Originally Published: August 23, 2018 8:09 p.m.
Mountain Artists Guild’s newest exhibition, “The French Connection,” opens Friday, Aug. 24 and marks the return of the Voila Tour.
Presenting Prescott with another cultural exchange, this year’s tour has a much tighter schedule of 12 events, including the opening of “The French Connection,” between Friday and Saturday, Sept. 1. Musically, Gaelle Buswel is the musical star, said Donna Carver, Mountain Artist Guild and Voila Tour Media Representative.
Alain Houzè, the mastermind behind the Voila Tour, said Buswel has toured all over Europe, has gone to Japan and is set to return and has opened for notable acts such as Ringo Starr and ZZ Top.
“She’s a big shot now in Europe,” Houzé said.
Not only will Buswell perform at “The French Connection: Up Close and Personal,” event Tuesday, Aug. 28 at Mountain Artists Guild, but she will star in the Voila Tour’s main event: the Voila Concert at the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center Friday, Aug. 31. The show will feature her, Belen “la Parisienne,” CadiJo, Chris & Lo, Cheyenne, Frankeur, Swan Vaude, Slim & Pat, with special guests Tom Agostino, The CheekTones and Sugar & the Mint.
VIP Tickets, which involve a special dinner by French chef Lacroix, sold out within the first week, Houzè said. However there are general tickets left which are $25 for general admission and $23 for seniors and those can be purchased online at www.prescottelks.theater.com, by calling 928-777-1370 or at the door one hour prior to the performance.
Last year, the main event was in a different location, but Houzé said he wanted this year’s to be in a place that was adaptive to the concept of the Voila Tour which the Prescott Valley Event Center was not because it was too big, too far from Prescott and people did not understand the concept of having a French dinner in an arena. The Elks Theatre is a much more adaptive venue, he said.
“I wanted American guest performers that matched well with the French performers. I do that job because I love the people and the art,” Houzé said. “I love the CheekTones. I discovered Sugar and the Mint, they are awesome. Tom Agostino is a very good friend. I’m very proud to have those three performers on board.”
As an big, international concert coming to America, it’s going to be one of the best concerts that has ever hit Arizona, Carver said.
However, the Voila Tour is not just the exhibit at Mountain Artists Guild, the “Up Close and Personal” event and the Voila Concert. There’s plenty more, like “La France in the Forest,” at the Highlands Center for Natural History, 1375 Walker Road, from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26 where there will be live art and music. Part of the event is an art workshop with a focus on families, Carver said.
Tickets are $25 for general admission and $20 for Highlands Center members and can be purchased online at www.highlandscenter.org.
There’s also “Paris in Music & Movie,” which happens immediately after the “Up Close and Personal” event at the Raven Café, 142 N. Cortez St. Inside will be performances by Chris & Lo, Frankeur, Cheyenne and Luke Jarrett while “An American in Paris” screens on the roof.
Additionally, French graffiti artist Tessa E is going to paint a Pepsi truck live at the Walmart at 1280 Gail Gardner Way from 2 to 4 p.m. and at the Walmart at 3050 highway 69 from 3 to 5 p.m.
“La Guinguette” will see old-style French entertainment at The Barley Hound, 234 S. Cortez St., from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29 and live music from Chris & Lo and Frankeur at Rafter Eleven in Prescott Valley from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1 at Rafter Eleven in Prescott Valley. It’s a free event where people only need to buy a beverage or some food, Carver said. Houzé said he wanted to do something in Prescott Valley
“Rafter Eleven is the perfect venue for that,” he said.
Immediately after is “An Evening in France,” at Forest Villas Hotel, 3465 Lee Circle, which is a fundraiser for Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters from 5 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $50 and available at www.forestvillas.com. Houzé said he always wants to do at least one fundraiser, so this is something classy for the community.
The Voila Tour ends with an “International Guitar Night” at the Raven Café from 7 to 11 p.m. Sept. 1. With music by Buswell, Drew Hall, Anton Teschner, Michael Benjelloun, Keenan Hammack, Swan Vaude, Chris Girard, Xavier Zolli and more.
“It’s going to be an awesome guitar night,” Houzé said.
For more information about the Voila Tour, visit www.voilatouraz.com.