At these concerts, every seat's a good one
Courtesy of the artist, Arizona's Official State Balladeer Dolan Ellis will perform at Tohono Chul Park on Thursday, Oct. 30.

Big concert venues have their appeal if you like noisy excitement.

But some people prefer more intimate settings for performances — ones in which you actually can make eye contact with the musicians and hear neighbors’ whispers.

Tohono Chul Park’s fall concert series offers the perks of limited seating. Concertgoers take their seats in a small, shaded courtyard to listen to performers whom they would normally see on bigger stages. Some concertgoers start their relaxed evenings with dinner at the park’s tearoom.

This year’s series of fall concerts begins Sept. 18 and runs every other Thursday through Oct. 30. Gates open at 6 p.m., and music starts at 7 p.m.

First up this fall is Kip Calahan on Sept. 18.

This country singer, who hails from New Mexico, started traveling across the United States decades ago to perform at fairs, rodeos, honky tonks and community centers. A move to Nashville had her sharing stages with musicians such as Garth Brooks, Tracy Lawrence and Tim McGraw.

Calahan has won numerous awards, including the Academy of Western Artists Association’s Will Rogers Cowboy Award for the best Western album of the year. She is known as a high-energy performer.

Following Calahan’s performance is one by Bobby Ronstadt on Oct. 2.

This talented member of Tucson’s celebrated musical Ronstadt family oversees the sound equipment at Tohono Chul Park when he’s not performing.

His informal group, sometimes referred to as Friday Night Shy People, has held some spirited jam sessions.

Following Ronstadt’s performance is a concert by the William Eaton Ensemble on Oct. 16.

The ensemble is known for evoking the landscape, light and life of the northern Sonoran Desert through its music. Its assortment of eclectic musical voices includes a harp guitar and indigenous flutes.

Eaton, the man for whom the ensemble is named, received a Grammy nomination in 1994 for a recording he made with Native American flutist Carlos Nakai.

The concert series’ end comes Oct. 30 with a closing performance by Dolan Ellis.

Known as Arizona’s Official State Balladeer for more than 40 years, Ellis holds a Grammy, gold records and a place in the Arizona Tourism Hall of Fame. The balladeer takes his one-man shows on the road throughout the state for concerts, conventions, cowboy poetry gatherings and storytelling festivals.

He founded the Arizona Folklore Preserve, an organization that collects Arizona’s songs, legends, poetry and myths and brings them alive for audiences.

The concert series is presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. For tickets, visit or call 742-6455.

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