Chart-Topping Country Music Stars Lee Brice and Craig Morgan to Headline KNIX BBQ & Beer Festival

Valley residents are invited to kick back and enjoy tasty BBQ, hot country music and a day of family fun at the 11th annual KNIX BBQ & Beer Festival. In partnership with iHeart Media and 102.5 KNIX, Lee Brice and Craig Morgan will co-headline the event, Saturday, March 28.

Known as the largest BBQ event west of Texas and awarded “outstanding event of the year,” the KNIX BBQ & Beer Festival will feature national and locally recognized BBQ pit masters while showcasing over a dozen cocktails and beers to wash it down with.

This family-friendly event offers the ‘For the Love of BBQ’ Lounge, VIP tent, Bourbon Street, BBQ Pit Row, March Madness zone, Live & Local arena, Kid Kick-Back zone, petting zoo, carnival and other interactive experiences. Additionally, a portion of the event’s proceeds will be donated to the Greater Cause Foundation.

A few of the restaurant purveyors that will be dishin’ up the ‘Q: Blazin Bronco BBQ, Bobby-Q BBQ, Can’t Stop Smokin’ Bar-B-Q, The Corndog Company AZ, Drivewood Fired Grill, Famous Dave’s BBQ, FarmBoy Market, Meats & Sandwiches, Honey Bear’s BBQ, Rudy’s BBQ and Tom’s BBQ,

The event’s multiple stages will provide country music lovers uninterrupted live performances throughout the day. In addition to Brice and Morgan, the lineup also includes country music superstars Locash, and Caylee Hammack. Local talent Jim Bachman & the Day Drinkers, Blaine Long, Drew Cooper and Jacob Morris will also perform.

“This is an incredible musical line-up,” said Landon Evans, owner of HDE Agency, the event organizer. “We are thrilled to partner with iHeart and KNIX to be able to bring this star-studded festival to Chandler for one of our largest events of the year.”

The festivities will take place at Tumbleweed Park located at 745 East Germann Road in Chandler with gates opening at noon with the fun lasting until 10pm. For more information about KNIX BBQ & Beer Festival, musical performers, BBQ offerings and tickets visit www.chandlerbbq.com.

Whiskey and Popcorn Reviews: Netflix Snapped up ‘The 40-Year-Old Version’ at Sundance 2020

Tuesday Mahrle and Kaely Monahan

—By Kaely Monahan and Tuesday Mahrle

Radha, a once-promising playwright, is facing the “Big 4-0” with little, in her mind, to show for it. Caught questioning her abilities as an artist and frustrated with being pigeon-holed as a black artist, she breaks away from it all to become a rapper.

The 40-Year-Old Version is by far the funniest film we saw at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

Radha Blank appears in The 40-Year-Old Version by Radha Blank, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Jeong Park.

Witty without being too on-the-nose, director, writer and lead actress, Radha Blank neatly captured the real struggles of creative fatigue and fears of aging that’s all too relatable. For a debut feature film, Blank delivers an authentic story about facing ourselves as we are now.

Watch out for this film on Netflix.  


Whiskey and Popcorn is a movie podcast by local film critics Kaely Monahan and Tuesday Mahrle. You can hear their full movie reviews on whiskeyandpopcorn.org.

Aid to Adoption of Special Kids Recruiting Volunteer Camp Counselors — Deadline to Apply is March 15

By Clint Williams, Aid to Adoption of Special Kids – AASK

Camp volunteer John Hicks offers guidance on the archer range during the 2019 AASK Sibling Summer Camp.

Hiking and kayaking in the cool high country near Payson is a great way to spend a week in June. And doing it while bringing smiles to the faces of children in foster care is even better.

The Seventh Annual AASK Sibling Summer Camp is recruiting volunteer counselors for a week of adventure at Camp Tontozona near Payson starting June 14.

Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK) each summer brings siblings in foster care together for a week of fun and an opportunity to reconnect.

“Sibling relationships are usually our longest lasting relationships and one of the most important relationships we have,” says JoAnne Chiariello, director of family support services at AASK.

“But children in foster care are often placed in foster homes or group homes apart from their brothers and sisters,” says Chiariello.

Research shows that strong, positive sibling relationships are associated with less loneliness, fewer behavioral problems and higher self-worth.

Camp activities include swimming, hiking, kayaking, horseback ridings and rappelling. A magician will entertain kids and counselors one night. There is a birthday celebration in which everyone gets a cake and siblings exchange presents.

Volunteer camp counselors are a vital component to the success of the camp. Counselors need to be up to the challenges of hiking, kayaking and horseback riding. Volunteers must complete a fingerprint background screening and attend a training session.

For more information, contact Amanda Gonzales at 602.930.4482 or go online at www.aask-az.org/volunteer. The deadline to apply is March 15.

HER Certified Auto Review: Hanging Out at the Hangar — 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD

Click to learn more about Cathy.

By Cathy Droz –

I fell in love with this vehicle the first time I drove it. There is something about the style, the grille, the serpent and cross emblem that makes you feel like you are driving through the Italian mountains of Lake Como.

To my surprise, while visiting North Scottsdale Alfa Romeo, I watched Alice Cooper sign over 100 Guitars for the dealership’s annual giveaway, buy a CAR get a GUITAR.  As if that wasn’t enough, I went on to visit Nelson and Mitch at their Helicopter Hangar to get a beautiful shot of the Stelvio.

It was a great week of test driving this sports car but the question most people asked was, “Why is there a four-leaf clover on an Italian car?” (Maybe it was why I had such a “lucky” week.) If you too were wondering here is the why.

When Alfa Romeo has a four-leaf clover on their cars, it’s on their Quadrifoglio (performance cars) and it has more meaning than a leprechaun might imagine.

The four-leaf clover logo denoting the Quadrifoglio designation was originally used by Ugo Sivocci, a friend of Enzo Ferrari, as a good luck charm. He painted it on the grille of his Alfa Romeo RL and won the 1923 Targa Florio. Alfa Romeo began using it on all its race cars after Sivocci died in a crash a few months later.

STANDARD FEATURES INCLUDE:

  • Alfa DNA Pro Drive Mode System with Race Mode
  • Engine Cover with “Quadrifolglio” Badge
  • Blind-Spot and Cross-Path Detection
  • Hill Descent Control
  • Carbon Fiber Drive Shaft
  • Torque Vectoring Differential

INTERIOR FEATURES INCLUDE:

  • 8.8-inch AM/FM/HD Radio with Navigation
  • Harman Kardon Premium Audio
  • Quadrifoglio Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel
  • Steering Column-Mounted Aluminum Paddle Shifters

EXTERIOR FEATURES INCLUDE:

  • Pirelli Brand Tires

OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT:

  • Trofeo White Tri-Coat Exterior Paint
  • Driver Assistance Dynamic Package includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic High Beam Headlamp Control, Infrared Windshield
  • Dynamic Dual Mode Exhaust
  • Colored Brake Calipers

For more information, visit www.alfaromeousa.com.

MPG: 17, City; 23, Highway

MSRP: Base Price for Vehicle, $80,245

Price of Vehicle Tested: $88,540


For additional HER Certified Auto Reviews, visit www.hercertified.com.


Photos courtesy of Alfa Romeo

Musings for March 2020

Rabbi_headshot2

Click to learn more about Rabbi Kravitz

By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. 

With so much activity locally, nationally, globally speeding by us daily, I think it might be an appropriate time to take a few moments to sit back, relax and reflect on that stampede of news, sports, traffic that tramples us daily.

This month of March is a great way to start that dreamy interlude. In the play Oklahoma there is a song about March, which comes in “like a lion — a whippin’ up the water in the bay.” The quiet month of March at its beginning — no longer quiet. Now a wild and ferocious 31-days. What’s happening that causes such a critical transition from benign to nearly violent?

Daylight Savings Time — becomes “curiouser and curiouser” to quote the fabled monkey George. Although our state thankfully does not comport with most of the rest of the USA, this time-travel is silly. When in my lifetime, or yours, has anyone seen farmworkers who are out picking field crops, requesting more daylight? When in a blazing 113-degrees Fahrenheit Arizona summer has anyone requested more sunlight, heat? And what school system has so much in reserve monies that it doesn’t care how much it costs to air-condition their school buildings? Need extra personal outdoors time, switch your start time to whenever its cooler, change your watch, and drink a lot of water. “L’chaim!!”

St. Patrick’s Day — a bigger festival time in the USA than it is in its home country Ireland. Prompted by initiatives to be green — but not in the global warming sense — St. Pat’s Day is a fun day, unless it falls near a weekend during which several days may be set aside to remember the Irish Priest. Clogging, soda bread, corned beef and cabbage and of course beer — or green bagels (my attempt at humoring intergroup relations for more than a decade). “L’chaim!!”

Purim — the Hebrew word translates as ‘lots’ as in lottery. This annual Jewish holiday based on the Book of Esther recounts another occasion where the challenge to an anti-Semitic megalomaniac succeeds. Our heroine, Queen Esther — whose true name is Hadassah — facilitates the downfall of a wicked Persian Minister. His plan to choose the day (by casting lots) for the extermination of the Jewish community backfires. The Queen details to the King the palace intrigue surrounding the plan to misappropriate the royal document seal. A time of revelry in Jewish communities worldwide. “L’chaim!!”

With so many festive times, special events, activities and creative opportunities for revelry and celebration our formerly quiet month of March has become a beast, busy at least in the sense of filling huge amounts of time and space with big stuff. Reflecting on the once quiet month of March now is exhausting with so much zipping by.

I am going to need more time for musing and lying back on a lawn-chair looking up at the clear March sky, while conjuring up and fantasizing about all the animals and their antics up in the clouds.


Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D., is known Valley-wide for his more than three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement. A volunteer police chaplain, he regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at rrlkdd@hotmail.com.


Photo: K. Miller

Desert Foothills Family YMCA Kicks Off ‘Livestrong’ Program

Carol Maxfield, pictured on the left, is a volunteer and a graduate of the first Livestrong program at Desert Foothills Family YMCA. Read her personal journey below.

The Desert Foothills Family YMCA (Y) and the Livestrong® Foundation joined together to create Livestrong at the YMCA, a physical activity and well-being program designed to help adult cancer survivors achieve their holistic health goals.

The research-based program offers people affected by cancer a safe, supportive environment to participate in physical and social activities focused on strengthening the whole person. Participants work with Y staff trained in supportive cancer care to achieve their goals such as building muscle mass and strength; increasing flexibility and endurance; and improving confidence and self-esteem. In addition to physical benefits, Livestrong at the YMCA focuses on the emotional well-being of survivors and their families by providing a supportive community where people impacted by cancer can connect during treatment and beyond. By focusing on the whole person and not the disease, Livestrong at the YMCA helps people move beyond cancer in spirit, mind and body.

Livestrong at the YMCA is a free 12-week small-group fitness program for adult cancer survivors. The program focuses on improving cardiovascular fitness, strength and balance to regain overall health. Classes meet twice a week for 75 minutes. Participants will receive a free Y membership for the session’s duration.

Program Goals:

  • Improve energy levels and self-esteem
  • Build muscle mass and strength
  • Increase flexibility and endurance
  • Improve ability to do everyday tasks
  • Develop an ongoing fitness plan to continue practicing a healthy lifestyle.

Those who are interested in sponsoring the Livestrong at the YMCA program may donate at https://valleyymca.org/donatedffy — $250 supports one participant, $1,000 supports a class of four participants — or contact Allie Avishai, associate executive director Desert Foothills Family YMCA, at allie.avishai@vosymca.org or 602.212.6058. The next program at Desert Foothills Y kicks off March 3.

Carol Maxfield, pictured above, is a volunteer and a graduate of the first Livestrong program at Desert Foothills Family YMCA. Here is her personal journey, in her words:

My name is Carol Maxfield and I am a volunteer at Desert Foothills YMCA. I am here representing the LiveStrong Program for cancer survivors.

Let me ask you a rhetorical question.  How many of you know someone who has cancer?

My guess is that you all do.  Friends, family members, co-workers …. it seems to be everywhere.  I never thought I would be included in the ranks of those who have the disease, but I am, and  I remember September 9, 2016 like it was yesterday, when my husband and I  heard the terrifying words, “you have Stage 4 ovarian cancer.”  How could this happen to me?  In a split second my life as I had always know it, and the future my husband and I had always planned, was forever changed. Of course there were treatments, Dr’s appointments, good days, bad days – it all comes with the diagnosis. 

I don’t share this with you because I want sympathy — I share this with you because 3½ years later I AM standing in front of you today. When I completed my treatments I knew I needed to take back control of my new life. One of the things that has allowed me to do that is the Live Strong Program offered thru the Desert Foothills YMCA. This program believes that our Drs have done their part, it is now up to the survivor to take their life back and start building their new norm with a healthier body and mind.

LiveStrong is a 12-week physical activity program that meets 2 times a week and is designed to get survivors back on their feet after a cancer diagnosis and/or treatment. During the 12 week program, membership to the Desert Foothills YMCA is complementary for the participants. The primary focus is helping our participants to strengthen their bodies through a series of closely monitored exercise routines. They receive encouragement, work-out in a safe environment, and most importantly have FUN.  Accordingly, our program is tailored to each individual’s fitness level, disease state and stage of treatment.  They learn exercises that can be continued in whatever phase their journey presents itself. They have all seen remarkable results in their stamina, strength and the ability to return to doing some of the things that have always made their life fulfilling

The program is blessed to have a certified group fitness trainer and a compassionate facilitator at its helm, Laurie Satter. She has also become one of my best friends. Two other LS graduates are also volunteers for the program and we all help Laurie in any way we can. Each of us is a cancer survivor and has experienced its benefits firsthand and want to give back. For me, it has become a passion to help the program succeed. We have all joined forces to make a difference in someone else’s life and to continue growing the program. 

Our program is not just an exercise regimen. Laurie and I believe the mind is an integral part of recovery. We try to create an environment of trust. We have heard over and over that having a place to come together with other survivors and be able to share, is key. Knowing that you are surrounded by the support and care from others, who intimately know all that you have experienced in ways no one else can understand, has given a voice back to all of us. We ARE a big family.

We are the exercise program with a heart.

Since its inception at Desert Foothills and Laurie took the helm, LiveStrong has graduated 6 classes. Several of those graduates are with us tonight. Feel free to ask them any questions about their own experiences. They are all strong, compassionate and remarkable women and are easily recognized by the t-shirt they are wearing.

Meet the Makers who are Redefining the Flavor of American Cuisine — ‘tasteMAKERS’ hosts Phoenix Event Feb. 29 at Unexpected Art Gallery

If you travel to the top of the Sacaton Mountains, acres of historic land will surround you — land that was once rich, green, full of life, but later became arid. When Ramona Button was a child, her father brought her to a mountain peak overlooking the Valley, and told her that his dream was for her to restore the land and with it, the disappearing tepary bean and the agricultural tradition of the Akimel O’Odham community. Beginning in 1974 with a push from local elders, using two pickle jars full of white and brown beans her father saved for her, Button embarked on this mission. Today, because of her and her family, tepary beans are back — cultivated as food for the body and the soul.

In the second season of “tasteMAKERS,” which airs on public television stations nationwide, Emmy-winning producer and host Cat Neville travels to Phoenix to explore the impact that Ramona Farms and the revival of the tepary bean has had on the Gila River Indian Community. The episode highlights the history and sacrifice that went into the creation of Ramona Farms while emphasizing the importance of indigenous culture and recognizing foods unique to Arizona. Featured in the episode are Kai Restaurant and Cotton & Copper, both of which include Button’s tepary beans in a variety of their offerings. The episode also features Michael Preston of the Akimel O’odham/Pee-Posh Youth Council, who uses tepary beans and other traditional ingredients as a way to help connect the Gila River Indian Community’s youth to their cultural history through food.

“Ramona and her family are doing more than cultivating heritage crops,” says Neville. “They are connecting their community as well as others with the history and rich agricultural heritage of the Akimel O’odham people through these traditional foods, which were almost lost to history when Ramona began growing the beans in the 1970s.”

In the episode, Velvet says that through cooking with intention and appreciating that tepary beans are a gift, she and her mother are able to preserve the traditional flavors of their community. The episode also notes that Button and her daughter, Velvet, frequently host classes and teach the proper techniques associated with cooking tepary beans and other products from the farm like heritage wheat and ancient varieties of corn.

As part of its mission to connect makers, farmers and chefs with their communities, “tasteMAKERS” hosts Meet the Makers events in key cities across the U.S. On Feb. 29, tasteMAKERS’ Neville, will host Meet the Makers at Unexpected Art Gallery in Phoenix. The event will feature segments from the Arizona episode, plus interviews and demos with Velvet Button, Michael Preston, chef Tamara Stanger of Cotton & Copper and chef Ryan Swanson of Kai Restaurant.

“Meet the Makers is a fantastic way to highlight local makers and the foods they are bringing to their communities,” Neville said. “To us, it’s not only about good food, but also spreading a cultural movement. We are thrilled to watch first-hand as event attendees learn about the culture, flavor and stories behind these unique artisan chefs.”

Following the live program, attendees will enjoy a pop-up Makers Market featuring Phoenix makers, including Fairytale Brownies, Raul’s Cocina, Untamed Confections, Mi Salsa, Queen Creek Olive Mill, Iconic Cocktail Co. and Hope’s Artisan Breads. Like Button, these makers use equal parts precision and passion in each part of the cooking process to define the flavor of Phoenix cuisine.

Doors open at 1:30pm, the live program begins at 2pm, with the Makers Market scheduled to begin at 3pm. For more information about dates, specific vendors and location details, visit www.watchtastemakers.com/meet-the-makers-phoenix. Use the code “tastemakers50” to receive 50 percent off of tickets.

A Healthy ‘Thank You’ to Nurses from Brunch Café

Pictured, L-R: Nurses Amy George and Katie Wall enjoy a stop at Brunch Café.

Here’s a delicious “thank you” to all nurses from the Brunch Café in Scottsdale. Every morning year-round, from 6:30am to 10am, all nurses are invited to stop in and enjoy 50 percent off all drinks on the menu plus a complimentary chocolate-covered strawberry. Drinks on the menu include specialty coffee drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos, delicious fruit smoothies, cold press juices, flavored lemonades, iced teas, coffee, hot tea and much more.

Brunch Café is located at 15507 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 100. Nurses must show their nursing ID to receive the special offer. For more information, call Brunch Café at 480.398.7174 or visit www.brunchcafe.com.

Love Is All There Is!

— By Michele Guy Syne

February is the month for Valentines…a time to express our love and appreciation for our partners, our family and our friends.

Love is the Magic that bonds us in our relationships, and relationships are what allow us to discover our true Essence. Here are five suggestions for how to build, maintain, nurture and grow our relationships.

Always Be Gentle and Kind: Do you know that an act of kindness releases endorphins, and oxytocin in the donor, the recipient and anyone watching that act of kindness. Endorphins are the brains natural painkiller, and oxytocin is the hormone of love. Acts of kindness make everyone feel good. And feeling good is good for our mental health, and also our physical health.

Be Considerate and Respectful: Open the door for someone. Bring home flowers. Send a text just to see how someone is doing…let them know we are thinking of them. Smile at a stranger. Take out the garbage (without being asked to). Set the table for dinner. Make someone’s day.

Always Assume the Positive Intent: Everyone is only trying to satisfy their needs, and until we walk a mile in their shoes…we may never know what those needs are. No one does anything intentionally to hurt someone else. So be understanding, and forgiving, and allow yourself and others to be imperfect.

Be Present and Attentive: Take the time to appreciate the contribution that the people in your life make to your quality of life, and to your sense of well-being. When you are with them, really be present with them, and make that time quality time.

Surprise and Delight: The element of surprise wakes us up to our lives. We may get caught up in our day-to-day routine, and pretty soon, we cannot remember what happened yesterday, or the day before. Yet we remember the surprises in our lives. We are delighted with something new, exciting, and different.

Love knows no bounds. And the most wonderful thing about Love, is that the more love you give, the more love you have to give. It never runs out.

So, cherish your loved ones and share your love with those who may not have your blessings and make every day a Valentine’s Day!

Michele Guy Syne is a Professional Engineer and Certified Hypnotherapist. Michele offers private hypnotherapy sessions from her office in Carefree. She also facilitates workshops on the fourth Saturday of each month at the Holland Community Center. Contact Michele at 480.652.6698, michele@uniquelynorthern.com, or visit her website at http://www.uniquelynorthern.com.


Photo: 109924135 © creativecommonsstockphotos | Dreamstime.com

Whiskey and Popcorn Reviews: What to Watch Before the Oscars

Tuesday Mahrle and Kaely Monahan

—By Kaely Monahan and Tuesday Mahrle

The Oscar nominations are out and with them come questions, confusion and snubs. For the second year in a row, no women were nominated for the Achievement in Directing — aka “best director” category. And while many film critics and industry watchers bemoan the fact that Greta Gerwig was left off the list, we on Whiskey and Popcorn are wondering why Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Olivia Wilde (Booksmart) and Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) were also ignored. But we have your back on which films to watch before the big night, Feb. 9.

Joker — Could this be the year a superhero genre film wins best picture? We’re not so sure. But with 11 nominations, Joker is an Academy favorite. Joaquin Phoenix gives a devastating performance as Batman’s nemesis. We’re putting our money on him for the Best Actor win.

(Keon-kyo (Yeo-jeong Jo) in Parasite. Courtesy of NEON and CJ Entertainment)

Parasite — One of our top three films of 2019. The Korean film is hilarious, dark, spicy and so worth watching again and again. Director Bong Joon-ho is known for his strong social commentaries and Parasite is no exception. But we were also mesmerized by the cinematography.

Jojo Rabbit — A WWII satire is nothing new, but director Taika Waititi’s take on a little boy who “wants to be part of a club” is both adorable and heartfelt. We recommend watching this film twice as the jokes will hit you first. On the second watch, you’ll appreciate the serious undertones and beautiful character development.

1917 — This is our favorite to win Best Picture. Two WWI soldiers battle their way across No Man’s to deliver a life-saving message to their comrades. What makes the film so spectacular is the seemingly single shot it was filmed in. If you see any film in theaters this month, make it 1917.


Whiskey and Popcorn is a movie podcast by local film critics Kaely Monahan and Tuesday Mahrle. You can hear their full movie reviews on whiskeyandpopcorn.org.

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