The Entertainer! - June 2020

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Chef Marcellino brings the flavor

WHO’S LAUGHING NOW? Pandemic is teaching comics how to stand up—without the chuckles



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Pandemic is teaching comics how to stand up—without the chuckles



Glendale merchants ask, ‘What’s Cookin’?’


Kailee Morgue explores genres on ‘Bedroom’ on the cover: Jill Kimmell Cover photo by Pablo Robles



Times Media Group 1620 W. Fountainhead Parkway Suite 219, Tempe, AZ 85282 Phone 480.348.0343 Fax 480.348.2109


Steve T. Strickbine

Executive Editor

Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Assistant Editor Connor Dziawura



Shannon Mead

production manager Courtney Oldham

circulation director


Aaron Kolodny

Try these drinks on National Bourbon Day




Hikes We Love • Golf Courses • Avril Lavigne • eBikes



Staff Photographer Pablo Robles

Contributing Photographers Virginia DeVries, Sami Drasin, Drew Loewen, David Majure, David Needleman, Sarah Sachs, Robert Sebree, Lonna Tucker, Bud Zomok


Janelle Loes • “The High Note” • Comedy in Quarantine • Kailee Morgue



Meteor Crater



Desert Foothills Theater • Arizona Theatre Company • Scottsdale Arts



Arizona Restaurant Week • Historic Downtown Glendale • Marcellino



National Bourbon Day






Arizona Center • Goat Yoga



Cherie Currie • Sophie Dorsten • Pop Evil • Cutting Crew • Steel Panther • MissThis • Uncle Kracker • David Archuleta



Cherie Currie introduces ‘miraculous’ new project

Andrew Chafin


contributing writers

Endia Fontanez, Jordan Houston, Laura Latzko, Claire Natale, Tim Randall, Bridgette Redman, Haley Smilow, Annika Tomlin


The Entertainer! is circulated throughout the Phoenix Metro area, especially concentrated in entertainment districts. ©2020 Affluent Publishing, LLC. A free online subscription is available to all readers simply by going to For calendar and news items, the deadline for submission is the 15th of the NOVEMBER prior to publication. Submissions are included based on available space and are used at the discretion of the editor. Unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or illustrations will not be returned unless it is specifically requested and submission is accompanied by a properly addressed envelope and sufficient postage. The Entertainer! makes every effort to authenticate claims and accurate times and event locations. We encourage readers to verify information prior to attending events or purchasing tickets. DISTRIBUTION SERVICES PROVIDED BY:

Singer Sophie Dorsten contemplates her future on new song






Northern hikes are the way to go this summer Jordan Houston >> The Entertainer!


etween coronavirus anxieties, self-isolation, gym closures and working from home, it’s normal to want to curl up on the couch and bingewatch Netflix for days on end—but that doesn’t mean regular exercise should take a backseat. With Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-athome order exempting outdoor exercise, exploring one of Arizona’s many natural FAY CANYON TRAIL

playgrounds is the perfect remedy to ease stress, break a sweat and soak up some sun. Not to mention June 20 is National Hike with a Geek Day, which serves as a reminder for STEM professionals to step away from their computers and labs and head outside. So, grab your best geek friend and check out our mustsee list of hikes to conquer during this isolation. As a disclaimer, many Arizona State Parks and Trails are following precautions outlined by the Arizona

Department of Health Services and the Center for Disease Control to promote responsible hiking. The agency is encouraging visitors to avoid group gatherings, maintain social distances of 6 feet apart, use hand sanitizer and pack out all trash. Now go chase those endorphins!

DOE MOUNTAIN Our first hike is a 1.5-mile trail tucked inside the Coconino National Forest. Doe Mountain, rated as a moderate trail, climbs a sheltered ravine to a 400-foot plateau top. Painted by dancing wildflowers, the picturesque ascent follows winding switchbacks up the north side of the low flat, top mesa. With no competing peaks nearby, the destination boasts panoramic views of some of Sedona Red Rock Country’s most prominent landmarks. The east rim looks out over the wide, bushy valley of Dry Creek, toward Capitol Butte and Downtown Sedona, while the north edge has views toward Bear Mountain, and many cliffs, ravines and pinnacles in the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness. The dog-friendly trailhead takes about an hour round trip and sits along

Boynton Pass Road, 5.7 miles from Sedona’s State Route 89A via Dry Creek Road. Parking is available at the base of the trailhead.

FAY CANYON TRAIL Fay Canyon, stemming from a large parking area along Boynton Pass Road, offers an easy introduction to Sedona hiking. Following a short and scenic ravine, the 1-mile hike is a good choice for hikers seeking minimal elevation with camera-friendly red sandstone cliffs and towering pinnacles. The partly shaded path crosses into the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness, entering the wooded surroundings of the canyon floor. Staying near the seasonal stream, the trail showcases a selection of cacti, like yucca and opuntia, wildflowers and shrubs, while enclosing red-and-black stained rocks display impressive arrays of forms and texture. Many have eroded into buttes and pinnacles, especially along the east side of the canyon. One of the route’s top attractions, though, is the Fay Canyon Arch. Viewed by a short and steep side trail, the dramatic 130-foot-span feature offers long distance southern views across


Dry Creek Valley toward Sedona and Chimney Rock. Fay Canyon’s trailhead, another Coconino National Forest treasure, sits 8.5 miles from US 89 in Sedona.

SANDY SEEP TRAIL NO. 29 This next one is for the bikers—or anyone who doesn’t mind traveling by (literal) horsepower. The Sandy Seep area, located on the eastern slopes of Mount Elden, is characterized by its rich history, marked by a 1977 fire, and awe-inspiring terrain. But as a vital winter range for mule deer and a valuable recreation resource for the Flagstaff area, the Coconino National Forest closed the trail to entry by motor vehicles—or saddle-horse—to protect its wildlife habitat. The access trail follows an old jeep track that meanders through open grasslands dotted with ponderosa pines, Gambel oaks and clumps of cliff rose. Pioneer sprouts of oak at lower elevations and aspen higher up carpet the slopes, providing a nourishing browse for the area’s deer herd. Dead tree remains from the disastrous fire pepper the 1.4-mile hike. Throughout the ascent, burnedout snags and debris of old fire breaks plowed into the landscape become more prevalent. The Sandy Seep Trail has a maximum elevation of 7,270 feet, with stunning views of Sunset Volcano Field, and is accessible a half mile beyond the Townsend and Winona Road intersection (a little over 2 miles north of the Flagstaff Mall). Forest Road (FR



9139) turns west of Highway 89 and leads to the trailhead.

RANCH TRAIL NO. 62 An easy-to-navigate trail, Ranch Trail No. 62 is part of a 10.1-mile loop about 20 minutes away from Prescott. A fan favorite among mountain bikers, the difficult hike is perhaps better suited for more experienced hikers—thanks to its steep elevation gradient. But the lush scenery is rewarding nonetheless. Located off Walker Road, the trail winds through manzanita plants, pinyon pine, mountain mahogany and lowgrowing oak. It climbs considerably to its junction with Boy Scout Trail No. 126, where Government Canyon lies to the west. As the ascent continues, panoramic views of Lynx Lake, Prescott Valley, Bill Williams Mountain and the San Francisco Peaks dominate the surroundings. Mule deer, Albert’s squirrels and wild turkeys can be found meandering around near the hike’s higher elevations. Diving into Ponderosa Pine, Ranch Trail comes to a stop at Seven Mile Gulch Trail No. 9854. The eastern portion of No. 9854 travels back down to Walker Road, while the western end connects with Watershed Trail No. 299. Hikers can then travel roughly 3 miles before reaching Senator Highway. The trailhead has generous parking, as well as an outhouse and picnic table. To reach the trail’s entry point, travel east on Highway 69 to Walker Road. Turn right and travel 0.6 miles to find the signed trailhead on the right.

THUMB BUTTE TRAIL Due to its proximity to Downtown Prescott, Thumb Butte Trail is one of the Prescott National Forest’s most popular hiking trails—and it’s no secret why. The 2.5-mile trail serves as a great resource to learn about the area’s native wildlife and cultural history, how humans impact natural ecosystems and the importance of protecting such natural places. Open only to hikers, Thumb Butte can be traveled as an out and back or in a moderately intense loop around the Butte’s gentle western slope to just below its craggy crest. Signage identifying vegetation and

outlining forest ecology decorates the trail, while a steep climb leads to a ridge just below the rocky crest. The ridge boasts spectacular panoramic views of the Prescott area, as well as the Bradshaw Mountains, Sierra Prieta Mountains, Granite Mountain, Mingus Mountain and, on clear days, the San Francisco Peaks. The steeper eastern portion is paved to control erosion and increase safety. Climbing is not recommended at the top of the butte. The trailhead sits across the street from its picnic area, off Thumb Butte Road (3.4 miles west of Downtown Prescott on Gurley street).






These 18 holes are the best, by par


Tim J. Randall >> The Entertainer!


rizona boasts more than 300 golf courses, and the Valley offers roughly 200 tracks. This panoply of venues provides low and high handicappers alike the opportunity to experience some of the country’s finest collection of fairways, greens and 19th holes. In that spirit, The Entertainer! takes readers on a tour of the 18 finest golf holes as picked from Golfweek’s roster of the Best Courses You Can Play in Arizona. Tee it up!

needed, driving options, demanding approach shots, subtle green complexes and short game artistry. The best hole and most challenging, the par-4 third hole creates stress on the tee shot with water down the left side of the fairway. Next,

2. Quintero GC, Peoria This fabulous layout designed by distinguished architect Rees Jones displays all of the characteristics of a championship course: length where

the approach requires a forced carry over desert to a well-protected green. 3. Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain (Saguaro/Tortolita), Marana The club boasts three nine-hole tracks WE-KO-PAL (CHOLLA)

hole demands a quality opening tee shot and a carry over a desert wash to reach the rectangular-shaped green. 4. Wickenburg Ranch, Wickenburg The hour-plus drive from Phoenix to Wickenburg Ranch is worth the time. Big Wick, designed by Bill Brownlee and Wendell Pickett, is a treat to play with immaculate course conditions. The par-4 16th hole, Vulture, will test players coming down the stretch hoping to beat their personal best score. A demanding tee shot, and equally tough approach, must be executed to record a par on this arduous hole. 5. TPC Scottsdale (Stadium), Scottsdale Home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, this exquisite Tournament Players Club track designed by 1973 Open champion Tom Weiskopf brings thrills to patrons on the closing stretch of the back nine. Take your shot


at glory where tour pros have walked. While you won’t have thousands of screaming fans cheering or booing your efforts on the par-3 16th hole, you will feel the surge of adrenaline as you try to stick your Titleist close!


FRONT 9: PAR 36 1. We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro), Fort McDowell This Bill Coore/and two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw design stuns with beauty and challenges players to think their way through each hole. One of two 18-hole venues at We-Ko-Pa (Cholla the other), Saguaro tests a player’s imagination and provides free-flowing fairway contours set against the rugged desert landscape. The course’s par 4s are works of art, perhaps none better than the 13th hole, a left-to-right shape with a perfectly situated front greenside bunker to collect the errant approach.

designed by the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus—Saguaro/Tortolita/Wild Burro. Players are able to experience three distinct 18-hole rounds. Hole one on Tortolita, a par 4, forces players to get their round going quickly, as the long

6. Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, Maricopa An Ak-Chin Indian Community offering, the Southern Dunes course brings the design talents of Lee Schmidt, Brian Curley and PGA Champions legend Fred Couples. Aptly named Trickster, the short par-4 third hole requires precision off the tee and into a small green well protected by a massive front bunker.

7. Troon North (Monument), Scottsdale Both of Troon North’s courses—Monument and Pinnacle—receive high ratings from players and golf publications. Designed by Tom Weiskopf, the Monument track’s par-5 third hole requires the player to navigate an enormous boulder directly in the middle of the fairway, which plays into your position off the tee, as well as affecting your lay-up options. 8. We-Ko-Pa (Cholla), Fort McDowell Designed by Scott Miller, the Cholla


14. Laughlin Ranch, Bullhead City A David Druzisky design, hole two, a short par 4, requires a tee shot over the corner of the desert, and as the hole is named Ascent, an upward approach to a tough to hit green complex. A par is no sure thing on this deceiving, sub 300yard challenge. 15. Boulders Resort (South), Carefree The South Course’s 13th hole, a medium-length par 4, requires a centercut tee ball followed by a forced carry over desert to a well-guarded green with bunkering left and right. Consistent shot making at the Boulders is a necessity for good scoring.

layout stands in contrast to Saguaro with a more traditional, target, desert, shot-making feel. The par-5 10th hole stands out with a tough tee shot followed by the need for a solid lay-up, and precise short iron to a tough green flanked by two left bunkers.

star Tom Lehman crafted the Founder’s Course, a feast for the eyes with the White Tank Mountains as a backdrop. The golf is equally impressive with the

16. Apache Stronghold, San Carlos Famed architect Tom Doak is the brains behind this desert masterpiece. Hole 12, a par 3 playing 239 yards from the tips, is a monster, and it demands

BACK 9: PAR 35

11. Verrado GC, Buckeye John Fought and PGA Champions TALKING STICK

Raptor designed by Tom Fazio, boasts a plethora of phenomenal holes, the finest the 18th, a par 5 reachable in two shots, but only with a splendid tee ball and, subsequently, a perfect laser second shot off a downhill lie to a green, bordered by water on the right and bunkering left. An eagle 3, or birdie 4 for that matter, is quite an accomplishment on final hole of the Raptor. 18. Talking Stick (North-O’odham), Scottsdale Another gem from Coore/Crenshaw, which tests a player’s ability to pick site lines and execute quality shots. The best hole, 12, a split fairway par 4 that provides options on the tee shot and precision for the fairway approach to a small protected green. You’re sure to want to play this hole twice to appreciate its optionality and intelligent design.


9. Troon North (Pinnacle), Scottsdale Weiskopf’s second masterpiece at Troon North, Pinnacle, is a sight for the eyes and a difficult test for players of all skill levels. As par 3s go, you can’t do much better than 16, a tough tee shot to a small green (aptly named Postcard) blanketed by bunkers with a carry over water. 10. Ventana Canyon (Mountain), Tucson Players can explore two Tom Fazio designs—Mountain and Canyon—at the Lodge at Ventana Canyon. The course professionals boast the par-3 third hole as the course’s signature, and I will not argue. Stretching only 107 yards from the tips, the green is tucked into a rocky canyon, and hitting the target necessitates a carry over a swath of desert cactus. A truly gorgeous hole with a brilliant design.


par-4 ninth hole requiring a solid tee shot, followed by a crisp short iron with water on the right to catch any slight push.

an impressive tee ball to find and hold the putting surface. Walk off with a 3 and you have bragging rights with your playing partners on the 13th tee.

12. Boulders Resort (North), Carefree With 36 holes (North and South courses) Boulders, designed by Jay Morrish, provides an exciting test of ball striking and strategy. Take hole three, a par 5 requiring a well-struck tee shot to avoid fairway bunkers on the right; a finely positioned lay-up to the player’s perfect distance; and, lastly, a precision short iron over water to set up a birdie putt.

17. Grayhawk (Raptor), Scottsdale One of two courses at Grayhawk, the

Missed the Cut: 19. Grayhawk (Talon), Scottsdale 20. La Paloma GC (Ridge/ Canyon), Tucson 21. Gold Canyon Golf Resort (Dinosaur Mountain), Gold Canyon 22. Papago Municipal Golf Course, Phoenix 23. SunRidge Canyon Fountain Hills 24. Victory at Verrado, Buckeye 25. Los Caballeros Golf Club, Wickenburg 26. Kierland GC, Scottsdale 27. Camelback GC (Ambiente), Scottsdale 28. Wigwam Golf Club (Gold), Litchfield Park 29. Ventana Canyon (Canyon), Tucson 30. Wildfire at Desert Ridge (Faldo Course), Phoenix Every player has a favorite hole on the tracks they play. Agree or disagree on these choices, but at the very least, head out and enjoy these terrific Arizona venues. TROON NORTH

13. Sewailo GC, Casino del Sol, Tucson PGA Tour player and nowcommentator Notah Begay III, along with Ty Butler, crafted a gem on Pascua Yaqui Indian lands. Hole three, only a 155-yard par 3 from the tips, will have players trembling on the box, as the tee ball must carry water to land on the putting surface. Short, left or right and a Titleist finds a watery grave. ENTERTAINERMAG.COM



Avril Lavigne pays tribute to front-line workers Christina Fuoco-Karasinski >> The Entertainer!


vril Lavigne admits she’s had her fair share of meltdowns during the COVID-19 quarantine. Still, she wanted to do something positive for the world, to help everyone stay optimistic. So, the Canadian pop star gave a pandemic facelift to her Chad Kroeger cowrite “Warrior” and renamed it “We are Warriors.” “I’m hoping this song gives the world hope and brings it comfort,” she says. “It’s also a reminder that this is still going on. Even though we’re inside, we need to be patient and follow the guidelines right now. “We have medical workers working 17hour shifts and putting their lives at risk. People are trying to not worry about it, but the thing is, the medical workers work longer and harder. We need to give them a break.” “We are Warriors” takes an anthemic, collective tone to remind listeners of their inner strength and ability to come together in this crisis. The song expands on its original version’s reflection of Lavigne’s own health battle with Lyme disease and her first-hand knowledge of the struggle, hope and determination it takes to overcome. Coinciding with the song’s release, the Avril Lavigne Foundation partnered with Project HOPE, a global health organization dedicated to placing power in the hands of local health care workers across the globe, who are providing support on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak. “I felt the need to do something to honor all of the front-line workers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe,” she says. “From the doctors, nurses, police, firefighters, grocery workers, delivery services, all essential workers and the brave volunteers. I am humbled with gratitude and want to dedicate my song ‘We Are Warriors’ to everyone putting ENTERTAINERMAG.COM

their lives at risk to keep us safe. “You guys are the ones who are holding the world up right now, and we’re all counting on you and relying on you.” All net proceeds from sales and streams of “We are Warriors” and its accompanying video will help Project HOPE’s ongoing COVID-19 relief efforts around the world—including providing personal protective equipment. To make an additional donation to this effort, visit charitystars. com/Warriors. “This is my small way of showing my gratitude toward the front-line workers,” Lavigne says. “It’s so incredible to see them step up to the plate.” “Head Above Water” and “Warrior” were the first two songs Lavigne wrote about her own struggles with Lyme

disease for her sixth album, 2019’s “Head Above Water.” “I’ve gotten really strong, and I’m doing really well,” she says. “It’s nice to be able to bring back ‘Warrior.’ (Front-line workers) are the true warriors right now. I re-recorded it,

changed some of the lyrics and dedicated it to them.” Lavigne took a DIY approach to filming the accompanying video, which she shot on her iPhone in selfie mode on a tripod in her backyard. “I became a director, producer and

editor all in one,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve been doing the work for 30 people. I almost had a nervous breakdown the other day.” Lavigne has been quarantining since March 14 with her good friends, whom she calls her “team.” “We’ve been cooking for one another,” she says. “We’re all taking turns being super safe. No one comes over. If we do, we wear masks and gloves and we’re super careful.” The pandemic has inspired Lavigne to write new music—a marked return to the hard pop for which she’s known. “The songs I feel like writing now are upbeat,” she says. “I know what it’s like to be isolated to the world. I was in an introspective headspace. Now I’m coming out on the other side and getting better. I put out the record, went on tour and I’m in a different place. I just want to write songs about beer—good old rock ’n’ roll music.”

Avril Lavigne


Lectric eBikes celebrates its first successful year Annika Tomlin >> The Entertainer!


evi Conlow and Robby Deziel were passionate about biking. When electric bikes hit the market, they piqued their interest. “Robby was already a passionate cyclist,” Conlow says. “But then once he heard about the electric aspect, he really dove straight in and really kept asking the question, ‘How can it be better?’” Minnesota natives who now live in Phoenix, the two decided to answer that question themselves. Through Conlow’s entrepreneurial skills and Deziel’s mechanical engineering abilities, Lectric eBikes in Deer Valley was born. “The reason the electric bike came to be was because my dad kind of almost pestered us to try to make it more affordable just for his own personal benefit,” says Conlow, a Grand Canyon University graduate. Conlow and Deziel thought it would be a small effort called “Levi and

Robby’s Lectric eBikes.” Instead, they shortened the name and chopped off the first E. “It’s kind of cool because it takes the ‘e’ where it’s supposed to be in electric then puts it before the bikes,” says Conlow, who earned his degrees at the University of Minnesota. “We just fell in love with the name.” Sales have been a surprise for Conlow and Deziel. They started selling the high-end Lectric XP, which retails for $899, in May 2019. It was an instant success where “sales were f lying through the door,” according to Conlow. Barely a year later, the Lectric XP bike has over 10,000 purchases and earned Electric Bike Review’s Top Choice Award for Best Folding Electric Fat Tire Bike of 2020. The company was expected to hit $12 million in sales by its first anniversary on May 30. “We got the ball rolling with really awesome inf luencers on YouTube,” Conlow says. “The beautiful thing is these inf luencers reviewed the bike and the response was overwhelmingly positive, which was a huge win because we didn’t know what they were going to say until the videos came out.” Conlow and Deziel enlisted the help of YouTube influencers to help market their bikes without having to drop an

excessive amount of money on ads. The guys started with an email asking the influencers to review the bike and post a video about it. Eight people accepted the offer. The videos have reached more than 3 million views and helped sell 10,000 Lectric XP bikes. At one point, the two increased the price to help combat the bike’s demand. They also had to switch to offering preorder for the bikes to help give them time to manufacture the orders. “We were in preorder, and we’re asking customers to wait eight to 12 weeks to get their bikes,” Conlow says. “We understood that was a huge ask, and we had to be able to support them the whole way.” The COVID-19 pandemic brought on a surge of bike requests, too. To give back to the community during these unprecedented times, Lectric eBikes will donate 8,000 KN95 masks to health care workers in Arizona. “In certain parts of New York or on the East Coast, subway stations and certain transit systems have been shut down and people still need to get around,” Conlow says. “People are wanting our bike to be a solution for that.” Conlow thinks that during the time of social distancing it’s the perfect opportunity to get out and ride.



The bike came about after researching customers’ wants and desires. “The hardest part of creating the bike was the process of figuring out what customers wanted out of their bikes,” Conlow says. “It was a very lengthy process. At some point, you may feel discouraged because you think you might have it figured out and then you go back to square one.” Once they had that down, it was time to find a place. They ran it out of a friend’s garage and living room, before moving to a building in Deer Valley. Ultimately, the high-end Lectric XP came alive. The duo’s bike remains affordable, even though they use name-brand quality parts from LG, Shimano and Tetra. The bike’s design has riders’ backgrounds in mind. The paint job, the branding, the style and the big-top tires were all designed to be really cool in the guys’ eyes. The all-terrain tires and foldable frame make the bike easy to pack up and go riding anywhere at any time. Lectric XP folds into a third its size with a hidden battery within the framework. “The foldability is just beautiful, because I have a small hatchback car and I can fit three bikes in it,” Conlow says. “Just being able to go out riding, fold it up and throw it in the car is the best feature of it. “Nobody wanted to buy a bike they had to put together, because they don’t build bikes. So, we ship the bike to you fully assembled. You get the bike, unfold it and you start riding.” Lectric XP maxes out the legal top speed for an electric bike by zooming up to 28 mph. Lectric XP can ride anywhere a normal bike can go. “With the high performance and speed, our customers are tapping into that youthful fun,” Conlow says. “Many of our customers have said this is their first time biking in 20 to 30 years and they like the way the bike looks and feels.” The company is focusing on its highend Lectric XP, with no plans to create a new model. There’s always room for improvement, though. “I think it’s human nature to improve and make things better,” Conlow says. “I most certainly believe that in 2021 we will have a new version of our bike or maybe a different bike entirely to the public.”

Lectric eBikes 602.715.0907 ENTERTAINERMAG.COM




Her Story Local singer Janelle Loes shares her life through song Laura Latzko >>The Entertainer!


or North Phoenix singer/ songwriter Janelle Loes, the joy of music starts with crafting a song lyric by lyric and note by note. Singing to her audiences about her experiences and connecting with them on a more personal level drives her to keep writing and performing. She’s doing this through her latest effort, “Stranger,” which spawned the single, “Criminal.” “The new single is about trying to rise above criticism, judgment and stereotypes,” she says. “The album just covers a lot of topics about resilience and trying to discover yourself through tough times.” The collection took six years to write. “We took a lot of time with the recording,” Loes says. “It was fun, not having to be in a rush, but I’m excited to finally put it out. Each song has its own individual story.” Loes’ stories have earned her

several awards. She won the 2010 Chicks with Picks female songwriter competition and the 2016 Tucson Folk Festival songwriting competition; was a finalist in Alice Cooper’s Proof is in the Pudding competition; and was in the top 10 in the 2017 Rocky Mountain Music Festival’s songwriting competition. She was featured at the 2010 Anthem Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. When the world isn’t quarantining, Loes performs at venues throughout the Valley, including the Queen Creek Olive Mill, Garage-East, Fuego Bistro, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, the Desert Botanical Garden, Orpheum Theatre, Crescent Ballroom, Grapeables Wine Bar and Last Exit Live. The Flagstaff native, who graduated from Horizon High School, has built a following by playing in different spaces in front of varied crowds. She was interested in music from the time she was a child, starting with the piano and then guitar and violin in elementary school. She says the guitar has always been her favorite instrument

because of her passion for songwriting. “I love guitar, because it is such a great vessel for songwriting,” Loes says. She comes from a musical family. Her two sisters, Jaspar Lepak and Gina Loes, are also musicians. Loes is self-taught, but she was inspired by and learned from her sisters. “It was amazing having sisters that played, too, and could help,” Loes says. Growing up, she listened to ’70s artists such as Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell, as well as contemporary artists such as Anna Nalick, Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple. Ani DiFranco and Rachael Yamagata inspired her to play guitar and write, respectively. “That kind of songwriting that’s really just super vulnerable, I love songwriters like that. It just made me want to write music,” Loes says. At age 12, Loes began playing open mics, followed by formal shows at 16. Loes thrives on playing jazz, pop and adult contemporary music. During live performances, she often plays a mixture of originals and covers by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Allen Stone, James Bay, the Beatles, the Outfield, the Beach Boys and Adele. “It’s fun to play songs that people recognize and surprise people by playing songs from different decades. There are so many great songwriters out there. It’s fun to play a little bit of everything,” Loes says. Through her own music, she is able to express herself in a more personal way. “I love getting to be vulnerable, and I think the special thing about songwriting is you get to say exactly what you want to say, even if you don’t get to say it in the moment. With

songwriting, it’s really amazing to be able to share really personal experiences and then have somebody hear that song and connect it to their own life,” Loes says. Loes has always loved songwriting, but it is a skill that she has honed over the years. “The more you write, the more you learn and develop your own craft,” Loes says. “For me, it’s a very therapeutic thing. I feel like I’m pretty introspective. As a person, I love to look back and analyze.” Her music has made an impact on listeners, including bringing a mother and daughter closer after a divorce. “You never know what your songs can mean to somebody else. It’s really special when you can write a song and share your personal experience, and that can take on a new life for somebody else and hopefully bring something positive,” Loes says. Over the years, writing songs has begun to take longer because she is more critical of her music. She often finds herself up late at night, writing in a fit of inspiration. She released her debut album, “Here and Now,” in 2011. Part of her prize from her Chicks with Picks win was recording a demo. She still plays songs from that album, such as “You,” but she views them in a different way now. “That’s always been fun to take songs I wrote almost a decade ago and be able to apply them to things that are going on right now,” Loes says.

Janelle Loes



Kelvin Harrison Jr. is hitting the ‘high note’ of his career Christina Fuoco-Karasinski >> The Entertainer!


hen Kelvin Harrison Jr. was growing up in New Orleans, he dreamed of starring on a Disney TV show. That way, he could blend his talents of acting and singing. “I always thought to myself that I could be like Hannah Montana and have the best of both worlds,” Harrison says with a laugh. “I get to have a sitcom, sing, do an album and tour.” His latest project, the film “The High Note,” is a “beautiful combination of the two.” Set in the LA music scene, “The High Note” is the story of Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross), a superstar who must choose between playing it safe or listening to her heart in a life-changing decision. Maggie (Dakota Johnson) is Davis’ overworked personal assistant who’s stuck running errands but aspires to be a music producer. Things come to a head when Davis’ long-time manager (Ice Cube) presents the singer with a choice

that could alter the course of her career. Harrison plays aspiring musician David Cliff, who befriends Maggie. The movie, which was set to debut in theaters, instead premiered as video on demand on Friday, May 29. The soundtrack, on Republic Records, includes a handful of songs by Harrison, like the pivotal “Let’s Stay Together.” “We were worried,” he says. “Would the movie come out? Would it be shelved? Would it go through the Netflix shuffle? Instead, we’re doing the proper release and found the ‘new normal’ style.” Working with Ross—the daughter of Diana Ross—was “wonderful,” he says. First and foremost, she was “so much fun.” “She’s a big personality,” he says. “It just adds to the energy that’s always in the room. If you’re feeling down or nervous or scared, Tracee has a way of just brightening up the room and the day. We really needed her expertise and wisdom for this movie.” Harrison—who appeared in “Ender’s Game” and “12 Years a Slave”—says “The High Note” is an important film to him.

“I really wanted to be in a space where I got to play a romantic lead in a movie,” Harrison says. “That was exciting, especially being a person of color who gets the girl at the end. We don’t get the girl. I thought the elements were fascinating. The music industry felt honest and brought back some of the magic to Hollywood and LA—the artistry behind it all. I love the story of following a dream and persevering despite our own blocks and insecurities. It’s up to us to create the universe we want to live in.” Harrison did that. He grew up in a family of musicians, all of whom went to the NOLA School of Music in New Orleans. His father trained with Ellis Marsalis and grew up with Harry Connick Jr. “He introduced me to Ellis, and I went to NOLA,” he says. “Jason Marsalis was one of my teachers. I met Wynton. I also worked with Delfeayo. I recorded tracks with him for a kids’ album when I was about 12 to 15.” At the time, Harrison didn’t grasp what he had. “I’d come home from school and say, ‘Mr. Marsalis told me to do this,’” he recalls with a laugh. “It was such a beautiful experience that a lot of people wish they had.” For a bit, he put his music aside to act. In 2019, Harrison gained wider recognition for his critically acclaimed portrayals of Luce Edgar in “Luce” and Tyler Williams in “Waves,” for which he received nominations for the Best Male Lead at the Independent Spirit Awards for the former and the Rising Star Award at the British Academy Film Awards for the latter. His next film is “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” the story of seven people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in

Chicago. Later this year, he’ll join season two of HBO’s “Euphoria.” “That’s going to be my thing for the next few years,” he says. Harrison enjoys the variety of films he has released. It keeps him excited and on his toes. “The language we learn from different genres helps the other genres,” he says. “I can understand fear and apply that or neurosis in a character’s head and put it in a drama and blend it really well with comedy to figure out how to drive those funnier moments. Trying different things ultimately helps you become a more well-rounded human performer. It gives us a variety of tools in our bag.” Harrison has been keeping busy during the quarantine—reading books by James Baldwin and Maya Angelou, as well as “Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance” and “Sister Outsider.” He’s also perfected his go-to dish: lemony salmon with garlic roasted potatoes and spinach. He serves it with a side dish of white macaroni and cheese and broccolini. “It’s a lot of food, but I like to eat,” he says with a chuckle. As for “The High Note,” he hopes it’s the treat that everyone needs during the pandemic. “What’s so beautiful about Tracee’s character is she’s a woman who knows what she has to offer, and he’s not interested in anyone telling her she can’t,” Harrison says. “It’s what David needed to learn and what Maggie saw and learned from Grace as well. They learned not to get in the way of their own opportunity. I hope people who see this film learn not to give up until they get what they want. I absolutely believe that.”

“The High Note”





Pandemic is teaching comics how to stand up—without the chuckles Jordan Houston >> The Entertainer!


aughter might not be the best medicine during a global pandemic—but it certainly helps. With a new era of social distancing, many stage entertainers are wondering how the industry will adapt moving forward. For local comedians Leanne Schmidt and Marlene Strang, also known as “The Ladies,” the transition has been smooth. In their latest drive-in, pop-up series, “Ladies in Headlights,” the dynamic duo is putting smiles on the faces of quarantined audiences across the East Valley—in a safe and innovative way. Their 15-minute June performances, which sold out in May, are set in Phoenix parking lots and showcase the “’90s moms” characters finding humor in even the most mundane of activities. Tickets cost $19.99 per car—an ode to “mom life” and couponing, explains Schmidt—for a parking spot. “To be able to pull up and have a human interaction that’s safe but still inspiring and that can make you laugh and forget about what’s going on around us, we just got so excited about that,” she tells The Entertainer! Magazine. The mothers are also partnering with local businesses to use their lots and draw in crowds, making for the ultimate “dinner and a show” experience. “We are excited to create collaborations with local businesses,” Schmidt continues. “That was also a

Jill Kimmel


thing. I was like, ‘How great would it be if they (the viewers) can pull up and grab dinner or grab dessert and then pull up into our show?’ And then we’re promoting these businesses as well.” So far, the biggest social distancing obstacle has been finding ways to engage their audience, Strang says. The Ladies, with the help of their business partner Steve Wilcox, encourage audience members to communicate via their car headlights and horns. “Something important to us is that our audience contributes to the art experience,” Strang says. “Like we used the sound score, we asked them to beat their horns and respond to certain questions or we asked them to put on their windshield wipers.” The Ladies have been an active presence in the East Valley’s performance art scene for quite some time, fusing dance, improv comedy and immersive theater into an unclassifiable genre. Because Strang and Schmidt come from dance backgrounds and share an interest in comedy, their performances embody a hybrid of both. “If you look at our website, the first thing that you see is it’s not dance. It’s not theater. There’s certainly not a name for what The Ladies do,” Schmidt says. “We create immersive theater experiences, but it’s more of a sort of community feeling.” Strang explains that their “’90s mom characters” are modeled in part on their

Leanne Schmidt and Marlene Strang, also known as “The Ladies.”

experiences as young mothers. “We draw from our lives as mothers and our family life and all of that,” she explains. “Those inspirations are what fuel our movement, dance theater and all of the stuff we do. There’s a lot of improvisation in the work as well.” Aside from balancing their professional lives as educators with nursing babies and family life, Strang and Schmidt strive to make their content relatable to everyone, she continues. It also varies depending on the site location, says Schmidt, which is why ticket holders aren’t informed of the venue until 24 hours beforehand. “For example, we did a performance at the Clarendon Hotel,” Schmidt comments. “So, The Ladies were on a vacation there. The participants, those

who came to the show, were getting a tour of the amenities.” Since their inception, the comedians have strayed away from traditional venues, instead performing at places like bookstores and hotel roofs to blur the divide between audience and performer. The Ladies agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged them to tap into their creative sides. “We really had no plans to be presenting in a theater, which is an advantage at this time,” explains Schmidt. “As devastating as it is to see these other arts organizations and companies not have a place to perform, we in particular are not super affected by that, which is a wonderful thing.”

TOUGH TRANSITION As The Ladies continue to find their



Steve Krause

footing in a post-lockdown era, many comedy clubs and entertainers— including the ranks of John Oliver and Taylor Garron—have shifted to livestreamed performances on websites like YouTube and Facebook. Fellow stand-up comedian Steve Krause says his transition to the digital world was a struggle at first. “It’s something that I had to adapt to, and it has been difficult,” he shares. “Everyone came out with a podcast or live videos and things like that. I was constantly trying to figure out, ‘What can I do that’s unique that others aren’t doing?’” Krause, who was born with a rare disease that limits the use of his arms and legs, has been a staple in the region’s comedy scene for the last 13 years. Turning lemons into lemonade, the Mesa resident creates laugh-out-loud content centered around his life with arthrogryposis, as well as his everyday experiences as a husband and father. “I feel that when I’m on stage, people are really into what I have to say,” the comic expresses. “I think the most rewarding thing about it is that I can be me and not have to feel like I’m being judged, you know? I can finally have a platform to say what I really want to say.” A regular at the Tempe Improv and Stand Up Live, Krause has worked with renowned comedians like Russell Peters, Pablo Francisco, Carlos Mencia and

Robert Schimmell. He was the runner up in AZ Funniest Comedian in 2016 and gained national attention when he got out of his wheelchair to climb the famous “Rocky Steps” in Philadelphia. Much like The Ladies, Krause has been spending his newfound freedom leaning into his creativity. “I think creativity-wise, this helped because you had time to really focus on what you wanted to do so you could expand from that live audience and into that social presence,” he says. Again, it’s just figuring out ways to separate yourself from another comedian. It might be the same thing, but you’re doing it a little differently and that gets people to stop scrolling.” Krause has posted numerous videos to his Facebook profile, Steve ShortBus Krause, including conversations with his young daughter discussing why he’s in a wheelchair and unboxing videos of products he’s purchased online. Despite rising to the challenge, Krause says he is eager to get back to the stage. “When you’re doing comedy, part of the comedy is being on stage telling your joke and then getting that laugh,” he says.

INCOMPARABLE Renowned comedian and Gilbert resident Jill Kimmel agrees. Kimmel, who has been doing standup globally since 2006, says nothing

compares to a live audience. “The best thing is that immediate feedback,” she says. “There is no mistaking whether you did well or not.” Kimmel’s brand is built upon her observations on divorce, dating and raising kids on five overseas tours for the military. She is the writer and star of the biweekly “What a Mouth” Facebook video series and has performed on the LOL Pro Show at the 2018 Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. “I’m a storyteller, so you’re not going to get punchlines and, like, jokey jokes. I will tell stories of mainly things that have happened—like my boyfriend is 14 years younger than me,” she says with a laugh. Not only was she recently cast on Comedy’s Central’s “Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City,” she is also the executive producer of the Zappos’ Double Down Comedy Experience.” Before statewide lockdowns began in March, Kimmel had a Vegas residency at the comedy club owned by her brother, Jimmy Kimmel. Her shows have since been canceled until further notice. The New York native says she was initially reluctant to take her talents online. It wasn’t long before she bit the bullet and participated in Zoom shows with Nowhere Comedy Club and Social Distance Comedy. “You have to adapt. Stand up is very

much like anything else. It’s like going to the gym,” Kimmel says. “You’re feeling really good and you’re doing good and then you take a couple months off and get back and your muscles are sore.” Digital comedy clubs like Nowhere Comedy Club are becoming a presence online, she adds. According to its website, NoWhere is the “world’s first fully digital comedy club” that offers a “full comedy club experience from the comfort of your home.” Comedians like Jeff Dye, Erica Rhodes and Godfrey are among the talent featured at the club. “It has all these great comedians, all these big names coming in,” Kimmel says. “You’re like getting this great show for next to nothing; they are a lot cheaper because you’re home.” As Arizona begins to reopen, Kimmel already has several live shows lined up, including at the House of Comedy on Wednesday, June 3, and Stand Up Live from Thursday, June 4, to Saturday, June 6, with Brad Williams. Nonetheless, Kimmel says she believes the quarantine has shaped the future of the industry forever—and for the better. “There are so many comedians that you may not have been able to see before. It’s like, what a great treat,” she says. “We’ll go away and bring back live comedy for sure. But these online shows are definitely here to stay.”




e t a n u t r Fo l u o S

Kailee Morgue explores genres on ‘Bedroom’ Christina Fuoco-Karasinski >> The Entertainer!


ailee Morgue is finding the COVID-19 quarantine difficult. In late April, however, she released new music, something she had been hiding away—the EP “Here in Your Bedroom” featuring the single “Knew You.” “I know there isn’t much to look forward to these days,” Morgue says. “I was looking forward to a couple of shows, and I know they’re going to get canceled. Concerts probably aren’t even going to come back for, like, another year. So, it’s going to be a weird adjustment. But I’m looking forward to hearing what fans say about the new music.” The collection is a study in genres for the Goldwater High School graduate, who’s signed to Republic Records. “I was just diving into different genres and seeing what I could really do as an artist and testing myself,” says Morgue, who initially attended Boulder Creek High School. “I wasn’t even sure if this stuff was going to come out. I just wanted to try.


I was listening to a lot of stuff that is popular, like Charli XCX, and thinking about how I could take what I was already doing but make it a little more modern.” Her diverse inspirations are rooted in her parents’ taste. Her father enjoys punk and alternative music, while her mom is a little more mellow. “I was really inspired by Sublime and the Red Hot Chili Peppers,” she says. “I know early Sublime stuff is actually really punk. Then we go into Gang of Four and Black Flag and even modern pop-punk stuff like Neck Deep. “Then my mom had me listening to a bunch of random people, like the Dixie Chicks. With all of that, I can pull from a lot of different places.” The EP’s name, “Here in Your Bedroom,” is an ode to her father’s taste in music. It’s a reference to the Goldfinger song of the same name. She’s embracing her diversity and her love life on the new EP. “Knew You” is also a sign that she’s embracing her love life, which pairs her with musician Ricky Anthony, who performs under Ricky Himself. Initially, she admits, she didn’t want to indulge in love songs. But when the relationship came


into focus, she needed to. She needed that honesty. “I’ve finally allowed myself to start writing love songs and about relationships,” Morgue says. “I never indulged in this style before. I’d just gotten into a relationship where I was constantly writing about love and that dynamic. I was super playful but honest. I’m being really open.” The pop genre is weeping with breakup songs. Morgue didn’t find it difficult to steer away from that. “The negative emotions are always going to be easier to write about, and it has its uses like a coping mechanism; and people can relate to that, too, rather than something where songs are too happy,” Morgue says. “Writing is a huge part of coping and just communicating something that feels hard to talk about. So, I think talking about happier things is great because you want to live in them more. Before, I was mainly writing about the fear of love and heartbreak, and those negative emotions feel easier to convey over something like that.” Anthony and Morgue are quarantining in Santa Clarita, California. “I actually just moved back to California the week that the quarantine started,” she says. “I’m living back over here. I just got a new apartment, and I’m kind of still in the process of furnishing it and getting all the décor. It’s been a really interesting process, because that’s not really a priority when you can’t even get groceries and stuff that often.” Morgue had the option to live in LA,


but she wanted a separation between work and home. “I knew I would be doing music sessions in Central LA,” she adds. “I wanted to drive 20 minutes out of LA to get to a quieter area. It feels like Phoenix, to be honest—just the energy. It’s slower paced and quiet.” The quarantine has spawned yet another new single. “Scream,” by Anthony and Morgue, is a sure-fire hit ballad. “He’s been making music for, like, five, six years now,” she says. “It’s one of the first songs we did together, like when we were just friends still. It’s been really cool watching the process happen.” Morgue, 21, says it’s nice to be with someone who understands her occupation and her dreams. “At first, I was worried about dating a serious musician, because I thought maybe it would be too much music,” she says. “I thought it was going to be too much because our job would be so present in our relationship. “It’s really nice because I think there are just some people who just don’t understand that super-close connection you can have with music. I’ve definitely dated people who just didn’t get it. It’s really nice to have somebody who puts more of themselves in music than I do.”

Kailee Morgue

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Winslow’s Meteor Crater impresses the world Claire Natale >>The Entertainer!

N inspiring.

amed one of the Seven Wonders of the World 2020 by Conde Nast Traveler, Winslow’s Meteor Crater is awe

As one of the world’s few meteorite impact sites, Meteor Crater is considered to be the best-preserved on the planet. At 550 feet deep and almost a mile wide, the crater was formed in about 10 seconds when the meteorite, traveling at 26,000 mph, crashed into the earth. The force of impact was 150 times greater than the atomic bomb that destroyed

Hiroshima and equal to 20 million tons of TNT. The impact occurred during the last ice age, at a time when the Arizona landscape was cooler and wetter. Winslow was then covered with a forest, where mammoths, mastodons and giant ground sloths grazed, and the force of the impact leveled the forest and wiped out life for miles. Arizona’s dry climate has helped preserve this crater. Little of the rim’s crest has eroded, unlike most craters on Earth that are often erased by geological processes. Daniel M. Barringer, a mining engineer and businessman, would have benefited from knowing that the meteorite vaporized. In 1903, Barringer believed the site was created by a large nickel-iron metallic meteorite. He formed a company, the Standard Iron Company, and staked claim to the

land. He received a land patent signed by Theodore Roosevelt, allowing the company to research the crater. Barringer found fragments of oxidized iron meteorite in the surrounding area, leading Barringer to believe there must be a large deposit of meteoric iron below the surface. Barringer spent the next 27 years drilling, mining and searching for iron ore, but no significant deposit was found. He had grand plans for the iron, estimating that if the iron were found, the amount would be valued at more than $1 billion in 1903. Unfortunately, he lost his fortune trying to do so. The Barringer family, along with long-time Arizona ranching and business families the Tremaines and Chilsons, now own the site. It’s been transformed into one of Arizona’s most enduring family attractions.


NASA TIES The Meteor Crater also has deep ties to NASA and space exploration. In the 1960s, astronauts preparing for the first moon landing worked and explored the crater’s rugged terrain. The move helped them train for what they could expect in space, because the Meteor Crater is one of the few impact sites that is still exposed. The several hundred thousand visitors who trek to the Meteor Crater each year will see an Apollo space capsule, which commemorates the 50-plus-year relationship with NASA.

Daily guided rim tours provide a fun, educational and interactive experience. The observation decks are equipped with telescopes so visitors can study the crater’s rock walls and see the breathtaking desert landscape from the air-conditioned Meteor Crater Visitors Center. This world-class attraction also features a museum and discovery center housing interactive displays with information about meteorites, asteroids, impact cratering mechanics and the formation of Meteor Crater. The whole family will enjoy “IMPACT:

The Mystery of Meteor Crater,” which is shown in the 80-seat big-screen theater, and the new, immersive 4D movie experience “Collision! You Can Help Save Earth.” The film allows viewers to race the meteorite’s impact to help save the planet. The Gift & Mineral Shop has minerals, jewelry, gems, American Indian art, science-based kids games, toys, shirts, hats and mugs. Hungry guests can fill their tank at the Blasted Bistro, which features fresh sandwiches, salads and sweets. An on-site RV park offers housing and one of the finest star and sky shows in


the Southwest. Set up camp and take in the views within the majestic pines, playground and dog park. Amenities include a gas station and general store. Humphreys Peak in Flagstaff is on the near horizon in the Western sky. Also nearby is the Grand Canyon, Havasupai Falls, Route 66, Snowbowl and Petrified Forest. The Meteor Crater is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Elevators and ADA accessibility are available.

Meteor Crater





IT’S (ALMOST) SHOWTIME Desert Foothills Theater continues to plan for upcoming season Laura Latzko >> The Entertainer!


he COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted the arts in different ways, but many local organizations have still been pushing forward. Founded in Scottsdale in 1975, Desert Foothills Theater has a forward-thinking approach despite having to cancel the end of the 2019-20 season. “I think we are in great shape,” says Terry Temple, who started as managing director in December 2019. “The future is bright for Desert Foothills and for the arts in general in the community, and I’m honored to be a part of it.” There will be changes because of his leadership style and because of COVID-19, but the goal is to bring programming that will best serve the community. “There are people who a little more cautious,” Temple says. “They love this place, and they want it to succeed. We are just trying to convince them that we are all in this thing together. We’re going to make this work. It’s going to feel different. It’s going to look different. I’m going to put my influence on this place. Some people are going to get on board and some people are going to challenge it a little bit, and that’s OK. That’s how it should be. I love that people care about what happens here.” He and his new staff have been communicating regularly via Zoom,

FaceTime and phone chats. The plans they are making will impact this next season as well as future years for the theater company.

REMODEL The DFT started the first phase of a remodel of the theater space in the FCFHolland Community Center, where it has produced shows.

The next step is to raise funds for the project. The remodel would create a modular theater space for smaller productions inside the community center. The new space will also offer professional-level lighting and sound, a backstage area for the actors, moveable seating that can be adapted to shows and rehearsal, and set construction

areas. With the space, the center and the theater company will be able to offer more programming. “What we are proposing gives us so much more flexibility in our scheduling and the types of shows we can do,” Temple says. “It also changes the nature of what the Holland Center can provide. They can do different types of presentations and concerts. This is a mutually beneficial repurposing of the center.”

NEXT SEASON This next season, the theater company will offer a variety of programming, including well-known classics, youthfocused shows, Broadway hits and intergenerational productions. The shows and dates have not yet been announced and are contingent on COVID-19 guidelines. Many of DFT’s productions will take place at the Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center, with which it has a longstanding partnership. This past season, the company canceled three shows that were already in production, including “Godspell,” “Steel Magnolias” and an original work



by local playwright Andrea Markowitz called “Fair Game.� Plans are in progress to put on these shows next season. “It actually made the planning of the upcoming season a little easier, because there are three shows that were canceled that I certainly want to bring into the next season,� Temple says. There may be some changes in cast, but many of the actors plan to return. “People are ready to get back on stage,� Temple says. “They want to do it safely. They want to do it in a sensitive way to their families and communities, but they are itching to get back onstage.� Moving forward, Temple hopes to showcase more works from local playwrights, through full productions and readings. Readings would allow community members to provide feedback on works that are in progress. “I want them to feel DFT is a place where they can bring ideas,� Temple says. “If we can put it on stage and we can support the arts and the artists in the community, we are here for them. “There are people around this community that are marvelous at that, that just know theater and can help them to develop their works.�

FINANCES Many companies have struggled due to COVID-19, and DFT is not

immune. However, the company is in a good financial state, despite having to cancel shows. Having the support of the Foothills Community Foundation helped the theater in weathering tough times. During COVID-19, the foundation asked the theater company not to do any fundraising. “We are not doing any active fundraising so that people can focus on those that are most affected by loss of jobs and on food banks,� Temple says. Temple and his staff have found small ways to get ahead in fundraising efforts, such as working on grant writing. “I took an approach to really look at our expenses and make sure we were being good stewards of the money we had, that we were spending money well and that we were plugging the holes where we didn’t need to spend money,� Temple says. “We take it very seriously to be good stewards of the money that our donors, our patrons and our sponsors have blessed us with.� Temple says part of this is that all of his staff, himself included, have been involved in running the theater. This can mean doing small tasks like taking out trash or moving tables and chairs. “We get done what needs to be done, and there are no egos here. If it needs to get done, people are stepping

up, from the executive director to me to everybody on the team,� Temple says.

COMMUNITY FOCUS Moving forward, DFT will focus on engaging the community. This involves getting feedback and involvement from community, governmental and educational leaders, especially from Cave Creek, North Scottsdale and Carefree. Temple—who owns Temple Music and Performing Arts in Scottsdale with his wife—hopes to create a family environment. “That is my focus, to bring back triedand-true theater that appeals to this community, where youth feel at home and families can perform together,� Temple says. Volunteers will be an integral part. Temple served at the national director for the Survival School, an organization that helps to train nonprofits reliant on volunteers. He has found it is important to not just bring volunteers into an organization but find ways to best utilize their talents. “I think that we have to treat people well and plug them into a job that matches their gifts,� Temple says.

SUMMER CAMPS AND MASTER CLASSES This summer, DFT plans to offer

The Insider’s Guide to Arizona Entertainment

summer camps and master classes with Broadway performers for small groups of youth. “All of that is contingent on guidelines and making sure we are safe place to enter back into,â€? Temple says. The community’s wishes will also guide the theater company’s offerings in the summer and upcoming season. “They may move along quicker or less quickly than the guidelines, and we’ll respond to that. We will get creative with ways to reach out and stay connected to them,â€? Temple says. He says he hopes to continue to expand on opportunities for youth to learn and perform. Temple has directed around 50 productions at theaters and schools across the Valley, including the DFT’s recent “The Pirates of Penzance Jr.â€? For his daughter, being part of the DFT cast for “Hairsprayâ€? helped her grow as a performer. The experience gave Temple an even greater appreciation for the local theater. “We fell in love with the community, their approach to theater. She still connects with friends from that show, and I still connect with the parents involved in that show and the staff at the time,â€? Temple says. “We made a connection to this place. It is coming full circle to come back here and take the position as managing director.â€? PHX METRO Âť JANUARY 2020




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Arizona Theatre Company strives to connect artists and audience Bridgette M. Redman >> The Entertainer!


assing by the Arizona Theatre Company’s website or Facebook pages, patrons might be inclined to think Arizona’s state theater is busier than ever despite its dark stages. They’ll also notice its only persona has changed in its very character. Artistic Director Sean Daniels says the pandemic forced them to improve their online presence. “A couple months ago, our online presence was just bad,” Daniels says. “It was very transactional. We were just using the internet to sell. Everyone knows that’s not how it works. You have to engage. You use it for a place to learn. Now, everyone is online for hours a day. It would have taken a long time to do what we have done. I can’t give (my staff) enough credit.” They created four rooms where artists create and talk about art. Each week, they produce two podcasts that tie the content together. “We looked back at what is the organization we always wanted to be but never had the time,” says Jasmine Roth, the director of education and learning. Artistic Programs Director Will Rogers made sure the content was diversified. The rooms are named The Green Room, The Rehearsal Room, The Black Box and The Classroom. “As long as we kept our eye toward filling each of these rooms, we would have diverse content,” he says.

THE GREEN ROOM The Green Room is where ATC members chat with national and local artists. Videos feature past performers sending messages and short performances to Arizona audiences. Samples include: • Brenda Jean Foley singing two songs from her home. • Brandon Espinoza, who played Cliff in the recent production of “Cabaret,” performing a song that was cut from that musical on his ukulele. • Ben Scheuer, a singer-songwriter, performing “Weather the Storm.” • Channel Bragg and Cyndey Trent sharing their experience of working at ATC. Each of these videos lets ATC artists connect with audiences. “People want to feel they are closer to the work we do and the individuals who make it happen,” Daniels says.

THE REHEARSAL ROOM The Rehearsal Room is where artists explore plays, musicals and topics that ENTERTAINERMAG.COM

affect artistic communities. The content here encourages conversation around art. Some examples include: • Carly Grossman, who starred in the ATC production of “The Music Man,” talks about her experience as an intern as a UA student. She then sings “Making Love Alone” by Bernadette Peters. • Roth and Rogers host a podcast on gender queerness and theater with co-host Maybe Stewart, a playwright, director and stage manager who has worked at ATC and throughout the Valley. • Daniels hosts a podcast with Chris D’Arienzo, the writer and creator of “Rock of Ages,” talking about the musical and the new piece that will premiere at ATC. • Acting intern Austin Killian discusses his experience on “The Legend of Georgia McBride.” • Actor Kevin Cantor presents a digital prologue to “The Legend of Georgia McBride” prior to the online streaming of the show.

THE BLACK BOX The Black Box room is the stage where there are play readings, online workshops of plays and musicals, livestreams of performances, and community conversations around performances. The content is ephemeral. It is posted for a time, and then, because of rights and contracts, is removed. It featured a streaming of “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” the show whose run had to be cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic. From May 11 to May 15, there was a live Zoom reading of Daniels’ play “The White Chip,” an autobiographical story about his recovery from alcoholism. It brought back the cast who performed in off-Broadway a year ago. While the streaming was free, donations were split between the ATC and The Voices Project, a grassroots addiction recovery program. “What we’re doing is really inspiring,” Roth says. “In supporting (‘The White Chip’), we are creating all this digital content around it and around recovery and trying to bring awareness for sobriety and recovery. We have two podcasts, a community conversation every day of the five days the show is able to stream.” She says they wanted people to share this experience to provide support and inspiration for those who are struggling—especially when people can’t get together. “I’m really proud of us for the way we’re stepping up and making sure people’s stories are heard and giving them a platform and tackling an issue in

our society,” Roth says.

THE CLASSROOM The Classroom offers two opportunities. ATC Teens can sign up for programs, or those of any age can attend a Zoom class on Thursdays or watch a YouTube video later. “Jasmine Roth is our amazing theater educator,” Daniels says. “Every day she is teaching classes—not just for kids. Now, she is teaching adults. It’s progress we would have done over the course of several years, but now we’re doing it. Everyone on our staff has rallied and really made it happen.” Roth says it’s exciting to bring in offerings that may not have happened otherwise, in part because performers would be too busy. Also, performers who couldn’t afford to fly in to teach a class for an hour or so can meet with students on Zoom. For example, she brought in Sally Cade Holmes. “I sent (the students) an Instagram video that was a funny, quirky announcement,” Roth says. “I was on her website saying, ‘I wonder what project she’s done?’ pretending I didn’t know. ‘Oh, it’s Hadestown.’ They freaked out, fangirling so hard.”

THE FUTURE ATC was forced to lay off much of its

staff. “We had to let 65% of our staff go, which is less than average (among arts organizations),” he says. “Most let 80% go; some let everybody go. We made the choice that we wanted to stay connected to our audience, to still have content, and that takes a certain amount of people.” He says they’re having to be smart and make tough decisions. With the cancellation of its last two shows, the company lost $1 million. They’re paring down and trying to make sure their employees, artists and technicians have a theater to return to. The ATC announced its fall season. Dates may shift, but the season will start as soon as it’s safe for audiences. “We are not going to rush back if it is unsafe for our audience,” Daniels says. “We’re looking at a lot of things we can do. Will our balcony be a social distancing area? Do we want to limit the people who can be in the building? Can you enter the building from anywhere? Will there be masks you can pick up as you come in? It will look different. The most important thing is the safety of our audience and our staff and our artists. We won’t do anything that puts people in harm’s way.”

Arizona Theatre Company





Nurturing Scottsdale Arts during a pandemic Bridgette M. Redman >> The Entertainer!


inding a way to provide the arts online during the pandemic wasn’t just something “nice to do,” it was mission critical for Gerd Wuestemann, president and CEO of Scottsdale Arts. It’s germane to the mission of the organization for its employees, for its patrons, and for all of Scottsdale and those who might tune in to its online offerings. “We are not just flesh and bone,” Wuestemann says. “We are made up of soul and hearts and minds, and those souls and hearts and minds still need— after all the binge-watching and reading is done—we need community and being connected to others. “At times like these, the arts serve a critical role in giving the sense of community, not just looking at beautiful paintings but looking at what is happening in the arts, how the arts connect to the community, and looking at who makes the arts happen and that we still feel our arts are fed here in our home communities.” He praises the Scottsdale Arts team, saying they have all come together, working longer hours, following the aspiration that arts should “spark, amplify, immerse and inspire.” The online arts programming during the pandemic has followed this model:

• Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. • Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. • Scottsdale Public Art. • Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation. Their website offers the gateway to opportunities to find art experiences in each of those four areas, proclaiming, “Whether you’re looking for an escape or a chance to celebrate our shared humanity, we want to help you make

seeing the smiling faces and having the human spirit between us, but I’m thrilled we were able to do what we do to make sure our facilities remain in good shape and make sure our community is in good shape and get ready for the new season.”


those connections and share moments full of light, beauty and contemplation.” Scottsdale Arts was one of the early organizations to cancel a major event, its 50th Scottsdale Arts Festival, in mid-March when 200 artists were scheduled to display their wares. Wuestemann says at the time that had even one person been infected, it would have been unforgiveable. Since that time, the Scottsdale Arts organization has gone into high gear working in totally new ways. “It took us a few weeks to realize, holy cow, I’m spending 10 to 12 hours a day on the screen, no wonder I’m feeling so worn out,” says Wuestemann. “I’m so proud my team made the shift seamlessly. We miss going to the office and ENTERTAINERMAG.COM

Their work has been focused on three main areas. First, they’re responsible for a 28-acre campus and a sizable museum that are vulnerable to technical issues. They have strategized to maintain and clean the building with a staff that safely distances. They’re also using this time to update and renovate. Their second focus is providing virtual access to the arts. Anyone visiting their website can find a wealth of activities, including interviews with artists, pop art quizzes, peeks into the backstage, and podcasts. They also took their canceled arts festival and made it into a virtual experience. “That was an incredibly important move,” Wuestemann says. “We had many thousands access it and people peruse those 200 artists’ offerings. People still got to enjoy these incredible artists and artisans. These artists still got to sell their wares to a Scottsdale audience. We’ve had reports from many artists saying ‘thank you.’ The artists had a chance to still make a living. That was another critical part.” Scottsdale Arts also has, for many years, been contributing to arts


education in local schools. It has been moving much of that now into virtual classrooms. It also launched its first online exhibition with the Scottsdale Sister Cities Association, “Young Artists and Authors Showcase.” With the theme of “One World: Out of Many, We are One,” the exhibition runs through July 21 at “Kids from around the world contributed,” Wuestemann says. “It shows us that even through crisis like this the extraordinary positive exuberance of kids. I just thought that was a magnificent show and very important for us.” Finally, the staff has been spending its time figuring out what the future will look like. “In times like these, it is very difficult to project and anticipate what a new season will look like,” Wuestemann says. “What do we have to do to make people feel safe to return to our venue?” He says they are booking events in the fall and hoping to reopen the museum in the summer. Wuestemann says they think they will have a full season in September, even if a full house now

means only half of the seats are being used. They are ensuring everything is properly sanitized. They will provide masks and do temperature checks so people can enjoy the arts in the fall. “It is important for our community,” Wuestemann says. “They will have a deep desire to reconnect and to have these experiences that we can provide. We need to help rebuild our local economy. I think it is important for us to participate in that. If we create a show, the bars and restaurants will have a good night, the city will get taxes, people will get paid. We’re a part of the local economy, and the sooner we can get back to creating art, the more quickly we can help the economy recovery.”

SCOTTSDALE ARTS DID THE RIGHT THING Wuestemann hopes when historians look back on the pandemic, three things will come to mind about Scottsdale Arts. “I hope our story will be one of resolve and resilience,” he says. “Every day I’m proud and thrilled of the extraordinary resolve and resilience of our staff. Our

staff is working incredibly hard. That is the ultimate American spirit. It is what makes this country great. It is what has helped us win world wars and defeat crises and difficulties. This staff has shown that spirt.” Second, he hopes they will show the story of empathy. He says it’s been incredibly challenging for artists, small arts organizations and small community theaters, which are the lifeblood of a community, to survive. He cited casual gatherings and backyard series, which give people a sense of community. He says it has been important to them throughout the pandemic to support these other organizations. Finally, he wants Scottsdale Arts to be remembered as an organization that practices good business sense before and during the pandemic. “We were fortunate compared to many


other colleagues and organizations across the Valley,” Wuestemann says. “We’ve kept our whole staff together. There is not a single staff member that hasn’t worked eight-hour days.” He says they repurposed a few jobs. For example, events staff has been reworking contracts for presenters. However, everyone has continued to work and get paid. Wuestemann admits that much of this time has been painful for them, but they’ve survived. “We were on track for a record year for the organization but had to tone it down,” Wuestemann says. “A lot of hard work came apart in a heartbeat and we’ve lost millions, but we had worked so hard and been conservative creating buffers and reserves that we’re not in immediate distress. So, it’s been kudos to the whole staff.” ENTERTAINERMAG.COM





Arizona Restaurant Week highlights a suffering industry Annika Tomlin >> The Entertainer!


he COVID-19 pandemic nearly decimated the food and beverage industry. The biannual event held to celebrate local eateries, Arizona Restaurant Week, was replaced in the spring by Arizona Take Out Week. Following CDC guidelines, Arizona Restaurant Week has been rescheduled for Friday, June 19, to Sunday, June 28, and officials are hoping it’ll bolster the suffering industry. “We are so grateful for the support of our local dining community in the weeks that followed restaurant closures in March,” says Arizona Restaurant Association president and CEO Steve Chucri. “As Arizona Restaurant Week returns in a modified format to include dine-in, takeout and liquor-to-go options, we are hopeful that our wonderful

community of food enthusiasts will continue to show their support in any way they feel comfortable.” The Arizona Restaurant Association is anticipating more than 200 of the Valley’s most beloved restaurants—from five-star dining establishments to locally owned and operated “mom-and-pop” hidden gems—to get involved. Restaurants will offer innovative and adventurous three-course, prix-fixe menus for $33 or $44 per person or per couple. Wine pairings will be offered at an additional cost. Some of the new restaurants joining this June include The Dressing Room, The House Brasserie, Josephine, Meritage Urban Tavern, Sel, Stonegrill, and Tuck Shop Kitchen and Bar. One of the returning restaurants is The Market by Jennifer’s Restaurant and Bar helmed by owner and chef Jennifer Russo. Her restaurant takes a “very fun, upbeat” approach on classic meals that

gives them a modernized twist. “We have been a part of the Arizona Restaurant Week since we started, so for six years,” Russo says. Russo founded her catering business decades before she finally “broke down a little bit” and opened up a fully operational restaurant as well. “I don’t know what I was thinking,” Russo says. “Now it’s done really well.” In 2018 the ARA gave Russo the best catering in Arizona award. Russo is excited to once again be a part of the event that shows off restaurants going into the new season and gives the public an opportunity to try out new menu items. “Because we switch our menus twice a year, it really gives us that fun ability to test things out for some people and then we’re excited about their feedback,” Russo says. “Then we tweak it in the way that is needed; that’s my favorite part about the restaurant week.”

Russo will feature menu items like corn purée soup, house-smoked salmon, beef tenderloin and a vegetarian dish. “I always like to do something a little bit different with a protein—we always have filet,” Russo says. “I’ll do a different type of beef, not just because of the price point but because it opens people’s eyes up to be a little bit more adventurous.” Additional returning restaurants include Buck & Rider, El Chorro, Pasta Brioni, Arrowhead Grill and Urban Margarita. Diners can see a complete list of the participating restaurants and the menus at Fall Arizona Restaurant Week is set for Friday, September 18, to Sunday, September 27.

Arizona Restaurant Week Various locations, Friday, June 19, to Sunday, June 28,



Glendale merchants ask, ‘What’s Cookin’?’ Christina Fuoco-Karasinski >> The Entertainer!


orraine Zomok sees baking and cooking as therapy. When she was being treated for head and neck cancer, she wrapped herself in the warmth of cooking shows. Throughout the pandemic, meticulously making meals got her through the day. “Because of my particular cancer, I lost my ability to taste and my ability to swallow,” says Zomok, who is now cancer free after chemotherapy and radiation. “I’m still struggling, but I will prevail. Although I am unable to taste and enjoy food, I can absolutely enjoy the process of baking and cooking and seeing those who enjoy the food around me warms my heart.” The pandemic also inspired Zomok and the Historic Downtown Glendale Merchants Association to collect recipes for its “What’s Cookin’?” series. They’re looking for recipes from Downtown Glendale business owners, “treasured” customers and fans of the city to submit for its website and social media platforms. “During these unique times, we are all reconnecting with our kitchens and rediscovering our family’s favorite recipes. We are excited to share our recipes with the community,” says Zomok, who is the association president and the owner of Memory Lane Trinkets and Treasures. Recipes will be featured on the Historic Downtown Glendale Merchants Association Facebook,, and Instagram, @historicdowntownglendale. Recipes can also be viewed and

downloaded on Downtown’s website at New recipes are being added regularly. To participate, email info@ Some of the featured recipes include chicken taquitos from Pastor Kim Gladding at the First United Methodist Church of Glendale; the Spicery rolls from the Spicery in Our 1895 Home; and easy summer pie from Nancy Houck, Historic Glendale Downtown docents. “When our Historic Downtown Glendale Merchants Association cooked up this idea, we realized it was not only going to be a fun activity but one that was social. “It’s an opportunity to share recipes to a large audience on social media and the website. It’s really soothing and comforting and a way for us to really be connected through food. Even though we don’t have the opportunity to sit across tables at our favorite restaurants, we can still through social media.” Zomok’s recipe is the easy taco salad, one of her family’s favorite dishes, “It’s something I’ve been making for nearly 40 years,” she says. “My children ate it once a week when they were little. It’s inexpensive to make and customizable. The kids could add as many ingredients as they liked. They could spice it up and I could involve the family in the assembly process. That’s what I remember most about when the kids were little. “If they wanted cheese, OK. No olives? That’s OK, too. We had a lot of laughs when they’d say, ‘Taco salad again?’ They’d say that with a twinkle in their eye. My precious daughter-in-law is making it for my grandchildren. It’s standing the test of time.”

Easy Taco Salad


The Historic Downtown Glendale Merchants Association is collecting recipes for its “What’s Cookin’?” series. Here are a few highlights from the series.

No-Knead Crusty Artisan Bread (makes 1 loaf)


Dough will bubble up and rise. After dough is ready, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place your Dutch oven, uncovered, into the preheated oven for 30 minutes. While your Dutch oven preheats, turn dough onto a well-floured surface. With floured hands, form the dough into a ball. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rest. After the 30 minutes are up, carefully remove Dutch oven. With floured hands, place the bread dough into it. (You can put a piece of parchment Directions: under the dough if your Dutch oven isn’t enamel In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and coated.) yeast. Stir in water using a wooden spoon until Replace cover and bake for 30 minutes the mixture forms a shaggy but cohesive dough. covered. Carefully remove cover and bake for 7 to Do not overwork the dough. The less you “work” 15 minutes* more, uncovered. it, the more soft, fluffy air pockets will form. Carefully remove bread to a cutting board and Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough slice with a bread knife. sit at room temperature for eight to 24 hours*. The No-Knead Crusty Artisan Bread recipe is from Danica Coral at Pink House Boutique, 7009 N. 58th Avenue, Glendale, - 3 cups all-purpose flour - 2 teaspoons kosher salt (not table salt) - 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast (active dry or highly active dry work best) - 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water - Special cookware needed: Dutch oven or any large oven-safe dish/bowl and lid. Or deep dish covered with tin foil. *

Easy Taco Salad


No-Knead Crusty Artisan Bread

- 1 bag tortilla chips - 1 pound ground beef - 1 can whole kernel corn - 1 can refried beans - 1 tomato (diced) - 1 bag of salad lettuce, or 1/2 head of lettuce (shredded) - Shredded cheese - Black olives (1/2 can) - Sour cream - Salsa

- Salt and pepper to taste


Brown ground beef and drain off any excess fat. Add in corn to heat through. Heat refried beans in a separate pan. In a large bowl, toss shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, diced tomato, tortilla chips (trying not to break too many) and black olives. Add in the ground beef/corn mixture. Garnish with sour cream and salsa to the side. Serves 4. Serve refried beans on the side. Easy Taco Salad recipe is from Lorraine Zomok, Memory Lane Trinkets and Treasures, 5836 W. Palmaire Avenue, Glendale,





Chef Marcellino Verzino brings the flavor to Old Town Christina Fuoco-Karasinski >> The Entertainer!


ima Verzino calls her husband, Chef Marcellino Verzino, a “visionary.” That relates to the creative dishes at Marcellino Ristorante in Old Town Scottsdale and his thoughts for the restaurant, which was temporarily closed for a month due to the pandemic. “We were so blessed to have celebrated our 16th year in Arizona in the fall, and we had been thinking about remodeling even before the pandemic started,” Sima says. “When we closed the restaurant temporarily, Chef pushed the project up and began working around the clock. While most people know him as an award-winning chef, he is also a skilled craftsman and quite the visionary. He’s doing much of the work himself together with his dear friend Rafi, owner of HRH Contracting. The dining room has been expanded to include a brand-new look to Chef’s Private Dining Room and, consequently, now allows for better social distancing measures. New décor will include a 6-foot waterfall window and new glass front door. In addition, for those who wish to dine outside, we’ll have tables set up on both patios.” The televisions in the private dining room, Sima says, are perfect for presentations. The sliding glass doors that separate the private dining room from the rest of the building are

“gorgeous,” she adds, and framed in wood. The Verzinos have been impressed with the guests who have returned to Marcellino. The couple didn’t space tables apart. Instead, tables with gold tablecloths are for guests. Those covered with burgundy cloths are off limits. They trained their staff to do what they need to do to keep people safe. “We had a slew of guests,” she says. “They’ve been so supportive and so loving. It’s the most incredible feeling to see people so happy. We’re blown away by it. We were filled to capacity, considering the table distances. Every table we had available was filled on the dining room, the private room and patio. “In the private room, what Chef did with that super large table was he created six two tops. You can dine any night you want in the private room.” During the pandemic, the Verzinos didn’t have to limit their menu, as their items were available. “There was no problem with him getting all the fresh food he needed,” she says. “Chef ordered a lot of fresh seafood, which is flown in overnight.” The diners who have visited the restaurant trust the Verzinos to keep them safe, Sima adds. “The fact that we’re independent and chef-owned, people have a lot of faith in Chef and me,” she says. “They already know how clean our restaurant was from the getgo. We’re always disinfecting and cleaning. We created the solution that we spray down

the chairs with. That’s the only extra thing we had to do. Guests are not worried one bit about coming to the restaurant.” The couple will celebrate Father’s Day this year with specials from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday, June 21. Takeout is available as well. Patrons can arrange for dad to receive a special Topgolf gift card presented to him during dessert. Marcellino Ristorante will do the shopping for the gift card, which provides one hour at the driving range. The cost for the gift card is $30, and reservations must be made by Friday, June 19.

Traditional offerings include Chef’s daily, hand-crafted pastas such as his well-loved tortelloni (large pasta pockets filled with a puree of filet mignon and sautéed vegetables with a hearty tomato sauce); Mediterranean seafood that include dishes of scallops, shrimp, mussels and fresh fish of the day; as well as grilled lamb chops, filet mignon, pork tenderloin, veal and chicken. Chef’s many daily specials are orated table-side, and their elite team of professional European-style service team guides all through the “Marcellino Experience,” which includes suggestions on the perfect wine pairings. Desserts include chocolate mousse, panna cotta, apple galleta, tiramisu, ricotta cheesecake and gelato. Fathers can also enjoy a complimentary dessert of creamy tiramisu, which features espresso drenched savoiardi, layered with mascarpone cream and dusted with unsweetened cocoa. Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day at Marcellino Ristorante provides a special children’s menu. The specially priced dishes for children include gnocchi sorrentina, light potato/pasta orbs in tomato sauce with melted mozzarella bits for $14; paccatelli, short, toothsome pasta in a hearty tomato and sausage ragu or with butter and parmigiano for $13; and grilled chicken breast with his creamy mashed potatoes for $13.

Marcellino Ristorante 7114 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, 480.990.9500, ENTERTAINERMAG.COM





y a d i l o H Spirits Try these drinks on National Bourbon Day Annika Tomlin >> The Entertainer!


his social distancing period has left many of us looking for ways to entertain ourselves and celebrate even the little things—like baking our own bread or perhaps making some at-home craft cocktails. June 14 is National Bourbon Day, so let’s, well, make a day of it. To be legally considered bourbon, it must be 51% corn, stored in new (not aged) charred oak barrels and distilled no more than 160 proof and barreled at 125 proof. While 95% of all bourbon is made in Kentucky, the smooth drink can be enjoyed all over the United States. Not all of us have an inner bartender inside us, however, but there are plenty

of local Phoenix bars serving premium cocktails and bottles to go. Even though social distancing has relaxed in the area, these local spots are serving up some tasty a few of our favorite Jim Beam infusions. Here are a few samples from Pigtails Cocktail Bar at Desert Ridge, 21001 N. Tatum Boulevard, Suite 46-1405, Phoenix.

FROZEN MYSTERY PUNCH - 1 1/2 ounces of Jim Beam Black - 1/4 ounce Heirloom pineapple amaro - 1/4 ounce Tepache spiced liquor - 1/2 ounce water

BEAM’S VACA - 1 ounce Jim Beam Black - 1/2 ounce Scarlet Ibis Trinidad Rum - 1/4 ounce Tempus Fugit Crème de

Banana - 1/2 ounce water

PINEAPPLE TWO WAYS - 1 1/2 ounce Jim Beam Black - 1/4 ounce Heirloom Pineapple Amaro - 1/4 Tepache Spiced Liquor - 1/2 ounce water For those who want to try their mixologist skills, try these traditional drinks:

THYME WILL TELL - 2 ounces bourbon - 1/2 ounce maple syrup - 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice Thyme Muddle the thyme and then combine ingredients and serve on the rocks.

BLESS YOUR HEART - 1 part Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve - 1 part Luxardo Maraschino liqueur - 1/2 part Punt e Mes - 3/4 part fresh lemon juice - Maraschino cherries for garnish Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir and strain in a chilled coupe glass and garnish with cherries.

HOT TODDY - 8 ounces hot water - 2 ounces bourbon - 1 tablespoon honey - 1 teaspoon lemon juice - Cinnamon stick Pour hot water into a mug and add honey, bourbon and lemon juice. Stir. Garnish with cinnamon stick. ENTERTAINERMAG.COM





The D-backs reliever is finding solace in his car and horses Haley Smilow >> The Entertainer!


ith professional baseball looking like it may not return for a while, Diamondbacks relief pitcher Andrew Chafin is taking the time to improve his game and spend time with family. “My consistency, I feel you can always get better in that regard,” Chafin says. After a rough campaign in the 2019 season, Chafin is using the quarantine as time to work on his effectiveness and

pitch location. After the 2019 season, with a 3.76 ERA, Chafin is looking to bring down his ERA whenever baseball starts. While he’s not out on the diamond every day, baseball is still the main thing on Chafin’s mind. He was excited to talk about why, for him, having a nine-pitch, three-strikeout inning is better than a three-pitch, three-out inning. “A lot of it comes down to being a reliever,” he says. “If I was still a starter, I might give a different answer.” Not only does Chafin miss the games, but he’s longing for the traveling and sightseeing he gets to do as professional.

“I love playing at Coors Field (Colorado) and Oracle Park (San Francisco),” he says. “I feel like I always play well in Denver. My pitches always seem to do a little bit better there. Another one of my favorite places to play is San Francisco, because we warm up right in front of the stands and the fans are always teasing you and making funny noises and doing that kind of stuff. It’s a good time there.” Unlike most of us, Chafin has eschewed Netflix. Instead, Chafin has been spending time with his daughter and wife, and doing chores around his

house in Ohio, where he raises horses. He also hunts and fishes. “If I wasn’t playing pro ball, I’d probably be a mechanic or a fabricator working in some sort of shop building things,” he says. He has his own shop where he tinkers with things. His most ambitious project was his old Ford Ranger. Before the quarantine he met with his mechanic, had a fl atbed attached to his car and swapped out the fuel tank for a diesel tank. After the quarantine, he wants to trick out the vehicle further, but the plans are a secret, he says.






Coloring book gives a peek into renovated shopping center Annika Tomlin >> The Entertainer!


ummer is knocking on the door, and people are still stuck at home trying to figure out how to pass the time. Downtown Phoenix’s Arizona Center staff created an activity book for all ages to enjoy at home. “We wanted to connect with our community and bring something special to them during this difficult time,” says Paola Cicuttini, vice president of marketing and corporate communications for Parallel Capital Partners.

“We just wanted to provide fun activities to do while at home, especially now that it’s starting to get a little bit warmer and unfortunately you can’t take breaks that you want to take.” The activity book, called “Recess at Home with Arizona Center,” is a free downloadable and printable book that includes coloring pages, trivia, word scramble, word search and recipes. As a way to showcase the shopping center and office complex, Cicuttini and her team reached out to Gensler. “Gensler is the architectural tech company that did the renovation at Arizona Center that we completed last year,” Cicuttini says. “They had these

beautiful renderings of the center, so we talked about it and decided that we really wanted to do coloring pages that were landmarks of Arizona Center.” Those landmarks include the Third Street and Van Buren corner, The Grotto, Taylor Street and Prickles. “Prickles is our 15-foot saguaro cactus that we bought last year,” Cicuttini says. “The community really loves Prickles, so we wanted to make sure that we had her in there as well.” Taylor Street as well as Third Street and Van Buren add hip geographical shapes to the mix. “I think this book is helpful even if we weren’t in the situation that we are

in today,” Cicuttini says. “It’s something that gives people the opportunity to do something while we’re avoiding the heat that we avoid all summer long.” The activity book includes recipes from the center’s restaurants, including the original buffalo chicken dip by Hooters, citrus tilapia by 1130 The Restaurant and adovo chicken pasta by Canyon Café. The book also has recipes for cream soda ice cream float, an iced mocha and a side of guacamole.

Recess at Home with Arizona Center




Arizona Goat Yoga breaks up the pandemic with ‘field trips’ Annika Tomlin >> The Entertainer!


otivating kids to do homework is a challenge during the pandemic. Gilbert’s Arizona Goat Yoga is here to help by offering virtual tours for classes to meet yoga goats, alpacas and chickens. “I have three kids of my own and I see how hard it is now that school is online to get motivated to really do it,” says Arizona Goat Yoga owner April Gould. “I was trying to think of a way that we might be able to help and so we decided to do virtual field trips, and that has been so much fun.” Gould takes teachers and students around the Gilbert farm to show them the animals’ daily lives. The farm has 58 goats, 19 of whom are babies; two alpacas and six chickens. “During a field trip I just walk around and show the animals and talk about them, and then there’s a lot of Q&A,” Gould says. “I get questions as simple as ‘what is their name?’ to “how long do they live?’ A lot of questions are super cute.” According to Gould, some teachers ask their students to research the animals first and then they discuss what they’ve learned with the class. This makes the experience both fun and educational. “The kids were coming back with all these facts about alpacas that I didn’t even know, which is pretty neat,” Gould says. The pandemic has kept the farm from hosting goat yoga, during which baby

goats parade in rainbow tutus, prance around at guests’ feet and run across their backs. “It’s really sad right now that we’re not able to do goat yoga, because we have so many babies who need lots of love and attention and human interaction,” Gould says. “It’s unfortunate for them that they’re not getting a lot of human interaction from hundreds of in-person people.” Gould says the virtual field trips, which are free for teachers, have been well received. “The best thing for me is seeing the kids having fun and it being so different for them,” Gould says. “As soon as we get on, all I hear is, ‘Aww.’ I just love the excitement of the kids.” Teachers have thanked Gould for breaking up the monotony of their new everyday life having school online. “Since it’s virtual, it’s fantastic because you can do it anywhere,” Gould says. “Kids can get to see not only the goats and alpacas and things like that but

they also get to see another place in the United States of what life is like right now in Gilbert.” Besides the teachers’ free field trips, guests can visit virtually for 10 minutes for $35; have a customizable goat gram for $35; or a 30-minute “alpacalypse” conference call for $75. The conference call brings alpacas Kip or Napoleon to virtual business meetings for 30 meetings. “I’ve been getting a lot of requests for birthday parties, which is a whole new level,” Gould says. “I’m excited for that because, apparently, virtual birthday parties are going to be kind of the thing for right now.” Gould is anxiously awaiting her first goat breakup gram customer. The goat comes online with a sign that reads, “We ENTERTAINERMAG.COM

can still be frieeeends.” “I’m super excited for it when that day comes,” Gould says. “Let a goat break up and do all the dirty work. It makes the let down a lot easier that way.” Aside from the fun, Gould and her team are having a tough time through the pandemic. “For us, like many small businesses, it really hurts,” Gould says. “Our whole business is based on a lot of people in close gatherings, everything that we’re not allowed to do right now. “It’s been really tough on us but also really hard on the animals. I know that sounds funny, but the goats are getting really depressed. They’re not used to just grazing and being bored.” The animals are still playing, sleeping, eating and nursing throughout the day as if they were still doing goat yoga without an audience. Gould is considering continuing the virtual field trips after the stay-at-home order is lifted. “Now that we’re on lockdown, I think it’s just become a new creative thing and maybe keeping it ongoing for the people out of state or out of the country,” Gould says. “I think it would be so neat to have a virtual tour or field trip to see somewhere different, and this kind of opened up a door for new ideas in that aspect.”

Arizona Goat Yoga 480.269.4144,,





CARVING HER OWN NICHE Cherie Currie introduces ‘miraculous’ new project Christina Fuoco-Karasinski >> The Entertainer!

Miraculous” is how Cherie Currie describes her new album, “Blvds of Splendor.” In 2016, Currie was about to release “Blvds of Splendor” when she fell 12 feet while chainsaw carving on a hilltop scaffolding. The accident left Currie with partial facial paralysis and severe head trauma for more than 10 months. “Something even more miraculous when you don’t believe it’s going to happen,” the effervescent Currie says. “When I listened to the record for the first time after, maybe, nine or eight years, I could just see how good it really is. It’s a gift all over again. When you work so hard on something for so long, you lose sight of how great it is. I’m literally floored by how good the record is.” The former singer of the 1970s Sunset Strip band the Runaways worked with a bevy of rock’s finest on the new album, including Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, Slash and Duff from Guns N’ Roses, as well as Juliette Lewis, Brody Dalle and the Veronicas. Drummer Matt Sorum, of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, produced the set. “Cherie hadn’t made a record in a long time,” Sorum says. “We needed to make some kind of statement. When you make albums, you have to remain true to yourself and sound fresh. I brought in some younger guys to play on the record because it’s a good injection. “My job was to get in the room and make sure the songs were good and the tones were great. As a producer, you put a good team together. We’d work long hours, but it was like I was just vibing with some friends. The album is the icing on the cake.” The key was to allow Currie to have a good time. “Traditionally, when you make a record, you vibe around the studio,” Sorum adds. “People can feel the energy in that. There were situations when I made records and there were tensions that made the record really difficult to make. Sometimes those don’t turn out as good—there’s a bad vibe and a bad energy. This record was different. It was really fun to make.” Currie and Sorum began working on the album when Currie was promoting “The Runaways” movie with Dakota Fanning as the shy blonde and Kristen

Stewart as the fiery Joan Jett. “Working with Matt Sorum was just shock and awe,” Currie says. “He’s just such a top-notch musician and producer. Then for him to bring in all of his friends—Slash, Duff, Billy Corgan, Juliette Lewis, Brody Dalle and the Veronicas—it was shocking, inspiring and extremely humbling.” Currie admits she was awestruck, especially at the sight of Corgan. However, her fellow musicians had quite a different take. “Do you find me threatening?” she asks rhetorically. “Juliette threw me out of my own studio. She was too nervous to sing in front of me. Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning as well. I don’t know what it is, because I think I’m pretty fun to be around, personally. “There isn’t any negativity in my being, but for some reason she didn’t feel comfortable singing in front of me. I wasn’t wearing a devil mask or anything. Maybe I should? I don’t know.” Currie is modest when asked about the project, saying it is Sorum’s “brainchild.” “This is his creation,” she adds. “What he did was bring me because I had never worked with a producer who didn’t try to change me. He didn’t try to tell me that I wasn’t really delivering the way they want it to be or change my particular way of singing. “The thing is, at my age, I have whatever is different from everyone else because it’s who I am. He didn’t try to squelch that. He nurtured that, and he just made me a better artist.” Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Currie was planning on touring with her band, which includes her and actor Robert Hays’ son, musician Jake Hays. She’s looking forward to returning to the road, and there’s a benefit to that—fans will know the words to her songs. Currie has since returned to chainsaw carving, with very little fear. After all, she doesn’t remember it. “I was knocked out,” she says with a laugh. “I opened my eyes and I saw, over my face, this retired trauma surgeon from Cedars-Sinai. I was actually carving a piece at his property. “I have no recollection of the fear I must have felt. I actually finished the carving and I did have to take time off. I stayed out of the public eye because I had some damage to my face and a lot of nerve damage. That took a lot of time to heal. But, yeah, I enjoy carving as much as I have the last 20 years.”

Cherie Currie




For ‘Tomorrow’

Singer Sophie Dorsten contemplates her future on new song Christina Fuoco-Karasinski >> The Entertainer!


pproaching graduation from Gilbert Christian High School, Sophie Dorsten felt overwhelmed when she thought about her future. The feeling of the unknown worried the 17-year-old singersongwriter. The indie pop/folk singer penned the song “Tomorrow,” which she released in mid-May. “I feel this song could have different meanings for so many with what is happening in the world right now,” Dorsten says. “I do feel it will be alright, but the unknown can be scary. ‘I can hardly breathe now … how do I breathe tomorrow’ sums up my feelings at the time.” A Gilbert resident, Dorsten recorded the song in Nashville earlier this year at

Sound Kitchen Studios with producer Jordan Lake. “We (Dorsten and Lake) connected really well,” she says. “It was my first time recording out of state. He brought a lot of creative aspects to it. I had no idea what to expect. When I went there, I had no music plan in mind. I didn’t know what instruments to use. I brought my brother, Alex, who also plays guitar, to Nashville. When I walked in, all these live performers were already there—a drummer, bassist, piano player.” Dorsten knew she wanted to be a singer since the sixth grade, when she looked up to Selena Gomez. Since she was 13, she has released a handful of EPs and singles, including the collection “Roses.” “When I was little, Selena Gomez was my inspiration,” she says. “She was everything.” Now she’s into Billie Eilish’s voice and “unique style.”

“I love her voice. I think it’s a unique style. I like her music lately. My favorite band is From Indian Lakes. They’re a pretty small band, but I would love to collaborate with them.” She graduated on May 27, just as the quarantine was winding down. Dorsten says she handled the pandemic well because she’s an introvert. “It’s easy for me not to be around people,” she says. “I have my family at home. It was a nice time to write songs, and I also do paintings. It’s been pretty

chill.” Come fall, her plans are to attend community college for two years so she can focus on her music. “Music is just a passion for me,” Dorsten says. “It’s a different world for me. I love songwriting and expressing myself through music. I want people to hear my music.”

Sophie Dorsten

THE ‘JANITORS OF THE MUSIC BUSINESS’ Pop Evil’s Leigh Kakaty will do anything to keep rock alive Christina Fuoco-Karasinski >> The Entertainer!


op Evil singer Leigh Kakaty takes offense to the phrase “rock is dead.” “Rock bands have been toward the bottom as far as other genres are concerned,” Kakaty says. “We all need to remind each other more than ever that we make great music and do great things. We do our part to be rock crusaders with education and interviews. We’re taking it one day at a time, so to speak.” As part of the crusade, Pop Evil has released a twin assault of singles—“Let the Chaos Reign” and “Work”—from its forthcoming, untitled sixth record. “Let the Chaos Reign” is Pop Evil’s heaviest single and encourages the listener to meet any challenge with courage and strength. “Work,” on the other hand, takes flashes of EDM and layers it with heavy guitars and a grooving rhythm. Kakaty says the two songs explore the duality between the “way left and way right” that Pop Evil explores musically. “That’s what we wanted to double down on on this album,” Kakaty says. ENTERTAINERMAG.COM

“We’re the only band that can give you that yin and yang. I always think about what we can do to better our live sound. We don’t want to play the same song over and over. We want peaks and valleys, ebb and flows.” With the new music, the COVID-19 pandemic played a hand in the music— but the fans did as well. “The fans inspired this new music,” Kakaty says. “When we were out there trying to put this record together, we wanted to put it out with a mission statement. We started to demo the infectious riff of ‘Chaos,’ and it snowballed into this anthem—this ‘me vs. you’ type of persona—that’s so fitting now. It’s been an ‘us against the virus’ all around the world.” Collectively, the band’s previous five albums account for over a million copies in worldwide sales and more than 600 million streams. Like its previous records, Pop Evil is excited to show its growth on the new album. “There’s a maturation process when you’re on to the sixth, seventh, eighth album,” he says. “After the fifth album, we were motivated to do different things and do different sounds sonically. “If you listen to most Pop Evil albums,

it’s like a greatest-hits record. The songs sound a lot different, but there’s a melodic chorus and a key in my voice that brings it all together.” Kakaty isn’t tired of carrying the rock torch, but he is frustrated with his fellow rockers who don’t help support the cause. Bands should do their part to inspire fans to listen to rock and encourage those from other genres to come on by. “New bands, they have to understand it’s not like the heyday,” Kakaty says.

“Rock ’n’ roll isn’t dead. We’re not all rich and famous and on TV. We’re the janitors of the music business. We work weekends, holidays and all night. We don’t get a break as a rock or metal band. We’re not one-hit wonders. We didn’t get that one song that made you famous. We’re going to keep putting it out, and you’re only as good as your last song.”

Pop Evil

HEALED AND RESTORED Cutting Crew reimagines songs with an orchestra THE ENTERTAINER! MAGAZINE JUNE 2020

Christina Fuoco-Karasinski >> The Entertainer!


hen Cutting Crew’s Nick Van Eede released the song “(I Just) Died in Your Arms,” he was frequently told he should perform it with an orchestra. Thirty-five years later, the singer did just that. With a sound that helped define the 1980s music scene, Cutting Crew returned with “Ransomed Healed Restored Forgiven,” featuring the band’s songs recreated with a full philharmonic orchestra and longtime guitarist Gareth Moulton. “Whenever we met any kind of producer or family member or anybody, they would say, ‘One day, your songs would work well with an orchestra,’” Van Eede says. “You dream of those kinds of things happening, but I thought we would leave well enough alone. That’s been drummed into me by my long-departed


father. To tackle something as big as ‘(I Just) Died in Your Arms,’ I enjoyed every minute of it.” The Grammy-nominated rock band was formed in England in 1985 by Van Eede with original guitarist, writer and fellow conspirator from Canada Kevin MacMichael. Within months, the band signed with Siren Records/Virgin on the strength of its demos. Cutting Crew, becoming a foursome in 1986, entered the studio the same year to record the multimillion-selling debut album “Broadcast,” one year before “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” exploded and made them stars at home and in the United States, where it hit No. 1. The song has found its way into films like “Hot Tub Time Machine,” “Stranger Things” and “Ash vs. Evil Dead.” “I’ve Been in Love Before” and “One for the Mockingbird” also enjoyed massive worldwide radio play, reaching the Top 10 and Top 20 Billboard singles charts, respectively. Throughout the years, Van Eede says his lyrics have changed meaning.

“Obviously, the lyrics can mean something at the time when you write them,” he says. “I’ve always been amazed by people who get in touch over the years. “For me, to sing them again, that was amazing. There was a lot of tissue on the floor. I’ve lost my dad, my brother, Kevin (MacMichael). Those lyrics, they take on a whole different tact. It was a privilege. I was scared at first and nervous at first.

“My lyrics—love them or hate them— you can read into them what you will. That’s great. We get a million versions of them.” Van Eede, who’s planning to write a book, is pleased that Cutting Crew is getting a “lovely” reaction to his new music. “Kevin wrote absolutely beautiful songs,” he says. “He would be proud of this album, because it’s all his music.”

which supports touring and venue crews. “It’s going to be a great experience,” he says about the show. “It’s going to be a nice escape for people at 2 p.m. Pacific on a Sunday. Most people who are working will still generally be at home. It’s going to look amazing on a SmartTV or a computer monitor or phone. It’s a great way to escape and forget about the craziness that’s going on.” Steel Panther—singer Michael Starr, guitarist Satchel, drummer Zadinia and bassist Lexxi Foxx—melds hard rock virtuosity with parody. The group, which recently released the album “Heavy Metal Rules,” has been making headlines with its daily video vignettes helping folks sheltering in place know what day of the week it is. The series has featured cameos by George Lopez, Corey Taylor of Slipknot/Stone Sour, Scott Ian of Anthrax, Jason Hook of Five Finger Death Punch and Joey Fatone of ’N Sync. “When we heard this thing was shutting down the world, I was in Canada getting ready to do a show and then we received the call to go home. There were no shows,” Zadinia says. “I freaked out for about two weeks. We didn’t know what was going to happen. Then, we got our bearings and started being very creative. We’re missing out on

a lot of revenue, but we have found other ways and we’re finding other ways to stay viable and entertaining. We’re trying to monetize what we can while being sensitive to the consumer.” With bands like Ratt performing in Geico commercials, ’80s-style heavy metal is making a comeback, but Steel Panther never went away. “We’ve been playing heavy metal since the late ’80s or early ’90s and never stopped,” he says. “Even when it went completely away, we said we were going to keep doing it. ... “Our demo is from 16 to 85. We create killer songs in the genre that they love.

Kids—I mean people 25 and younger— when they see Steel Panther, it’s fresh to them and it’s their band, too.” Zadinia, who was born Darren Leader, and the rest of Steel Panther give the fans credit for keeping the band going. “Without supporters and without fans, the coolest band in the world isn’t going to do what we do,” he says with a laugh. “It’s not lost on us. A band needs fans and we want to keep our entertainment fresh for people. The last thing we want to do is have fans say, ‘Oh yeah. I’ve seen that and turn it off. We want to keep it fresh and fun and interaction. That’s the name of the game.”

KEEPING METAL ALIVE Steel Panther is out to ‘save the world’ Christina Fuoco-Karasinski >> The Entertainer!


os Angeles rock legends Steel Panther want to save the world from quarantine boredom. The hair metal band will host the “Concert to Save the World” from an undisclosed location in LA at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 7, on steelpantherlive. “It’s not like a quarantine concert,” says drummer Stix Zadinia. “We’re going to be in the same room rocking—6 feet apart, of course— and giving the viewers the live music experience while being in their own living room. We’re going to have multiple cameras, and we’ll give things away and have interactive chats with the viewers.” The $15 tickets from the virtual concerts will benefit Heavenly Pets Animal Rescue in North Hollywood and Live Nation’s Crew Nation Fund,





The folk band MissThis brings music from a galaxy far, far away Endia Fontanez >> The Entertainer!


n day 18 of social isolation, Allie Nasr and Megan Nichols are on Zoom again, trying to figure out their musical future as the pandemic rages on. Nasr is wearing a sweatshirt adorned with ewoks, the fictional furry forest creatures seen in “Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi,” her long, brown hair hanging loosely past her shoulders. Nichols is snuggled under a blanket decorated with images of “Star Wars” spaceships, wearing a similarly designed black sweatshirt and a mint-colored headband to hold her blonde hair out of her face as they strategize from their laptops on how to write and release songs for their electric folk band, MissThis. Nasr, 26, the lead singer, guitarist and mandolin player, is an elementary music teacher for the Cave Creek Unified School District. Nichols, 27, the bassist, works as an admissions representative at General Assembly tech school Phoenix. Both women are working at home now, which makes it hard to collaborate musically. Still, they’re trying. They’re watching “Star Wars” movies for inspiration and writing love songs about nameless “Star Wars” characters. Star Wars aficionados would recognize the characters, like Rey and Kylo Ren, in the songs. But others might not, which ENTERTAINERMAG.COM

may explain why MissThis didn’t always have a large following. But their Spotify plays are growing now at a rapid rate.

WRITING SONGS ABOUT A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY The “Star Wars” themes that distinguish the music of MissThis made their way into the music by accident. In 2018, Nasr began writing a song about herself and her husband, Mathew. As she wrote, Nasr, a long-time “Star Wars” fan, said she noticed parallels between her personal love story and the chemistry between the beautiful scavenger-turnedJedi knight Rey and Kylo Ren, the son of Han Solo and Leia. “I think the big thing about Reylo (Rey and Kylo’s romance) is just the love connection and finding your other half, and the opposites and the yin and yang kind of thing,” Nasr says. When Nasr first showed the song to Nichols, she asked, “Is this about Reylo?” “I was kind of embarrassed at first,” Nasr says. “But she then was like, ‘Let’s roll with it,’ and we just did. We totally went for it, and we wrote the rest of it together and haven’t looked back.” This song was the first single, “StarCrossed,” which has garnered over 47,000 plays on Spotify since its release in 2018. Since then, MissThis has written more songs alluding to Reylo, as well as other “Star Wars” romances. This includes the love story between Anakin Skywalker

and Padme Amidala. The band’s latest single, “Rise,” was released in December 2019 in anticipation of the final film about the Skywalker family. Since the pandemic hit, the romantic song has over 30,000 plays on Spotify. In February, before news of the pandemic was widespread, the song had garnered only about 6,000 plays. Despite their frequent “Star Wars” inspiration, Nasr and Nichols say they want to make it clear that they do not only write music for franchise fans. “We start pumping out either a sad song or a love song, because that’s how we like to write,” Nichols says. The music might have “Star Wars” themes, but it’s intended for a general audience and “can still be interpreted any way,” she says.

A WORLD BETWEEN WORLDS Nasr and Nichols, childhood friends, began making music together when they attended Grand Canyon University. The women hoped to play more local shows and make a music video this summer, but the pandemic thwarted those plans. Now that the two women are stuck in their separate houses, Nasr says she realizes the importance of collaborating with Nichols. “I think you don’t really realize what you have until it’s taken away from you in a certain way, and that’s kind of what’s happened to us here,” Nasr says. Nichols finds that social isolation has

given her more time to focus on her music. She is learning to play the piano and practices her bass every night. She and Nasr hope that once stay-at-home orders are lifted they will have new songs to release over the course of the year. The women prize creativity over popularity but would still like their music to reach more people. “We just more naturally look more toward the creative outlet than, I guess for lack of better words, getting people’s attention,” Nichols says. “If people want to hop along and come with us on our storytelling ride, then that’s great,” Nasr says. “Obviously we want to get better at marketing ourselves and putting ourselves out there, but I think at the end of the day it’s really, really nice to be able to just create and write and arrange.”

THE RISE OF FEMALE FANDOM “Star Wars” entered American pop culture in 1977, when “Episode IV” was released. Since then, there have been many movie sequels and the films have amassed super fans who even dedicate rooms in their homes to memorabilia collections from movies, comic conventions, toy stores, fast-food restaurant promotions and “Star Wars”themed events. Since its debut, the franchise as a whole has made more than $10.32 billion in worldwide box office revenue. “Star Wars” characters like Luke



ROAD TRIPPIN’ WITH MY FRIEND Find 5 Great Day Trips From the Valley

Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are cultural icons, brave Jedi knights who fight for justice and hope. It wasn’t until 2015 that a female Jedi knight rose to become a new hero: Rey. Nasr and Nichols say they were greatly inspired by Rey and that the emotional and moving journey she goes on over the course of the sequel trilogy has been a significant part of what has inspired them to make music for MissThis. “Having a female hero being the central character and getting to watch her develop and have her own heroine’s journey has really changed it for a lot of women,” Nasr says. “That’s why I was recaptured again.” Nichols adds, “The whole sequel trilogy she was supposed to be a nobody, and that’s cool and that’s OK. I liked that. But I thought it was cool that she didn’t have to have a connection to any of the main family in the other movies.” Rey’s story of coming from nowhere and finding a place for herself within the galaxy as the last Jedi, Nasr says, mirrors the journey that many young women have experienced as they become integrated into one of the largest maledominated fandoms in the world. “You can be who you are and still be important, and I think for women in

general, it was kind of like you don’t have to be an old fan to be in this,” Nasr says. “I think the sequel trilogy finally opened up women to that experience.”

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE Even as they quarantine themselves in their separate houses, the women of MissThis have been hard at work and plan to continue doing so for the duration of the pandemic. Nichols has been playing music every night using the in-home studio shared by her and her husband, another local musician, who calls himself Laroshi. Nasr says she is in the process of getting her own recording equipment so the two bandmates can practice cutting their own pieces of tracks and sending them to each other to complete separately as they social distance. “If we’re in this for the long haul, we’ll still be pumping out music for the foreseeable future,” Nasr says. In the meantime, Nichols says, MissThis hopes to retain the spike in plays they have been receiving recently and to stay in contact with their listeners on social media. “We’re still making music,” Nichols says. “We haven’t disappeared.” ENTERTAINERMAG.COM




Uncle Kracker finds the perfect quarantine companion Christina Fuoco-Karasinski >> The Entertainer!


he COVID-19 pandemic hit home for Uncle Kracker, as his grandmother died from the illness. “I understand the seriousness of it all too well,” says Uncle Kracker, born Matt Shafer. Still, that didn’t keep Uncle Kracker from injecting humor into the situation. While hunkered down, he connected with Trick Pony’s Ira Dean and longtime collaborator Frederick Beauregard (also known as Paradime) to write “No Time to Be Sober.” The song that deals with passing the time in isolation was produced and engineered by Josh Bright. “God knows I’ve had plenty of time in this house to reflect,” Uncle Kracker says. “The only real good thing I could come up with is that she is with my grandpa now, sipping on some Baileys while he’s drinking a Bud Light. This one’s for them. They lived through

tougher times than these and taught me how to make the best of every situation. This song is nothing more than that.” Known as Kid Rock’s original DJ, the Detroit-based singer and songwriter made his solo debut with 2001’s No. 1 smash “Follow Me,” kicking off a run of top 10 multiformat hits like “In a Little While,” “Smile” and, of course, 2003’s record-setting cover of Dobie Gray’s classic “Drift Away.” Once thing he’s maintained is his habit of overthinking. He didn’t obsess too much about “No Time to Be Sober.” “I let ‘No Time to Be Sober’ happen more organically than staring at it and redoing it,” he says. “I’m used to writing on the back of my cigarette pack or on a napkin or something like that and shoving it away for later. Finishing it is the hard part—to be able to say I’m done and put it in the Fed Ex envelope.” For the accompanying video, he enlisted his daughters, Madison Blue Shafer and Troy Averie Shafer, to shoot, direct and edit it. He says it was a good way of keeping them in line.

“They get in their car and run out and do things,” Uncle Kracker says. “I worry about everyone. I worry for other people, especially people who are compromised. I take shots once a week—Humira—to suppress my immune system. My oldest daughter is diabetic. You keep hearing more and more about that. “My daughter was diagnosed with

Type 1 diabetes at 11, and she’ll be 21 in a couple weeks. I worry when she stubs her toe. I worry about the neighbors and my buddy down the street. These are strange times.”

raising project. “We’re all in isolation to prevent anything from happening,” he says. “Still, there a lot of people who can’t do that. We wanted to be able to say that even though everything’s spinning around, you can still get through it and still find peace.” Archuleta says he handled the pandemic well. He was supposed to be on tour, but like other jaunts and gatherings, it was postponed. “It’s not bad,” he says. “When I heard that, that’s when I realized how serious it was. We were watching the news and we

thought we needed to postpone the tour. “I can still release music online and still do interviews on the phone or Zoom, Skype or Instagram. I can connect with people and perform in a smaller or more simple way online. I was lucky. I went to the grocery store and bought all kinds of stuff before it started getting really intense. I haven’t had to go to the grocery store.”

Uncle Kracker

Just Breathe David Archuleta releases a song for the times

Christina Fuoco-Karasinski >> The Entertainer!


avid Archuleta understands that many people are heartbroken, anxious and depressed during this pandemic. To help ease those feelings, he released the song “Just Breathe.” The accompanying video highlights front-line health care workers from Valleywise Health, formerly known as Maricopa Integrated Health System. The video features clips from Valleywise Health’s first discharge of a COVID-19 patient on April 10. The video shows nurses and employees clapping as the patient is wheeled through the lobby of Valleywise Health Medical Center in Phoenix. To see the video, visit “I felt like it was timely to work on this project and have it come out during this time,” Archuleta says from his Nashville home. “People need to feel relief and to ENTERTAINERMAG.COM

find peace in tumultuous times. I needed to get this song out.” Valleywise was equally as touched by the inclusion. “Seeing the Valleywise Health patient discharge video in the beautifully written ‘Just Breathe’ video was incredible,” says Jo-el Detzel, vice president, ancillary and support services at Valleywise Health. “It really illustrates all of the trials and tribulations that we have all had to endure through this pandemic. The support for all health care workers is evident and a true breath of fresh air, and on behalf of all our amazing staff that came together to provide exceptional care, we appreciate the opportunity to share that joyful experience of seeing our patient going home with the world.” The Nashville-based artist, who became a star at age 16 through his appearances on “American Idol” season 7, filmed the video entirely in selfquarantine. Valleywise Health provided the video to support Archuleta’s fund-

David Archuleta “Just Breathe”

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