 9495 West Coyotes Boulevard in Glendale. Tickets are $15 per day or $25 for the entire weekend. For more information, visit Jason Keil

Road trip.

National Park Week

National Park Week kicks off on Saturday, April 20, when you can hit the trails at any national park in Arizona for free. Entrance fees are being waived that day at national parks across the country. Here in Arizona, you have more than 20 parks to choose from, including Sunset Crater, Walnut Canyon, and Wupatki in Flagstaff. Never fear if hiking isn’t your thing. Just pack a picnic lunch and grab your binoculars to enjoy a leisurely stroll and some much-needed down time. Khakis aren’t mandatory, but they might give your photos more of that park ranger vibe. Hours and park offerings vary, so do your homework before you go. Then do the wildlife a favor, and be sure you don’t leave behind any litter or take anything from the parks as your personal souvenir. Visit Lynn Trimble

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Ready to eat.
Courtesy of Southwest Cajun Fest

Southwest Cajun Fest

Food festivals are normally very lively affairs, and this year’s Southwest Cajun Fest will be no exception. This afternoon-long event, which takes place on Saturday, April 20, at Dr. AJ Chandler Park, 178 East Commonwealth Avenue in Chandler, will see plenty of culinary action of the Cajun variety, including crawfish boils, live entertainment, and lawn games.

Regional dishes and delights from the southeastern reaches of Louisiana will be served by local food vendors like Angry Crab Shack, Bayou Bistro, and Honey Bear’s BBQ, including such staples as po’boys, gumbo, jambalaya, and even gator sausage and frogs’ legs. And if you’re really hungry, there will be eating contests involving watermelon, boudin-style sausage, and crawfish. Abita Beer is sponsoring the event and will have an extensive selection of brews for purchase. Local jazz, blues, and swing bands will provide the soundtrack.

The festival runs from noon until 9 p.m. General admission tickets are $8 in advance, $12 at the event. If you’d like to attend in style, VIP tickets are $45 in advance or $55 at the door, and include access to the Big Easy Lounge, four adult beverages, and other perks. See for more details. Benjamin Leatherman

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Keep your eyes on the fries.
Gabe Williams and Chanelle Sinclair

Fried Festival

You’ll think you’ve fried and gone to heaven after hitting the Fried Festival, Phoenix’s first festival focused on french fries and music. More than 20 fry vendors will be there, selling fare that includes buffalo chicken, Cajun, chili cheese, churro, clam chowder, duck fat, pizza, and vegan fries, plus plenty more. Expect several drink options too, including beer and wine. The live music lineup includes Fairy Bones, Please, Weird Radicals, Reverse Cowboy, and DJ Stoneypie, to name a few. It’s happening on Saturday, April 20, from 2 to 10 p.m. at Hance Park, 67 West Culver Street. Tickets are $15. Visit Fried Festival on Facebook. Lynn Trimble

Look for Jerusafunk at Bud's Glass Joint.

420 Party

Happy days are here again. It’s all about celebrating cannabis culture when April 20 rolls around each year, because the date is loaded with symbolism in both pot and pop culture. Head to Bud’s Glass Joint, 907 North Fifth Street, if you want to hit their free 420 Party happening from 7 to 10 p.m. that Saturday night. You’ll find plenty of art, food, music, local vendors, and a free raffle. Several creatives, including Desi B and Jimmy Rush, will be doing live glass blowing. Musical offerings include Snailmate, HotRock SupaJoint, Jerusafunk, and more. Plus, it’s an excuse to shop for cannabis-inspired clothing and jewelry, or glass with a creative twist (think aliens, animals, ray guns, and such). Visit Lynn Trimble

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A classic film.

Half Baked

Before Seth Rogen and James Franco made marijuana movies mainstream, Dave Chappelle co-wrote and starred in one of the best “buddy” comedies of the ’90s. Half Baked tells the story of three New Yorkers who sell medicinal weed to get their friend (Harland Williams) out of the slammer for accidentally killing a police horse. With so many quotable lines and cameos rolled in, this cult classic set the standard for stoner comedies to come. The BS Movies podcast will be recording a live episode after the show with trivia and prizes.

Spark one up at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, at FilmBar, 815 North Second Street. Tickets are $9.95. For more information, visit Jason Keil

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Adding to a Kyllan Maney mural at Mesa Arts Center.
Lynn Trimble

Spark at Dark

Back in 1987, an underground teen club called Pulsations opened in Mesa. It’s long gone, but not forgotten. That’s why Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street, is doing a free Spark at Dark event with a Pulsations theme from 8 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, April 20. Local artists working in fashion, music, photography, video, and visual art will be there, with ’80s-inspired interactive activities for all ages. Look for Kyllan Maney, who’ll be working on a large-scale mural and art car, plus creatives from Wasted Ink Zine Distro and the Femme Fotale photography project. Leave time to dance, while DJ Bueller delivers the ’80s tunes. And don’t forget money for food truck fare. Visit Lynn Trimble

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Noodles — what dreams are made of.
PHX Night Market

PHX Night Market

The Warehouse District in downtown Phoenix was once known as a Chinatown in the early 20th century. The PHX Night Market celebrates this unique area’s history with stunning 3-D artwork, music from Nosaj Thing, and delicious food from over 75 vendors offering limited-edition menus for this event. There will also be cosplay, arcade games, a kids’ zone with Pikachu, and a meet-and-greet with rapper/comedian Timothy DeLaGhetto.

Eat up starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, and 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 21, along Jackson Street between Fourth Street and Central Avenue behind Talking Stick Resort Arena. Tickets are between $25 and $125. For more information, visit Jason Keil

Trivia Night

Trivia Night at Crescent Ballroom is always a hilarious time. In addition to answering random questions about pop culture and enjoying the great food and drink specials, nearly every team wins a prize. It could be a gift card from Stinkweeds or a picnic of Twinkies and bacon. However, this week’s edition takes a solemn turn. Hosts Compton and DJ Heimbuck will pay tribute to Prince. Study up on Purple Rain and be prepared to win it all.

Signup starts at 5 p.m. with trivia beginning at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 21, at 308 North Second Avenue. This is a free event. For more information, visit Jason Keil

Earth Day 'Zines Make and Take

Have you ever had the urge to publish your own magazine? At the Earth Day ’Zines Make and Take, you’ll cut, fold, and compose your own eight-page nature periodical from upcycled materials. Local artist and educator Hannah Irene Walsh will be there to help you build your issue. There is no need to bring your old papers as all materials will be provided.

Edit your next issue from 7 to 9 p.m. on Monday, April 22, at Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, 1056 South Country Club Drive in Mesa. This is a free event. For more information, visit Jason Keil

Earth Day Phoenix Fair

Climate change is happening, but people would rather argue about global warming’s existence than offer solutions on how to stop it. If you are looking for ways you can help, stop by the 10th annual Earth Day Phoenix Fair during your lunch break. Presented by the nonprofit Keep Phoenix Beautiful, exhibitors will be on hand to answer your questions on how you can reduce your carbon footprint. Afterward, you can grab a bite to eat at one of the environmentally friendly food trucks on-site.

Reuse and recycle from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, April 22, at Cesar Chavez Memorial Plaza, 201 West Washington Street. This is a free event. For more information, visit Jason Keil

Gentle Yoga Class

For bibliophiles walking amid shelves at the local library, there’s always another fascinating book just around the bend. Yoga books abound, of course. But there’s really no substitute for learning by doing. Beginners are welcome for the free gentle yoga class coming to the Desert Broom Library, 29710 North Cave Creek Road, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23. It’ll be led by Elizabeth Boisson, who practices yoga as a means of healing mind, body, and spirit. Arrive by 11 a.m., when the library will begin handing out free tickets for the first-come, first-served class. All you need is comfortable shoes, a mat or towel, and the willingness to bend a little. Visit Lynn Trimble

The Panama Papers

For almost three decades, actor Alex Winter (also known as Bill S. Preston, Esq. from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) has been behind the camera as a director. In the last several years, he has turned his attention toward documentaries. His latest effort is The Panama Papers, an investigation into the documents leaked to journalists worldwide that exposed how the rich dodged taxes and laundered money through a network of offshore accounts. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Tempe will host a screening the movie along with a Q&A via Skype afterward.

The film starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23, at 1140 East Baseline Road in Tempe. Tickets are $5. For more information, visit Jason Keil

Making the Cheese

For wine lovers who expect more from their dairy plate, you can now learn how to cut the cheese yourself. Making the Cheese is putting together a class where you can create some cheddar curds or learn how to make a plate of award-winning feta. You’ll learn other tricks of the trade, such as how to properly store your cheese for your next dinner party. Most importantly, you can take your newly made cheese home.

This event begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, at GenuWine Arizona, 888 North First Avenue, #101. The class is $39 and does not include drinks and food. For more information, visit Jason Keil

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Pick up that paint brush.
Carrie Curran Art Studios

Watercolor Class

Some people spend years in Arizona before realizing all those weird cactus plants actually bloom come springtime. Then, there’s no end to what they discover, in terms of all the variations of size, shape, and color. The variety makes painting cactus especially fun, even for people who’ve never picked up a paint brush. Give it a try at Carrie Curran Art Studios, 8300 North Hayden Road, Suite A100, in Scottsdale. The studio is holding a watercolor class in painting cactus botanicals from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24. It’s a relaxing way to learn about watercolor techniques and supplies, as well as composition. The class costs $45, which includes supplies. Visit Lynn Trimble
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Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble