Will Clipman

Will Clipman

The Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) hosts Las Noches de las Luminarias each year during the Christmas holiday season.  We attended for the first time last night, and we were not disappointed.  When we arrived around 5:30 p.m., the sunset filled the sky with color, enhanced by the desert landscape and nearby Papago Park rock formations.  Upon entering the illuminated DBG grounds we were attracted to the sounds of jazz renditions of Christmas tunes by the Swingtips.  After listening to two or three songs, we decided to see whether there was a wait for the buffet dinner.  There wasn’t although the indoor seating was more limited than outdoors.  We augmented our open air dinner experience under a heater with a bottle of wine and enjoyed the New Orleans jazz and blues of the Bad Cactus Brass Band.  Meridith Moore and Mike Lander joined them for a couple of songs, on one of which Landers did a great impersonation of Louis Armstrong.  The variety and quality of musicians at this event are definitely worth the price of admission.  The a capella vocals and period costumes of the Dickens Carolers put us in the holiday spirit.  Likewise, the Scottsdale handbell choir, Camanillas del Sol, performed in a professional manner.  We also enjoyed the Scott Jeffers & Traveler which featured virtuoso violin playing and the flamenco guitar from the Chris Burton Jácome Ensemble.  The Huney Brown Show Band displayed a lot of soul.  Vocalist Teresa Hunt is a crowd pleaser and the lead guitar, the only white member of this group, played some terrific riffs.  If you attend this special event be sure to seek out the performers off the beaten track.  One of those, Will Clipman, is a gifted performer of world music and a poet.  His description of the Swiss Hang, for example, was very interesting.  Ken Duncan, an Apache storyteller, used his voice and gestures to share how the Salt River got its salt.  The Desert Botanical Garden hosts an illuminating event with a musical buffet not to be missed.

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