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Kids Expressing Themselves

Spark the Floor Hip-Hop Dance Xplosion
5:30 p.m. Pre-Show; 7 p.m., Saturday, April 19
Tucson Convention Center Music Hall
260 S. Church Ave.
321-1000

The Tucson Convention Center Music Hall is hosting something similar to MTV's Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew, but with a positive twist: Mario Lopez won't be on hand to host the Tucson event.

But more importantly, the event is focused on getting kids involved in the hip-hop dance culture.

The event will host local dance crews, which will perform choreographed hip-hop dance, something that's been escaping the underground within the last few years, in part thanks to shows like America's Best Dance Crew and movies like You Got Served.

During the pre-show, starting at 5:30 p.m., Phoenix R&B group US2 will perform outside of the Music Hall; later, the music will switch over to the turntables, as the youth crews hit the floor.

Rob Matthew, the head of media and marketing for the event, names a couple of styles involved in the choreographed dance, such as pop 'n' lock and b-boy (or b-girl--it's break dancing). But what has Matthew most excited is ciphering, a form of dance that begins with a circle of people, and allows anybody who steps into the middle limitless expression.

"Kids get to express themselves in a crazy way, with some incredible and spontaneous dancing," he says.

And after that, the press release states, the cipher turns into "an all out war."

The organizers are also screening a documentary detailing the origins and history of the hip-hop culture that dates back four decades.

Tickets cost $12 in advance, or $15 the day of the event--and you can make that $13 with a canned food donation. Kids who are part of the La Frontera organization get free admission.

"This is all about the community," Matthew says. --M.K.


Gay Sketches

Homoneurotic Ii: "Bigger! Stronger! Funnier!"
8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, through April 26; 2 p.m., Sunday, April 27
Cabaret Theatre
Temple of Music and Art
330 S. Scott Ave.
979-4508; homoneurotic.org

Kenton Jones is telling a story that--at its core--has a universal theme: fear.

The story starts during one of Jones' morning Starbucks visits: "I was sitting at my table, and across the way, noticed this guy. We met eyes, and I thought about approaching him, but I didn't do anything. And as I went through the day, I just kept thinking about it and thought, 'Why didn't I say hi, at least?' So when I got back home, I wrote about it."

This story touches on not only the fear of rejection--but also of success, Jones points out.

"I had this frustration of being eligible and not acting ... and was scared of what would happen next if this did work out," he says.

This is the type of personal event that Kenton Jones and Rob Zonfrelli draw upon for the upcoming Homoneurotic II, in "an attempt to get closer to find out what the neurotic part is," Jones says.

The production consists of numerous comedy sketches, including a Punch and Judy-like routine with puppets, and more dramatic pieces. Like the first Homoneurotic show, many of the sketches are modeled after The Carol Burnett Show and will focus on homosexuality. But even with the specific focus, Jones believes the performances will address issues that everybody deals with, such as fear, hope and love.

And besides the universal truths embedded in the sketches, Jones is hoping to present characteristics of gay people that go beyond what is typically seen in entertainment.

"It's interesting in this day and age in TV how gay is represented as funny," he says. "We're trying to present a broader spectrum."

Tickets cost $15 at the door, or $13 through the Web site. --M.K.


Band on the Rise

Leslie and the Badgers
Midnight, Saturday, April 19
the Hut Outdoor Stage
305 N. Fourth Ave.
clubcrawl.net

When I talked to Leslie Stevens, singer-songwriter of the Los Angeles band Leslie and the Badgers, she was coughing--hacking up a lung, really--and nursing herself on chicken soup. But she promises to be well by the time they roll into Tucson for the Tucson Weekly's Spring Club Crawl™.

I have a deep respect for bands like the Badgers, small, independent bands that don't get too much press because they don't fit the radio format, but still carve careers for themselves by self-promoting and touring furiously.

"We're proud not to fit the format," says Stevens about her classic country and jazz influences. "You're able to maintain a certain amount of integrity when you're independent."

Stevens, 30, was raised in St. Louis and grew up going to Uncle Tupelo shows. She says she admires bands like them, "bands that aren't afraid not to be commercially packageable." A lot of bands get dropped because their labels can't find a sizeable target demographic, she says: "And I think a label would have that same challenge with us."

Recently, the Badgers did get a taste of the big time when they performed on an episode of the FX show The Riches. "The funniest part was having your hair done. When you're an independent performer, no one tells us what to wear or how to look," says Stevens. She got caked with makeup for the taping, she says, until she realized: "Oh wait, I don't have to look like a truck-stop Dolly Parton. ... I should get some tissue and wipe this shit off my face."

This is the Badgers' second time at the Hut. A Club Crawl™ bracelet will get you in--$8 in advance from Bookmans, or $10 the day of Club Crawl™ --A.M.


A Tucson-Ontario Collaboration

Howe Gelb with Kate Maki
7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 17
St. Philip's in the Hills Church
4440 N. Campbell Ave.
623-1000, ext. 13; kxci.org/store

Local music legend Howe Gelb met Canadian singer-songwriter Kate Maki while recording with 'Sno Angel, one of his many music projects, in Ontario. After Maki opened a show for him, Gelb invited her to the studio to sing. They kept in touch, and Maki later asked Gelb to produce her third record, On High. Gelb also plays piano and guitar and lends his gravelly voice to the recording.

Gelb says he'd often thought about producing records, but he was afraid he'd lose interest putting so much work into someone else's work: "I somehow equated doing that for someone else as a chore, but instead, it's a relief. ... It was almost easy." He praises Maki's voice, songwriting and steady guitar rhythm.

Maki's first two albums received a good deal of critical acclaim in Canada, but you probably haven't heard of her--On High is her first album to see a U.S. release. The songs are slightly more down-tempo than her previous work, almost melancholic. Pedal steel still features prominently, but in a subdued, '60s-psychedelic-country way.

While here, Maki plans to do some recording in Gelb's hometown, like he did in hers. "We're going to bring in some Tucson musicians and experiment," she says, adding that Gelb might sit in, although she wasn't sure. "Everything is just sort of up in the air, and we're going to play it by ear."

What is for sure is that Gelb and his band will back Maki at the church concert, a KXCI FM 91.3 community-radio benefit. Gelb's own set will include songs from the 'Sno Angel record, as well as an upcoming Giant Sand record, a new instrumental piano album and an upcoming sequel to his solo album Upside Down Home. Doors open at 7 p.m.; tickets are $15, or $12 for KXCI members. --A.M.

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