This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

THU 14
Touring bands -- those without the benefit of big-name promotion and record company expense accounts -- barely earn enough to pay their bar tab, much less a roadie. Then there's mamaSutra, a funky, no-nonsense blues/jazz band from southern California, playing at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School on Thursday, October 14, whose members are not necessarily "struggling," thanks to a recent surprise gig with Billy Joel. At a Beverly Hills restaurant where mamaSutra was playing, "Billy Joel walked through the room and stopped by for a moment to say hello to the band," sax player Russell Spurlock writes on the band's Web site. "About an hour later . . .[Joel] sat down at the grand piano and belted out a beautiful rendition of 'Georgia.' After the first number, Joel said 'That'll be $100,000!' After the third song, we were up to a half-million!" Maybe now they can splurge on a deli tray. Show starts at 10 p.m. Tickets are $6 at the door. See

FRI 15
There's a reason those ginger lilies and bamboos aren't exactly thriving on your patio: This is the desert, brown thumb! But don't fret. Now you can get some advice, along with suitable vegetation. The Desert Botanical Garden provides a "one-stop shopping experience for desert-adapted plants" on Friday, October 15, with a preview of its Plant Sale Festival from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for DBG members. On Saturday and Sunday, the festival is open to the general public, DBG membership or not. Garden volunteers and horticulturists will be on hand to help pick out plants for your desert domicile. The festival also includes a used book sale with proceeds going to the Garden. And don't rush home on Friday to get those plants in the ground. Stick around for Dom Moio's "Cinco de Moio" concert at 7 p.m. with sounds rooted in Latin jazz. Tickets to the show are $10 for members, $16 for non-members. Admission to the Plant Sale Festival is free. See or call 480-941-1225.

SAT 16
So you think watching "Animal Cops" means you care about critters, eh? Sorry, but it takes more than tearing up in front of the tube when Iggy the Iguana's found all scales and bones inside a crack house in downtown Detroit. If you wanna make a real difference in the fight for the humane treatment of animals, get off your ass and take a walk -- a long walk -- on Saturday, October 16, in the 2004 Walk for Farm Animals, beginning at 10 a.m. at Margaret T. Hance Park, on Central Avenue and Culver Street, just south of McDowell. The $10 registration fee nets each walker a Walk for Farm Animals T-shirt. Proceeds benefit Farm Sanctuary. To register, show up at the park at 9 a.m. See or call 480-607-6638.

SUN 17
It takes more than zoot suits and "daddy-o's" to conjure up the Big Band era. How about some legit sounds to swing your Betty? Thank the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, October 17, when the PSO along with guest artists offers up its "Salute to the Big Band Era," as part of its ongoing "People's Pop Concert Series." The afternoon concert, which begins at 3 p.m. inside the Phoenix Civic Plaza Ballroom, 33 South Third Street, features renditions of Ellington, Gershwin and Cole Porter songs. Tickets are free at any Phoenix city library branch. Call 602-262-4627.

MON 18
It's a college boy's dream: Babes, beer and . . .John Madden. And not necessarily in that order. Dreams come true on Mondays at Flip Flops Island Grill, 222 University Drive in Tempe, where the bar hosts a free Playstation/EA Sports Madden NFL 2005 Challenge starting at 8 p.m. Three different game systems are set up around the bar in a single elimination-style tournament, with the winner taking home a free Playstation game -- and if he's really lucky, a hot co-ed -- at the end of the night. Drink specials include $2 Red Stripes. And reverse happy hour specials, beginning at 10 p.m., include 75-cent tacos. Call 480-967-7744.

TUE 19
Don't be fooled by the bright lights and beautiful people descending upon the Scottsdale Galleria Corporate Center on Tuesday, October 19. Baby, they'll be just as hungry as you are when the Scottsdale Culinary Institute welcomes the Food Network for "an action-packed evening of culinary enlightenment." Food Network producer Katherine Alford will discuss "non-traditional careers" in the culinary industry at Theatre 4301 (formerly the IMAX) on the first level of the Galleria building at Fifth Street and Drinkwater. Chefs will demonstrate their culinary skills and offer sample cuisine -- like the Thai Vodka Splashed Warm Martini Gazpacho Black Tiger Shrimp (yeah, that's just one dish) -- served up in the student-run L'Academie Caf. Executive Chef Jon-Paul Hutchins and chef instructors will be on hand to answer questions about the Le Cordon Bleu Programs, including a 15-month associate of occupational sciences degree in culinary arts, hotel and restaurant management, or patisserie and baking. Best of all, the grub is free. The event lasts from 4:30 to 7 p.m., although we doubt the food will. Call 480-990-3773.

WED 20
To borrow a line from Dubya, it's hard work making Phoenix cool. It goes far beyond opening tony nightclubs, all-night diners and organizing knitting parties. (Didn't know knitting was cool, eh? You're so not on our hot list!) Making the Valley cool starts with a foundation -- an arts foundation, that is -- which is just what Arizonans for Cultural Development is doing on Wednesday, October 20, when they host "Creative Conversations," a discussion "on the future of arts leadership in Phoenix" exclusively meant for the younger, hipper crowd, at the Blue Room at Portland's Restaurant, 105 West Portland Street. The event's organizers "hope to target peers ages 35 and younger to begin addressing issues facing the next generation of arts leaders." The discussion lasts from 5 to 7:30 p.m. To RSVP, e-mail [email protected] or call 602-253-6535.

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Joe Watson