(Published by Arizona Daily Wildcat on Sept. 12, 2013.)
This weekend, artists, bands and vendors will dominate the streets of downtown Tucson with the school year’s first production of 2nd Saturdays Downtown.
Downtown Tucson’s Providence Service Corporation began to support the entertainment series known as 2nd Saturdays in May 2010 in order to expose the community to art, music, fashion and a spread of culture unlike anything else in Tucson, according to 2nd Saturdays’ website. As the series’ name suggests, it recurs the second Saturday of every month and features local bands, food and jewelry vendors, “pop-up” retailers and several visual arts acts that will cover the length of Congress Street.
“Communities define events, and events define communities; that’s pretty much always been the case,” said Steven Kreamer, 2nd Saturdays vendor coordinator. “It’s a great community identifier … Every 2nd Saturday is another introduction to segments of the Tucson population and demographic, and that didn’t happen before.”
This weekend, 2nd Saturdays will feature several music acts, many of which are local. The groups include returning 2nd Saturdays performers Roth D’Lux, Annon & The Late Show and newcomer Carolyn Martin. Each act was carefully selected based on talent and the ability to bring fresh sound to downtown Tucson, said Jamie Manser, 2nd Saturdays music and entertainment coordinator, adding that it’s something important for students to hear.
“Tucson needs to know about the great depths and breadths of musicians in this town,” Manser said. “We have amazing musicians and artists, and a lot of people who aren’t used to coming downtown and being a part of the art and music culture aren’t really aware of that part of the community. 2nd Saturdays gives them a chance to understand that.”
Indiana-based band Annon & The Late Show is excited to return to Scott Avenue Stage and hopes to expand its growing fan base with the performance, said the band’s frontman, Roderick Annon.
“It’s a lot of fun playing there — huge crowd,” said Annon. “For me, it’s about trying to be heard and trying to get going.”
2nd Saturdays is an important venue for both the artists playing and for local residents, especially college students, to come out and listen, Annon added.
“It gives them a chance to hear something different … to hear what’s out there,” Annon said. “It gives the people a chance to hear everything, possibly before it goes out on the road, because once you’re out there you’re gone.”
Husband and wife Daniel and Ginette Roth, who make up Roth D’Lux, said they look forward to their second appearance playing in downtown Tucson and enjoy being a part of 2nd Saturdays.
“It’s quite unique,” Daniel Roth said. “I’ve lived in a lot of different cities, and Tucson itself is a very unique place and is very down to Earth. It’s a wide range of food and experiences downtown, and I don’t think there’s many cities around that do this kind of thing.”
Along with showcasing the talents of various musicians, the event is also known for its variety of face painters and jewelry, clothing and food vendors, who will each bring something different to the table.
“We have a wide selection of menus from our food vendors — from Korean tacos to tamales, to Greek Food, to hot dogs,” Kreamer said.
Downtown restaurants and street vendors will offer food and menus exclusive to 2nd Saturdays that should not be missed, said craft vendor Cass McGinty.
For McGinty, owner of Wild Women of AZ, this weekend marks her fourth 2nd Saturday event. McGinty will be selling specialty items including figurines crafted with jewels and wire that can be personalized with different charms in the shape of women.
McGinty said she loves participating in the event and is excited about the impact it has on the community.
“It brings people together,” McGinty said. “It gets people out of the house and into an open-mixing, open-air arena where there’s music, food — and that’s a lot of fun.”
McGinty added that her favorite part of the event is meeting new people and watching the performances, especially from circus-inspired performance troupe Cirque Roots, which will take the stage between music acts.
The group is known for hula hooping, stilting, acrobatics, juggling and aerial arts, and is a returning participant in 2nd Saturdays, said member Stephanie Cortes.
“We love sharing what we do with the community,” Cortes said. “It keeps downtown alive and keeps art and culture happening … It can be really inspiring if university students want to go beyond campus and see what else is out there in Tucson.”
With streetcar construction virtually absent in downtown and plenty of open areas to park and explore, there’s nothing to stop 2nd Saturdays from thriving this weekend, Manser said.
Some of the musicians she booked agree.
“You don’t see a mix of people like this anywhere in Tucson at any given festival other than 2nd Saturdays,” Daniel Roth said. “You’ve got some upper-class venues and you’ve got some pretty grungy stuff going on, too … It’s a feast for the soul.”