Brandon Drummond Announced as Director of Operations at Compass Lounge and Restaurant

Hyatt Regency Phoenix downtown offers a new look and feel following a multi-million-dollar makeover, and patrons of Arizona’s only revolving rooftop restaurant, Compass, will find a fresh face at the helm.

Brandon Drummond, a member of the Hyatt Regency family for over 15 years, is taking the reins as the new director of Operations at Compass. Drummond, who worked at Hyatt Regency hotels in Washington, D.C., San Antonio, New Orleans and Bonita Springs, Florida, before making his way further west, comes to Hyatt Regency Phoenix most recently from Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, Connecticut. There, he was responsible for overseeing the culinary efforts of the $13.5 million operation and will draw upon the culinary and management skills he honed there in his new role in Arizona.

Pairing his culinary talents and creativity with inspiration from the beauty of the Southwest, guests of Compass will find a revamped lounge menu spotlighting fresh seafood, handcrafted cocktails and similar elevated fare. Think Buttermilk Fried Quail with wilted greens and jalapeño honey, for starters, or a Charcuterie Board boasting the likes of local cheeses, meats, pickles and jams.

Compass says that the menu is leading guests in an exciting new direction, offering a number of notable new selections from land and sea in addition to longtime staples. Main-course highlights include Quick-Cured Duck served alongside barley mushroom risotto, bok choy and blackberry demi or indulgent Elk Chops served with a guest’s choice of béarnaise, truffle butter, steak sauce or a merlot or blackberry demi.

As far as cocktails, Compass offers a wide array of selections ranging from the Strawberry Blonde, made with Meyer lemon vodka, house-made lemonade and simple syrup, and strawberries, to the Blue Rose Bramble, featuring Maker’s Mark, blueberries and house-made rosemary simple syrup.

This month, Valley residents can get a taste of the local culinary and performance arts scenes at the same time. Drummond is among those participating in Plated and Staged…A Herberger Theater Experience, an annual fundraising event that unites more than 850 guests and 35 partners from fine restaurants across the Valley. Slated for Sunday, March 29, at the Herberger Theater, the event benefits the theater’s youth outreach programs, which seek to expose even more area youths to the culinary and performing arts.

Hyatt Regency Phoenix is located at 122 North 2nd Street in downtown Phoenix. For more information, call 602.252.1234 or visit the property online.

NVSO Presents ‘Women in Music’ March 14

NVSO Cello Section Performing Christmas Pops; Photo: Pete Schulte

Join North Valley Symphony Orchestra (NVSO) as they recognize the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage by performing music written by women. These talented composers do not receive as much recognition as their male counterparts but are equally talented.

NVSO music director Kevin Kozacek said, “We are delighted to perform three works by woman composers on this concert. The idea to showcase women in music came from the fact that this concert season coincides with the 100th anniversary of woman’s suffrage in America. In 1919 congress passed the 19th Amendment, and the states finished ratification in 1920. NVSO is excited to feature three very successful composers at our March 14 concert.”

Amy Beach’s Symphony in E Minor was written in 1894 and was the first symphony composed and published by a female American composer. The symphony employs numerous English, Irish and Scottish melodies, so Beach subtitled the work the Gaelic Symphony.

“Audience members will enjoy the folk-like feeling evoked by the piece,” said Kozacek.

Cécile Chaminade was a French composer, and NVSO will perform a suite of four movements from her ballet Callirhoë, written in 1888.

Kozacek said, “The piece is rich with playful melodies and motifs, and easy to visualize ballerinas dancing to the music.”

Last, Joan Tower is a current American composer that just this year was awarded the annual Gold Baton award from the League of American Orchestras for her contribution to the field of orchestral music. Other recipients include Bernstein, Copland and John Williams. The featured piece Sixth Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman was written in 2014, the sixth in a series of pieces that Tower has written to celebrate the risk-takers, or uncommon women of today.

“I’m proud of NVSO for dedicating this concert as a celebration of women in music and hope that many community members will attend the unique event,” concluded Kozacek.

The “Women in Music” concert is sponsored by CASCO Financial Group. The concert will be held Saturday, March 14, 7-9pm, at North Canyon High School Performing Arts Center, 1700 East Union Hills Drive in North Phoenix.

NVSO provides affordable concert experiences to the Phoenix North Valley community. Ticket prices are $5 each concert, and children 5 and under are always free. Purchase tickets at the NVSO website, www.northvalleysymphony.org, or by calling 623.980.4628.

Friendly Pines Camp Will Host Free Open House Event March 28

For families who are interested in learning more about Friendly Pines Camp in Prescott and the summer sleepaway camp experience, there will be a fun-filled open house event held Saturday, March 28, from 11am to 2pm.

Bring the whole family for a day of camp tours, wagon rides, toasting marshmallows, zip line rides, drawings for prizes, delicious refreshments and more. A complimentary buffet lunch, hot Dutch oven biscuits with honey butter, and ice cream cones will be served. Questions about the sleepaway camp experience will be answered during the event. The camp will also host a special 80th birthday celebration at the open house because this year will be the camp’s 80th summer.

Available for boys and girls, ages 6 through 13, Friendly Pines Camp offers a wide range of traditional camp activities: sports, horseback riding, waterskiing, rock climbing, performing arts, fine arts, pets, hiking, canoe, kayaking and more. There are four-day, one-week, two-week, four-week and six-week camp sessions available. A sibling discount is offered. This year, camp will run May 23 – Aug. 2. This nationally renowned camp is located in the beautiful, cool pine forest of the Bradshaw Mountains at 933 East Friendly Pines Road, Prescott.

Advanced registration for the open house is requested. Call the camp and let them know how many will be in attendance, 928.445.2128. For more information, visit www.friendlypines.com.

Southwest Wildlife Discovery Series: The Beautiful, Essential, Resilient Bobcat

— By Kelly Marcum Hayes, Natural Resource Coordinator, Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center

The North American bobcat, Lynx rufus, is one of the most durable and adaptable wildcats in the country. They play an important role in the delicate balance of many different ecosystems and are one of the most beautiful animals in the Sonoran Desert.

This small feline survives quite well in desert dwellings as well as mountain woodlands, coniferous forests and swamplands. Bobcats are distinguished by their short black ear tufts, a mottled or spotted coat, a ruff of longer fur around their face, black and white markings on the back of the ears, and, of course, a shortened or “bobbed” tail.

The exact appearance of the bobcat depends on the specific habitat as variation in coat colors allow the individual to remain as camouflaged as possible in its surroundings. This wildcat has the greatest range of all North American felines, adapting reasonably well to urban sprawl.

Because of this, more people are noticing these intelligent animals in neighborhoods, parks, hiking trails and back yards!

If you see a bobcat near your home, there is no need to panic. Bobcats rarely attack people. They may be attracted to a yard that has abundant wildlife, birds, water, shade or other shelter. Shelter for bobcats can include rooftops, attics and the space underneath decks.

Bobcats are generally seen alone, but groups can exist of mating pairs, siblings or mothers with kittens. Bobcats mate from February to March producing an average litter size of two to three kittens, born from April to early June. Kittens will stay with their mother for seven to 12 months. This is the most vulnerable time for them, especially when they live in close proximity to people. When the mother bobcat leaves her kittens to go hunt, they may be seen as “abandoned” by well-meaning people who find them alone in their patio area, or even on their roof. In an attempt to “help,” people gather them and attempt to feed them and often can’t resist touching them. This is the beginning of “habituation” or even “imprinting,” and often prevents the release of the cat back into the wild.

When this happens, they must be rescued and evaluated by a Wildlife Conservation Center. Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center has been rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing injured and orphaned wildlife since 1994. Located in far North Scottsdale, they address the needs of over 270 animals each year that are in need of help to survive back in the wild. Those who cannot, remain at the sanctuary where they live out the rest of their years.

Visit the sanctuary to meet the animals and learn more about how to keep our wildlife wild. Tours are Tuesday through Saturday by appointment only. Find out more at www.southwestwildlife.org.


Photos courtesy of Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.

Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center in Dire Need of Plastic Bags

According to Pam DiPietro, executive director for Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center, grocery-style plastic bags are needed to pack up crucial food items for food bank clients.

“People can bring the bags to our Cave Creek and Black Canyon City locations,” says DiPietro. “This will help us serve the hungry and give them a proper way to take food to their families.”

Foothills Food Bank and Resource Center serves a 180-square mile area that includes Anthem, Black Canyon City, Carefree, Cave Creek, Desert Hills, New River, North Phoenix and North Scottsdale.

The food bank has two locations: 6038 East Hidden Valley Drive in Cave Creek and 34501 Old Black Canyon Highway in Black Canyon City.

For additional information, call 480.488.1145 or visit www.foothillsfoodbank.com.

IKEA Hosts Spring Break Event March 8–14

Throughout March and April, participating IKEA U.S. stores will host events dedicated to spending time with family and inspiring customers around how to spruce up their homes this season — indoors and out. During the Arizona event, March 8–14 in Tempe, families will have the opportunity to participate in a multitude of workshops and make-and-take activities.

Spring Break Event in-store activities and offers include:

Workshops & Activities

  • Plate & Cushion Cover Decorating
  • Paint Your Own Frame and Watering Can
  • Craft Colorful Bracelets
  • DIY PASKRIS Tree
  • Plant and Pot – Make & Take
  • Spin Art
  • Spring Break Scavenger Hunt throughout the IKEA store

IKEA Family Offers

  • Sign Up Bonus — Customers who sign up for IKEA Family, the free IKEA loyalty program, at Spring Break events will be eligible for a special sign-up bonus, while supplies last.

Activities and offers vary by store. Visit the Tempe store webpage for more information about the specifics of the Spring Break Event.

Spring Break Basketball Camp Offered at DreamTeam Academy

When the children are off from school during spring break, the DreamTeam Academy in Scottsdale — a state-of-the-art basketball training facility for children — will host Spring Break Basketball Camps for ages 6 to 12, March 9–13 and March 16–20.

The fun-filled camp days include three hours of basketball skills development training in the morning and then two hours of open court playing time. Participants will also have a great time playing dodgeball and socializing in the upstairs lounge area where there are plenty of parent-approved movies, video games, board games, chess and more. Campers will be active and engaged all day long and will need a nice, long rest when they get home.

A half-day camp option is from 8:30am to 1pm; cost is $50. The full-day option is from 8:30am to 6pm; cost is $75. Pick-up is between 4–6pm. Children may enroll in single, drop-in days. They don’t have to be signed up for an entire week of camp. There’s also a special five-day rate for $325 ($65/full-day.) A catered lunch is available for an additional $10 per day. Morning and afternoon snacks are included. Plus, any camp days that are not used may be “banked” and used for up to one year after purchase.

Advanced registration is required. Space is limited to 25 students per day to ensure the highest level of personal attention. All members of the professional coaching staff include current and former college basketball players.

DreamTeam Academy is located at 15955 North Dial Boulevard, Suite 3, Scottsdale. For additional information, call 480.800.8326 or www.dreamteamacademy.com.

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.

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