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MUSICIANS GIVE ... AND GIVE ... AND GIVE

Schoolhouse Rock and De La Soul have both reminded us in the past that three is the magic number, and that seems to be true lately regarding Tucson music. Last week, we told you about three local CD-release parties; this week, Tucson musicians seem to be in a charitable mood, as three very different but worthwhile benefits are set to take place.

For a band as busy and high-profile as Calexico, you've really got to hand it to them for giving back to the community that spawned them. I'm too lazy to do the research and too math-challenged to crunch the numbers, but it seems like in recent years, the band has played two local benefit shows for each paid one. There's the annual winter KXCI (and, sometimes, Solar Culture) benefits at the Temple of Music and Art, which have become a local tradition; in January 2007, the group raised money for the family of Ariel Cramer, a member of Mariachi Luz de Luna who passed away suddenly due to a brain aneurysm; and this week, Calexico will headline another benefit for Cramer's alma mater, Pueblo High School's Mariachi Aztlán.

The junior mariachis have been invited to represent Arizona by performing at the annual National Independence Day Parade, which will take place in Washington, D.C., on the Fourth of July, and the proceeds from this week's show will fund that trip.

Along with Calexico--who have been working in the studio recently, so don't be surprised if you hear a new song or two--the show will include performances from Salvador Duran, Mariachi Luz de Luna and, of course, Pueblo High's Mariachi Aztlán.

It all goes down at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 23. Tickets for the all-ages show are $16 for advance general admission ($18 on the day of the show), and $18 for reserved balcony seats. General admission tickets are available $11 for students with a valid ID. For more information, call 740-1000.

The other two benefits this week are, unfortunately, on the very same night--Saturday, May 24. Luckily, though, the schedules are staggered well enough that the intrepid music fan/do-gooder can make it to both.

Get a taste of New Orleans and help musicians from that fine city at the same time, as Hotel Congress hosts its second (annual?) Night for New Orleans, which once again benefits Music Rising, a charity dedicated to rescuing the musical heritage of New Orleans.

According to a press release from the hotel, Music Rising is "a campaign launched in 2005 to rebuild the musical culture that was nearly destroyed by the hurricanes which ravaged the Gulf Coast region. Music Rising initially supported the replacement of instruments lost by professional musicians so that they could regain their livelihood. It has since entered into a second phase which supports churches and schools with replacement instruments so that musical programs can once again be initiated. To date, Music Rising has benefited 30,000 students and parishioners and over 2,500 professional musicians. The campaign has assisted in providing instruments to 21 schools and 41 churches allowing those music programs to become operational again."

Admission to the event is free, which is somewhat unusual for a benefit; money will be raised via donations and other offerings, including food sales and a raffle.

The good times start rolling at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 24, with a Cajun and Creole dinner including a traditional crawfish boil--the hotel is flying in 300 pounds of live crawfish--and the Crescent City's own Abita beer, which will be served on tap.

U2 guitarist The Edge is one of the co-founders of Music Rising, and he's donated a self-designed Epiphone Limited Edition Les Paul electric guitar to be raffled off at the event. The winner will also receive a certificate of authenticity hand-signed by The Edge.

It wouldn't be a N'awlins-style throwdown without some good live music, so the Bad News Blues Band, Black Leather Zydeco, Tom Walbank and Mojo Gumbo will all be on hand to provide a feast for your ears. And Cirque du Sin, who will be performing a cabaret show in the club that evening, will strut their stuff in a Bourbon Street-themed fire performance.

This is the first of Congress' summer "green concerts," with all lighting and sound being solar-powered, and food being served on 90-day biodegradable "potato-ware."

Hotel Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. For further details, call 622-8848.

In last week's edition of the Weekly, the TQ&A column featured an interview with Bryan Sanders of the local funk outfit 8 Minutes to Burn. Sanders discussed his decision to organize Iraq Aid 2008, billed as a "benefit for Iraqi civilians and U.S. veterans" and set to take place on Saturday, May 24, at The Hut. "I sit and talk about politics a lot," said Sanders, "and I felt like this could be an opportunity to do something, however small, that's a change from the same old verbal shenanigans that go on in bars and all over this country."

To that end, he's gathered a half-dozen local bands and performers to donate their time and music for the cause. The schedule for the event looks a little something like this: Planet Jam (8 p.m.), Michael P. Nordberg (9 p.m.), Al Perry (10 p.m.), American Android (11 p.m.), 8 Minutes to Burn (midnight) and Cosmic Slop (1 a.m.).

Admission is $8, and all door proceeds will be divided evenly between the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and Disabled American Veterans. Additionally, The Hut will donate 10 percent of its bar sales at the event to the same charities.

Doors open at 7 p.m., and The Hut is located at 305 N. Fourth Ave. For more info, call 623-3200 or log onto IraqAid2008.org.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Some other fine shows in town this week include a CD-release party for local band Crossing Sarnoff's Lessons From the Soul, with openers The Otterssey, at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Friday, May 23; Fatal Fest featuring Meat Shits, Sepsism, Fetus Eaters, Inducive Terror, Saphead, Limbless Torso and Watch Me Burn at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., on Saturday, May 24; Devil Doll with Al Foul at the Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave., on Friday, May 23; Tracy Lawrence at Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road, on Saturday, May 24; Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and Foot Foot at Solar Culture Gallery on Sunday, May 25; Metro Station with The Maine, Danger Radio and The Cab at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave., on Tuesday, May 27; the Murder Junkies with The Besmirchers and Knuckle Junction at Vaudeville Cabaret next Thursday, May 29; The Red Elvises at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, May 24; Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers at JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd., on Saturday, May 24; Pete Escovedo's Latin Jazz Sextet at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, 7000 N. Resort Drive, on Sunday, May 25.

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