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To Obama, From Tucson

Video Postcard to Obama Party
7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 17
Pan Left Studio
631 S. Sixth Ave.
792-9171
panleft.org

Got something you want to say to Obama before he gets busy with his new job? Then come down to Pan Left Studios, and get it all on video.

Pan Left Productions, a collective of progressive media artists and activists, will be recording the hopes, requests and concerns of Tucsonans during a party at their studios on Saturday.

Participants can record their message either by themselves or in groups. Pan Left Productions will then edit the videos into one DVD to send to Obama.

The videos will also be posted on Pan Left's video blog, so that the community at large can see what people are thinking about at this political landmark.

"(We want to) provide a community voice about the election and to represent our community, and what we're thinking and feeling, and what our concerns are and hopes are at this time," said Mary Charlotte Thurtle, co-executive director of Pan Left. "It's also important to collect our history and what we were thinking about."

In addition to the filming, the family-friendly event will allow people to celebrate the inauguration and speak with each other about what they think the next four years will hold.

Pan Left sent a similar DVD of Tucsonans' messages to President Bush when he was inaugurated in 2004. Seeing as the nation's hopes and concerns have changed, Thurtle expects this year's video to be quite different from the one sent to Bush.

"We thought that this year, it would be good to do it again, considering the historical nature of our first African-American president," Thurtle said. "It's an important expression of our democracy."

This event is free.


Full House

Alone Together
8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m., Sunday, through Jan. 25
The Red Barn Theater
948 N. Main Ave.
622-6973
theredbarntheater.com

Some college students think that the minute they're handed their degree, they'll be set for a life of luxurious apartments and fancy dining. But with all of the layoffs and wage freezes happening these days, some are settling for a cheaper option: a futon in their parents' back bedroom.

Offspring returning to the nest can cause headaches for parents who finally have the house to themselves--and this is the subject of the play Alone Together.

Director Vince Flynn stumbled across the play in a used bookstore in Florida in the early '90s, and knew he wanted to direct it someday.

The play had an unsuccessful run in New York in the '80s, Flynn said. Aside from a few updated cultural references and a location change from Los Angeles to Tucson, the play remains largely the same--and seems even more relevant now.

"I know a lot of people in their 50s who have kids who are coming back, and, frankly, most of them don't want them there," Flynn laughed. "These people are kind of stuck."

The play begins as the Butler family's youngest son moves to Washington state from Tucson. However, the minute he's off to college, the couple's 30-year-old son arrives at their door, dissatisfied with his life in New England. Not far behind is the middle son, returning from Dallas after breaking up with his wife. A young woman from Washington also comes to stay while attending school, Flynn said.

The full house sends mother Helene off the deep end, and she storms off. The sons and young woman realize they need to stand on their own two feet.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students.


A Dose of Southern Gospel

The Dixie Melody Boys
7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 18
Christ Community Church
7801 E. Kenyon Drive
296-8501
ccctucson.org

Southern gospel music can bring to mind community and joy--and a little piece of that will be coming to our town, thanks to the Dixie Melody Boys.

The Dixie Melody Boys are an institution in Southern gospel music. The group was founded in 1960 in Kinston, N.C., and has seen members come and go.

Over the decades, the group has been nominated for a Grammy, has produced dozens of gospel hits, and has seen Ed O'Neal, an original member who remains with the group, inducted into the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame in 2004. Many former members have gone on to have successful careers as solo artists or with other groups.

The quartet, whose current members include O'Neal, Joe Kitson, Jonathan Price and Steven Cooper, will be performing their award-winning music this Sunday in Tucson.

Southern gospel is a mixture between country music and traditional gospel, infusing religious hymns and messages into popular country melodies and rhythms. Traditionally, many Southern gospel bands began as family bands, explained Joy Marple, marketing coordinator at the Christ Community Church.

Sunday's concert will open with a solo acoustic guitar player reminiscent of Johnny Cash, Marple said, before the Dixie Melody Boys take the stage.

There are a number of Southern gospel fans in the Tucson area, Marple said, and organizers expect a full house.

"Green Valley and Oro Valley is probably the biggest draw that we get, but our church has probably got a few hundred folks who would be coming," Marple said. "On a typical night when we do these types of concerts ... we get anywhere from 400 to 600 people."

The concert is free, but a voluntary offering will be taken for the band.


Obamarama!

Obama Inauguration Ball
6 p.m. to midnight, Monday, Jan. 19
Viscount Suite Hotel
4855 E. Broadway Blvd.
358-8565
viscountsuite.com

The lead-up to President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration is a bit like the last few days of 1999: You don't know what the next era will hold, but people sure as hell will be partying. If you are not one of the millions heading for Washington, D.C., for the big day, come down to the Viscount Suite Hotel and ring in the new administration with other Obama fans.

The party will have a slideshow of Obama-related events that have happened around Tucson, plus music, dancing, drinks, food and a raffle. If you had a bad New Year's, think of this as a second shot.

"We have had tremendous response to this," said Sarah Robinson, co-coordinator for Tucson Community for Change, which organized the event. "We're expecting at least 300 people."

The group also teamed up with the Community Food Bank to get donations of food. Instead of paying the admission fee of $15, guests can donate two cans of food for the Food Bank, Robinson said.

"I heard that in January, because it's after the holidays, they have a huge food shortage. Not as many people donate," Robinson said. "I think the fact that we're working with the Community Food Bank makes a difference, because that kind of falls along the lines of what Barack Obama's message is."

Also, if you bought one of the cheeky Obama T-shirts that flooded the market before the election ("My mama's for Obama" or "Barack me, Amadeus"), feel free to wear it: The dress code for the celebration is black, white or Obama wear.

The Viscount Suite Hotel is offering discounted rates for attendees, so go ahead and party like it's 1999.

Reservations are required; call Sarah at 358-8565.

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