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With the exception of DJs (and even most of them travel with iPods in hand these days), for Generation Y and all who follow it, vinyl records are a novelty, a throwback to a time they've only read about.

But for us Gen Xers and those who came before us, records were once a way of life.

Even with all of the CDs I've had sent to me from record labels since I've had my job writing about music (and it's been a while now), plus those acquired from record-store jobs before that, my vinyl collection still rivals my CD one. And I cherish it way more--not because it's some novel, ancient way to listen to music, but because I paid for almost every album and single (and 10-inch) that I own. Which means that, for the most part, I like them--I bought them for a reason, after all.

As we all know, one's most formative experiences (music included) usually happen when young; I have a lifetime's worth of memories wrapped up in the grooves etched on my vinyl. Not to mention that you can actually read the liner notes; records sound way better than any other format; and you pay more attention to the music, because you have to flip sides.

We vinyl lovers have cause to rejoice, as Hotel Congress--as the 17th Street Market has done from time to time in recent years--is hosting a record show this weekend. Billed as the 2008 Hotel Congress Record Festival, the event is set to take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12. According to a press release we received, the festival will feature "local and regional vendors, including record stores (Toxic Ranch, Twist and Shout, Zia Record Exchange, Stinkweed's), KXCI (FM 91.3), Bookmans and independent dealers selling rare, new and used vinyl in an array of genres; the Stereo Hospital, with vintage stereo equipment (local turntable, receiver and speaker repair); giveaways of records and gift cards throughout; memorabilia and merchandise; (and) DJs Johnny D, Carl Hanni and Al Perry spinning all day." In other words, it's a record-collecting dork's wet dream.

See you at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Saturday. Admission is free. If you need more info, call 622-8848.

But wait, there's more: The night before, Friday, Jan. 11, Congress is hosting a combo Record Fest pre-party/birthday party for Rich Hopkins, guitarist for Sand Rubies and Luminarios, who notches up a half-century on this crazy blue ball this week. Hopkins will celebrate by opening the show with the Luminarios and closing it with the Rubies. In between, Los Guys and Zen Lunatics will also perform. Things get underway around 9 p.m., and best of all, admission to this one is free, too.


Anyone who's ever been to the Boondocks Lounge has surely been touched in one way or another by its co-owner, Cathy Warner, who is as selfless as they come. She'll be the recipient of funds raised at a benefit show being held in her honor this weekend. Here are the details from an e-mail we received:

"Cathy Warner and her husband Bill have owned the Boondocks Lounge at 3306 N. First Ave. for over 11 years. Due to their generosity and sense of community, this comfy neighborhood bar with the giant wine bottle out front has been the venue for countless benefit events: blues musicians facing long-term medical care without health insurance, folk musicians' families devastated financially by catastrophic illness. The one thing that Cathy Warner probably never expected was to find herself in a similar position.

"Last October, Cathy faced an expensive surgery; the insurance company declared her condition to be 'pre-existing' and therefore exempt from coverage. With her only choice to live with long-term pain or be in long-term debt, she bravely decided to forgo the surgery. Then, friends stepped in. Resources were pooled, and a no-interest loan was procured.

"Then more friends stepped in to raise funds for the loan payoff ... all culminating into a jamming night of rowdy Boondocks fun."

Said fun goes down from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 13, at--where else?--Boondocks Lounge. The evening will feature performances from the Van Dykes (Danny Krieger, Larry Lee Lerma and Ralph Gilmore), the Kevin Pakulis Band and Only Revolutions. Admission is a suggested donation of $10, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. For more information, call 690-0991.


At a time when musicologists everywhere are bemoaning the fact that classical music is a dying genre, that young people have no appreciation for the form, it seems a rather noble cause to attempt to reverse that trend. A few acts have done so by taking classical music to clubs where rock music is the norm, but Los Angeles' The Section Quartet takes that idea even further by, as their bio states, "(fusing) the worlds of classical and rock by tearing down the wall that divides the two genres."

How, you ask? By performing covers of rock songs on classical instruments.

I know, it sounds gimmicky, and maybe it is. But with the album Fuzzbox (2007, Decca), violinists Eric Gorfain and Daphne Chen, violist Leah Katz and cellist Richard Dodd have created a vehicle for exactly that: drawing in younger listeners to the experience of classical music by using rock as a gateway. Fuzzbox includes string quartet versions of rock songs old and new, fringe and mainstream, by such artists as The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, the Postal Service, David Bowie and Led Zeppelin, and the results are often revelatory.

Who knows how many people who attend a Section Quartet show run out and buy the complete Beethoven string quartets the next day? In any case, you've gotta give 'em kudos for trying. (If, indeed, they are trying: In the band's bio, Gorfain is quoted as saying, "We think of ourselves as a rock band that just happens to play classical instruments. We bring the rock 'n' roll attitude to the table.")

TSQ are wrapping up their brief West Coast tour here in Tucson next Thursday, and I highly recommend checking them out, even if you don't think you have any interest in classical music. In addition to performing songs from Fuzzbox, they'll also be playing Radiohead's OK Computer in its entirety.

The Section Quartet performs at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Thursday, Jan. 17. Doors open at 7 p.m., and tickets are $8 in advance, or $10 at the door. Admission entitles you to stick around afterwards and get your groove on at the Optimist Club. Call 622-8848 for further details. ON THE BANDWAGON

Be sure to keep an eye out for information about other shows we didn't get to this week, including Faun Fables with Marianne Dissard and Matt Mitchell at Solar Culture Gallery on Wednesday, Jan. 16; Rick Springfield at Desert Diamond Casino on Saturday, Jan. 12; As I Lay Dying at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, Jan. 11; the Beach Boys at Desert Diamond Casino on Friday, Jan. 11; and Kottonmouth Kings at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 12.


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