The Greater Oro Valley Arts Council is venturing farther east than usual to the La Encantada shopping center for its summer concert series this year.
Beginning Saturday, June 28, the series will feature a variety of artists whose styles range from jazz and blues to flamenco, and from rock and roll to country.
“It will be very relaxing,” said GOVAC director Kate Marquez. “It’s a great view from La Encantada. It’s really got a great ambiance.”
When GOVAC was looking for new locations for its events, Marquez said La Encantada, at 2905 E. Skyline Drive, offered something the organization couldn’t refuse.
“They donated the space, they donated marketing efforts,” Marquez said. “Everything that we usually have to pay for … they were able to donate. We can actually use this as a fund-raising event.”
The first event in the series is a performance by cowboy poet Bud Strom and country musician Jack Bishop.
Strom says he encapsulates the cowboy way of life in his poems.
“It can be very revealing and maybe sensitive stuff,” he said. “Like when you are dealing with animals that are sick or that might have to be put down. The poetry I write is all true. I’m not that clever to make that stuff up.”
Strom has not always been a poet, and he hasn’t always been a cowboy.
He got his degree from the University of Illinois and then joined the U.S. Army in 1955. Strom served in Vietnam from 1972 to 1973. Following his career in the Army, he received his master’s degree from Boston University.
Now, Strom takes care of his animals on a ranch in Southern Arizona near the Mexican border.
While he was in Vietnam, he said there was a point when he thought he wasn’t going to make it back, so he scribbled down a couple of poems. He said he dropped his pen after realizing how dark they were and said, “I’m never going to do that again.”
In 1998, Strom went on a Montana cattle drive, where he heard his first cowboy poems by nationally recognized Baxter Black and Wallace McRae.
Strom said he hadn’t realized that you could tell about your lifestyle in such a short, powerful and effective manner so it could be understood and appreciated by people from all walks of life.
Now, 10 years later, Strom has two books and a CD. He teaches, on average, 17,000 children each year about poetry.
The second event of the GOVAC series, on Saturday, July 19, will have a rock feel and feature the group Sunday Afternoon. On Saturday, Aug. 9, GOVAC will offer a blues night with the Bryan Dean Trio. GOVAC will finish the musical series with a night of flamenco music with Sentido and special guest Barbara Schuessler, known as “La Flamencista,” on Saturday, Aug. 23.
All concerts start at 7 p.m.
Tickets for Cowboy Night are $10 in advance and $13 at the door. Tickets for the other three events are $7 in advance and $10 at the door.
Along with the entertainment, eateries at La Encantada will offer food created to accompany the feel of each evening, along with beer and wine.
For more information go to www.govac.org.