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Soundbites

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THE BEST OUT OF 52?

Well, kiddies, let's hope you've still got some cash in the coffer. Rocktober may officially be a thing of the past, but I'm here to tell you that this week constitutes one of the busiest musical weeks we'll have all year.

Forgive my brevity about each item below, but in the name of inclusion, this week I'm erring on the side of quantity.


USED BOOKS; FRESH MUSIC

I think I speak for most readers of the Tucson Weekly when I say that I've plunked down enough of my cash at the counters of Bookmans over the years to entitle me to, well, something.

OK, maybe not. Their prices are pretty damn fair, after all. All right, so Bookmans owes me nothing, really. But that's not gonna stop 'em from thanking me for my support all these years.

Thirty years, to be exact. The venerable mainstay of all things used will thank us all, in fact, by throwing a free concert this weekend. A free outdoors concert. A free outdoors concert headlined by Tucson's ambassadors to the world, Calexico.

Billed as Bookmans' Party in the Park, the event is the company's way of saying thank you to all of us who have patronized our ol' pal Bob's stores over the years. To wit, here's a quote from Bob himself, from a press release: "The real heroes of this story are the hundreds of wonderful people who have worked, and still work, in this endeavor. And of course all of the loyal customers across Arizona who have made our bookstores their own." (Stephen Colbert would be proud: We're heroes, people! Simply by shopping!)

The event is a day-long affair--a festival, if you will, that starts at noon with a set from local country vets Chuck "Wagon" Maultsby and a Few Old Wheels; followed at 2 p.m. with jump blues from The Insomniacs, out of Portland, Ore.; Chicago Blues Reunion, a group comprising a pack of blues sidemen who have played alongside legends, and are fronted by harp player extraordinaire Corky Siegel, are up at 4 p.m.; and then Calexico and some special guests, including Mariachi Luz de Luna and newlywed Salvador Duran, close things out at 6 p.m.

If you'd like to actually see what's happening onstage, you're advised to arrive on time: Those involved with the production estimate that up to 10,000 people will flood into Reid Park on Saturday, Nov. 3, for the big shew. For more info, head to Bookmans.com.


THAT WACKY WEEN!

Oh, Ween, you're awfully devilish. You start your career by releasing home-recorded albums full of whimsical absurdities that are a complete crackup, memorably ordering "two pollo asado tacos with one beef chimichanga" amid a whirl of tape hiss and Yacht Rock guitar; covering a Prince song about licking pussy; and recording a flamenco-metal number about El Caminos.

You go on to record an album full of would-be country hits (12 Golden Country Greats) with titles like "Piss up a Rope" and "Help Me Scrape the Mucus off My Brain"--backed by a group of veteran Nashville session players who have no idea what the hell you're up to; you release a psychedelic-rock concept album about oceanic life (The Mollusk); and on most of your other albums, you sling comedy-rock homages to/parodies of virtually every musical genre and subgenre that exists in the Western world. Those genre exercises, though, are so accurate, and betray such immense talent, that you defy the comedy-rock albatross and end up creating timeless tunes that just happen to be awesome on their own terms, not to mention hilarious.

Plus, you've managed to bridge the gap between smug, jaded hipsters and jam-band-worshiping hippies due to your live performances, which generally run about the length of a Grateful Dead show (read: way long) and match that band in terms of improv jams.

With a new album, La Cucaracha (2007, Rounder), to support, you're hitting the road once again and bringing the party to Tucson at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Tix for the all-ages show are available in advance for $26 (general admission) and $29 (reserve seated balcony) at the venue's box office, rialtotheatre.com or by calling 740-1000. Those general admission tickets are $28 on the day of the show.


HARDENING CRIMINALS

Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals' albums in the past have largely been uneven, attempting to cover such a wide swath of genres that the songs themselves sometimes get lost in the mix. Harper's latest album, Lifeline (2007, Virgin), then, is one of his most satisfying yet, a collection of deeply soulful grooves that retains his trademark sound, explores vintage R&B and still manages to sound distinctly like a Ben Harper album. It also contains some of the most memorable songs he's written in years. If you're a disenchanted fan, welcome back to the fold.

Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals perform at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd., at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7. Ticket prices range from $29 to $49 and may be purchased in advance at the venue's box office, online at uapresents.org or by calling 621-3341.


MONTREAL COMES TO THE RIALTO

If you've recently found yourself hankering for a slab o' meat from Outback Steakhouse, there's a reason: Neo-psychedelic-rock pitchmen Of Montreal are returning to town this week. The group's meteoric rise from Elephant 6 also-rans to headliners shows no sign of slowing down, and for good reason: Of Montreal are pretty fucking awesome. Pray that Kevin Barnes keeps his clothes on when the band performs at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, Nov. 7. Showtime is 8 p.m., and the night begins with sets from Grand Buffet and MGMT. Tickets for the all-ages show are $15 in advance, available at the venue's box office, online at rialtotheatre.com and by calling 740-1000; they'll be $17 on the day of show.


INTENTIONAL UNINTENTIONAL LAUGHS

Life as a lousy comedian is rough--almost as rough as being an audience member who's witnessing a lousy performance by a horrible comedian. Just ask Neil Hamburger (or anyone who's seen him).

As I have written before: For those not in the know, Neil Hamburger is the alter ego of Amarillo Records owner Gregg Turkington, and his act consists of the following: Hamburger, with grease-dripping hair and gallons of flop sweat, tells jokes--in between his incessant throat-clearing and awkward pauses--so bad that half of them don't even make sense. In other words, he's basically a performance artist pretending to be the world's worst comedian, so unfunny that he's funny.

Get a dose of Hamburger's "comedy" at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, Nov. 7. Pleaseeasaur opens at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance, available at hotelcongress.com, or $7 at the door. Call 622-8848 for more info.


FINEST BLEND

"The root of all pop music is African. Our sound acknowledges that fact. That's why the music is so soulful. We're playing the ancient beats that came from Africa to create reggae, son, Afro-beat and funk and mixing 'em all together."

So sez Karlos Paez of San Diego's B-Side Players, and after giving their latest album, Fire in the Youth (2007, Concord), a whirl, I concur, though I might add that they also incorporate jazz, Caribbean elements, sounds from South of the Border and Eastern Europe, and ... well, you get the idea.

Get a dose of the multi-culti grooves at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, Nov. 6. The Salvador Santana Band and Cipes and the People open at 9 p.m. Admission is $10. The number to call for further details is 622-8848.


FOURKILLER, FINALLY!

Live performances by beloved local country-rockers Fourkiller Flats are a rarity these days, so it gives me great pleasure to inform you that this is one of those weeks in which we'll be treated to one. The group will perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, Nov. 2, along with fellow local stunners Loveland and Dan Simonis and the West Texas Millionaires, who start the night off at 9:30 p.m. Admission is a fiver, and you can call 798-1298 for more information.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Keep an eye out for these other fine shows, which we don't have space to cover in detail: David Allan Coe at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, Nov. 2; Red Elvises at The Hut on Wednesday, Nov. 7; the now annual KISS tribute show by the Wasted Aces at the Surly Wench Pub on Saturday, Nov. 3; the Love Me Nots and Ghost Cow at The Hut on Saturday, Nov. 3; Sick Puppies at The Rock on Wednesday, Nov. 7; and Courtney Robbins, Leila Lopez, Coyote Grace and Brian Field at The Hut on Friday, Nov. 2.

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