Dan Rylander – Zocalo Magazine – Tucson Arts and Culture http://www.zocalomagazine.com Tucson Arts, Culture, Entertainment, News and Events Magazine Tue, 05 Sep 2017 01:48:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.11 A Journey of the Spirit http://www.zocalomagazine.com/a-journey-of-the-spirit/ Tue, 31 Jan 2017 01:01:35 +0000 http://www.zocalomagazine.com/?p=10767 front cover“My Way or the Highway”
Rich Hopkins and Luminarios
San Jacinto Records, 2017 (America)
Blue Rose Records, 2017 (Europe)

The latest release from the musical mind of 30-year plus rock vet Rich Hopkins, his co-writer and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Lisa Novak, and the band’s luminary musicians from Houston and Tucson, is an excellent addition to the regional sound of the American/Baja Southwest.

The 12-track album showcases the mature writing ability of Hopkins and Novak – an album inspired by the songwriting couple’s recent travels. Their trip to southern Mexico resulted in two tracks, “Angel of the Cascades” and “Chan Kah,” that drew from those experiences and tell beautiful stories of people and places, situated in current times and in timeless myths. The chorus of “Angel of the Cascades” is particularly hypnotic and haunting. The song invites you to imagine seeing “the smile upon his face,” as Hopkins narrates their contemplation of a beautiful pristine jungle paradise waterfall. You can look inside the CD cover and see a picture of Rich with his new friends/guides by the very pool at the base of the waterfall.

About the trip to the falls that inspired “Angel of the Cascades,” Novak says the journey “was spiritual… we really did feel like we were blessed and watched over. I was terrified on the trip and there were no directions or signs. We left there with such a humbling experience from the way some folks live in the poorest of conditions but are so sweet and happy.” You’ll feel like you are diving right into the pool with Hopkins and Novak.

“If You Want To” is a rock-out anthem to positive risk taking as Hopkins and Novak sing, “You can do it, you know you can do it, it’s always dark before the dawn.” Tucson stalwarts Winston Watson (drums), Damon Barnaby (guitars) and Duane Hollis (bass) lay down the sound around Hopkins’ trademark guitar as Novak and Hopkins’ killer chorus soar over the notes. You’ll want to play the track, which has a ‘70s country rock feel to it, over and over.

Another amazing collaboration involves poet and rapper Cesar Aguirre, which results in a rap/rock lyric flow about eye-opening redemption. The lyrics and spoken word are delivered forcefully by Aguirre, with the chorus by Novak. The cut, “Meant for Mo’,” starts with an introduction that that has my new favorite movie quote, from “School Daze” … “we aren’t so happy you got a degree in art!”

Hopkins is especially grateful to Lars Goransson, producer and recording engineer, whom, he says, helped make the record happen with available studio time that pushed the material forward.

All in all, this is a release that can’t be pigeonholed into a genre, and displays the mature power of songwriters and collaborators producing a beautiful album.

Catch Rich Hopkins and Luminarios at Flycatcher, 340 E. 6th St., on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. and at Fini’s Landing, 5689 N. Swan Rd., on April 7 at 8 p.m. Learn more at RichHopkinsMusic.com and ReverbNation.com/richhopkinsandtheluminarios.

Rich Hopkins and the Luminarios: “Tombstone” http://www.zocalomagazine.com/rich-hopkins-and-the-luminarios-tombstone/ Tue, 11 Nov 2014 01:28:48 +0000 http://www.zocalomagazine.com/?p=9670 Sometimes music speaks to the listener as a songwriter’s personal history and observations.

Sometimes, the pieces of music speak to the listener as a history, as in the history of Tucson or of the Western U.S. With Rich Hopkins and the Luminarios’ latest release, “Tombstone,” the sound and words of the 12 tracks work together and take the listener into a cathartic personal history, and also history writ large. Rich Hopkins and his chief songwriting collaborator Lisa Novak generously share both.

Hopkins wryly observes of the album, “I thought that the whole record would be this weird Western thing, but I didn’t have enough of those songs,” so personal songs, story songs and songs with powerful messages round out the release.

The guitar-driven hard rocking first cut, “Don’t Worry,” entertains, but also lyrically reflects on learning from personal life struggles. Hopkins asks: “Can you let go, can you forgive, can you let your light shine inside?” Some juicy Hopkins guitar riffs punctuate the piece.

"Tombstone" Rich Hopkins & The Luminarios

“Tombstone” Rich Hopkins & The Luminarios

On the title track “Tombstone,” the actual history of this corner of the Southwest is the source material for a dark heavy rocker written from the viewpoint of Ike Clanton, a survivor of the legendary OK Corral shootout in Tombstone, Arizona on October 26, 1881. Clanton survived the shootout but met his end trying to escape arrest for alleged cattle-rustling in June 1887. Lyrics like “me and my brothers, we don’t believe in hindsight,” and Hopkins’ sardonic and accurate reflection that “anyone who drinks whiskey for thirty-six hours straight ain’t gonna make wise choices,” sums up the reckless feel of this cut.

Part-time Luminarios – Alan Anderson on drums, Duane Hollis on bass and Damon Barnaby on lead guitar – keep the power cranking. Hopkins proudly indicates that this song, recorded at Jim Brady’s recording studio in Tucson, was a basic one-take recording.

On track six, “Hang On,” lyrics urging the listener to hope and care, replete with splendid vocal harmonies between Hopkins and Novak, are featured. Hopkins comments that some days and some things are just hard, and “that’s why we need each other, to break the pattern of isolation that manifests in the crazy mind. Sometimes we also need to learn to sit with our uncomfortable feelings and know this too shall pass.”

Cut ten, “Private Shaw,” is particularly gripping. Hopkins and Novak lyrically reflect on the sad and bloody history that is the history of the Western U.S. Indian Wars. Not for the faint of heart, the cut resonates with this lover of history. Hopkins comments that while not drawn from any particular battle or massacre, he drew from many such violent Western encounters. It is followed by a beautiful mournful song, “Mourning Song,” again chock-full of killer lines by Novak. Jon Sanchez contributes some haunting synthesizer work. About Novak, Hopkins says, “she is really a great songwriter and a huge part of the band. I feel so blessed.”

The last cut “Leona’s Song,” is a direct tribute to Lisa Novak’s mother, who was a piano player in a Texas dance band in the 1950s. Arnold Parker, a previous band mate of Leona’s, provides the vocal lead and Leona is imaged dancing in the great beyond as the “angels were waiting their turn to dance with you.”

“We wrote it the night of her service,” says Hopkins about the deeply touching cut. Novak will include the song in a planned book she is writing about her experience with her mother, who fell victim to Alzheimer’s.

Collectively, the album is equal part reflection on personal history, story-telling, and on gripping U.S. Southwestern history. Players include Austin residents and long-time Hopkins collaborators Jon Sanchez on guitar and synthesizer and vocals and George Duron on drums, the aforementioned Lisa Novak on harmony and lead vocals, guitar and percussion; and bass, drum and guitar work by Tucsonans Duane Hollis, Alan Anderson and Damon Barnaby, respectively.

Hopkins opines about his many musician compatriots: “I am really blessed to be surrounded by these great, generous musicians. This was a really big group effort… the best part about it is that.”

Rich Hopkins and the Luminarios perform on the outdoor Club Congress patio, 311 E. Congress St., at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22 for the Tucson release of “Tombstone.” On Tuesday, Nov. 25, also at Club Congress, the band performs with Chicha Dust and other local acts for the annual Casa Maria soup kitchen fundraiser. For more details, visit RichHopkinsMusic.com.

Run Boy Run’s “Something to Someone” http://www.zocalomagazine.com/run-boy-runs-something-to-someone/ Sun, 31 Aug 2014 09:58:49 +0000 http://www.zocalomagazine.com/?p=9225 Run Boy Run Photo courtesy Run Boy Run

Run Boy Run
photo courtesy Run Boy Run

The quintet comprising Run Boy Run is a tightly knit group, playing together since 2009 when they blended as a band through that most-common connection vehicle in greater Tucson, the UofA. Driven by virtuoso fiddle, cello, stand-up bass, guitar, and, above all, beautiful melodies and unearthly female vocal harmonies, they’ve carved a regional name for themselves squarely at the intersection of bluegrass, Americana, folk and classical.

Friday, Sept. 5 sees the CD release party for “Something for Someone,” an eleven-track recording that is deep, complex, and often melancholy; ten of which are original compositions. Recorded in Seattle and released on their own Sky Island Records label, the second full-length album finds the band displaying the instrumental virtuosity that characterized last year’s release “So Sang the Whippoorwill,” with a songwriting maturity.

Violin, guitar player and band manager Matt Rolland addresses the band’s songwriting process: “We approach songwriting individually, but song-arranging collaboratively. We have five songwriters in the band. The songs (on this album) are largely born out of our first national tour in 2013, traveling 25,000 miles in two and a half months. We all wrote songs on the road and after we returned home… we were hungry to get together and work up band versions of those songs.”

The album was constructed from those songs, and taken from bare idea to fully arranged and recorded in two months. “It was an experiment of sorts to try to do the album the way we did – learning all those new songs, arranging them, and then recording them – in a two month period. The end product is a testament to the group’s creative process and also a painting of where we are at right now as musicians and songwriters,” elucidates Rolland.

The band connections run deep with Rolland married to Bekah Sandoval – writer, fiddler, guitarist and one of three female power-house vocalists in the group – her songwriting sister Jen Sandoval also sings and plays mandolin; and cellist, vocalist, and Rolland’s sister Grace Rolland is also a part. The band is rounded out by bassist Jesse Allen.

“At the end of the day, it helps to be related because you’re committed to putting back together whatever is broken. There’s a shared history with siblings that is just a reality for us – it helps in some ways and challenges us in just as many ways. Fortunately, nothing has been broken that badly in the band other than a collarbone and an ankle,” Rolland gratefully states.

Run Boy Run Album CoverNotable album tracks include The Lord Taketh Away and Heavy the Sorrow – both require more than one listen! On these cuts, the writers are clearly pulling deeply from the sad proud Americana tradition of composing slower, heart-wrenching songs about betrayal, death, loss, and faith.

Third track Dream in the Night is a lilting melancholy number which could have been composed after walking Tucson’s North 4th Avenue, and to the listener, begs the question: Was it?

“In a way, it was,” Rolland explains. “Bekah (Sandoval) wrote this song while we were on the road, missing Tucson. The imagery comes from the Dia de los Muertos parade that takes place downtown. We recorded this song live at the studio – one of the only songs on the album we did this way. We wanted to sound like you could be hearing it in a club, lights low, candles flickering… (a) sensory experience reflective of the parade itself – sights, sounds, colors, and music in all directions.”

If one has experienced Tucson’s soul-stirring All Souls Procession, which Rolland references, that feeling rings true through the cut.

There are also foot-moving toe-tappers here. Song six, an instrumental entitled Sunday for Larks, has a classical chamber-music feel and a dance feel at the same time. And the last track on the release, is both sad, emotionally, and moving, physically, as the lyrics of Far From My Home carry us through the ultimately fruitless empty search for love away from home, and, as the tune progresses to the second and final movement of the piece, called The Lion and the Fawn, a dance again breaks out for the listener, who is sent away from the listening experience with a spring in their step.

The band is definitely gaining national exposure. By the end of 2014, they’ll have logged six regional tours at years’ end, performing over one hundred live shows. From Sept. 3 through Nov. 16, Run Boy Run will perform twenty-one times in ten different states.

“We’ve learned that three weeks is our ideal tour length; much longer and our voices wear out, limbs get tired, we get road-weary,” says Rolland. “We’ve learned that booking a balance of show types on tour – clubs, festivals, concerts, house concerts, radio spots – helps us come away feeling energized from a tour.”

Catch them before they hit the road again!

Run Boy Run performs on Friday, Sept. 5 at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., along with Ryanhood before embarking on its ten state odyssey. The official release date for the album is Oct. 28. Pre-orders CD, digital or vinyl are available at RunBoyRunBand.com. For more show details, see RialtoTheatre.com.

“Sunrise for Everyone” http://www.zocalomagazine.com/sunrise-for-everyone/ Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:31:55 +0000 http://www.zocalomagazine.com/?p=8819 La Cerca Promises & Delivers

Sunrise for Everyone FI

Andrew Gardner is a driven musician. He has placed his songwriting and performing ambitions in the vessel of La Cerca, his musical project of choice, for over a dozen years.

Now, at long last, many pieces of rock orchestration and musical prestidigitation which have heretofore only been available to those that catch a live La Cerca show can be enjoyed away from a venue with the upcoming release of Sunrise for Everyone.

This nine-cut full length album of newly recorded songs, recorded and mixed at Waterworks Studio, is a hat full of weather, storm clouds, and shimmering light and dark. Gardner’s lyrics are a real treat. You are not quite sure what words you just heard, but you like them just the same. The guitar work, principally by Gardner but ably augmented with work by Bill Oberdick, Malcolm Cooper and Kevin Dowling, is sterling.

There are pop cuts, like the breezy “Arizon,” and the title cut “Sunrise for Everyone,” and songs heavy with hooks and killer choruses, like “Sorry XO” and “Climate Control,” where Gardner channels summer in Southern Arizona, as he sings “here are the days of impossible shade, the sun shines so deep. The warmth infiltrates your dreamtime escape, can’t runaway so sweet, you will come alive, the sun will shine, accordingly.”

Gardner is prolific enough musically that he admits that many of the songs on the album were out of rotation in the typical La Cerca set he and his bandmates had been playing, and “now we are getting into playing them again.”

The current line up has Andrew Gardner on vox and lead guitar, Bill Oberdick on rhythm guitar, Roger Reed on drums and Boyd Peterson on bass. Eight different musicians and seven different backing vocalists contribute, but “Sunrise for Everyone” is Gardner’s baby.

“Sunrise for Everyone” is set to release on Fort Lowell Records on July 29. The local release party will happen at Tucson’s own Club Congress on Friday, August 15, and La Cerca will journey to our large and hot neighbor on August 25 to play a show at Phoenix’s Crescent Ballroom. The band has gigs currently booked for late July in California, and, hopefully, further up the coast, before returning home for the Congress and Crescent shows.

Catch La Cerca at Club Congress on Friday, August 15 at 9 p.m. Opening the show are: Numb Bats, Burning Palms and Electric Blankets. For more info go to HotelCongress.com, or visit FortLowell.blogspot.com.

Experience Desert Birding & Wildlife http://www.zocalomagazine.com/experience-desert-birding-wildlife/ Sun, 06 Jul 2014 23:17:31 +0000 http://www.zocalomagazine.com/?p=8807 Gilded Filcker photo: Bruce Taubert/courtesy Tucson Audubon Society

Gilded Filcker
photo: Bruce Taubert/courtesy Tucson Audubon Society

Tucson’s urbanites encounter wildlife on a regular basis. Our neighborhoods resound with bird songs 12 months of the year. Lizards, snakes, coyotes roam far and wide. I see rabbits on every walk in my mid-town ‘hood. Having lived in Tucson for over twenty years, I recognize that the Sonoran Desert’s boundary between town and the desert is only real to humans, not to the desert’s wild denizens. Birds routinely bring the viewer and listener to wonderment and connect us back, and into, this robust environment.

As stated by Dr. Paul Green of the Tucson Audubon Society via email: “Birds are the start of an exciting relationship with nature, one where we can all learn about and enjoy wildlife and wild spaces, make our own neighborhoods better for birds and wildlife, and conserve and restore the most important areas for birds and for people, as we coexist more sustainably.”

Starting August 13 and continuing through August 17, the Tucson Audubon Society brings the amazing birds of the Sonoran Desert and Sky Islands to the public with its Fourth Annual Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival. The Tucson Audubon Society was founded in 1949, with a mission statement that promises to “promote the protection and stewardship of southern Arizona’s biological diversity through the study and enjoyment of birds and the places they live.”

This year’s event anticipates the continued increase in popularity which has occurred since the festival’s start in 2011. The event is far flung, but conveniently centered at the RiverPark Inn, 350 South Freeway, just west of I-10 and very near downtown, where attendees can take in safe and fun live animal and bird encounters, educational exhibits, lectures and talks, meet with various nature advocacy groups, and peruse items for sale by nature-related vendors.

Workshops that run Thursday, August 14 through Sunday, August 17, will teach beginning birders and new visitors to the Sonoran Desert region how to identify some bird species, understand bird molting, identify bats with sonar detectors, and learn the basics of gardening with an eye to attracting hummingbirds to one’s backyard. This year, with the advent of the new Sun Link streetcar line, an extremely convenient mass transit access exists near the RiverPark Inn.

Elegant Trogon. Photo: Donna Tolbert-Anderson/courtesyTucson Audubon Society

Elegant Trogon
Photo: Donna Tolbert-Anderson, courtesy Tucson Audubon Society

Dr. Green explains the reason for the Society’s creation and continued stewardship of the event: “Tucson Audubon started the Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival for two reasons. First we sought to create a local tool to convince those in government and business that traveling birdwatchers have significant economic impact and that the natural habitats upon which those birds depend have value in an undeveloped state. We already know that wildlife watching is worth $1.2 billion each year to our state. Secondly, we sought to celebrate the astounding diversity of birds here. Of the 914 species of birds found in North America, around 525 have been seen in Arizona, 400 species seen in our region each year, 36 not regularly found elsewhere in U.S. and around 40 are found only in the U.S./Mexico border area. So this is a very special part of the continent. The festival brings birders from across the country, and a number of overseas countries. We teach people about the threats to our birds and the places they live, and tell people what they can do to protect and enhance our region for wildlife.”

Special guests to the event include Robert Mesta, who will discuss recovery efforts related to species survival of four high-profile endangered birds: the California Condor, Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Masked Bobwhite Quail, all with unique ties to the American Southwest. Also, author and international bird tour leader Steven N. G. Howell, author of “Rare Birds of North America,” and co-author of “A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America,” will speak on the topic: “Shift Happens: Rare (Vagrant) Birds in North America – Why, Where, and Whence?”

Away from the RiverPark Inn, and for an enhanced experience, there are scheduled trips to nearby birding hotspots.

Tucson Audubon Society Events and Volunteer Coordinator Julie Pulliam elucidates: “A few spaces remain on trips that highlight the stunning array of Sonoran Desert specialty birds at Catalina State Park and Saguaro National Park. If you like viewing life behind your camera lens, join our new ‘Bird & Wildlife Viewing & Photography Trip’ where you can photograph birds from the desert floor to the canyon habitat of the Santa Rita Mountains. When you think of birding in southeast Arizona, you may not think of shorebirds, but on a trip to Benson and Willcox, you can spot a wide variety of shorebirds as they stop over on their migration journey.”

Dozens of field trips (they do cost and must be reserved in advance) and workshops are scheduled with national experts.

Dr. Green stated: “If you live in Tucson, nowhere can you hear from so many local wildlife experts in one weekend as at the Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival. They will open your eyes to the wildlife in your backyard.”

Of special interest to Tucsonans is a planned trip to the Campbell Avenue/Rillito Bridge, which is a bat roost extraordinaire. I have driven across that bridge just as the bats cut loose. In seconds, thousands of bats swirl into the indigo sunset sky, curling like a single entity. Remember, every mosquito eaten by a bat is one less to feed on you! Bat biologist Dr. Ronnie Sidner will be on hand for this reservation-only discussion of bat ecology and biology. Sonar detectors will be used to identify different bat species that may be encountered.

For newbies, there will be a beginning birding workshop with birder guide Lynn Hassler scheduled for August 16 at 10 a.m. and starting at the RiverPark Inn. Here’s hoping that an inspired reader can get one of these reserved slots!

Broad-Billed Hummingbird (male), Santa Rita Lodge, Madera Canyon. photo: Alan D. Wilson/courtesy Tucson Audubon Society

Broad-Billed Hummingbird (male), Santa Rita Lodge, Madera Canyon.
photo: Alan D. Wilson/courtesy Tucson Audubon Society

On the more challenging end of the spectrum, Tucson Audubon Society will present, on August 13, beginning at midnight sharp, and continuing for 24 hours, the Sky Islands Birding Cup, during which extreme birder teams will compete for the Sky Islands Birding Cup. This twenty-four competition between two person teams sounds crazy!

According to Kara Kaczmarzyk, Development & Membership Manager for the local Society: “At this time of year, you could see more than 200 bird species in 24 hours, so planning your route and knowing the hotspots is how teams like last year’s winners ‘Burning the Midnight Oil’ found 185 species in one day. The race is on for the 200: which team can break the record and find 200 birds in 24 hours? During the Sky Islands Birding Cup, teams compete to see how many species they can spot in a day, while raising funds and awareness for bird habitat conservation.”

If you can’t get up at midnight on August 13 and search for birds over the next 24 hours, celebrate with the winners at the RiverPark Inn on August 14. All in the all, the event promises to provide exciting knowledge about our natural world to both the casual attendee and the committed learner.

Learn more and register for the Fourth Annual Bird and Wildlife Festival at TucsonAudubon.org/festival.

Tumamoc’s Artistic Inspiration http://www.zocalomagazine.com/tumamocs-artistic-inspiration/ Thu, 29 May 2014 00:16:55 +0000 http://www.zocalomagazine.com/?p=8384 “This Piece of Earth: Images and Words from Tumamoc Hill” book cover.

“This Piece of Earth: Images and Words from Tumamoc Hill” book cover.

Tumamoc Hill. It broods on our western vista from Downtown Tucson, visible to the south and north for miles. Looming like an acropolis over the west central edge of Tucson proper, and marking the eastern outliers of the Tucson Mountains, its 3,108 foot peak and massive width dwarfs, by contrast, Sentinel Peak, aka “A” Mountain, topping out at 2,897 feet.

How the 860 acre parcel with the Hill at its center–surrounded by Anklam, Greasewood and Mission Roads–came to be as protected as it was, how it has been so close to the old and new center of Tucson, and yet has remained relatively untouched by time, is a story of the cross-currents of science and public institutions both past and present. Portions of the preserve contain some of the most studied plant plots in biology and botanical science. But not everything is known or can be experienced through science. A previously missing piece of the Tumamoc Hill story, which is really part of Tucson’s story, is intuitive, visual, historical. The artistic story of this piece of Tucson had been lacking in a way that places like San Xavier del Bac, Old Tucson, or the Rodeo Grounds have not.

Now, thanks to Tumamoc: People and Habitats, a project of the College of Science, University of Arizona, we have a volume of poetry, paintings, photography and drawings entitled, “This Piece of Earth – Images and Words from Tumamoc Hill” to bring the beauty and history of this certain quintessential piece of greater Tucson to us.

Writers from Tucson’s poetry group POG and local artists converged on the preserve, interacting with science researchers and historians, learning about the “Hill’s” long history and Sonoran desert vegetation and animals. In all, thirteen contributors provided ample evidence of the profound impact of a close personal relationship between artist and place. As visual artist and photographer Paul Mirocha puts it in his artist’s statement, “limiting the scope of my artwork to one small bounded place, such as Tumamoc, has profoundly changed how I think and work.”

"Looking North from Slope of Tumamoc Hill Towards the Desert Lab and Road with Walkers," by Paul Mirocha.

“Looking North from Slope of Tumamoc Hill Towards the Desert Lab and Road with Walkers,” by Paul Mirocha.

Page after page of this beautifully designed art book draws the viewer and reader into and out of both visual and literary interaction with the massif. Stunning black and white photography, found object collages, watercolors, and sketches intermingle powerfully with simple and sublime poetry.

One of the more fascinating approaches to artistic interaction with the preserve is the work of Kathleen Koopman. Allowed, as those who regularly walk the Hill are not, to stray off the main asphalt track to the top of the Hill from Anklam Road, Ms. Koopman gathered weathered historical objects, identified as far as they could be and placed them in collage form. These weathered human objects leave a palpable reminder of what was there and is gone, as she states in the book, “I was soon drawn to the physical artifacts strewn across the land… looking at, listening, and arranging these objects offers insight into the layers and depths of the history of this place.”

Pleine-air painter Meredith Milstead found painting at the preserve, visually interacting with barrel cacti, ocotillo, and the giant saguaro, to be life-changing, and writes, “When I look at a barrel blooming in the morning sunlight, it glows and radiates light and I want to convey that. The more I draw on Tumamoc, the more it comes, all of nature radiating, all integrated, myself included. Watching the changing light and color on Tumamoc helps me to become a better artist and a deeper person, more tender and generous.”

In “Wind on the Hill,” poet Valerina Quintana takes the reader to the solitude that the walker can find hiking on the Tumamoc road on a windy day:

Here, on this piece of earth known as the Sonoran Desert,
Here, on an even smaller patch called Tumamoc Hill,
it takes time to quiet myself to see the wind.

The wind that is everywhere says to me
Come away with me today. I will guide you
to the shadow places of saguaros, organ pipe and petroglyphs.

Ms. Quintana, by email, elucidates that “I have always been attracted to the wind no matter the form. What appeals to me most about the wind is its strength and its subtlety. Hearing it weave around creosote, palo verde or even the hefty saguaro; feeling it cool me on a warm sunny afternoon walk to the top of the Hill; Tumamoc reinforced a sense of place and appreciation of the occupants; native, traders, explorers, researchers, walkers.”

Poet and cultural geographer Eric Magrane, currently poet-in-residence at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, writes via email, “Tumamoc is a place that cuts through categories. All the people walking the hill, the research plots, the ecology, the history, the view across the Tucson basin… everything about the place embodies the idea that nature and culture aren’t separate. Poetry and art likewise have a way of cutting through categories. I am hopeful that the more we can bring the awareness and insights of science and art together, the better our future can be. And grounding the interactions in place, like at Tumamoc, is crucial.”

On Friday, June 6, the book launch and poetry reading event takes place at Antigone Bookstore, 411 N. 4th Ave. at 7 p.m. All proceeds from book sales, $20 per copy, go to the Tumamoc Fund at the University of Arizona Foundation. For more about Tumamoc Hill and the collaborative ongoing work, artistic, historic and scientific, see Tumamoc.org and TumamocSketchbook.com. A note to walkers – please only walk the hill after 5:30 p.m., and stay on the trail to help maintain the integrity of the preserve.

Rust Monoprint #2 by Kathleen Koopman

Rust Monoprint #2 by Kathleen Koopman


Holiday Shopping to Lift Up the Less Fortunate http://www.zocalomagazine.com/holiday-shopping-to-lift-up-the-less-fortunate/ Tue, 26 Nov 2013 05:11:52 +0000 http://www.zocalomagazine.com/?p=6366

This necklace is waiting to be bought
at the VLP 4th annual holiday sale/fund-raiser on Dec. 13.
photo courtesy Cheryl Copperstone

The lack of affordable legal services for poor and working class Pima County residents is well known to anyone working in the legal and social services communities.

The Volunteer Lawyers Program of Southern Arizona Legal Aid, which is one of the few organizations dedicated to this monumental affordable legal services problem, works tirelessly through volunteer legal assistants, volunteer attorneys, and self-help clinics, to bridge that chasm.

Attorneys take assigned cases, such as domestic/divorce and child support and custody matters, for greatly reduced or generally no fee. Legal assistants – through their employers’ generous gift of their time – are available and also provide invaluable assistance to Pima County residents facing such brutal choices of either paying rent or filing that child support petition, or filing a response to that eviction lawsuit versus paying the electricity bill.

The mission statement of the Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) is to foster self-sufficiency, equal access to justice and hope by matching volunteer lawyers and legal assistants with Arizonans who have insufficient income to pay for legal work and solvable legal problems. Over 1,000 Pima County attorneys are dedicated members of VLP.

A great example of the individuals providing this needed help to this under-served community is Hector Campoy. Mr. Campoy, a Pima County attorney and formerly a Pima County Judge with 20 years of distinguished service, was honored by VLP recently with its October 2013 “Outstanding Attorney of the Month” award.

Asked what drove him to volunteer with VLP, Mr. Campoy stated for the VLP website that “I would have to be living in a bubble to not recognize the widening drift in our country and our community, between the haves and the have-nots. The need has never been greater.” Mr. Campoy leads domestic relations clinics and assists unrepresented people in preparing their documents for filing.

He encourages other attorneys to volunteer, opining that “the people you are serving are extremely appreciative of your willingness to help. You can help bring a little legitimacy to an otherwise questionably imbalanced relationship between the client and the legal system.”

Now holiday shoppers can help this under-served community as well. On Friday, Dec. 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., affordable handcrafted jewelry, pottery, wearable knit art, purses, hand bags, and other accessories, will be offered for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Southern Arizona Legal Aid’s VLP program.

This 4th annual holiday sale is on the first floor, in the Pima County Bar Association Conference Room, located in Downtown’s Transamerica Building at 177 N. Church Ave.

The holiday sale organizer, VLP volunteer and local attorney Cheryl Copperstone is excited about the options awaiting the shoppers, saying, “The line-up is fluid, but we have a lot of variety… one lady makes Ukrainian eggs!”

More information is available at VLPArizona.org.

The Bounty of Mesquite http://www.zocalomagazine.com/the-bounty-of-mesquite/ Fri, 15 Nov 2013 19:02:15 +0000 http://www.zocalomagazine.com/?p=5789

photo courtesy DesertHarvesters.org

Most people are aware of the smokey-flavor goodness grilling with mesquite offers, but the nutritional blessings of the tree go well beyond its wood chips in the grill. Native to our desert environment, the tree’s pods are oft regarded as a yard-raking nuisance, a mess to clean up and throw away.

Indigenous residents of the Sonoran Desert, however, knew differently and there is plenty of archeological evidence that shows these pods were processed and incorporated into their diet.

Now this tasty and nutritious ingredient – comprised of sweet, nutty deliciousness – is coming full circle and has been re-discovered by localvores and foodies. Mesquite meal is a versatile ingredient that can be included in French toast batter, in mole, and adding it to smoothies or coffee equates to oh-my-goodness palatable delights. If you have never tried pancakes made with mesquite meal, you are missing out!

You can remedy this culinary hole in your dietary life by attending the 11th Annual Mesquite Milling Pancake Fiesta on Sunday, Nov. 24. The event takes place at the Dunbar/Spring Community Orchard & Mini-Nature Park, located on the northwest corner of 11th Avenue and University Boulevard. It is presented by Desert Harvesters, with help from Watershed Management Group, and runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Dunbar/Spring neighborhood, located between Stone and Main Avenues (on the east and west) and between Speedway Boulevard and Sixth Street (on the north and south), has been connecting Tucsonans with mesquite and other local wild plant foods education for eleven years now.

If you are a harvester of mesquite, and need your pods ground down into its glorious flour, this is the most convenient milling event for the downtown Tucson community.

This summer, as I was shaking out the limbs of healthy looking mesquites of various types so I could rain down its pods onto my battered blue tarp, I was approached by several neighbors. All were interested in what I was doing, had some inkling of what I was talking about, and asked how I got our mesquite milled and what we did with it.

I asked Desert Harvesters founding member Brad Lancaster if they too had seen an up swell in interest in and participation in native plant harvesting. Lancaster concurred. “When we started eleven years ago, only the Cascabel Hermitage Association and ourselves were offering mesquite milling. Now, about a dozen groups are.”

If you are a newcomer to the wonderful offerings of mesquite, and are curious, this event provides you sampling and knowledge-gathering opportunities galore. Mesquite pancakes will be available to purchase and consume from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Calendars showing dates for harvesting, workshops on how to harvest and prepare mesquite and other native foods, a food swap, puppetry, live music, and other information will be also available in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.

Lancaster stresses that the event is about far more than mesquite. “The goal of Desert Harvesters was to use mesquite as bait to lure people into trying, growing, and using many more native foods.  There are well over three hundred native food-bearing plants in the Sonoran Desert. Let’s tap the bounty!

“The idea is to expose more people to a greater diversity of juicy offerings, while also encouraging more interaction between the organizing bodies. As we strengthen our awareness, ties, and collaboration – we strengthen each other and the greater community.

“And, I want to make clear that mesquite foods are not the end, they are just the beginning. From the start, but also to grow the bounty by growing these plants in our own yards, and along our neighborhood streets within water-harvesting earthworks. This way we much more richly reconnect with the ecosystem in which we live, and the many cultures and wildlife that have evolved with it, in a way that enhances our shared present and future.”

In addition, starting at 3 p.m. and continuing until 5 p.m. on Nov. 24, the Dunbar/Spring neighborhood will offer Porch Fest, welcoming visitors with live, local music on various porches at homes throughout the neighborhood.

Get more information at DesertHarvesters.org, DunbarSpring.org and check out Porch Fest information at Facebook.com/TucsonPorchFest.

Brewing Arizona http://www.zocalomagazine.com/brewing-arizona/ Sat, 19 Oct 2013 19:08:57 +0000 http://www.zocalomagazine.com/?p=5462 A Century of Beer in the Grand Canyon State
by Ed Sipos
University of Arizona Press (2013), 360 pages

Ed Sipos knows his ales from stouts, lagers from pilsners, and Belgium whites from IPAs.

Sipos is also a member of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America – an organization dedicated to the support of the hobby of collecting brewing memorabilia. Think weird beer cans or bottles. Is the brand no longer sold? The labeling cool? Chances are that Ed Sipos knows something about the beer that went into the bottle or can.

And now Ed Sipos has done something no one else has done for Arizona – he’s written the brewing history of Arizona beers. In his forthcoming book, Sipos covers the states’ beguiling historic figures and their amazing ups and downs, their responses to the rising and falling economies – tied to politics – to tell the story of Arizona brewing all the way to the current state of brewing; from the pioneer beginnings, through Prohibition, the 40s, 50s and 60s, on through to the current state of brewing in Arizona, replete with microbreweries and craft beer successes and failures. Sipos’ meticulous and entertaining volume will convince you that beer and Arizona history are deeply intertwined.

Arizona likes beer. Tucson liked beer so much that Arizona’s first commercial brewery was established in Tucson in 1864. Alexander “Boss” Levin’s Pioneer Brewery persevered through water issues (from the Rillito River, now a usually dry wash smelling of bat guano), Indian attacks, and transportation issues (warm beer delivered to mine sites by mule train), until the arrival of the railroad – which brought in bottled beers that generally shut down the pioneer era local breweries.

Levin operated breweries and sold his beer at establishments in the heart of Tucson. His first brewery was located Downtown between Church and Stone Avenues on Camp Street (now Broadway Boulevard). Later, with his wife Zenobia, Levin opened retail establishment, Park Brewery, on the western end of Pennington Street that offered everything from ice to concerts. The building had a rock walled basement, which assisted in at least chilling the beer somewhat, as 1873 Tucson was decidedly pre-refrigeration. After the train’s arrival in 1880, business went downhill as lower priced transported beer became available, and the establishment closed in 1886.

The state’s most successful operation was the Arizona Brewing Company. The Phoenix-based operation churned suds during the 30s, 40s and 50s; its signature brand A-1was distributed throughout Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, Nevada, southern Colorado and parts of California. Advertising by supporting a woman’s softball and men’s baseball team, they also promoted their product by getting in on the new communications medium, television, including “A-1 Sports Highlights,” on Phoenix station KPHO. Eventually purchased by the Carling Brewing Company, the brewery ended its run in 1985.

But as regional breweries were swallowed by big breweries over the decades, America was hankering for beers that had flavor! Interestingly, the bland nature of the big American brewery mainstream’s light lagers may be partially traced to World War II grain rationing, which meant that barley was hard to come by. The resulting use of corn and rice in brewing produced lighter lagers and, for many decades and even to this today, has influenced taste.

By the 70s, large breweries producing a fairly insipid product dominated the industry. The first sign of change was the home-brewing movement. Brewing ones’ own beer, left illegal after Prohibition was repealed, was made legal in October 1978 by President Jimmy Carter’s signature. Home-brewing in turn inspired micro-breweries and brew pubs in the 1980s to produce craft beers in-house.

Today, we may take Tucson’s abundantly available micro-brewed beers for granted. But the first operating Tucson microbrewery, Southwest Brewing Company, didn’t arrive until 1988 and was gone by 1990. Others have been as fleeting. Hats off to Gentle Ben’s – which has been brewing increasingly tasty products since 1991 on University Avenue, with a short stoppage to relocate the operation in the mid-nineties; and with its delightful expansion to Barrio Brewing on 16th Street in 2007. Nimbus Brewing Company has been continuously operating since 1997. Try their Dirty Guera, a delicious naughty blonde that can be found at select grocers and liquor stores.

Sipos dedicates over one hundred thirty five pages to the byzantine rise and fall of brewpubs and microbreweries all over the Arizona. What is most impressive is what motivates this creation, the continuously fermenting entrepreneurial desire to try and make a brew that tastes good and will sell.

Brewing Arizona – A Century of Beer in the Grand Canyon State releases on Oct. 17; the launch party and book signing is Nov. 2, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., at Barrio Brewing Company, 800 E. 16th St. Visit BrewingArizona.com for more details.