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Soundbites

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AN ONLINE MUSIC UTOPIA?

Let me start at the beginning: Among the series of tubes that constitute the Internets exist mysterious entities called "blogs."

That's right, folks: We here at the music desk at Weekly World Central are jumping ass-first into the 21st century, and hereby present to you TAMMIES.com, our very own blogtastic Web site.

We're still working out some kinks, but by the time you read this, most will have already been taken care of, thanks to our behind-the-scenes Web guru, Sean Fitzpatrick, who has been working tirelessly to get us up and running. The site will feature some exclusive content from our regular contributors; photos and videos, including The Big Word Show, a streaming local-music program that has wended its way from Access Tucson to aznightbuzz.com and, now, to us; way-early postings of our usual Weekly music-section material; and lots more.

Plus--and this may be the coolest thing of all--anyone can start his or her own music-related blog on our site simply by signing up and becoming a member. Our Utopian vision is one of numerous music blogs existing under the TAMMIES.com umbrella (rella, rella, rella, hey, hey), and lots of social networking happening among them. (I don't know what "social networking" means, per se, but they tell me that it's a buzzword, so it must be good.)

Right about now would be a great time to stop by and sign up. Check it out, and let us know if you have any suggestions about how to make it better or if you discover any glitches in the system. And let's all get bloggin', y'all!


NOT A FREE LUNCH, BUT A FREE LUNCH SOUNDTRACK!

Back when I was attending the UA many moons ago, the Student Union Activities Board sponsored something called Eat to the Beat, a series of daily lunchtime performances from live bands or musicians. You could grab lunch at one of the many nearby restaurants (Louie's Lower Level, anyone?), then head into The Cellar, in the student union, where a local/national band/performer would act as your entertainment while you masticated (or, for some of the lamer acts, background noise while you perused that day's Daily Wildcat).

Let me tell you: As a poor college student, it somehow felt almost decadent to be treated to stimulating lunchtime entertainment for an hour or two every day--and I even discovered a bunch of new bands that I might not have heard otherwise. Perhaps best of all, it was completely free.

Cut to 2008. Some of those poor, music-loving students have certainly become poor, music-loving downtown workers. Who's gonna entertain them during lunchtime? As Jamie Manser, of the Downtown Tucsonan, put it in a recent e-mail, "I approached Bourn Partners, who own La Placita Village, last summer about sponsoring weekly music in their plaza, and they went for it." Which means you, the hungry music fan, can once again be treated to live music as you lunch. And, just as it was with Eat to the Beat, the whole shebang is free. (Unfortunately, the series only takes place on Thursdays, but, hey, you take what you can get, right?)

Here's a schedule of upcoming performers: Jan. 31, Al Perry; Feb 7, Amber Norgaard; Feb 14, Keli Carpenter (Tryst); Feb 21, Phil Borzillo; Feb 28, Michael P. Nordberg; March 6, Naim Amor; March 13, Courtney Robbins; March 20, Matt Mitchell; March 27, The Dusty Buskers; April 3, Jamie O'Brien; April 10, John de Roo; April 17, Betsy; April 24, Michael P. Nordberg.

All performances run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at La Placita Village, 110 S. Church Ave. For more information, head to the lunchtime music Web page, or call Jamie at 547-3342.


WILLIE AND WYNTON

Two musical legends pass through town this week, and though their respective output couldn't be more different, you'd be ill-advised to miss either.

Calling Willie Nelson a country-music legend is actually selling him short, especially since he's experimented with so many different genres. (Quick: Name another country musician who's released a reggae album.) Still, he made his name writing and performing country music, so that's the section you'll find him in at your neighborhood record store. But he's better described as one of America's greatest living songwriters--and interpreters.

After failing to attain a record contract at the start of his career, Nelson began selling his songs to be covered by other artists, and those songs make up a pretty hefty slice of the pie chart of the American musical canon. A small sampling: "Time of the Preacher," "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground," "Night Life," "Hello Walls," "Funny How Time Slips Away" and "Crazy." He later became partially responsible for the outlaw country movement, which defied the slick Nashville norms and added a healthy dose of hippie wisdom to country music--and which still resonates among modern alt-country acts; released what may have been country music's first concept albums in 1974's Phases and Stages, and more successfully, 1975's Red Headed Stranger, as well as an album of songs from the Great American Songbook in 1978's Stardust; founded Farm Aid, an organization to help family farmers compete against growing corporate farming (which seems rather prescient now); and has become just as revered for his soulful interpretations of other people's songs as he is for his own.

Plus, the guy smoked a joint on the roof of the White House during the Carter administration, ferchrissakes. It doesn't get much cooler than that.

Dating back to the '70s, I've seen Willie perform countless times, and while his shows in recent years have grown a bit spotty (i.e., he sometimes rushes through medleys of hits in order to get to the songs he's excited about performing), in all those years, I've only seen a single show that was truly disappointing. In other words, the odds are in your favor when you purchase your ticket.

Fresh off his Super Bowl-related performances, Willie Nelson will perform on two consecutive nights, Tuesday, Feb. 5, and Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the Diamond Entertainment Center at Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road. Both shows start at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $35-$65 (they'll be $5 more on the day of show) at all Ticketmaster locations, including online or by calling 321-1000. For further details call 866-DDC-WINS.

That other not-to-be-missed guy coming to town this week is Wynton Marsalis. Where to begin in describing his impact and accolades? Well, we can start with the fact that, in addition to being a legendary jazz trumpeter and composer, he's a respected classical trumpeter and composer. He's been a tireless mentor to younger generations who might not have been inspired by traditional jazz music otherwise. He's been one of the most outspoken voices in the revitalization efforts in post-Katrina New Orleans, the town in which he was born. He's the first jazz musician in history to win a Pulitzer Prize. And for the last dozen years, he's served as artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. (Along the way, he's also endured his share of controversy, most notably due to his rather large salary from Lincoln Center, a nonprofit, and for his stringently purist tendencies when it comes to jazz history.)

This week's performance, billed as Jazz at Lincoln Center, will bring Marsalis and the 15-piece Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to the stage at UA's Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Advance tickets are available for $27-$67 (with discounts for students, children, seniors and military) at the UApresents Web site, or by calling 621-3341.

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