1995 or '96: Scheduled to perform at the now-defunct Sound Addict record store, on Stone Avenue, Marshall cancels by phone an hour after the show is scheduled to begin, for reasons unknown.
1998: Performs at Club Congress with the Dirty Three's Jim White and onetime Moby Grape member Mark Moore as her backing band. Roughly 100 people witness what would be her most consistent local show to date. A nearly flawless performance.
1999: Again, performs at Club Congress, this time alone, alternating between guitar and piano. More people show up for this one based on word of mouth from the '98 show, but the dreaded car wreck rears its ugly head. Roughly a half-hour into the performance, Marshall rattles all in attendance by stopping several songs halfway through (to this day, whenever I hear the phrase "so quiet you could have heard a pin drop," I think of this show), and mumbles to herself that the voices in her head are drowning out her own. She leaves the stage early for this reason, retreating to a corner booth in the club, where she sits staring straight ahead for about 15 minutes. Eventually, a fan dares to approach her and Marshall is friendly as can be, as if nothing at all had just happened.
2000: During The Covers Album (Matador, 2000) tour, at Solar Culture, Marshall disappears 45 minutes before she's scheduled to go on, eventually reappearing to walk directly onto the stage. What follows is her longest and most hypnotic local performance, as she segues seamlessly from one song to the next, without pause. (Of past shows where she's done the same, she has said, "When things go wrong, I usually play for a long time." Asked if that's because she wants to make things right, she responded, "Exactly.") Hiding behind her hair, she reinvented--as opposed to merely reinterpreted--songs by the Velvet Underground, the Rolling Stones and Michael Hurley, to riveting effect.
2002: Three shows are cancelled: the first when Cat Power's tour is cut short due to a finger injury Marshall sustained while playing basketball; the second due to her booking agent's inability to schedule shows around the Tucson date; and the third being a classic case of promoter's zeal: The show was announced before it was actually booked.
2003: Chan wants to spend a week in Tucson, using Solar Culture as a pre-tour rehearsal space, but the plans fall through. As it now stands, she'll spend three days here, during which she'll kick off her American tour, performing a show at Club Congress in front of a four-piece band. Marshall will be supporting her new album, You Are Free (Matador), which, in typically atypical fashion, won't actually be released until a week later, and is her first collection of self-penned songs since 1998's breakthrough Moon Pix (Matador).
Free picks up where that album left off, with a roughly 3-to-1 ratio of ballads to rockers, and actually manages to improve upon the formula. For the first time, there's a sense of self-assuredness in addition to her normal quiet fragility: This time some of the songs may be fragile, but she's not.
"Free," a propulsive, acoustic guitar-driven number, boasts a dynamic arrangement--various instruments floating in and out of the mix--that you'll swear is going to "kick in" at any second; when it finally does, it's just as quickly subdued. "Good Woman" would be another fabulous SoGothic Cat Power ballad, were it not for the gorgeous strings (which are all over the album), the children's choir (reminiscent of a similar use by her ex-boyfriend, Smog's Bill Callahan), and the guest spot from Eddie Vedder. Elsewhere, "Fool" demonstrates just how much Marshall can do with very little: Over a single electric guitar, she doubletracks her vocals, which lends the performance a nuanced balance of the ethereal and the earthly. The melody, which is stunning, carries the song.
Two years after its promised release, You Are Free is everything Cat Power fans have been waiting for, and then some.
Cat Power will perform on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The show begins at 9 p.m. with opening sets by Liberty School and Agave. Admission is $10. For more information call 622-8848.
ON THE BANDWAGON: Here's a quick run-down of some other notable shows around town this week:
Hot on the heels of a smokin' tour with his re-formed bandmates in the Grateful Dead (as The Other Ones, and sans Jerry, natch), singer/guitarist Bob Weir returns to Tucson with his other band, Ratdog, for an 8 p.m. appearance at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St, on Friday, Feb. 7. Advance tix are available for $20 at all Zia Records locations and the theatre's box office, or online at www.rialtotheatre.com. For further details call 798-3333.
Local jazz vocalist/pianist Susan Artemis has just self-released her first album, Small Day Tomorrow, a collection of tried and true chestnuts, with a few more obscure tunes tossed in for good measure. The songs are well chosen--they call 'em standards for a reason--and Artemis wisely doesn't feel the need to get in their way, tastefully resisting the urge to show off, which you get the sense she could easily do.
Same goes for her band, which includes bassist Scott Black, Fred Hayes on drums and Greg Armstrong, whose sultry sax work really shines here. Artemis and co. celebrate the CD's release with a performance from 8 to 11 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 9, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Admission is free, as are the hors d'oeuvres. Questions? Give 'em a call at 798-1298.
Wu-Tang regulars CappaDonna, Inspektah Deck and Killah Priest, who combine to represent a fraction of a percent of the complete Clan (the Wu's got mad members, yo), have welcomed MC/producer Remedy into their fold, quickly giving him more street cred than any white Jewish rapper since the Beastie Boys. And it's reportedly deserved, as the politically charged rhymes of his debut album, The Genuine Article (Fifth Angel, 2001) heavy on Jewish pride and classic rock samples, won him accolades from fans and critics alike. All four perform, along with locals Mankind, at 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is $10, and you're advised to get there early as this one will likely sell out. That number again is 622-8848.
Though it was released a couple months back, KXCI 91.3 FM is just now getting around to throwing a CD release party for Locals Only, Live From Studio 2A: Vol. 2. "Locals Only" radio show host Don Jennings has assembled a pack of artists who appear on the disc to perform live to celebrate its release, among them Teddy Morgan, Greyhound Soul, Ted Ramirez and the Santa Cruz River Band, Al Perry, Crystal Dawn Bryant, The Lester Brothers and John Coinman. It all goes down at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Admission is a fiver and you can call 798-1298 with any burning questions you might have.
Keeping a roughly bi-monthly production schedule, In Your Ear is a free, locally produced (maga)zine that focuses on local, regional and national music. Unfortunately, its publishers, Melissa Edwards and Jennifer Hinrichs, have run into a bit of monetary difficulty keeping the publication afloat. Luckily, some musical friends in high places have decided to donate their time to that end. Chango Malo, Innisfail, Good Talk Russ, and oliver nothing will perform in a fund-raising show for IYE at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave. Admission is a measly four bucks, and the show is all-ages, with bar for those with valid ID. Call 624-9979 for further details.