Things to Do

This Weekend: The 48 LIVE Festival Welcomes Back Tempe Center for the Arts

Las Calakas brings emphatic energy to the stage.
Las Calakas brings emphatic energy to the stage. Tempe Center for the Arts

The arts are back: That’s the thought Eileen May, the managing director at the Tempe Center for the Arts, wants to conjure with the free 48 LIVE festival this weekend. Rather than calling it a new chapter for TCA, she calls it a “new book.”

“This is almost like a watershed moment to come together and be able to look back on this and say, ‘This was the time that the TCA decided to really put local art at the forefront of what they do,” May said.

48 LIVE will take place at the TCA’s snazzy three-story building located on the north shore of Tempe Town Lake. The two day event starts at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, November 5, and continues at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 6, with both nights wrapping up at 9 p.m.

The lineup features a variety of Valley performers representing art in its many forms: colorful art displays, musical acts, performances by local dance groups, and storytelling from the Arizona Storytellers Project.

“We focused a lot of our work during the pandemic on supporting local artists and really trying to see how we can elevate their work,” May said. “Once we decided when we were reopening, I wanted to make sure that we were creating a space for that local voice.”

May, who recently moved here from Philadelphia, said that one of her focuses has been finding and supporting diverse voices in the art community.

Saturday’s calendar opens with a dance fitness course taught by Weezy, who coaches dance squads for the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. It also includes performances by Tucson-based folk singer Rebekah Rolland, Native American flute player and hoop dancer Tony Duncan, and Jerusafunk, a band that combines elements of funk and traditional Jewish klezmer. The Carvin Jones Band closes Saturday night with its gritty blues sound.

Those who make it to TCA on Friday night will be able to catch indie singer-songwriter Danielle Durack and Cumbia fusion band Las Calakas. The former is known for her acoustics and stirring lyricism, while the latter channels infectious enthusiasm on stage.

click to enlarge Las Calakas brings emphatic energy to the stage. - TEMPE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Las Calakas brings emphatic energy to the stage.
Tempe Center for the Arts

“I'm a huge fan,” May said about Las Calakas, “And I love the energy that they bring to a space.”

The final act of the night on Friday is J. White, a contemporary jazz musician. White originally hails from Detroit and studied music in Arkansas, but he now lives near Queen Creek. 

White first landed in the state almost a decade ago after finishing second place in a California jazz competition that featured participants from around the world. The judges were so impressed with his performance that they offered him a spot at the Arizona Jazz Festival in 2013. After seeing so much love in the jazz scene on the West coast, he decided to make Arizona home.

“It's just one of those places where it's diverse; it's a beautiful landscape,” he says. “I think that it's just a nice place to live in general.”

As for what fans can expect from his show on Friday night, White said he plans to incorporate a mix of both covers everyone will know and original tracks that have charted on contemporary jazz radio.

“Every time I perform, I give it a hundred percent,” he said. “It’s energetic, it’s relatable.”

After this weekend, the 48 LIVE series will continue each Thursday at 7:30 p.m. with events free of charge through the rest of November.

The full schedule for this weekend’s festival can be found at TCA’s website. The events will take place at the TCA, located at 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ 85281.
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Gannon Hanevold is the Phoenix New Times editorial intern.
Contact: Gannon Hanevold