If you live in or visit Arizona, you HAVE to check out this venue squeezed into a narrow mountain valley just outside of Sierra Vista. The Arizona Folklore Preserve is a dream come true for Dolan Ellis, Arizona's Official State Balladeer. This is a place where Arizona songs and stories can be performed and preserved.
He began in a small cabin in the Huachuca Mountains, seating about 30 people. This new facility was finally built with enough room for maybe 60. Reservations are a MUST, and be the first to arrive if you want the best seating up in the balcony. It's first come, first served.
Patty had seen them play before, but it was a first for me. They just returned from a trip to Australia, playing different venues, concerts and bluegrass festivals. If it's your first time here, it's free. Otherwise, it's a measly $15 each. You can check them out HERE at their website. Every weekend they have someone new performing.
On this day however, the Sonoran Dogs were playing. This is Peter who plays a 1930-somthing Martin guitar, faster than the speed of light. I've tried playing guitar. It's hard and requires more hours of practice than there are in a day. Start your grandkids YOUNG!! Peter writes a lot of the songs like Alice from Nogales, and plays many his father wrote.
On the mandolin is Mark .. sometimes the fall guy and sometimes the comic. He too plays so fast you can't see his fingers, like in this picture. They played songs new and old, all of which I just KNOW you will love like I did.
Cutie Tyler can play banjo. I tried this one too for about a year. It's VERY hard to play. One day I went to a lesson and the teacher had disappeared. I guess I wasn't doing as good as I thought. Tyler plays so effortlessly .... you only see his fingers moving like lightning, the rest of him remains very still. A couple of times I'm sure he fell asleep, but just kept picking away. It was fascinating to watch him.
This is Brian, the dentist, or orthodontist, or dental surgeon, I'm not sure which, but he plays the bass fiddle like a piece of dental floss. He's good ... VERY good. Occasionally he's late due to surgery, but he'll be there eventually.
The Sonoran Dogs played for a full two hours with one short break. If they don't happen to be playing when you are here, go anyway. I promise you will love it. Maybe a little cowboy poetry, a female entertainer of the year or possibly Dolan Ellis himself will be there.
There's also a tiny gift shop full of amazing things. This buffalo skull decoration is one of them. It's a little hard to see, but an amazing piece of artwork I could envision on my fireplace. Alas, it's not for sale.
On the way out, we went up the road a tad to find a place to turn around so I could get a picture of the sign. Deer were wandering the hillside. This is a too-quick blurry picture I snapped of a beautiful gray buck, followed by a couple of does.
After such a strenuous afternoon of music, Patty took us all out to dinner at Saguaro Corners. Another gem in the Arizona desert. If you haven't eaten here, please check it out. Yes, it's a little out of the way, but worth it. They have entertainment on the outdoor patio every weekend, but with the temperatures in the low 60's, we went inside.
It's not a huge place, but the portions sure are!! Patty's Reuben was the size of TWO sandwiches along with really yummy fries.
Pat ordered the nachos, which came on a plate as big as my computer. Her husband had smoked turkey pot pie. Where have you EVER heard of that one.
I of course had the Classic Mac 'n Cheese, where you can add whatever you wish. I added ham (think crispy strips) and caramelized onions. I can eat a lot if I set my mind to it .... I took half of this home. It was all delicious and not pricey at all.
What a great day!! I can't thank Patty enough for taking me. I had a wonderful time and will definitely go again. In the meantime, I picked up Sonoran Dogs CD (they signed it for me) so I can listen to Alice from Nogales over and over. Peter is currently working on a new song about Niagara ... think what might rhyme with that.
I've no idea what today's plan of attack will be, but it will be fun. We have 3/4 of a bunch of cilantro that needs to be used up, so some new recipes may be in the works.