2018 Prescott Bluegrass Festival Sunday, Jun 24 2018 

Central Valley Boys

Central Valley Boys

This year we attended Prescott Bluegrass Festival sets on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday we heard traditional bluegrass from the Central Valley Boys, California; the seasoned musicians from the Sonoran Dogs, Tucson and Phoenix; and the rock side of the headliners Ryan Shuge and the Rubberband. The Central Valley Boys were the best costumed, but we progressively enjoyed the musical virtuosity of each ensuing group. On Sunday we returned for the set by Tom Paxton and the Don Juans. Interestingly, these Grammy winning singer-songwriters performed at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix on Saturday night ($38.50-$43.50). The 37th annual Prescott Bluegrass Festival was free!

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Back to the Moon for Good Saturday, Jun 16 2018 

Last night we attended the Back to the Moon for Good planetarium show at the recently  opened Jim & Linda Lee Planetarium at Prescott’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University campus. This modern, beautiful planetarium seats 116 and offers an impressive 360-degree 4k resolution. This show, narrated by Tim Allen in 2013, presents some of the 18 teams from around the world attempting to land a privately funded robotic spacecraft on the Moon. After the show we discovered that no one claimed the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE by the March 31, 2018 deadline. This program will be shown again tonight. Embry-Riddle’s monthly community programs are worth attending, and the price (free) can’t be beat.

2018 Chalk It Up! Monday, Apr 23 2018 

Gus Moran Chalk Art

Gus Moran Chalk Art

The National Bank of Arizona parking lot was again this year the site for the Chalk It Up event. According to a banner at the event: “The tradition of street painting dates back to 16th century Italy when painters transformed village squares into temporary galleries using chalk.” Our local event has come a long ways since its inception in 2009. It seemed to me that there were more individual artists this year and their work was qualitatively better than previous years. The guest artists treated us to some exceptional work. Gus Moran from Rancho Cucamonga, California was the People’s Choice with his Native American chief. I liked the cowboy on a horse by 3rd place winner Chris Blake, San Diego. Jeff Daverman, Prescott, also did a nice job with a positive theme. We visited on both Saturday and Sunday. We listened to the Rockin Ukes Sunday afternoon.

On Saturday, an Earth Day Celebration and a Wildfire Expo also took place on Cortez Street adjacent to the Yavapai County Courthouse. Both events offered an interesting mix of booths appealing to all ages. Smokey the Bear posed for us.

Ancient Musical Treasures From Central China Saturday, Feb 24 2018 

Musician on Horse

Musician on Horse

While we were having our Lexus serviced, we visited the Musical Instrument Museum to see (and hear) their current special exhibit and prepare ourselves for the countries we will explore on an upcoming cruise. The Henan Museum in Central China has loaned some 60 objects and instruments illustrating nearly 9,000 years of musical traditions. A flute, one of the oldest musical instruments in China, was excavated from a Peiligang burial site. The flute, made from the bone of a stork, is precisely tuned to a five-note (pentatonic) scale, indicating a highly developed music system. We learned that the ability to play and appreciate the qin, an ancient zither strung with 7 strings of twisted silk, and its repertoire was described as one of the most important virtues that should be possessed by Confucian scholars, and its performance was meant to be shared privately among friends. According to Confucius, “Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.” In addition to exquisite musical instruments, the exhibition also features beautiful music-related artworks made of materials such as a ceramic tricolor-glazed figure of a musician on a horse and various jade objects. Another appropriate quotation found in the exhibit is from Shi Bo, “Harmony is indeed productive of things. But sameness does not advance growth. Smoothing one thing with another is called harmony.”

Mariachi Outfit

Mariachi Outfit

After lunch at Cafe Allegro, we decided to focus on Latin American countries that we expect to visit during our upcoming cruise on the Emerald Princess. In the suburbs of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the brooding passion and sensuality of tango was born using violins and a string bass. Afro-Uruguayan drumming and dancing to induce spirit possession has flourished since the early 19th century. Since the 16th century in central and northern Chile, there has been a tradition of dancing while playing flutes to fulfill promises to the Virgin Mary. The Scissors Dance in southern Peru is associated with indigenous insurrections against European attempts to Christianize local populations. Of course, we expect to see sikus (panpipes) in many sizes. More unexpectedly are the use of an accordion and/or harp in so many Latin American countries. In Costa Rica instruments are still played to support healing rituals and other shamanistic activities, folk dramas, annual festivities, and cultural tourism. Mariachi represents only one of many Mexican traditions. We are looking forward to our musical experiences while visiting several Latin American countries.

We did visit a few other exhibits including seeing a Hauman (monkeyman) costume from Cambodia. Seeing a selection from the Thang Long Water Puppet Show in Hanoi brought back memories from our recent Vietnam visit.

Prescott Pops Symphony Monday, Dec 11 2017 

Santas Around the World

Santas Around the World

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” was the theme for yesterday’s performance of the Prescott Pops Symphony and the introductory piece by George Wyle and Edward Pola arranged by Mark Hayes. Choral Director Darrell Rowader and Music Director and Conductor Joseph Place took turns conducting at this sold out performance in the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. Rowader was also the soloist for “God Bless Us Everyone” from Disney’s “A Christmas Carol” by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard. Craig Ralston was the bass solist for “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” set to music by Ken Darby, arranged by Harry Simeone, scored for orchestra by William C. Schoenfeld. Another choral selection was “The Many Moods of Christmas” arranged by Robert Russell Bennett. Two selections from George Friderich Handel’s “Messiah” featuring the Prescott Pops Symphony Chorus included, “And the Glory of the Lord” and, of course, “Hallelujah” as a concluding piece. Works played by the Symphony included “Around the World at Christmas Time” arranged by Bruce Chase, “Chanukah Suite” arranged by Jeff Tyzik, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” arranged by David Pugh, “The Bells of Christmas” arranged by Bob Krogstad, “Christmas Lullaby” by Chip Davis and arranged by Mannheim Steamroller, and “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson. Before we entered the theatre we watched the Park Avenue Theater Show Choir perform a couple of numbers. During the concert this group from Trinity Presbyterian Church performed two pieces, “Comin’ Up Christmas Time” arranged by Andy Beck and “When Christmas Comes to Town” from “The Polar Express” by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard and arranged by William Ross. The audience fully engaged with a post concert “Sing Along!”

Before the concert we stopped at the Prescott Resort to see this year’s Gingerbread Village. The more than 70 entries displayed a high level of creativity and well executed designs. Entries ranged from a Forest Service truck surrounded by fir trees to a multi-level display of different biomes. We were especially impressed with the multiple Santa’s representing different countries in “Santa’s Around the World” who were “United at Christmas.” This entry by Ruger Ladies won a blue ribbon.

After the concert and dinner we walked around the decorated Yavapai County Court House, enjoying the different decorations on each side of the Courthouse and the 200 decorated trees on the square. Truly, Prescott is “Arizona’s Christmas City.”

Acker Night 2017 Saturday, Dec 9 2017 

Road 1 South

Road One South

Acker Night is a unique event held in Arizona’s Christmas City since 1988. Last night some 130 downtown Prescott businesses joined with about 140 musicians and performers to raise money for the J. S. Acker Scholarship Program. Mr. Acker, 1865-1955, left most of his estate to the City of Prescott for parks and the promotion of music, particularly for children. This is the 30th year local musicians have donated their time and talent for this worthy cause. The crowds were bigger than ever, filling the streets and jamming venues. We admired the decorated Yavapai County Courthouse, its gazebo, and more than 200 lit trees on the square after watching a couple of dance routines by Switch Performing Arts. The stage at the Holiday Courtyard adjacent to the Grand Highland Hotel on Whiskey Row featured Why Not Belly Dance & Friends. After admiring the Wells Fargo stagecoach, we found our way to the Elks Theater. From great seats in the balcony we listened to Road One South and some young performers. We had dinner with friends in the Peacock Room of the Hassayampa Hotel with a view of the crowds entering and leaving the Elks Theater. Acker night is a special annual event in Prescott.

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