5 Things To Do Today: Tacoma Performing Dance Company's "The Nutcracker Ballet," Tacoma Musicians and Friends Networking Party, Bryan Bowers & more ...

By Volcano Staff on December 17, 2011

SATURDAY, DEC. 17, 2011 >>>

1. Tacoma Performing Dance Company invites you to its annual take on "The Nutcracker Ballet" today and tomorrow at Stadium High School's Performing Arts Center. Catch the show at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today, and 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets will be available at the door and run $18-$22.

2. Networking is important. These days, you can't really get anywhere without rubbing a few elbows and kissing a few babies. The powers behind the Northwest Convergence Zone podcast and NWCZ Radio know this - and in an attempt to lift our entire scene up created the annual Tacoma Musicians and Friends Networking Party. Tonight at Stonegate Pizza is your chance to meet the folks who make our local music landscape tick, and maybe even drink some rum or chow down on a burger or pizza. It's all part of your climb to the top. Musical entertainment will be provided by a bevy of awesome local talent.

3. According to Wikipedia, "There is debate over the origin of the auto-harp. A German immigrant in Philadelphia by the name of Charles F. Zimmermann was awarded US 257808 in 1882 for a design for a musical instrument that included mechanisms for muting certain strings during play. He named his invention the ‘autoharp.' .... Karl August Gütter of Markneukirchen, Germany, built a model that he called a "Volkszither," which most resembles the autoharp played today. Gütter obtained a British patent for his instrument circa 1883-1884. Zimmermann, after returning from a visit to Germany, began production of the Gütter design in 1885 but with his own design patent number and catchy name. Gütter's instrument design became very popular, and Zimmermann has often been mistaken as the inventor." Now, will you need to know any of this to appreciate autoharp master Bryan Bowers today at the Tacoma Public Library, when he busts out a free holiday concert sure to delight the masses (or handfuls)? Of course not. But it won't hurt. And it just might make Bowers' mastery of the autoharp all the more impressive, as the singer songwriter is often credited as having redefined the instrument.

4. Jazz is the only purely American music and the one genre that has embraced elements of all musical forms. This is why it is always exciting to find young artists who push the boundaries to create their own unique style, and Kareem Kandi is one musician who does just that. The Tacoma-based sax player performs a style of jazz that incorporates blues, funk and rock. Kandi, who lists his influences from such renowned jazz greats as Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, and John Coltrane, plays in a free-style manner that sounds improvised. Even though Kandi is the leader, the rest of the band is encouraged to take solos, and each band member is an intricate part of the overall outcome of each and ever tune they play. The Kareem Kandi Band performs classic standards, but it's their original material that has won them accolades from jazz enthusiasts throughout the Northwest (including multiple "Best of Tacoma" awards over the years from the Volcano and Volcano readers). Tonight catch the Kareem Kandi band at Uncle Thurm’s Finger Lickin’ Chicken and Ribs in Tacoma at 8 p.m.

5. Hypnotist Ron Stubbs will do his thing at the Little Creek Casino in Shelton. Is it good idea to visit a hypnotist in a casino? Best not to ponder such questions ...

LINK: More arts and entertainment events in the South Sound

LINK: Live music tonight