FIRST, THE WEEKEND: Suitably loud, punctuated with the perfect amount of Sunday rain — the vervy, reflection-rich metropolitan kind that politely hurries you along from car to storefront, from car to front door, instead of some plain, stupid, morale-draining, vengeful soak. This rain was restrained but, you know, still appropriately sentimental. Perhaps it was the mimosas creating a feelzy blur. But that was Sunday.
Let’s talk about Friday Dec. 10 first. Dinner with friends. I hit a steak hard at Main Street Provisions, whose newish chef, well-pedigreed from the Strip, hones the basics and continues to. Glugs of wine, and for dessert, my embarrassing go-to, my personal legal upper: The Dark of Night, Main Street’s version of an espresso martini with a galactic spray of shredded coffee on top. Makes your pulse thrive anew in your eyeballs.
I was thusly fortified for Cork and Thorn. If you haven’t been, go. Back-alley intake, chain-linked, security-guarded, opening into a lux-industrial space that’s velvety and quasi-clubby, but not obnoxiously. Aspirational DTLV glam thing going on. It was “Uncork Your Thoughts” night hosted by Spotlight Poetry maven Elle Hope. If you want to crash your idea of what open mic is or should be, this is the place for the collision: a mumblecore poet here, an eruption of explosive rap acts, bookended by neoclassic, veteran spoken-word artists spitting metered and rhythmic truth, including Hope herself.
Saturday, hit Mariachi Herencia de México at UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall. They were down a few members due to COVID, but speaking of eruption: They did too, a tornado of horns, strings, even a harp, all soldiered up, tight-clad in embroidered burgundy. Mariachi’s propulsive histrionics, gritos and all, served them well in what I suppose you’d call “venerable” Artemus Ham Hall: The band, constantly shuffling configurations, broke the shell of occasional muddy acoustics with ballistic vocal notes. Afterwards, starving, hellaciously: Hit Starboard Tack for their famous-to-me-but-should-be-to-everyone cheeseburger and, nice thematic throughline, DJs spinning cumbia and rock en Español to cuff-jeaned and Bettie-banged rock ‘n’ rollers. Anyway.
HERE ARE SOME cool things to do this week, Dec. 13-18.
Tuesday Dec. 13: Babes & Blues Holiday Special at The Usual Place. Local beloveds The Hypnotiques soundtrack this seasonal show of fine dancing ladies, including Banburry Cross, Miss Miranda, Isabelle Marie, Ginger Watson, and Victoria Jade. I have this outdated conception of The Usual Place as a theater venue. Its easy roominess makes me excited to check out more shows there.
Wednesday Dec. 14: UNLV Jazz: Jazz Vocal Ensembles and Studio Scarlet at the Clark County Library. UNLV’s music machine showcases its best student performers from the UNLV School of Music, Division of Jazz and Commercial Music. Think choral jazz, likely studded with seasonal notes.
Thursday Dec. 15 at Sahara West Library: One of my favorite exhibit spaces hosts a three-fer gallery reception night for three shows: Chad Scott’s Seven Years in the Desert (pictured); Ozzy Villate’s In Too the Light; and Clay Arts Vegas’s Finding Inspiration. Chad Scott’s work is intensive both formally and emotionally: His mode of generating art through repetitive marking is a channel for processing personal trauma.
Also Thursday Dec. 15 at Priscilla Fowler Gallery: Ceramicist Miguel Rodriguez delivers an artist talk. Miguel’s work is rich in commentary that hovers just above my IQ, but it’s never freighted. That’s because they’re just pleasing to surround with a slow, pensive gawk, and that’s sufficiently fulfilling. The technical nudity1 of sculpture is forgiving, and inviting, that way.
Friday Dec. 16 and Saturday Dec. 17 at Charleston Heights Art Center: A Cool Yule by Contemporary West Dance Theatre. I am guilty of overusing the word “rigor” when it comes to CWDT, but I will demur on apologizing. I suspect this unsung dance troupe will purvey some holiday dance programming with some intense, perhaps outré, panache and a touch of experimental zigzag.
I guess what I’m trying to say is its formal transparency, i.e., you can pretty much infer the process from the result. This isn’t an idea, but rather an impression. I’m probably wrong.