Within the past couple of weeks, Tucson has had the pleasure of hosting a few events that successfully meshed visual arts and music—and due to the overwhelmingly positive crowd responses, it seems to be a trend worthy of being continued.
Last weekend, the Rialto Theatre hosted the Sonoran Glass Art Academy's 10th Annual Flame Off, a glassblowing competition featuring artists from Tucson, Idaho, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Georgia, California and Japan. With an Iron Chef-style setup, the competition featured timed individual and team contests that adhered to certain design themes. The result: impressive displays of talent under pressure. Festivities included hoop performances by the Orbital Evolution troupe, and fire-dancing by Elemental Artistry.
After the competition wrapped up, local funk-and-reggae-influenced jam-band 8 Minutes to Burn took to the stage. The nine-piece band was flanked by local artists Mel Dominguez and Danny Velasquez. Throughout the set, Dominguez painted on glass, while Velasquez used his bare hands to directly apply vivid colors to a large canvas and two women wearing white tank tops and capris dancing nearby.
One of Tucson's most-solid large-sized bands, 8 Minutes to Burn is glued together by a precise and highly funkified rhythm section featuring Ray Clamons on drums, and Gunnar Carlson on bass. Local legends Bryan Dean and Randy Clamons wowed with their guitar prowess, while David Clark and Carlos Tineo added peppy brass flourishes on sax and trumpet, respectively. Josh Chuc rounded out the sound on keys. Everyone was allowed a solo at some point in the set, highlighting the immense individual talent onstage.
The band is fronted by two lead vocalists, Kevin Murphy and Bryan Sanders. The former channeled Sublime's late Bradley Nowell, while Sanders could easily be confused for Tom Waits. Their ability to play off of each other without attempting to steal the spotlight was refreshing. Murphy and Sanders preached about social consciousness and expressed bitterness regarding relationships gone sour—and somehow made these difficult subjects fun and danceable.
8 Minutes to Burn epitomizes a genre that is underrepresented here in Tucson, and they do it smashingly well. For fans of reggae with bluesy departures and bits of spaced-out rock, this is the real deal.