The Old Blind Dogs is sort of the musical equivalent of comfort food. The band doesn't ask too much of the audience in the sense that it's hard not to like its music, but it is certainly not pushing any envelopes, unless it's the ones used to mail letters home. You could even go so far as to call it "Pogues-lite" if you were a cynical rock-writer type. But that's not to say it's not worth checking out. It's not every day you get to hear someone like Rory Campbell play the bagpipes. And check out the kewl fookin' Scootish lyrics on "Tatties and Herrin'": "Little ken ye iv noo but ye'll soon come tae learn / that yer natural food it is tatties and herrin'." Irvine Welsh, eat yer hairt oot. If ye donnae ken whair t'goh, call 327-4809. Bring 17 quid fer admission.
DO IT FOR HIM: In Christian circles, the "Lord" is often referred to simply as "Him," which probably pisses "Her" off. In new music circles, Him refers to the "new jazz" combo hailing from Chicago that is set to grace the stage of Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Friday, August 17. Primarily the project of Doug Scharin (Rex, June of '44), Him formed in the vibrant jazz scene that has sprung up from the remains of so-called "post rock" (Tortoise, et al.) in the Windy City. Unlike other bands that mess around with Pro Tools all day, the focus in Him is instead on pure musicianship rather than studio fuckery. It's going to be a one-of-a-kind show, as Tucson Puppet Works will be displaying its demented brand of anthropomorphic anarchy to the smooth sounds of Scharin and Co. Also performing will be Dave Pavkovic's Exciting Trio, which, I'm sure, has three members and gets your pulse rate up. The shebang starts at 9 p.m. sharp, and they'll let you in for $7. Who you gonna call? 884-0874.
BLUES MAN GROUP: Although Tucson lacks anything that approximates a juke joint, don't tell Eric Sardinas. The renowned finger-pickin' (good) guitarist rolls into Nimbus Brewery, 3850 E. 44th St., on Saturday, August 18. Sardinas plays in the Mississippi Hill Country blues style made popular by Fat Possum records and Jim Dickinson. There are also touches of Chicago blues and rock elements, and Sardinas has the kind of rough-hewn conviction in his voice that authenticates his subject matter--evil women, whiskey, trains, the devil, etc. Just imagine George Thoroughgood doing less shtick and you have some idea. Or maybe the scene in Weird Science where -- naw, I'm standing by the George Thoroughgood thing. His new album, Devil's Train (see what I mean about the subject matter?), showcases his standout guitar work, and although I'm admittedly not a big fan of the style, a blues guy would probably say it's scorching, appropriate for Tucson in August. Nimbus line: 745-9175.
Y'ALL-TERNATIVE, ANYONE?: Back in the mid-'90s, as everyone was busy burning their flannel shirts and scraping the grunge out of their record collections, things started getting more Marie, less Donny, in the world of alternative music (which is to say, more than "a little bit country"). The rise of Uncle Tupelo and ilk (including No Depression magazine, which started as a Tupelo fanzine) marked the beginning of a heretofore underutilized sound in rock circles. People dusted off their parents' Eddie Rabbit records (OK, so that was just me) and started using words like "dobro" and "raw twang." Tarnation, Paula Frazer's alt-country outfit, hit its stride with records like Gentle Creatures and is excellent swan song, Mirador. Now back after some lineup changes, Frazer has abandoned the Tarnation name, but not the trademark sound. At times ethereal--in a twangy way, mind you--Frazer's new album, Indoor Universe, is consistent with her previous work. That's a good thing. She has a voice that must be heard live to be fully appreciated, and, hey, guess what, she's floating into town on Saturday, August 18. Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., plays host to Frazer and fellow San Franciscans The Court and Spark. Opening the show will be Tucson's female alt-country duo Agave. Bring your sweetie if ya got one and $7 American dollars each. Further info can be had at 884-0874. Oh yeah, be there at 9 p.m. or else.
DANGER KITTY LIVES: Unbelievably, it seems that the rotted corpse of hairglam metal has been reanimated by some cash-starved record exec, and is now seeking to feast on the brains of unsuspecting record buyers, who by now have forgotten all the sins of the mid-'80s. OK, the Crüe occasionally rocked (Shout at the Devil, maybe) but how do you account for Hanoi Rocks, or Bulletboys, or goddamn Poison?
If the aforementioned bands don't make you want to crawl out of your skin, you'd probably enjoy Spiders and Snakes, a glam-revival outfit from, where else, L.A. "Featuring" a dude who once played with Nikki Sixx, S & S is a bunch of straight-up, old skool Whisky-A-Go-Go hair farmers the likes of which haven't been seen since Reagan napped in the Oval Office. If you long for the days when tattered jean jackets and poodle-mullets were the de facto high school uniform, you'll want to be at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St., on Friday, August 17 or at the Double Zero on Saturday, August 18. You'll have to bring your own Spandex, and don't forget a lighter for the power ballads. Shout at the venue: 670-9202 (Seven Black Cats) or 670-9332 (Double Zero).
TAKING LIBERTIES: As a "guest columnist" for Soundbites, I'm going out on a limb here (which I'm sure will be pruned when Monsieur Seigel returns) by trying out a little something I like to call "Soundnibbles." What follows will be a brief mention of shows of note for which the TW and/or "Soundbites" was not supplied any information.
· Saturday, August 18: Clay Walker at Old Tucson Studios (908-4800); Total Chaos at Skrappy's (620-1824); PH8 CD Release Party at the Rialto (798-3333).
· Monday, August 20: Richmond Sluts with Elemenopees at 7 Black Cats (670-9202).
· Wednesday, August 22: Buju Banton with Slightly Stoopid at the Rialto (798-3333).
And there you have it.