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Posts tagged “interview

Plugged In: Run 2 Cover

What do you get when you blend together Rock, Metal, Punk & Pop? A group called Run 2 Cover. Run 2 Cover is one of our six acts being featured during Saturday’s Plugged-In performance. The band members of Run 2 Cover sat down with us for an interview and here’s what we discovered.

In late 2010, Christian and Brandon Iverson (brothers) and their neighborhood friend, Colin Shaw, formed Run 2 Cover. Christian is lead vocalist and bassist (and older brother). Brandon, the younger brother, can be found on the drums. And Colin is the sole guitarist for the band. The three band members may look “punk”, but don’t let that fool you. Each band members is kind, genuine, and excited to be on this musical journey.

All three of the boys have grown up with music as their main focus. Starting at the age of 12, Colin began playing the electric guitar and Christian started playing the bass guitar. Brandon began piano lessons when he was 5 years old and later took an interest in drums at age 11. The boys have worked hard creating their sound, songs, and vibe. None of the boys attend public school so they have more time to devote to the band and music.

When we asked them where they practiced we were not surprised when they told us they practice at home. Although, not the garage, the band fills the Iverson’s home with their loud Rock music. We naturally had to ask if the neighbor’s ever complained of noise. The three chuckled and responded with a resounding “Yes!”

The band has encountered minor challenges along the way. There are times when the band will bump heads, but the next day they have moved on and are ready to get back to work. When asked if they have had their “big break” yet, all three said no. They continue to work hard to gain more exposure for the band and have even toyed with the idea of changing the band name. Although they haven’t had their “big break,” the quality of the band is well on its’ way to making it big.

Run 2 Cover recently launched their  EP (Extened Play) “Turn the Page” on iTunes this month. Preview the songs here. The band is definitely one to watch live in concert and one to watch as they journey to making it “big.”

We are looking forward to welcoming Run 2 Cover to our stage this Saturday, August 24 at 7:30pm for our On The House free summer concert “Plugged In.” No tickets required, the show is FREE. All seating is first come, first served. Doors open at 6:30pm, and seating starts at 7pm. Suggested donations: $5/child, $10/adult, $15/family. Your financial support is appreciated.

Plugged In: Dynamic Duo

Inspired by the Center’s Youth Advisory Council“Plugged In” will feature six up and coming young musical acts in the Phoenix Metro area who will showcase their talent in Chandler on Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 7:30pm.

The West Hills Brothers are a unique duo of acoustic/electric guitars, vocals and percussion. Carson Smith is the lead vocals, guitar, and percussion. His twin brother Cole, plays acoustic and electric guitar and mandolin. The brothers are originally from West Hills, California but now live in Arizona and perform on a regular basis. Their music is a great mix of classic rock, pop, alternative and original tunes with their own unique style. We had to get the inside scoop on who these brothers are, check it out!

Chandler Center for the Arts [CCA]: We have to ask, who is the oldest?

West Hill Brothers: We are actually twin brothers. Carson (the drummer) is 2 minutes older.

CCA: Does it make it easier or harder to work together since you are brothers?

West Hill Brothers: It makes it easier for us to work together because we know each other so well and we don’t have to go through the hassle of calling each other up to meet and rehearse and clear dates for shows etc.

CCA: How old were you when you discovered your musical talent?

West Hill Brothers:  We were about 6 years old when we first started to learn how to play and we formed our band about 3 years ago. We have grown up with music all of our lives. Our dad is a musician and first introduced us to playing music.

CCA: What instruments do you play?

West Hill Brothers: Carson plays drums, acoustic guitar, harmonica, and lead vocals. Cole plays the acoustic/electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, and back-up vocals.

CCA: Has it always been your goal to be performing artists?

West Hill Brothers: We didn’t think about it too much when we were younger because we knew we just liked to play music together. We started out playing local open mic nights and coffee shops and began to love it. Now it’s great to have our calendar pretty booked playing some great gigs at some cool events.

CCA: Do you feel like you have gotten your “big break” yet?

West Hill Brothers: We understand its can be a slow process. We love the fact that we have been on local TV and in the newspaper etc. but national recognition would be great. In the meantime we look at is as becoming better musicians in the process.

CCA: Are there any musicians or bands who have inspired you?

West Hill Brothers: We share the same interests in bands and love listening to NeverShoutNever, Foster the People, Mergence, Band of Horses, the Avett Brothers, Jack Johnson, the Beatles, Local Natives, Dr. Dog, the Killers, Mumford & Sons, No doubt, Neil Young, Vampire Weekend, Weezer, and much more!

CCA: How do you balance school and the band?

West Hill Brothers: Our grades are really important and the fact that we are brothers really helps with rehearsal times etc. We like to hang out with our friends on nights that we aren’t performing and we really appreciate how are friends have supported us and come out to our shows.

CCA: What is your favorite genre of music?

West Hill Brothers: We like to listen to alternative-rock and we like classic rock too.

CCA: Do you hope to make music your life-long careers? Or do you have a different vision for your future careers?

West Hill Brothers: We definitely want to play and write as much music as possible throughout our lives. We both have other interests in the arts too, but music will always be apart of our lives.

CCA: If you could perform anywhere, where would it be?
West Hill Brothers:  We would love to play at a cool festival like Coachella, or Bonnaroo or someday sell-out at a stadium or concert hall somewhere!

CCA: Do you have any interesting stories since you started to perform publicly?

West Hill Brothers:  We don’t really have any crazy stories, but we have had some pretty interesting notes left in our tip jar.

CCA: What is one thing you want the Chandler Center for the Arts’ audience to know about you?

West Hill Brothers:  First, we really appreciate the opportunity that Chandler Center for the Arts has given us and second we just want everyone to hopefully love our music and style and see the big sound we get from just 2 people performing.

CCA: Any additional comments or information you might want to share with our audience?

West Hill Brothers: We hope to see you at the event and we will be releasing our new single “Walk in the Park” that we just recorded last week. We want to thank our friends and family for all their support.


Come see this pair perform during our Plugged In concert on Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 7:30pmNo tickets required, the show is FREE. All seating is first come, first served. Doors open at 6:30pm, and seating starts at 7pm. Suggested donations: $5/child, $10/adult, $15/family. Your financial support is appreciated.

Plugged In: Carly Paige

Inspired by the Center’s Youth Advisory Council, “Plugged In” will feature six up and coming young musical acts in the Phoenix Metro area who will showcase their talent in Chandler on Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 7:30pm.

One of the featured artists is Carly Paige, an incredible up and coming vocal soloist. Carly Paige is your fun loving teen who you can immediately call a friend. We instantly fell in love with her song “Too Good” (watch out Taylor Swift) and knew we want to learn more about her. Check out our interview with Carly Paige below:

Chandler Center for the Arts [CCA]: How old were you when you discovered your vocal talent?

Carly Paige: My parents have told me that I’ve been singing since I was 3 or 4 years old. I really started to get into it at about age 10 when I got my first guitar.

CCA: Has it always been your goal to be a performing vocal artist?

Carly Paige: I have always wanted to be a singer/songwriter/guitar player. My Dad use to be in a band, and there were always guitars in the house. It just felt so natural to pick one up and start writing.

CCA: Who are your musical inspirations?

Carly Paige: I grew up listening to The Beatles, ELO, and the Jellyfish. When I listen to their music, it makes me want to grab my guitar and start writing.

CCA: What musical artist are you most often compared to?

Carly Paige: Many people compare me to Colbie Caillat, Taylor Swift, and Sheryl Crow.

CCA: What kind of music do you listen to today?

Carly Paige: I listen to a whole lot of everything. I’m a big fan of The Script, Maroon 5, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Coldplay, and of course The Beatles.

CCA: What embarrassing songs might we find on your MP3 player?

Carly Paige: I have a few songs from Disney movies on my iPod. I have “Part of Your World,” and “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid, and “One Jump Ahead” from Aladdin. *laughs*

CCA: Where would you most like to perform?

Carly Paige: I’d just like to play in front of a crazy large crowd. I’d love to play in a large, packed stadium or theatre.

CCA: Who would you most like to open for?

Carly Paige: I would love to open up for Paul McCartney. I just love him. I saw him in concert a few years ago, and he was so amazing!

CCA: If you weren’t singing, what would you be doing?

Carly Paige:  I honestly don’t have anything else that I’m interested in doing. Music is everything to me.

CCA: Do you have any hidden talents?

Carly Paige: I’m double jointed. I can bend my thumb all the way back. Does that count? *laughs*

CCA: Have you hit any roadblocks since you started singing?

Carly Paige: Occasionally I experience writer’s block, and few times, I’ve been sick for shows.

CCA: Since you are so young, do you have any advice for other aspiring youth musicians?

Carly Paige:  I think I would just say to keep trying, and do what you love because I believe that if you put your heart and hard work into what you love, you’ll be happy.

CCA: Anything else you might want to share with our audience?

Carly Paige:  I appreciate being given the opportunity to play at Chandler Center for the Arts, and I can’t wait to play for everyone!


Don’t miss Carly Paige and our five other acts perform during “Plugged In” on Saturday, August 24 at 7:30pm. No tickets required, the show is FREE. All seating is first come, first served. Doors open at 6:30pm, and seating starts at 7pm. Suggested donations: $5/person, $10/family. Your financial support is appreciated.

Ole! FlaMEXico!

The journey to find a genuine fusion of two distinct and profound musical styles is a daunting task for anyone. Can it be done? Do two separate arts have a common-ground musically that adequately represent the cultural integrity of each?

Enter Chris Burton Jácome, Flamenco guitarist and composer. Jácome felt a driving force to answer these questions.  He charged his project, ¡FlaMÉXico!, with finding, creating and celebrating the musical confluences of Spain’s Flamenco and México’s Mariachi.

Fast forward to today, ¡FlaMÉXico! has created an enthralling show featuring the melding of two beautiful arts and cultures.  During our FREE summer concert series on Friday, August 23 at 7:30pm, ¡FlaMÉXico! will present their findings in a way that will move you to your feet.

Out of pure curiosity as to why anyone would challenge themselves with such a large musical task, we interview  Jácome more about his musical journey. Here’s what we found out:

Chandler Center for the Arts [CCA]: How old were you when you started your musical journey?

Chris Burton Jácome: I received my first guitar when I was 13. I started taking lessons right away and, according to my friends, I reached a pretty good skill level more quickly than they might have anticipated. I don’t really consider myself consciously deciding to pursue music though until I was in my late teens. I got more and more into music throughout my teenage years…started giving other high school kids guitar lessons when I was 16. I consider my “official” journey beginning when I decided to get a degree in music in college.

CCA: Do you play any other instruments other than the guitar?

Jácome: I am not musically fluent on any other instrument. I sing. I have composed some very basic piano music but the only instrument I play and can “speak my mind” on is guitar.

CCA: Your website mentioned the “fusion of two distinct and profound musical styles began as more of a whim.” Did you ever imagine this “whim” would bring you to where you are at today?

Jácome: Great question! Sometimes the ideas that just “come to you” are the best ideas! This “whim”  that I had a few years ago has already transformed into a very solid, real group. I’m somewhat perplexed as to how this is all working myself…but it is! I still consider this idea in its beginning stages but I am finding more and more artists who are willing to put in the time and energy to cross-train in two different artistic styles and the more artists I get on board the more I can develop the concept. I’m really excited to bring this project to Chandler Center for the Arts and the greater Chandler community. I’ve always believed that Flamenco is an art form that everyone can appreciate but now with the fusion of mariachi music this concert will be a real delight for anyone who has grown up here in the Southwest or has an affinity for Mexican and Spanish cultures.

CCA: Are there any musicians or bands who have inspired you?

Jácome: Generally, I find inspiration in all bands and all music. Specifically, Flamenco artists that inspire me include: Paco de Lucía, Tomatito, Inés Bacán, Moraíto, Manuela Carrasco, Ramón Montoya, Pedro Sierra, Juan Manuel Cañizares, Antonio Mairena, Fernanda de Utrera. In Mariachi…although not traditional, I’m biased because our cousins are married…Linda Ronstadt. As well as artists such as Vicente Fernández, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos and all of the mariachi artists that I’ve seen and heard in my life.

CCA: What can our patrons expect from the upcoming show?

Jácome: Rhythms that make you want to dance! Heart-wrenching songs that make you want to hear them again and again! Flamenco footwork that will blow your mind! And, of course, a group of highly skilled artists that love being the tour-guides into the music and dance of the cultures of Mexico and Spain.

CCA: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Jácome: Keep practicing, playing, studying, learning and developing. Find as many teachers as you can. Above all, define your goals with music because your destination will determine what route you take and how dedicated you must be to reach your destination. If your goal is to have fun, then by all means, have fun! Learning a musical instrument enriches your life and provides so many opportunities to create great relationships and communities. If your goal is to become a professional musician and earn your living from your music, well then, you might not have the luxury of music always being fun. Prepare yourself to sometimes call music, “work.”

CCA: Any additional comments?

Jácome: This is going to be a great evening! Flamenco and Mariachi are both art forms of the people and they are wonderful performance art forms because the more audience participation, the BETTER! Please come early to get a good seat and bring your gritos (mariachi yells) and your ¡Olé!’s (flamenco words of encouragement) because we’re going to have a night to remember!


Come and enjoy the best of both worlds of ¡FlaMÉXico!, the musical reflection of two cultures forming a new vision on Friday, August 23 at 7:30pmNo tickets required, the show is FREE. All seating is first come, first served. Doors open at 6:30pm, and seating starts at 7pm. Suggested donations: $5/person, $10/family. Your financial support is appreciated.

Interview with Shaping Sound’s Alexa Anderson

Alexa_Anderson_096Today we had the great privilege to interview Alexa Anderson, a cast member of  Shaping Sound. Not only is she incredibly talented, but she is also incredibly sweet! Her bubbly personality drew us in as she shared insight into her dance journey.

Chandler Center for the Arts [CCA]: We first have to ask you, since you are a native to the Chandler area, where did you go to high school?

Alexa Anderson: I went to school at Arizona School for the Arts and then I went to Hamilton High.

CCA: How does it feel to return back to Chandler with a National Touring group?

Alexa: It feels really good. I have so many friends and family coming to see the show. Most haven’t seen me dance live in years.

CCA: How did you get your start in dance?

Alexa: I was born premature. I had a brain hemorrhage which caused a right side weakness. My mom put me in dance to balance out the weakness. The dance classes were not easy. I worked really hard to overcome this weakness.

CCA: How did you get your break in the business?

Alexa: I moved to LA when I was 18. I worked a couple of gigs, but pretty much just rolled with the punches. I continued to go to auditions.

CCA: So there wasn’t really a “big break” moment?

Alexa: Not really. It is always a work in progress.

CCA: Did you ever imagine dance would be your career?

Alexa: I really didn’t until I was 16, well more like 17. I wanted to go to college and get a degree. But, then at age 17, I stepped back and realized I was training so hard in dance. I knew I would kick myself if I didn’t given dance a shot.

CCA: Why did you want to be a part of Shaping Sound?

Alexa: Teddy (Forance) is my favorite dancer. At age 15 I started working with Travis (Wall) and Nick (Lazzarini). It was just a natural thing to dance along side them.

CCA: Rumor has it everyone had to audition for Shaping Sound, even the friends. Was this the case for you?

Alexa: Yes. Everybody had to audition, even me. They had to be fair in how they chose the cast.

CCA: What is the best advice you would give an aspiring dancer?

Alexa: Seize every opportunity. It is scary to be a dancer. So take in everything you can.

CCA: Is the business side of dance what you expected?

Alexa: Dancing is a difficult lifestyle. You make your own schedule every day. Some days there may be nothing to do, whereas other days you have worked so hard you don’t even know how you are still standing. The key is finding a balance.

CCA: How would your life be different without dance?

Alexa: I always get asked this question and I don’t even know. Being a dancer has helped me become aware of my body. Dance is hard work, but it is my passion. Dance is something I get excited about everyday.

CCA: Some of our reader’s tweeted in and want to know what choreographers influence you?

Alexa: Travis (Wall), Teddy (Forance), Nick (Lazzarini) and Kyle (Robinson). Wade Robson certainly has – he is brilliant.

CCA: Another reader tweeted in, what was the best part about So You Think You Can Dance?

Alexa: I made a lot of lifetime friends during the show. The show allowed me to see what I was made of.  It pushed me to my limits.

CCA: Anything else you want to share with our readers?

Alexa: No, I do think so. We are excited to be coming out to Phoenix. We can’t wait for the show.

It was such a pleasure to speak with Alexa. We were astonished at the trials she overcame and her determination. Alexa is proof  that dreams are achievable through hard work and persistence.

Come see Alexa and the rest of the Shaping Sound crew perform here at Chandler Center for the Arts on June 7. You will be swept away on a visually stunning showcase of movement, speed, physical strength, and pure passion.

To learn more about Shaping Sound or to purchase tickets click here.

Transend Through Water – Interview with Lisa Starry

We had the lucky privilege to speak with Lisa Starry the Artistic Director for Scorpius Dance Theatre and creator of their upcoming show, Dreaming In Water. The performance showcases water in an all inclusive sensory experience. All we can say is forget everything you thought you knew about modern dance, this show takes everything to a new level of excitement.

Scorpius Dance-1CHANDLER CENTER FOR THE ARTS (CCA): Where did the idea for Dreaming In Water come from?

LISA STARRY: This is a remastered production of my first original water-themed production “Water Dreams.” 12 years ago I put on an outdoor water safety show to create awareness. However, the show was put on during the summer and it was just too hot to enjoy. This inspired me to take the show indoors, which lead to a more artistic message.

Today’s show is centered around a little boy with a big imagination. He dreams of water and the creatures that exist within (such as fish and jellyfish). During the performance there will be short video clips featuring his underwater adventure.

CCA: How many lights does it take to create the water effect on stage?

STARRY: We will use all of the lights Chandler Center for the Arts uses, plus a dozen of our own intelligent lights. The intelligent lights create the illusion of water moving. We also use fabric to create the water effect.


Photo by Rose Tores

CCA: How long does it take for the dancer to be strapped into the aerial apparatus?

STARRY: The Bungee apparatus we will use for the Jellyfish scene (featured in side photo) takes multiple bungee straps and double point harnesses. This requires a ladder to strap each dancer in. This also takes rope hooks to maneuver each dancer around the stage. It is time consuming.  Immediately after the first act, the aerial crew goes to work. By the end of intermission the dancers are ready to perform.

CCA: Do you have a favorite scene?

STARRY: I am happy with everything. I am most excited about presenting the aerial pieces. I am also excited for the mini pool scene. There is some humor incorporated to make the piece more fun. We also have some athletic pieces. These are incredible scenes and are great to see.

CCA: What form of dance can we expect to see?

STARRY: There is some contemporary modern dance, which includes a lot of techniques and some ballet. There is also the athletic pieces. To finish off the performance there is some Broadway-ish dancing. We bring in a piece that features Singing in the Rain.

Scorpius Dance-2CCA: Anything else a viewer might be interested in knowing?

STARRY: A limited number of people have seen the underwater footage – this is the big secret of the show. The dancers haven’t even seen the footage. They actually won’t see the footage until we have our dress rehearsal at Chandler Center for the Arts. It is a beautiful water section.


This is the public’s opportunity to taste in the magic of Dreaming In Water and all the hard work they have put forth.  Dreaming in Water will premiere at Chandler Center for Arts this Saturday, April 13 at 8pm with new choreography by Lisa Starry, original underwater filming by Josh Kasselman, Music Composition by Kristopher Hill and Ryan Breen and lighting design by Mike Eddy. Get your tickets here!

Joe Bourne Takes Us Back

I’ve mentioned it several times, but I grew up with music that was made by people before my parents were born. Frank Sinatra was my lullaby. My girlhood crush was Buddy Holly. My glasses even look like his did. I remember listening to Nat King Cole when I did my homework, just loud enough so I could hear it, but not too loud so my Mom wouldn’t come in and bust me.

Next weekend starts out with an old-school-but-totally-cool vibe on Saturday, and we’re keeping it going with “Remembering Mr. Cole: A Tribute to Nat King Cole”, starring Joe Bourne & Trio as our first show in our 3 Evenings With The Arts fundraiser.

Joe has been playing professionally since 1968, and got his start in Cambridge, Mass. He made his way down to Atlanta in 1975 and then made the Netherlands his base for the next 25 years before coming out to Tucson.  During his career, he’s recorded and performed with The Supremes, Dionne Warwick, and Ms. Natalie Cole herself.

It’s safe to say, the man knows his music.

Joe keeps his music simple, like the crooners of the 40s, with a piano, bass and guitar. That’s actually what helped him come up with the idea of “Remembering Mr. Cole, A Tribute to Nat King Cole.”

“I met a piano player who had studied the instrumental side of Nat King Cole, and we decided to put together a tribute to him about 6 years ago,” said Joe. It’s been going strong ever since. All the members of his trio have degrees in music and a deep understanding and appreciation of the musicianship that is required to pull off a 40’s soul song.

So what is it about Nat King Cole that first drew Joe to him and his music?

“I’ve always loved him, and his music,” Joe said. “I really like it all, Nat King Cole, Motown, even Disco.” From the sound to the stories that the songs tell, Joe says it’s like telling a history of a person.

It’s that combination of history and music that audiences find so appealing. Joe said that where ever he goes, he always finds an appreciative audience, even some repeat concert goers.

“In Arizona, people are from everywhere, so sometimes I’ll do a show in Arizona and then a show in the Midwest, and I’ll see some familiar faces. No matter where I go, people like the same kind of music, even if they don’t realize it yet,” he said.

When you come see Joe next weekend, you’ll be in for a treat.

“I hope people leave with a big smile on their faces, from music they remember from their younger days, or music that they remember from listening to their families,” Joe said. “It’s music they can remember, and lyrics they can understand.”

I wholeheartedly agree, Joe.  If this is your first experience with 1940’s and 50’s crooners, it’ll make for an Unforgettable experience that will make you fall in love with his music.

You can get tickets to the entire 3 Evenings With The Arts fundraiser series, or just to Joe’s show here. He takes the stage on Saturday, July 28 at 8pm, but only after a live auction, a silent auction, a raffle, wine tasting and so much more.

Come Back Buddy comes to the Center

I didn’t grow up listening to Buddy Holly’s music when it was first released, but I did grow up with his music (and his glasses). There is something about his music that is timeless and fun, that everyone can relate to. And it’s a quality that isn’t found in Buddy alone, but in much of the music of the 1950s, like Elvis, Marty Robbins, Ricky Nelsen and Bobby Darrin (I have a really funny story about him). It’s something that Mike Randall of Come Back Buddy knows all about.

“1950s music is the most fun music to play. It’s a lot of rock & roll that is really up beat, and has turned a lot of people into big fans.”

Mike started Come Back Buddy with his wife, Janine, about 12 years ago and decided to start a group showcasing Buddy Holly because they already had some experience playing Buddy’s songs. It didn’t take long for them to branch out into other areas of classic 50’s rock and roll.

“We started with Buddy Holly, but now we play more 1950’s review, like Elvis, Ricky Nelsen, we like to mix it up a lot,” said Mike. “It was the first time young people had their own music.”

Mike told me that their shows aren’t just for people who heard Buddy play before his death, but for everyone.

” For some people, this is music they haven’t heard in a while and it brings back all these wonderful memories. It’s for people who had parents who listened to Buddy Holly and now they want to share it, and for people who haven’t heard anything like this music,” he said.

When Come Back Buddy plays, it’s not just a show that you come, watch and leave. It’s what happens when a meet up meets a dance party.

“People really get into our shows, they dress up in 50’s clothes with poodle skirts and white sport coats, and they meet up with other people who have that same connection to the music,” said Mike. That includes the 59ers, a group from Mason City High School who saw Buddy Holly’s last concert before his death and a group from Lubbock, Texas, where Buddy’s plane crashed.

But you don’t need to have a special connection to the music to enjoy it. 1950s music is something that everyone can get into because it has been a base for so much of the music that is played today, from Goyte to Pitbull to Black Keys. If you’re not sure about Come Back Buddy, or 50’s music in general, I suggest you take a look at their documentary, Come Back Buddy for free online.

What ever your music tastes are, Mike is sure that you’ll have a good time at Come Back Buddy.

“We just hope they (the audience) have a lot of fun. Our goal is to get people up and out of their seats and dancing. We play music that works for all ages, and nothing offensive.”*

Want to see Come Back Buddy? They’re playing here at CCA on July 27 at 7:30 to kick off our Free Summer Concert Series. And yes, it is free, but if you want to throw a couple of bucks our way, we’d be very appreciative. And I’ll give you a high-five.

*Please, the only thing offensive about Buddy was the crush I had on him as a kid. Talk about scary.


Weekend Preview: Good things come in fours

This is probably one of our busiest weekends of the year, and we have so much to get through in today’s Weekend Preview

Ready. Set. Go.

– Tonight we’re starting it off with Alpin Hong at 8pm. Alpin is a classically trained pianist with a passion for education. He was kind enough to  spend the entire week with students from CHS, fine tuning their music skills and then giving them an outlet to show off their skills at a performance with him this morning. When you come to his show tonight, expect to hear some classic and contemporary pieces, but also expect to hear what makes those pieces so unique and what the composure was trying to get across to the audience. Tickets are $15 and you won’t regret it.

– Just when you think it’s safe to sleep in on a Saturday morning, we’re coming at you bright and early with Awesome 80s Prom Auditions. We’re still looking for talent, so even if you haven’t acted before, or aren’t sure you can pull off a 1980s Valley Girl, you should still come down and give it a shot. Details are here, and if you miss me this afternoon (after 2pm) show up at the Center tomorrow at 10am and I’ll make it work. (Bring a head shot and resume, and prepare a monologue from a 1980s movie.)

– After auditions, we’re running straight into Ballroom With A Twist, and we’re bringing in our very own ballroom dancers before the show, so really you’re getting two performances for the price of one. If you don’t think you’re interested in dance, or aren’t a Dancing With The Stars fan, don’t worry. Not only will there be dancing, but we have a few extra perks tucked up our sleeve. You can snag tickets here, but make sure you do it quickly.

– Take a breath, but then dive back in on Sunday with Wyatt Earp: Life on the Frontier. This is one that I’ve been looking forward to for months. I love Arizona history and anything related to the O.K. Corral, so getting to see it told by a relative of Wyatt Earp is probably going to be the best to spend a Sunday afternoon. Tickets? Get them here.


Who needs sleep when you work at an arts center? Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to set up base camp and my sleeping bag.


Monday Mashup round 2: Ballroom With A Twist.

A few days ago, I posted this clip of Alec Mazo and Edyta Sliwinska performing together to give you a hint at the level of talent that we’re bringing to the Center on Saturday night. I have a few more clips of just Edyta and Alec dancing and the style they bring, but we’re also bringing in other dancers with different talents and specialties.

But just for fun, I thought I’d share some more of Alec and Edyta’s dancing, probably because deep down I wish I could dance like her, instead of flop around waving my arms like I know what I’m doing (I did this at my Aunt’s wedding. There is photographic proof.)

Artsy Fartsy Foodies: AJ’s Cafe

Downtown Chandler isn’t what it used to be, and if you ask Darlene, VP of Sales & Marketing for AJ’s at the San Marcos Golf Resort, that’s a wonderful thing.

Downtown Chandler isn’t what it used to be, and if you ask Darlene, VP of Sales & Marketing for AJ’s at the San Marcos Golf Resort, that’s a wonderful thing. Since Downtown Chandler’s (The DC’s) revival, the hotel and AJ’s Café has been and continues to be a great draw for The DC.

“We have the arts, restaurants and a variety of entertainment all within walking distance of the hotel,” said Darlene. “Guests are able to combine several activities and make their Downtown experience last for the whole evening or even the weekend.”

San Marcos has been working on connecting the arts and the hotel by bringing in artists to perform at the hotel and by sponsoring CCA’s national performing artists by giving them a wonderful place to stay and relax before and after their performances.

For Jim Aikin ( Executive Director of Catering and Conference Services ), joining food and art together is a natural fit. “Food is art, the meal service is a performance itself. We want to please and entertain our guests just like the arts center,” said Jim.

We couldn’t agree more. Nothing beats a great dinner and a show for a night out on the town.

At AJ’s Cafe, the doors are open and everyone is welcome, even if they aren’t a guest at the hotel. They invite anyone looking for a great food experience in a relaxed atmosphere to try AJ’s new menu, which is a reflection of both the new approach AJ’s has taken, and the new identity that can be found in Downtown Chandler. Eat Your Art Out diners are encouraged to make reservations at AJ’s Cafe from 6:00am to 9:00pm on February 28th. 2012. To make a reservation for Eat Your Art Out, please call 480-812-0900 or visit their restaurant page.

Artsy Fartsy Foodies: Pittsburgh Willy’s

I live four minutes from the Center, and that’s if I catch all the red lights along the way. Right in the middle sits Pittsburgh Willy’s where you walk in and you’re not in Chandler anymore.

Pittsburgh Willy’s owner Randy Walters is a Pittsburgh native who followed his highschool sweetheart to Arizona after time spent in the Navy, and didn’t start off serving hotdogs. He always wanted a restaurant like Pittsburgh Willy’s, but didn’t have the opportunity until 2005 when he lost his job at Chandler Regional Hospital.

“I bought a hotdog cart and worked that, learned the business and in 2008 I opened this place (the restaurant), with no business experience, no restaurant experience. Just a desire and a dream,” he said.

Whether you’re looking to try a new hot dog (all of which Randy created) or looking for a twist on a Pittsburgh staple like chipped ham, Pittsburgh Willy’s has the food you’re looking for.

“Pittsburgh food is comfort food. We don’t count carbs, don’t count calories, and we use real ingredients, like real cream and real butter. It’s the food the way grandma used to make it,” said Randy.

Because the community chose to support Randy, Randy is doing what he can to give back to that community.

“I’m blessed to be one of the people who is living their passion,” he said. “My success is dependent on public support. They trust me enough to come in here and spend their money, so I give back to that community,” including the community arts center.

“Each family is responsible for their home, and each home is responsible for their community, and to support that community. In a perfect world, everyone would do that and it would be a much better place,” he said.

I couldn’t agree more, even though I’m not a Steelers fan.

You can give Pittsburgh Willy’s a visit either in person, on their website or Faceboook.

And try the chipped ham. That just sounds awesome.

Weekend Preview: Let the Irish jokes begin

Tonight we have the always fun Gaelic Storm, and they’re a great way to keep up the energy that we’ve had since the Blues Brothers last week. These guys have a great sense of humor that they bring to their music, and that makes for a really great live performance.

Plus, remember these?

I’m giving them to you, because you rock. You’ll have to tell me what movie they were in (the answer is on our Facebook and Twitter pages) and you’ll get yourself a snazzy poster. Easy peasy.

In continuing with all things Irish, we couldn’t be happier that Irish Republic Public House (the pub formerly known as Murphy’s Law) has joined us for Eat Your Art Out.

For owner Rodger Baldwin, the move was a no brainer.

“I’m a strong supporter of community based programs and the efforts that bring people together, and the Chandler Center for the Arts seem to do that well,” he said. That support can also be seen the moment you walk into Irish Republic in the form of dollar bills that plaster the inside of the pub with handwritten notes expressing gratitude for all that Roger does for the community.

But why support the arts with food? It just made sense for Roger.

“Both food and art are generally associated with community togetherness and invoke thoughts of family, love, tradition and creativity. In many ways, food is art with its vast array of colors and flavor combinations from around the world. Also, innovation plays a huge role in food and art, making them the perfect pair.”

I couldn’t agree more. So come out and support the local scene with a Gaelic Storm show and an after party at Irish Republic Public House.


Artsy Fartsy Foodies: Kokopelli Winery

Kokopelli Winery has been a Downtown Chandler staple for as long as I can remember, so we were all very excited when owner Dennis Minchella told us that Kokopelli Winery would be participating in Eat Your Art Out Chandler and support the Center.  

“Without the arts, we wouldn’t see how far the human mind can go. Art is amazing in its many forms and it allows us to be swept up in the emotion of the craft and to get away from our issues for a while,” he said, adding that wine and art go very well together.

Kokopelli Winery got it’s start in 1992, and in 2001 Dennis’ parents opened the Downtown Chandler restaurant so they could expand their business and serve some great food to compliment their amazing wines. Kokopelli is a success because of the passion for wine that is felt by the Minchella’s and their customers, as well as their understanding of supporting local businesses.

“It’s funny, but when I was a kid I would walk to the corner store to buy my candy. I knew the owner, in fact, I knew every owner in the downtown,” said Dennis. “Today, life is faster and people shop for bargains […] but we are all searching for that more comfortable time and that is usually found by dealing with the people in close proximity to you. By going to a show at Chandler Center for the Arts, then dining or shopping in the local downtown area, you get a sense of comfort and relaxation.”

That mindset has made Kokopelli so successful that they are now on the verge of opening their 1 Millionth bottle of wine, which they will do so at this year’s Kokopelli Krush, an annual weekend event in Downtown that encourages teams to crush the most grapes, with the winning team receiving a cruise.

So how does it feel to be on the verge of a 1 million bottle milestone?

“It is very exciting. To know that my parents founded the winery and got things rolling. Really there wasn’t a wine industry in Arizona when they came here. There were two hobbyist wine makers and Dr. Dutt of U of A, who was trying to prove that grapes could be grown successfully in AZ. To think back 20 years and to remember driving pilings into the ground that would support the cordons that would hold the grapes to make all this wine is hard to fathom,” said Dennis.

You can taste the passion at Kokopelli, so make sure you do so on February 28th from 11:00am-5:00pm, but also sometime this weekend, and help Dennis and Kokopelli Winery celebrate a wonderful milestone of opening their 1 millionth bottle of wine.

You can find Kokopelli on Faceb0ok and Twitter, as well as everything you ever wanted to know about them here.

Artsy Fartsy Foodies: Venezia’s Pizzeria

If there is food that is universally accepted as “good, whenever, where ever”, it’s pizza. But doing pizza right is a totally different task, that Venezia’s Pizzeria is happy to do again and again.

The first Venezia’s Pizzeria opened in New Mexico in 1978, but didn’t make an appearance in Arizona until 1998 in the heart of Tempe. Although Venezia’s Pizzeria specializes in pizza, it wasn’t always that way.

“The first Italian restaurant that we opened, Venezia’s Pizzeria, was actually a full service restaurant that had a large menu of pastas such as Spaghetti Carbonara, Veal Marsala, Linguine with Clam sauce, Fettucini Alfredo and many other traditional Italian entrees,” said owner Dom. “When I opened in AZ I chose to simplify the menu in order to make consistency and the ability to service takeout orders. ”

But this isn’t your frozen pizza or Hot and Ready for a couple of bucks, Venezia’s Pizzeria is all about authenticity.

“All of our pastas, sauces, and pizza come from my parents family from Italy,” said Dom.

You can find Venezia’s Pizzeria all over the Valley, but make sure you visit their location on Cooper and Ray Road in Gilbert between now and February 28th to get a feel for the establishment, and for the pizza that you can taste the passion and deadication in.

So why should foodies care about the arts? It’s the way to live a well rounded life.

“They (the Chandler community) should support the arts because it is very important for people to be well diversed in many areas for a balanced life,” said Dom, adding that Chandler has a lot of potiential with some big name emloyers with roots in Chandler, or who are laying the foundation, such as Intel, PayPal and Ebay amoung others. 

I’m enouraging our Artsy Fartsy Foodies to visit any Venezia’s Pizzeria location between now and February 28th (and while your at it, bring me a slice), please make sure you bring your friends, family and anyone you can to their Gilbert location on February 28th. Reservations aren’t nessicary, as people will be served on a first come, first served basis.

Please mention “Pizza Night” in your order during Eat Your Art Out, so the staff can enter the correct codes and Venezia’s can get credit for all the faboulous Artsy Fartsy  Foodies that I know will drop by.

About Venezia’s Pizzeria: With four locations Valley wide, Venezia’s serves fine authentic Italian food, using only the freshest ingredients for all of our dishes. All of our meatballs, marinara, lasagna and pizza sauce are homemade—providing Arizona with a touch of what REAL Italian food tastes like. Since opening in 1978, Venezia’s has been making great pizza a family tradition. Like them on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter.

Monday Mashup: Rachel Eckroth

Phoenix native Rachel Eckroth has an interest in many forms of music, but her true love is, and has been, jazz.

“I’ve been drawn to jazz because it’s music you could create on the spot,” she said. Coming from a musical family, Rachel was surrounded by different types of music and instruments and was singing and playing piano by age 6. When she was 14, she started playing jazz and was drawn to artists such as Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald.

Rachel got her start in Phoenix, but her talents soon took her to Las Vegas and New York. Now she spends her time between Phoenix and New York, and her music has taken a turn back to her roots.

“Now, we’re going to be doing a mix of jazz, plus some singer/songwriter stuff,” she said, the “we” referring to drummer and bassist who will be joining her for Friday night’s show. 

“On Friday, the audience can expect my energy with some jazz songs, a couple of tunes we’ll covering. Just a bunch of great music with some bass and drum solos,” she said, adding that people may recognize a Burt Bacharach song or two.

“Basically, we’re looking to create something on stage with the band that people can connect to. We don’t always plan it out, we just go with it,” she said.

If you want to catch Rachel live and see for yourself how great she sounds, you can catch her FREE show this Friday night at 7:30 at CCA.

Weekend Preview Round 2: Firefly

Firefly is looking forward to playing at Chandler Center for the Arts, and they weren’t just being nice to me.

“Chandler Center for the Arts is one of our favorites, not joking at all,” said oldest sister Melanie. “We played at the grand re-opening, and it’s a really classy place.”

Melanie is joined by her two sisters, McKenzie and Madelyn, to make up the band Firefly.

Firefly all started when Melanie made an appearance in Nashville when she was 17, playing songs she wrote herself. McKenzie and Madelyn followed suit, and Firefly has since burst onto the music scene, playing at shows such as Zac Brown Band, Justin Bieber and The Gin Blossoms.

Firefly’s next show will be Saturday with Steve Wariner, and the sisters couldn’t be more excited.

“We’re so excited! We’ve been looking forward to the show, and we’ve known about it for a while. He’s like a legend,” said Melanie.

The fact that Chandler Center for the Arts is a hometown show just makes it all the better.

“You get to have all our friends, family come and support us, so we have this big support system,” said Melanie.

“And it’s nice to prepare for shows at home instead of on a bus,” added middle sister McKenzie.

Hometown shows also make it easier to get to the important things outside of music, like school.  While McKenzie is taking college courses online, youngest sister Madelyn is a sophomore in high school, which means a very early start to the day.

” I have zero hour, and sometimes it’s hard to get up after a late night out,” she said, adding that her and her family are looking at options for next year that include homeschooling or online classes to make their schedules easier.

Firefly is currently working on an album, and they will be selling 2 tracks Saturday night that are not yet available anywhere else. The new album will include their favorite song “Love How You Feel”, which sums up their philosophy.

“We’re not playing for fame and fortune,” said Melanie, “We feel like we can have a good influence on young girls, and we’re trying to fill that void.”

Weekend Preview Part 1: AZ Central’s Q&A With Steve Wariner

This week’s Weekend Preview comes in 2 parts because we have two amazing performers this weekend, Steve Wariner and Firefly. Recently Steve Wariner sat down for some good ol’ fashioned Q&A with Randy Cordova at AZ Central. The article is as follows:

After getting his start in Dottie West’s road band as a teenager, Steve Wariner launched a celebrated recording career that eventually put more than 60 singles on the Billboard country charts, including 10 that went to No. 1. His hits range from such graceful pop-country gems as “The Weekend” and “All Roads Lead to You” to the tearjerker “Holes in the Floor of Heaven,” the Country Music Association Song of the Year in 1998.

For possessing one of the most recognizable voices on country radio in the ’80s and ’90s, Wariner already earned his place in the history books. But the Indiana native has racked up four Grammys for his guitar work – his latest came last year for his all-instrumental “My Tribute to Chet Atkins,” dedicated to his mentor. And as a songwriter, he has written hits for Keith Urban, Clint Black and Garth Brooks.

With a speaking voice just as smooth as his singing, Wariner, 56, called to chat about his diverse career and his new album, “Guitar Laboratory.”

Question: Your career is so varied. How do you tie that all into a show?

Answer: It’s going to be kind of a little mixture. There are highlights with some of the hits, a segment dedicated to Chet Atkins and I do some songs that I’ve written for other artists. It’s kind of a three-pronged approach to my career: The singer, the guitar player and the songwriter. And I tell a lot of stories that seem to really go over well, so it’s like an inside glimpse at my life and career.

Q: What’s it like having your own record label?

A: I really like the freedom. After all those years of having to make records and having to fit in the box, I like that I’m just going to cut what I really think is cool. I’ve never had this kind of freedom.

Q: With “Guitar Laboratory” being all instrumental, there’s not much for radio to play.

A: (Laughing) Being the captain of my own ship, I could be as self-indulgent as I wanted to be, I guess. The other side is I may not be on radio, but I may not have been, anyway. You pass the baton on to some of the younger guys, and they have the headaches of dealing with the labels and the radio stations. I was lucky, and I had great run, so if this only sells 20 copies, so be it.

Q: That’s very brave to say that your time as a hitmaker may be over.

A: That’s a difficult thing. It’s like an athlete, and you have a window. But it’s really hard with the ego. I had a lot of hits and country radio was really great to me. I’m very grateful. But you have to know that there was probably some 50-something-year-old guy I bumped off when I came along, so it’s natural. Times change.

Q: But in artistic terms, you are doing some of your finest work.

A: When you get to a certain point, you have to shift gears to reinvent yourself. I had already kind of reinvented myself (as a songwriter). If you reinvent yourself, you can keep going. I can be a guitar guy or a songwriter. This year, I’m going to do some symphonies, and that’s another way of reinventing myself.

Q: Do you have any hits where you think, “Ugh, not that one again?”

A: Some are more challenging to do live. (Laughing) I think, “Why did I sing all those high notes on the record?” I painted myself into a corner with some of those. My theory always was, do not cut a song unless you absolutely love it. I’ve heard artists say, “I’ve done this one 4,000 times and I’m sick of it.” Well, the audience isn’t sick of it. You may be singing it every night, but maybe they haven’t heard it for eight months.

Q: How many guitars do you have?

A: Around 100 or so. The number is somewhere up there. I’m sure my wife knows, because she has the insurance paperwork.

Q: When you bring a home a new one, does she say that’s too much?

A: (Laughing) I really don’t think I’ve heard that phrase before. It’s not so much that, but just a look that I get. Like, “Really, Steve?”

Article link: http://www.azcentral.com/thingstodo/music/articles/2011/03/22/20110322steve-wariner-chandler-arts-center.html

Reach the reporter at: randy.cordova@arizonarepublic.com or at 602-444-8849

My Fox Phoenix at Glee Camp newscast

If your schedule didn’t allow you to see Kirstin at Chandler Center for the Arts yesterday, never fear! We have the clip for you!

Tech Tuesday, the Jimmie edition.

Jimmie is Chandler Center for the Arts’ Senior Production Coordinator, who does (in his words) everything.

“I do everything needed to get ready for every show and event, well, as much as humanly possible,” he added with a laugh.

Jimmie has been here since 1989 when the center opened, and loves when he gets to work with younger technicians.

“My favorite thing is when I work with students and younger technicians, and they get it.  They understand what they’re doing and they develop a passion for it,” he said.

Jimmie works with other CCA technicians (including Bill) even on days with no performance.  Because they get in plenty of practice time, everything works together on performance days or night, and the show can go off without a hitch.

“When things run like they’re supposed to, it keeps everyone happy.  And that really isn’t that big of a challenge,” he said.

But just because his title has the word “Senior” in it, doesn’t give Jimmie any special treatment when it comes to his work.

“Really, the show must go on, so we can’t stop for one person.  We’ll stop if the building is on fire, but not if we’re missing people.”

Sit down at San Tan

San Tan Brewing Company is about a block south of Chandler Center for the Arts, which makes it a great lunch or happy hour destination, and also the perfect place for theater goers to have a bit to eat. It opened in mid-2007 in what had been a bank in a previous life.

“We had the goal of bringing fresh, handcrafted beer to Chandler and the surrounding areas,” said Chip Mulala, Minister of Craft Beer.  “San Tan started out as a restaurant, but then the popularity of craft beers exploded, and we expanded our beer distribution.  Now our beers are available in over 300 stores in Arizona, from big chain stores to the independent ones.”

San Tan is also Chandler Center for the Art’s official beer sponsor, which means that at select shows, patrons will be able to purchase San Tan’s craft beers, as long as they’re over 21.*

“It means a lot to us (to be CCA’s official beer sponsor). It’s so important because Chandler Center for the Arts is an anchor for Chandler, and we can put ourselves on the map, which helps the city grow in terms of population and culture,” said Chip, adding that the partnership between San Tan and Chandler Center for the Arts enhances the guest’s experience by having local, quality handcrafted beer available.

If anyone who wants to make San Tan Brewing Company their destination before coming to Chandler Center for the Arts, Chip said patrons should show their ticket or ticket stub, and they can receive 10% off their bill.

“Reservations are suggested, however only accepted until 5:30 p.m., so we really suggest coming in early so you can relax and enjoy your meal.”

For dinner ideas, Chip suggested either the Cochinita Pork Pibil paired with the HefeWeizen Wheat beer or the Green Chili Enchiladas with the Devil’s Ale.

Here’s a slide show to give you a glimpse of San Tan. The handsome fellow holding the HefeWeizen is Owner and Brew master Anthony Canecchia, and if you can pronounce his name right on the first try I will give you a dollar (just kidding!).

(*And don’t try and sneak a fake I.D. past us. We’re too good at this.)

Tech Tuesday

On performance night at CCA, many different parts have to come together as a whole in order for a show to be successful.  A large piece of what makes a successful show is our production team. To show our appreciation, we will dedicate a blog to them on Tuesdays and highlight their job in someway.

So meet Bill, a Production Coordinator and Lighting Director who was brave enough to be my Tech Tuesday guinea pig.

Bill has been keeping the lights on here at CCA for nearly 11 years with the belief that lighting is everything.

“My job is to make sure that every lighting need is met for a show, whether it’s me designing the lights, or someone coming in and setting up,” he said.

Bill must make sure that all the lights are working properly, the colors match and highlight areas of the stage, spotlights work, and that lights are able to change throughout the performance, if needed. Proper lighting can affect the mood of the audience and make or break a show.

If you sit down with Bill for a few minutes, it’s very obvious that he loves his job, and  realistically, a few minutes is all you’ll be able to get, simply because there is always something going on.

“I don’t have to always sit behind a desk, because there is always another event right around the corner,” said Bill, adding that no two days are ever the same.

Bill knows that lighting is everything, and makes sure that everyone, from the audience to the performers, is happy with the end result.

“My favorite is when the artist comes in without a lighting person, and they comment on the lighting and thank me from the stage. They realize that I went that extra step to make their show great.”

So next time you’re enjoying a performance at CCA (Like Frank Sinatra Jr.), take a look at the lighting and how it changes to reflect the mood of the show. And if you happen to see Bill after a show, take a moment to let him know that he did a great job.

Americas Favorite Cowboys Ride Into Chandler Center for the Arts

The country western music group Riders in the Sky has had success at the Grand Ole Opry and at the Grammys, and now they’re bringing that success and momentum to Chandler Center for the Arts.

The group, made up of Ranger Doug, Woody Paul, Too Slim and Joey the Cowpolka King have been performing since the late 1970’s, joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1982 and won one Grammy Awards in 2001 for Woody’s Round up from the movie Toy Story 2 and another in 2003 for Scream Factory Favorites from the movie Monsters, Inc.

“The Grammys are the highest accolade in American music, so we felt very honored,” said Ranger Doug.  “And we’ve been a part of the Grand Ole Opry since 1982, and there’s this great sense of tradition that this form of American music represents. It’s a real thrill to be up on that stage.”

Ranger Doug said that the group performs comedy western music because it’s a rich American tradition that shouldn’t be forgotten, and “We’re hams, we just enjoy being on stage!”

From making audience members laugh and reminding them to “do things the cowboy way”,  to writing a book about finding your inner sidekick, courtesy of Too Slim, Riders in the Sky make for an entertaining and lively group that is sure to prove that they truly are America’s Favorite Cowboys.

For more information about Riders in the Sky visit ridersinthesky.com

To buy tickets to Riders in the Sky’s Sunday afternoon show, click here!