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A Night on the Town 

by Inlander Staff & r & It's the fifth year for First Night Spokane, and as always there's way more to do than time to do it. In addition to the events we're noting in these pages, you can take in the Spokane Symphony at Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral, hear the Bethel AME Gospel Choir at the DoubleTree, catch the big band show at the Masonic Temple, listen to Jim Boyd at the Old City Hall and visit more than three dozen visual arts venues. Then there's the procession, and the early fireworks, and the street performers, and the late fireworks ...


If you're the type of person who likes to plan ahead, then grab a schedule when you get your button and map out an itinerary. If you're more process- than goal-oriented, the schedule can get you started, but you're sure to encounter whimsy by simply wandering around.


First Night buttons are $12 through Dec. 30 and $14 on the day of the event. Buy your button at Tidyman's supermarkets, Zip Trip food stores, Tomlinson Black Real Estate offices or at more than a dozen locations downtown. Children 10 and under get into events for free when accompanied by a button-wearing adult. The Grand Procession begins at 6 pm on Post and Main and winds around to the main stage. Events at the venues run from 7-11:30 pm. Parking will run you $2 after 5 pm at the Parkade and Diamond Parking lots; at River Park Square, the cost is $2.75. Street parking is, of course, free. Free trolley service runs along the loop through downtown every 15 minutes. The STA will extend the regular bus schedule on existing routes with the last bus leaving the Plaza at 12:20 am. Have fun! -- Ann M. Colford





Kids First & r & One of the big draws at First Night Spokane -- and at most First Night celebrations around the nation -- is the events just for kids. Families have always been a big part of First Night in Spokane, and planners expect this to be the biggest year yet.


"This year, the theme is 'A World of Wonders,'" says Dianne Fields, who has organized the last two kids' programs for First Night. "We created five separate venues: Wonders of Diversity; Wonders of the Earth; Wonders of the Sea; Wonders of the Sky, and Wonders of Percussion."


Spread over three venues and running from 3-5:30 pm, kids can decorate hats and get properly decked out for the official First Night Procession. Kids 10 and younger can get into any venue free if they are with a grown-up who has a First Night badge.


In the Crescent Court Food Court, you'll find the Wonders of Percussion area, where kids can decorate one of three different kinds of drums or a rain stick. Volunteers will even help you learn how to pound the thing into something like a rhythm. Over at the Little Red Schoolhouse day care in the main floor of the Bank of America parking garage building, it's Wonders of the Sky, where star and butterfly masks and kaleidoscopes can be created.


Kid Central Station, however, is in the old Wells Fargo Bank on Riverside and Howard. That's where volunteers will be setting up the Earth, Sea and Diversity areas. Again, kids will be swimming in glue and scissors, with kits to make bookmarks, crowns, magnetic photo frames, jewelry and all kinds of hats -- Mad Hatter style, Chinese and more. Fields says they're ready for even more kids than last year -- there are enough supplies for 5,000 kids to do three crafts each. She credits much of the work to students at Salk, Glover, Sacajawea, Shaw and Garry middle schools, who helped organize the crafts all fall long. (Art from those students will be on display at the old Wells Fargo building.) Volunteers from Gonzaga Prep, Ferris and Rogers will help kids at the five venues during First Night.


Other kids' stuff running from 3-6 pm includes the Rainbow Fiddle Kids at the Bank of America, a magician upstairs at the STA Plaza and performances every 20 minutes by the Spokane Children's Theater and Spokane Christian Youth Theater at the Kress Gallery in River Park Square.


But the big fun is the procession, which starts when kids have their decorated drums, masks and hats; gather up at Post between Main and Riverside just before 6 pm. After a short loop, the opening ceremonies begin at Post and Main. Then, at 7 pm, look up and watch the kids' fireworks show. (Don't worry, there's still the grown-up, midnight version at Riverfront Park.) If the little ones haven't turned into pumpkins by then, grab some dinner -- downtown restaurants are all open late during First Night. -- Ted S. McGregor Jr.





The Dancing Duck Man & r & It's not the next Disney movie pitch; Dancing Duck Man is Sandpoint performance artist Jerry Luther. Luther has been providing the Inland Northwest with duck-themed entertainment for more than a quarter century. It all hearkens back to his work as the Hooeyman, hustling the streets of downtown Spokane to sell hooey sticks with Bruce the Duck. Time passed, one thing led to another and after retiring his Hooeyman character, Luther stepped into the shoes of the Dancing Duck Man, joined by his four dancing duck friends -- Billy, Tilly, Silly and Sheriff John.


Decked out in his most dazzling dancing duds, the Dancing Duck Man deliberately delights audiences from diminutive darlings to the most delinquent of dudes. Show me the person who doesn't want to ring in the New Year doing a soft shoe with a flock of wooden ducks and I'll show you the person with no sole. Keep an eye out during First Night, as Dancing Duck Man will not be assigned to a specific venue. -- Josh Smith





Paint Your Wagon & r & Spending New Year's Eve in a bus depot usually conjures an image of loneliness ... but not when it's at STA Plaza as part of First Night Spokane.


Down in the basement there will be a Chevy station wagon and a big old tire waiting to be transformed by many hands wielding paintbrushes.


"This is where you get down and dirty," Spokane artist Conrad Bagley says. "You put your hands right in the paint and then you wipe it off on your pants ... or on your friend's pants."


First Night is offering up a beater car from North Foothills Mazda for a totally unprofessional paint job. And there is also a tire big enough to fit on your average farm combine that can be slapped with paint, too.


"We supply gloves and ponchos," says Chris Dehmer of Firestone, which is donating the tire. "Last year we had a pretty darn good turnout. The tire gets painted inside, outside -- wherever kids want to paint."


This year's sacrificial car is terrific, Bagley says. It's a late '80s Chevy wagon -- so it covers a couple of acres -- and it's white.


"It's a great blank canvas," he enthuses. "We had a car last year, but it wasn't a runner and, while we had some fun decorating it, it was a darker color. It was not nearly as good as this"


Cori Cutler will oversee the painting. The idea for the big white wagon is to transform it into a space shuttle. "The theme is Blasting Into a New Year," Bagley says. "We have some little wings for it, and some pseudo jets. I don't know if it will really go into orbit, but we are going to run this thing."


Bagley says he is hoping to sell the car to try to create some traction to get an art car movement going in Spokane. Most of the decorated cars around town have more to do with advertising than art, he says. He's hoping to spark a scene like Seattle's where cars are turned into rolling works of art -- both funky and sublime.


People are invited to help decorate the car with paintbrushes or stamps. The paint isn't water-washable, he says, "But it's not too dangerous unless people start throwing it at each other."


Firestone's Dehmer says the tire tends to be the domain of paint-slathering kids. The gloves and ponchos help keep them presentable, he says.


The painted tire will be on display in the Firestone lobby for several weeks after First Night.


"Then we chuck it," Dehmer said. Unless ...


"Last year a guy came in and saw it and he said, 'What are you going to do with that thing? Can I have it?'" Dehmer says.


The fellow took it home, buried half in the ground and left the upper part exposed for his kids to play on. -- Kevin Taylor





Velvet Really is Hard & r & On Dec. 2, with little pomp, North By Northwest Productions sent 21 teams of local filmmakers out with a line of dialogue, a prop and a theme, and gave them 48 hours to make a movie. The teams had to incorporate a bottle cap, the theme "world of wonder" and the line of dialogue "Wow, velvet really is soft." Not an easy task, to be sure. A 48-hour timeline is a daunting enough barrier to creating an intelligent film without having to shoehorn in a line of dialogue like that. Indeed, it turned out to be too much for six of the teams, who failed to make the deadline. The best of the remaining eligible films found creative ways to circumvent the difficulties of being hamstrung by time, theme and dialogue. There were farces, a cartoon, a meditation on art, a requiem for aging hipsters, a mockumentary on the difficulties of making a 48-hour film-fest film, and one particularly entertaining surrealist romp involving a fake mustache, a pair of moon boots and a tumor made of, we think, peanut butter.


As for creative bottle cap prop usage, 80 percent of the films, by our count, resorted to alcoholic depravity, meaning roughly 12 teams have already hit on one of the key ingredients to making a critically lauded indie film: general drunkenness.


A panel of judges then narrowed down the original 15 teams to a top eight. And while it's true that the final eight picked don't conform perfectly to what we thought were the strongest films (in case you haven't guessed, I was a judge), each is a very competent bit of filmmaking and demonstrates what a fertile film town Spokane is becoming. The films will be screening hourly between 7 pm and 11 pm during First Night at the Council Chambers at City Hall. Then, at 11:30 pm, there will be a ceremony at Main and Post to award two Jury Prizes and two audience awards. Anyone at the 7, 8, 9 and 10 o'clock screenings can vote for the audience awards. -- Luke Baumgarten





Coretta Scott & r & "O man...u guys rocked the house!! lol....im so weird anyways, i am hoping to find sum way on earth to make it out to seattle to see u guys with aiden!! that would be awesome!!!!"


Coretta Scott's fans are not shy about heaping praise on the band. The part of me that was an English major is horrified, but the part of me that is a professionally detached critic is touched. This quote, taken from the band's myspace.com page, pretty much sums up how legions of kids feel about them. And they're not going to keep it a secret, either. With a new record out on Rise and 10,000-plus friends, Coretta Scott is poised to blow sky-high in 2006. "We want to do lots of touring next year," says guitarist Preston Thomason. "Our goal is to get our record in the hands of every kid who will love it."


You can check out Coretta Scott at First Night Spokane at the Convention Center at 7 pm. Make sure to check them out for two reasons: first, because they are a solid hometown rock and roll band; and second, to have the opportunity to watch pink-haired 15-year-old girls act like they're meeting the Beatles.


The five members of Coretta Scott, who have yet to face a Rosa Parks vs. Outkast style lawsuit, came together from diverse backgrounds and originally recorded under the moniker "The Widow Jenkins." They quickly became a feature in the Spokane scene and within a short time were packing clubs all over the Northwest. In addition to playing the usual spots like the Big Easy, the band also braved the December chill to play a skate park in Lewiston, Idaho, earlier this month. Only a few days after playing for the kids on boards, they headed to Seattle to shoot a video for their upcoming single, "The Stairs Hit Hard."


"We got some really good shots," says Thomason. "It's mostly performance and the story follows a group of girls to a warehouse where we're playing." Considering the band has a reputation for excellent live shows, this was a wise move.


The group's live reputation also translated nicely to its debut record, Scream and Shout. Coretta Scott members describe the band as "a modernized resurrection of rock 'n' roll," and mention influences like Motley Crue and the Used. Upon listening to the record, it's easy to see why those pretty emo kids love them so; they are loud and polished, with technical chops and just the right amount of angst. Songs such as "Bad Days" and "Poison Apple" are propelled forward by monster guitar licks, but the lyrical content goes far beyond that of their forbears. While the Crue might have sung about girls gone wild, Coretta Scott explores drug abuse and coming out to conservative parents.


And if that weren't enough, further inspection of the band's Web site suggests another reason the kids might be going cuckoo -- not only are they a good band, but they have phenomenally great hair. These are men who might love their gel as much as they love their instruments. -- Cortney Harding





Last Words of the Year & r & As a community festival of the arts, First Night has always been missing one creative branch: the literary arts. According to stereotype, those of us who put pen to paper do our creative thing in cold, musty garrets or alone in the crowd at the coffeehouse. More likely, we put fingers to keyboard under the glare of fluorescent lights in a cramped office somewhere, but in any case, we do our best work alone. Unlike watching a visual artist or a performer, watching a writer work is pretty boring. And besides, we get crabby when interrupted.


But this year, writers get in on the performance fun. Local literati from Get Lit! don their stage personae and read their words to the assembled crowd. Every half hour brings a new reader. Novelist and EWU professor emeritus John Keeble kicks things off at 7 pm; he'll be followed by Greg Spatz, Jonathan Johnson, Laurie Lamon, Jess Walter, Sam Ligon, Shannon Amidon, Paul Lindholdt and Tod Marshall.


Contrary to their popular image, writers can be personable, funny and downright riveting when thrust into the spotlight. Come watch as the written word lifts off the page and wafts into cold night air. -- Ann M. Colford





Get Lit! Writers read at the Rocket Bakery in the Holley-Mason Building every half hour beginning at 7 pm.





The District & r & The ad for something called "The District" on page 6 of the First Night Spokane booklet doesn't tell you much. No location, no time, no real description of what it even is. Seems like a failure of advertising, but maybe it was intentional. After all, occluding it in hazy information gives it a clandestine kind of feel, like a 1920s speakeasy. The comparison isn't inappropriate: The District, centered at CenterStage, may be the only sanctioned spot for scoring some booze during family-friendly First Night. And while ella's supper club and the library lounge will keep the tipplers happy, numb-fingered revelers can also pop in to watch the Annie O'Neill Band and Papa Glenn's Border Run Blues Band ring in the New Year, or trip upstairs to the Dinner Theater for cabaret tunes from Abbey Crawford, belly dancing from someone called "Zahirah" (sounds authentic, right?) and female impersonation from the beloved Coco Marzipan. Blues, booze, belly dancing, cabaret? It's like Prohibition-era Chicago all over again. The party starts at 7 pm and rocks until the ball drops. Enter by the front door and knock three times. The password is "swordfish." -- Joel Smith

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