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Weekend Preview: Tribal Baroque, Nature Walks and Latin Jazz

Tribal Baroque performs in San Diego on January 4, 2013, at ArtLab Studios in Normal Heights.
Dan Rubin
Tribal Baroque performs in San Diego on January 4, 2013, at ArtLab Studios in Normal Heights.
Weekend Preview: Tribal Baroque, Nature Walks and Latin Jazz
GUESTSClaire Caraska, KPBS production assistant and Culture Lust blogger. Barbarella Fokos, NBC Universal correspondent and writer at the San Diego Reader.

CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. If there's one thing that unites us all at the beginning of the new year, and I'm not talking new diets, it's that we've disposed just about all of our disposable income! In other words, we're broke! Tapped out, in the red and can't possibly spend one more dime! In keeping with this empty-pocket season, we're featuring a number of great things to do on our weekend preview that are free of charge! Except perhaps for a donation. My guests, Clair Caraska is KPBS production assistant and culture lust blogger. Welcome back. CARASKA: Good to see you! CAVANAUGH: And Barbarella is here, NBC universal correspondent and writer at the San Diego reader. BARBARELLA: Happy new year to you! Always a pleasure. CAVANAUGH: Let's start with out with you and your wildlife tracking walk. It's an interesting nature walk, happening this Saturday. BARBARELLA: Is this is at the mission trails regional park. You have two hour was what they call dirt time, which means in the field tracking animals! And there are tons of animals there. Animal tracking itself, it's kind of self-explanatory, but it really helps with research and monitoring, finding out where we need to have these open areas for animals to get from one place to another. But the tracking itself is very fun. You learn what to look for and how to identify signs of wildlife. If the morning if there's dew, you can see where an animal has walked through the dew because it's not as shiny. But the most fun especially for the kids is the scat analyzing. [ LAUGHTER ] BARBARELLA: Which is like the book Everybody Poops. But you can tell where the animals have been, and one thing I learned from talking to Heidi, the woman who leads one of the groups, it's strangely all of the analogies for how to identify animals are food analogies. So for example the cottontails, you look for cocoa puffs cereal. The bobcat is a tattooey roll. The coyote looked like soft-serve ice cream. [ LAUGHTER ] BARBARELLA: And deer scat, they say raisenets. The gray fox, this is like toothtaste, because it folds back on itself. So as Heidi said, you will never hike the same way again when you go on one of these walks! CAVANAUGH: That's positively frightening. [ LAUGHTER ] CAVANAUGH: You've outlined for some of us there some of the animals that you might be tracking. There's a wide range of wildlife there! BARBARELLA: There really is. And more than I even knew about. Of course snakes and mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons. Those are fun because they leave little hand prints everywhere. They just released five baby raccoons along the river that were orphaned. There are ground squirrels and skunks. They do digs, so you can find them. Also they have a lot of insects. And mountain lions, the occasional mountain lion. Most of these animals are nocturn, so you don't see them, but it's exciting to see that they're here and they live around us. Tracking team, as well as trained trail guides. You'll get 2-3 divides helping you out and pointing things out from breaks in leaves and little paw prints and little food analogies. CAVANAUGH: This really sounds fascinating. Is it a 1-time event? BARBARELLA: It's the first Saturday of every month. But once you go on one, you can did on one anytime! People always wonder if they lost a contact, they're always kneeling down and looking around because it becomes a part of your hiking experience. CAVANAUGH: Are there any tips on what to bring with you? BARBARELLA: You definitely want to wear pants. But that's it. It's canceled if there's rain. But this could weekend, it's all sunny! CAVANAUGH: What time? BARBARELLA: It begins at 8:30 AM. And you meet at the visitors' center. CAVANAUGH: There are so many musicians that try to have eye unique style and look. Well, you bring us one here that actually succeeds in that! They'll be performing in San Diego tomorrow. Tell us about Tribal Baroque. CARASKA: You really have to see and hear this group to believe it. They're a duo of two singers and violinists. They're both classically trained. Of the man SK Thoth, and Lila Angelique. They sing in soprano and counter tenor vocals. Very wild, free-form expression. A lot of dances, a lot of foot percussion. A lot of violins. In trying to describe who they sound it, it's almost like Sigur Ros and DeVotchKa had a baby. They sing in a made-up language. Gypsy music is probably the closest thing I could use. But it's so much more than that! CAVANAUGH: Tell us what they look like. CARASKA: Well, they like to wear costumes. But in their opinion, we all wear costumes. If we didn't we'd be naked. That's a quote. [ LAUGHTER ] CAVANAUGH: Thank you! CARASKA: I didn't make that up. They both pretty much wear like skirts, and there's a lot of twirling when they're performing. CAVANAUGH: And Lila Angelique wears a lot of wigs. CARASKA: Yes, she's got pink hair. She took that name because people liken her to an angel. She kind of pale, white skin, bright pink hair, and very feminine looking. Thoth is the more masculine, darker colors in his costumes. They're like a yin and yang duo. (Audio Recording Played) CAVANAUGH: That's Gypsy Dance performed by Tribal Baroque. If you just see these two without any sound, you can see them on YouTube, they're entertaining enough. CARASKA: Yeah! CAVANAUGH: But these are too really well-trained musicians! CARASKA: Very well trained, and both have musical families. Thoth's mother was a timpanist and played with the New York City opera and the San Francisco symphony. Lila's parents, one was a recording producer, and her mother was a Broadway musical actress and singer. And they both have a love of opera. And their whole performance are their miniature operas, they're singing of stories of love and devotion in this wonderful made-up language of theirs. CAVANAUGH: Have they played here before? CARASKA: They have! They were here last year at art lab studios in normal heights which is where they'll be performing again tomorrow night. The website doesn't say beyond tomorrow, but I think they might be doing another. I would recommend checking the website. CAVANAUGH: And it's a free event. But there's a suggested donation of $10. CARASKA: Yes, that's correct. And please support your local artists and musicians! CAVANAUGH: The vernal pool walk! Another walk, Barbarella! BARBARELLA: I'm like a botanist now. [ LAUGHTER ] CAVANAUGH: Is this at Lopez ridge park. BARBARELLA: I'll tell you what vernal pools are. These are temporal wetlands, especially here like where you have drought and a lot of rains. And this type of habitat itself is endangered. And we have a lot right here in San Diego where there's life that can only live and reproduce in these little areas after a rain. So what happens with this is Mike Kelly who's been with the friends of Los PeÒasquitos organization for 27 years and studies vernal pools is going to take people to them and educate about what goes on there. CAVANAUGH: And what kind of critters do we see? BARBARELLA: Well, there are something called extremophiles, which is really fascinating. San Diego is known for the fairy shrimp. They can live in a cyst form for a century! So they're dormant. Extremophiles are any kind of organism, plant or animal, that can live in extreme situations. And scientists study them because they're trying to find the answers to life. For years and years, botanists thought this one plant was two separate plants. Depending on whether it's a wet year or a dry year, it's either very long or extremely tiny. CAVANAUGH: And it makes is family-friendly. Kids would be very interested in this? BARBARELLA: Yes. So we have had some recent rain, so there is one little pool, but he's walks will go on through April and May. This weekend's is the start. You might see some of the fairy shrimp. They only live for 17 days. Then you can see it develop with the flowers. But kids like to see the little toads and learn a lot. And plus this is right in their backyard. And again it's showing you the nature that San Diego has. CAVANAUGH: And I guess pants again? [ LAUGHTER ] BARBARELLA: Pants, I guess! And it's all plants, so just sneakers and normal casual clothes. And it's flat and not protected, so protect yourself from the sun. CAVANAUGH: Latin jazz jam, Clair! Free music tonight! CARASKA: This is happening at the Voz Alta project in Barrio Logan. This has been happening since the year 2000. It's a great opportunity to see some really phenomenal jazz musicians. It's led by Trumpeter bill Caballero, and there's a house band that he leads. And from week to week, there's a whole rotation of other musicians that come in some of whom he knows are coming, but others may just show up and join in on a song. It's very fluid, laid back, a really fun time. CAVANAUGH: Now, what kind of Latin jazz? CARASKA: Everything from traditional Latin jazz songs to more jazz standards done in a Latin style. It's just a whole range of music. I think one of the most popular songs they often do is Watermelonman by Herbie Hancock. CAVANAUGH: In a Latin style. CARASKA: Exactly. And it ranges, it's a diverse group. What I love about it is you can come and go as awe please. You don't have to sit there for the whole three hours if you don't want to. So you're not offending the musicians if you need to go out and take a break on the sidewalk, which people do. And there's folding chairs set up and -- CAVANAUGH: And donations will be accepted but it is a free event. CARASKA: It is a free event. Basically it's a night off for these musicians, so they're just doing it for fun. CAVANAUGH: We did it! Free stuff! This is great. Thank you so much. CARASKA: Thank you! BARBARELLA: Thank you, it's always fun.

It's a new year, which is the perfect excuse to try something new. From free nature walks to free live music, here are some suggestions for your weekend to-do list.

Still recovering from overindulging during the holidays? Time to take a hike! Learn the art of animal tracking during a free guided Wildlife Tracking Walk this Saturday, January 5, at 8:30 a.m. at Mission Trails Regional Park. During the two-hour walk, a park guide leads the group in how to discover and identify signs left behind by the resident critters. These walks occur on the first Saturday of every month and are suitable for all ages.

Another option to get you outdoors and moving is the Vernal Pool Walk this Saturday, January 5, at 9 a.m. at Lopez Ridge Park in Mira Mesa. Naturalist Mike Kelly leads participants on an easy walk and provides information about vernal pools — temporary pools of water that provide habitats for distinctive plants and animals — and the rare and endangered plants and animals that inhabit them.

Not the outdoorsy type? Treat your ears to some new sounds.

World music duo Tribal Baroque performs Friday, January 4, 8-10 p.m. at ArtLab Studios in Normal Heights. The duo, featuring singers/musicians Thoth and Lila'Angelique, create miniature operas using soprano and countertenor vocals, foot percussion, dance and violins. To get a sneak preview, check out the video below. For more on Thoth, watch the Academy Award-winning short documentary about his life and work as a street musician in New York, "Thoth" (2002).

Local jazz trumpeter Bill Caballero leads his Latin Jazz Jam tonight (Thursday, January 3) and every Thursday night from 7-10 p.m. at Voz Alta Project in Barrio Logan. Caballero is joined by several veteran jazz musicians who rotate week to week (Gilbert Castellanos has been known to show up), for a fluid, laid-back jam session featuring traditional Latin jazz songs as well as jazz standards performed in a Latin jazz style (from bolero to cha cha to cumbia to mambo). As Caballero says, “I never know what combination of sound I’m going to have from week to week ... Every week has its own magic."

Tribal Baroque "Gipsy Dance"