The reason that County officials gave for the last-minute pull-out? Drugs. Raves draw drugs, and drugs are bad, and we can't go along with anything that might even remotely celebrate drug use.
Which brings us to this weekend's Grass Roots Affair, a not-at-all-veiled rally for the legalization of (at the very least) hemp and medicinal marijuana, which the promoters are very quick to point out has been twice voted into law by the citizens of Arizona, only to be cut off at the pass by federal law. And while hemp isn't on the short list of issues this voting season, it remains a recurring issue whose supporters grow in numbers (William F. Buckley of all people?).
OK, here's the ironic part: The festivities are set to take place this weekend at--you guessed it--The Pima County Fairgrounds. And while the goal of the event might be to open a few eyes to the fact that hemp is not at all evil, but instead one of the most useful and cost-efficient crops there is (you know the score: paper, rope, blah, blah, blah), not to mention its well-documented medicinal properties, if nothing else will draw you in, the music will.
Lee "Scratch" Perry, the event's headliner, is without question one of the true legends of reggae, having virtually invented the concept of dub (and, some would argue, reggae itself), appropriated since by everyone from The Clash to Tortoise, as well as every reggae artist that followed him. Perry is to reggae what Ol' Dirty Bastard is to hip-hop, and then some. Both are the left-field joker, the reality-deprived enigma, the, well, crazy motherfucker. The primary difference is that while ODB has put out some fierce shit, ol' Scratch was the leader of The Upsetters, produced such classic sides as Junior Murvin's "Police and Thieves," oh, and produced most of the early output of a li'l band of Kinsgstonites called The Wailers (some guys that went by the names of Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and Bob Marley outside of the group).
In the early '70s Perry built in his back yard the ramshackle Black Ark studio, which would, in the span of the five years it existed, produce world-changing sounds. Perry had already been experimenting with found noise, and he is often credited as being one of the first people to sample. He bounced tracks (a term for essentially dumping multiple tracks onto one, thereby allowing for more tracks to be added) when he had only four to work with.
But the next thing to happen was pivotal: Perry lost his shit and burned Black Ark to the ground, destroying hundreds of hours of tape, which he had previously "blessed" by burying in the dirt for a spell or blowing ganga smoke its way.
In recent years, Perry garnered giant-ass props when the Beastie Boys put him on the cover of one of the first issues of their trend-setting Grand Royal magazine, and he's been rediscovered by a new generation of fans too young to catch the train the first time around. He's also been collaborating with a number of bands and producers, most notably British electronics specialist Mad Professor, who produced Perry's upcoming release, Techno Party* (Beatville Records), and who will appear alongside Scratch at the Grass Roots Project.
If the rare Perry/Professor match-up isn't motivation enough, check out the rest of the lineup: British-born rap ruler Slick Rick (free at last!); the funky grooves of Merle Saunders; dancehall reggae stylist Shinehead; Hieroglyphics hip-hop crew members Souls Of Mischief; acclaimed spoken-word artist Saul Williams, who will be appearing with a full backing band; and the amazing turntablist Rob Swift (X-ecutioners); not to mention locals Stuck In A Groove and a host of DJs from around the country, in addition to numerous guest speakers set on raising awareness of hemp issues. The talent brought together for this monumental event truly raises the bar for local festival-type shows, so please get your ass out there to support it.
The Grass Roots Project begins at 4:20 p.m. (natch) on Saturday, September 16, at the Pima County Fairgrounds, 11300 S. Houghton Road, and runs 'til 4:20 a.m. Advance tickets are available for $25 at Hazy Dayz, Sound Factory, Twelve Tribes, Strictly CDs, CD Depot and both Zip's locations. They'll be $30 at the gate. For more information call 884-0272 or log onto www.grassrootsaffair.com.
PARENTAL GUIDANCE: If her gene pool is any indication, Sally Taylor was seemingly born to write and perform music. You might have heard of her parents: Her mom is Carly Simon and her dad is some guy named James Taylor. Needless to say, she's had numerous major-label offers, but chooses instead to release her material herself, keeping complete creative control over her output. Her first CD, Tomboy Bride (Blue Elbow), was intended to be a mere demo tape, recorded on borrowed equipment in the mountains of Colorado. Available only through her website and at live gigs, the disc sold over 7,000 copies in its first year of release.
Taylor has just released the nationally distributed follow-up, Apt. #6S (Blue Elbow), named after the Manhattan apartment she grew up in as well as playing on words representing her mission statement (6S = success). The good news is that this is no vanity project; Taylor wrote or co-wrote every one of the 12 songs on the disc, and while she doesn't really break any new ground, Apt. #6S should put any questions of nepotism to rest. From the feel-good "Convince Me" to the latter-day 10,000 Maniac-al "4 Kim," the tunes read like the diary of a late-20something woman, disarming in their straightforwardness and armed with pop hooks to boot.
Catch Sally Taylor along with WOMB (Warriors of Make- Believe) at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, September 20, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. For details call 622-8848.
LAST NOTES: Black Sabbath-obsessed singer/guitarist Scott "Wino" Weinrich is one of the trailblazers of the modern stoner rock movement, having been frontman for the early '80s D.C. band the Obsessed, as well as St. Vitus in the late '80s, way before the fuzzed-out heavy blues grooves became cool again. He's put together a new outfit, Spirit Caravan, which carries the same torch he's been running with for decades now, influencing believers in the metal, indie, punk and rock communities for just as long. Check out Spirit Caravan along with Love Mound at 9 p.m. on Monday, September 18, at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. Cover for this all-ages show is $5, and you can call 884-0874 with any lingering questions.
A couple of choice flamenco shows make their way into town this week. First up is the guitar duo of Benedetti and Svoboda, who have made a name for themselves by incorporating Slavic, Latin, Indian and Middle Eastern influences into their potent brand of flamenco. They'll be performing at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 15, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4831 E. 22nd St. Advance tickets are available for $15 at Antigone Books, Enchanted Earthworks and Hear's Music, or by phone at 297-9133. (Call the same number for additional information.) The duo sold out its Tucson performance last summer, but if there are any tickets left at show time, they'll be $17 at the door.
Best known as the artist who brought the modern nouveau flamenco style to worldwide attention with his 1990 release Nouveau Flamenco (Higher Octave Music), Ottmar Liebert has just re-released that seminal classic with new mixes and five bonus tracks under the title Nouveau Flamenco: 1990-2000 Special Edition (also Higher Octave). The album--and the style for which it's named--combines traditional flamenco music with a modern pop sensibility, thereby snaring casual listeners into avenues they might not have otherwise wandered. A reliable source tells me that Liebert absolutely slayed in his last Tucson appearance. Expect him to do the same when he makes his way back to the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, September 19. The show will have reserved seating, and advance tickets are available for $28.50 at Hear's Music and all Ticketmaster locations (including Robinson's-May), or by phone at 321-1000. For more information call 798-3333.
And finally, just a quick reminder to all bands interested in participating in the Third Annual Great Cover-Up: you've only got a week left to get your submissions in (deadline is Thursday, September 21). Send your band name, type of music you normally play, first and second choices of acts you'd like to cover, and a contact name and phone number and/or e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Cover-Up" in the subject line. Thanks to all those who have already submitted--we've been getting some good ones.