Friday, Aug. 31
JOGS Gem and Jewelry Show. Got a minute this weekend? Why not check out one of the leading jewelry events in North America and one of the world’s key jewelry markets? Exhibitors and buyers all over the world are converging to look for new products, exciting artist, unique resources and innovative ideas. Take a look at Amberman, an amber jewelry supplier based in L.A. Or how about Another Time and Place, which makes handmade sterling silver Turkish jewelry? Swiss watches! Antique sculptures! Turquoise and opals! Precious gems! They’ve got all sorts of stuff going on, which means you’re sure to see something you like. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31, Saturday, Sept. 1 and Sunday, Sept. 2 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 3. Tucson Expo Center, 3750 E. Irvington Road. $12. Details here.
Bear Down Fridays. Welcome back, Wildcats! Get down to Main Gate Square to celebrate the kickoff of the 13th season of Bear Down Fridays, where local restaurants and stores offer food specials, happy hour pricing, discounts, giveaways and themed activities. Every Pep Rally begins at 6 p.m. with the Pride of Arizona Marching Band, UA Pom, Twirlers and Flags, plus plenty of other UA guests. It’s Tucson’s way of begrudgingly saying, “school’s back in session.” 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31. 814 E. University Blvd. Details here.
The Brew Van Cometh. The Brew Van, Tucson’s first brewery shuttle service, is set to launch on Aug. 31 at Borderlands Brewing. The drivers will use four large vans to shuttle patrons from Dragoon Brewing through Fourth Ave to downtown. The riders will have access to 15 breweries along the route. The Brew Van has four payment packages, although the nightly all-you-can-ride $20 option is expected to garner the most attention. Borderlands will host the kickoff party. 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31. 119 E. Toole Ave. Details here.
MSA Annex Summer Night Market. Birds fly south for the winter, but with an event like this one, Tucsons should be flying west for the summer, or at least driving to western Tucson. All the new MSA Annex shops will be open, and there will be tons of vendors selling vintage and handmade goods as well. Have a drink at Westbound’s outdoor bar if you need something to keep you going, and then you can get right back to shopping for all those upcoming fall birthdays. (Or you could just treat yourself!) Don’t miss your last chance of the summer to make it to this event. 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31. MSA Annex, 267 S. Avenida del Convento. Details here.
Every Brilliant Thing. When the 6-year-old protagonist of this story learns his mom is in the hospital because she tried to hurt herself, he leaves a note on her bed to remind her of all the things that make life worth living. “Ice cream” and “Kung Fu” movies, for example. “Laughing so hard you shoot milk out your nose,” is an excellent one, and “me” is perhaps the saddest. This look at mental illness through a child’s eyes is somehow poignant and funny all at once, and it breaks your heart and stitches it back together in exactly the way theatre is supposed to. Runs Thursday, Aug. 30, through Saturday, Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m. Fridays through Sundays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd. $18 to $20. Details here.
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda. Founding member of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, Oscar-winning film composer of The Last Emperor, and one of the most influential living pianists, Ryuichi Sakamoto is a master of music. So much so that one of his songs was the first instrumental track to ever hit the No. 1 spot in Japan’s music chart history. This new documentary examines the personal life of the man who speaks through piano keys. 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31. The Screening Room. 127 E. Congress St. Details here.
Mexican Institute of Sound. Political, whip smart, ironic. Any one of these three adjectives is hard to pull off with pure musicality, but Mexico City’s Mexican Institute of Sound ganó the triple crown. Whether directly addressing the problems in “Mexico,” where violence and corruption has citizens “saber que el tuyo no es tuyo,” (knowing what is yours is not yours) or playing against Latin-lover stereotypes, “Escribeme Pronto. Soy pasionante, pero yo no soy tanto” (Write me soon. I am passionate but I am not stupid), the sing-along/rapped lyrics are always on point—witty and aware of U.S. and Mexican cultural shortcomings. But it’s not just the lyrics in this post-Beck hip-hop outfit that succeed. On “Mexico,” traditional, heroic-sounding horns are slowed down to be clownish; turning a cultural touchstone on its head. This is parody at its finest—razor sharp, danceable, fun. Like Ozomatli, this banda just gets better live. All hail group leader Camilo Lara! Not to be missed. Friday, Sept. 31, HOCO Fest, Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress. $20. 16+. hocofest.com. Details here.
Orkesta Mendoza may be the perfect frontera band. Sergio Mendoza and his five badass multi-instrumentalists perform a strident mix of Latin genres, including cumbia, mambo and ranchera, combined with persona blanca indie, psych and straight-up rockandrolla. The result is dust-kicking celebration of life, in English and Spanish, where primal Latin rhythms mix with Yankee slide guitars, cajon keeping ritmo for beautiful soaring horns. Cuban, Mexican and Arizona sounds artfully woven together in a buen bien mezcla—these gents always don their finest, be it fetching Blues Brothers suits, Guayaberas or Folklorico chaquetas. Equally at home with all the countries and customs they represent, Orkesta Mendoza have been known to bring the walls down. Friday, Aug. 31, HOCO Fest, Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress. $20. 16+. hocofest.com. Details here.
Saturday, Sept. 1
St Philip’s Plaza Artisan Market. School being back in session means the summer heat slowly waning and the rise of local crafts and farmers’ markets! Stop by to get your hands on some of the wonderful foods and crafts made by Tucson auteurs. St Philip’s Plaza Artisan Market takes place every Saturday until the end of September. 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 1. 4280 N. Campbell Ave. Details here.
Bilingual Living Lab and Learning Center Tour. The Watershed Management Group is back at it again, educating Tucsonans about water harvesting and sustainable living practices for arid landscape living like there’s no tomorrow. They’ll be giving a tour of their site, where they meet almost all of their water needs with rainwater, greywater and storm water, including having rainwater on tap. Bring the kids so they can enjoy the Raindrop retreat—a children’s playhouse with a rain tank, a play kitchen with greywater and a sandbox. Dress prepared for the heat, as this tour takes place outside. And yes, the whole thing will be conducted in both Spanish and English. 8 to 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 1. Watershed Management Group, 1137 N. Dodge Blvd. Free. Details here.
Brodie’s Bacon Bloody Mary. Brodie’s Tavern is partying on through September with daytime deals on food and drinks. They’ve got a $3 Bloody Mary with bacon, $3 micheladas, $2 mimosas, $1 off craft beers and free menudo on Sundays. So pretty much whatever time or day you wander into Brodie’s, they’ll have some wacky drink on sale. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 1 to Sept. 30. 2449 N. Stone Ave. 21+. Details here.
Say Goodbye to the Dog Days of Summer. Goodbyes can be hard. But saying goodbye to the summer in Tucson? Not the hardest one. To make the transition to fall even more joyful, Old Tucson is throwing this event where kids 11 and under get in free, and DockDogs will be presenting dog diving competitions. You can even bring your own dog to see how they do at diving and to give them a chance to cool down. (After all, the dog days of summer aren’t over quite yet). Register your dog for the competition online in advance if you’re interested. Otherwise, just come prepared to watch and to enjoy games and prizes, vendors and nonprofit exhibitors, and special canine demonstrations. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1 through Monday, Sept. 3. Old Tucson, 201 S. Kinney Road. Normal admission is $19.95 for adults, with discounts for seniors, military and Pima County residents. Details here.
103rd Annual Sonoita Labor Day Rodeo. Billed as “the best little rodeo in Arizona,” this event has more than 700 entries and $40,000+ in cash and buckles awarded to the top contestants of the Southwest. There’s a junior rodeo at noon every day, the main performance at 2 p.m. and a steak fry and free rodeo dance Saturday and Sunday nights. Check out the merchandise and concessions, or, if you’re into that sort of thing, consider camping for $10 a day or $25 for the three-day weekend. Gates open at 10 a.m. every day. Saturday, Sept. 1, through Monday, Sept. 3. Sonoita Fairgrounds, 3142 S. Highway 83. $15 for adults, $10 for kids ages 6 to 12 and free for kids under 6. Details here.
Hiking with Dogs in the Desert. So how exactly does going on a hike with your dog work? Which trails are you allowed to bring your pet on? How can you teach your furry friend to stay safe on the trail? This talk at REI, led by Arizona’s only certified canine and equine behavior consultant, Sandy McPadden, will answer all of your questions. McPadden has a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis, worked as an elephant keeper at the Reid Park Zoo and worked with a whole lot of dogs on the national tour of the 101 Dalmatians musical, so she knows what she’s talking about. Feel free to bring suggestions for your favorite places to hike with your dog, but please do not actually bring your dog to this class. 10 to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1 at Tucson REI, 160 W. Wetomore Rd. Details here.
Modern Mexican Brunch. Beyond the obligatory bottomless mimosas, Reforma Modern Mexican is serving up some imaginative creations for their neo-brunch: Carnitas benedict, breakfast tacos, horchata French toast and plenty of cocktails to accompany them. Plus, there will be a rotating cast of DJs to spice up your morning even more. Hosted by Reforma Modern Mexican and Union Public House. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1. 4340 N. Campbell Ave. Details here.
Borderlands Brewery Fitness. If drinking a nice, rich craft beer makes you feel guilty and/or bloated, head over to Borderlands Brewery to have your cake and eat it too (or something like that). Borderlands invites you to come work out and then relax after with a well-deserved beer. Only $10 for the class plus a pint or $5 for just the class if you’re feeling extra healthy. 11 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 1. 119 E. Toole Ave. $5-$10. Details here.
Meditation for Modern Times. It’s funny: Sometimes we tend to think of meditation as a practice that was most popular a long time ago, when, with the pace of today’s world, it’s something we ought to practice now more than ever. In fact, modern studies show that meditation is a fantastic way to regain a sense of calmness, happiness and optimism. The Core at La Encantada offers a monthly guided meditation with Amanda Freed, a certified meditation coach. All levels are welcome! When you leave, you might just feel a little more ready to take on the week. 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1. The Core at La Encantada, 2905 E. Skyline Drive. $5. Details here. Details here.
Moana Sing-Along. Cool off from these summer days with a special screening from The Loft Jr. If you just can’t get enough of Moana, this sing-along is the place to be. And don’t forget to dress up in your best Moana costume so you can join the pre-show costume parade on The Loft stage. And better yet, it’s screening three days in a row. 2 p.m. Sept. 1 through Sept. 3. 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. $12. Details here.
Science Saturday: Milk and Wool. The Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Library’s first-Saturday science program is extra fuzzy this month. Guests ages 6 and up will learn all about how wool is made and about how it’s not just cows who make milk—goats do it too. The Tucson Petting Zoo is presenting the event, and they’re bringing a real sheep and goat for everyone to learn about and pet to their heart’s content. It’s always nice when opportunities to learn more about science and opportunities to pet soft animals overlap. 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1. Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Library, 7800 N. Schisler Drive. Free, but registration required. Details here.
JourneyDance First Saturdays. JourneyDance is back! If you haven’t had a chance to check out this monthly dance class with Joanna Carichner at Tucson Yoga Studio, why not try it this week? With both freestyle and structured movement and a whole lotta breath, sweat and expression, you’ll (hopefully) come out the other side feeling like you’re in your mind and out of your body. It’s the sort of dance class that might make you hate the idea of taking a dance class a little less. For example, you get to be barefoot, you don’t have to have any dance training and there are no mirrors, so it really, really doesn’t matter what you look like. 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1. Tucson Yoga Studio, 150 S. Fourth Ave. $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Details here.
Cool Summer Nights at the Desert Museum. Happy birthday to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum! To celebrate, they’re keeping things nice and low key for the final “Cool Summer Nights” of the summer. Stroll through the grounds as the sun sets, and bring a blacklight if you have one—you’ll be fascinated (and maybe horrified) by how many scorpions there are wandering around. Museum docents will be on hand to talk about live animals, fluorescent minerals, kissing bugs, the desert skies and more. And, as usual, the stingray touch exhibit is open. Be sure to make reservations for the kids to check out the Packrat Playhouse, or just be ready to wait in line. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the museum over the next year. 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Road. $22 GA, $20 seniors 65 and up, $9 kids 2 to 12, $18 military, $17 Arizona/Sonora resident. Details here.
The Dating Scene + TBD. The Tucson Improv Movement has exactly the same attitude toward dating that you’d probably expect them to: “Bad date, good story.” And isn’t that the truth? If your bad date was long enough ago, or just outrageous enough, for you to be ready to share it, you can share your story with the improv team, and they’ll use it as inspiration to create a completely made-up-on-the-spot comedy show. Finally, that guy who offered to order an appetizer and refused to share it or that girl who left in the middle of the date because she got a call from her ex will make themselves useful by providing a roomful of people with entertainment. And you’ll have the last laugh! 9 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1. Tucson Improv Movement, 414 E. Ninth St. $5. Details here.
Star Party and Live Music at Oracle State Park. Let’s get this party star-ted! It’s bring-your-own-picnic to Oracle State Park for this event, but the Tucson Amateur Astronomer’s Association and the Saddlebrooke SkyGazers Club are donating the use of their telescopes. Live music goes from 5 to 7 p.m., and the star party is from 7 to 9 p.m. And fun will be had all night long! Especially because it’s slightly cooler up in Oracle. 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1. Kannally Ranch House at Oracle State Park. Event is free with entry to the park, which is $7 per vehicle. Details here.
Robyn Hitchcock. This onetime Tucsonan has made a miraculous career of being himself, born of penning smart pop about emotional grey areas. Well into his fourth songwriterly decade, Hitchcock’s psych-folk singsong—with The Soft Boys, the Egyptians, Venus 3 and solo—has long enjoyed blowjobian critical accolades, but his romantic, surreal and atheist musings have guaranteed nothing more than worldwide cult following. In a Hitchcock love song “nothing lasts forever, but I love her anyway.” He long-ago mastered the empathic ballad for outcasts (listen again to “Queen Elvis”) and tunes that willfully embrace surrealism to escape modern life (“I often dream of trains when I’m alone/I ride them into another zone…heading for paradise.”) For Hitchcock, the only things that really matter are the connections between people and the fruits of one’s own imagination. Ideas that couldn’t be driven inward better than with his sweet Syd Barrett-meets-George Harrison vocals, fitful, percussive guitar and harmonica. The London-born Hitchcock is as quirksome and vibrantly authentic as the Old Pueblo itself. Saturday, Sept. 1, HOCO Fest, Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress. $20. 16+. hocofest.com. Details here.
Sunday, Sept. 2
Tanque Verde Ranch Breakfast Ride. Sometimes you just need to take a step back from the real world and reset. And what better way to do it than get up early and take a horse ride through the gorgeous, cacti-ridden Sonoran desert to Destination: Blueberry Pancakes? Seriously, this is a thing at the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch. You can either do an all-skills-welcome walking ride or try the more challenging loping ride over to the Old Homestead, and then feast on ranch eggs, potatoes, bacon and the ranch’s famous blueberry pancakes, all made right before your eyes. Then you can remount your horse and walk on back to the corral. Wear close-toed shoes and long pants, turn off cell phones, don’t feed the horses, only wear hats if they have stampede strings and don’t bring loose cameras or backpacks. Ages 12 and up. Sundays and Thursdays. Loping ride begins at 7 a.m. and walking ride begins at 7:15 a.m., and rides last about two-and-a-half hours. Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, 14301 E. Speedway. $75. Details here.
Salsa, Tequila & Taco Challenge. Over 50 vendors will converge in Tucson to battle it out for nearly 20 culinary awards. Both professional judges and the general public get to choose the winners. General admission tickets get you menu samplings from over 50 local restaurants and chefs, with custom salsa and tequila cocktails, plus plenty of beer and tacos. VIP tickets are also available and come with a special tequila toast and commemorative shot glass. 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2. La Encantada, 2905 E. Skyline Drive. $60 pre-sale or $70 day-of-event. 21+. Details here.
Events compiled by Emily Dieckman, B.S. Eliot, Ava Garcia and Jeff Gardner.