POSTCARDS FROM PERRY
Saturday, July 30, is a jam-packed day and night for unusual and worthwhile local music events. Here are some recommended choices.
I've been trying to spread the word lately about Ancient Radio, a relatively new vinyl-only record store that keeps weird hours and is difficult to find, but is well worth the trouble for any record nerd whose collection extends beyond the latest new indie rock bands.
The store is small but crammed with obscurities in punk, blues, jazz, country, and yes, even plenty of indie bands—generally stuff you won't find in most local stores. The owners, Jeff Bursey and Jorg Mauelshagen (aka KXCI's The Jorginator) are friendly, knowledgeable types, as ready to discuss that difficult-to-find Thinking Fellers Local Union 242 EP as they are that Oscar Peterson album you've never come across before. Best of all, in lots of cases, they'll even toss requests on the store's stereo so you can hear what you're getting yourself into before you buy.
I discovered the place a few months ago while attending an art opening at the now shuttered Candelabra Gallery, which shares the same courtyard space with Ancient Radio. The address for the place is 341 N. Hoff Ave., but you get there by entering through that courtyard, which is accessible via a corridor on Seventh St., just east of Che's Lounge.
On Saturday, July 30, that courtyard will be the site for the first real "event" the shop has hosted. Apparently there's a gallery that I missed the couple times I've been there, and that gallery will play into Saturday's proceedings as well.
Here's the story: Legendary local singer-guitarist-songwriter Al Perry will readily admit that he's not much of a visual artist. And anyone who knows him can attest he can be a bit cranky sometimes when it comes to discussing politics. Inspired by the state of the state of Arizona (in a manifesto he wrote that's loaded with bon mots, he mentions Jan Brewer, Russell Pearce, SB 1070, and John "Lumpy" McCain, among others, and writes, tongue somewhat in cheek, "It is, truly, the state of hate. We are leading the way into the future"), Perry decided to paint a series of postcards inspired by his vision of Arizona.
In his own words, from the manifesto: "It is in this environment that I've created this hopeful and uplifting series of watercolor postcards. I had a kiddie set of watercolor paints and a pad of postcards that sat around my house for years. Recently, I cranked out a few postcards just for amusement and sent 'em to some friends. My pal Jeff Bursey, who runs the Ancient Radio record store, got hold of one of these, and one thing led to another. Thus, the big art show.
"Many years ago I saw a kid's drawing in the newspaper, and I stole virtually every idea that kid had. See the way the saguaros are painted? The road? The windows with the X's? Kids get it. Plus there's gotta be a Circle K in every one of 'em. Welcome to Tucson.
"These things take very little time to produce, though a lifetime of study and bitterness has gone into them. And you think your kid could paint better than that? Well, I certainly hope so! A primitive humor pervades these nasty pieces of work.
"DeGrazia, Dubuffet, Munch, Picabia, Warhol, all figure as influences. Except they knew how to paint and I don't."
The "big art show" he refers to is a collection of those watercolor postcards that will be on display and for sale at Perry's Postcards, a combination art show and night of music. But here's the kicker: Since Perry doesn't really paint, the evening's live music (again from the manifesto) "has to be performed by folks who have never played an instrument before. Or if they have, they must play an instrument they are completely unfamiliar with. Or, they must do a song that I pick, and hand them the words and chords (to) right there on the spot."
The brave participants include visual artist Olivier Mosset, Paul Jenkins, Loren Dircks, Hank Topless, Dan Hostetler, Patty Katchur, the Davis Brothers, Kathleen Williamson and many more. (Depending on how much beer I've got in my belly, I may perform myself: Perry has asked me to perform God Bless America on trombone, an instrument I'm pretty sure I've never so much as held in my hands.) The evening's musical finale? Fish Karma will perform a mash-up of "those two shining examples of American songcraft," the standard Turkey in the Straw and Bob Seger's Turn the Page.
Perry's Postcards gets started at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, at Ancient Radio, which will of course be open for business as well. Admission is free. If you've got questions, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll let Perry have the last word here: "It's gonna be a gig, dude. Can you resist? Well, probably, but show up anyway."
UKE 'EM TILL THEY GLOW
On one fateful day some years ago, my friend Stefanie Gershon was bored at work. As many of us do in similar situations, she was killing time by browsing the web. Somehow, she found herself watching a series of Tiny Tim videos on YouTube and was struck by an idea: No one plays the ukulele anymore. Determined to entertain and amuse her friends, she followed that wild hair straight to The Folk Shop, where she bought a uke and taught herself to play.
It turns out she was rather prescient. Ukuleles are everywhere these days: used by indie bands like Beirut, in the musical comedy of Garfunkel and Oates, heard on Subaru commercials as played by Basia Bulat. Hell, even Eddie Vedder just released a solo album of ukulele tunes. But perhaps the person most responsible for the current uke craze was Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, a Hawaiian musician whose cover of Over the Rainbow was ubiquitous a few years ago. (He passed away in 1997.)
This weekend, local musicians are getting in on the uke craze at a benefit for the Tucson Artists and Musicians Healthcare Alliance (TAMHA), which helps local creative types get access to resources for their healthcare needs.
Participating acts were told they could perform whatever the hell they wanted in a 20-minute set, as long as it incorporated the ukulele. Here's what the schedule of performers looks like: Some of Them Are Old (8:30 p.m.), Feed (9 p.m.), Amy Rude (9:30 p.m.), The Swigs (10 p.m.), A House, A Home (10:30 p.m.), Top Dead Center (11 p.m.), Winston Watson's Brother Love and the Salvations (which includes Gershon) (11:30 p.m.), Tracy Shedd (midnight), and The Modeens (12:30 a.m.).
It all goes down at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, July 30. Admission is a suggested donation of $8. For more info head to plushtucson.com or call 798-1298.
Those looking to do some dancing on Saturday, July 30, might want to head to the Rhythm Industry Performance Factory, 1013 S. Tyndall Ave., where the local Afro-Brazilian ensemble Batucaxé will celebrate its 10th anniversary by performing at the Third Annual Monsoon Mania Dance Party, a fundraiser for the group's programs and for California Brazil Camp, a gathering and workshop of all things musically Brazilian. The dance party runs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., and all ages are welcome. Admission is $10, and kids under 12 are free. For further details head to batucaxe.org.
After years of discussion, consideration, and laws being passed, the FCC will soon be licensing thousands of low-power FM (LPFM) radio stations, and a group of Tucsonans (actually, two groups: Community Radio Tucson and the Prometheus Radio Project) is trying to get one off the ground in the downtown area. They'll hold their first community meeting from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, at the Ward 3 office, 1510 E. Grant Road. Anyone interested in any aspect of the establishment of an LPFM station downtown is encouraged to attend. For more information, point your browser to CommunityRadioTucson.org.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Be sure to check our listings section this week for tons more great stuff we didn't have room to tell you about. In the meantime, here are a few noteworthy shows: Gaza Strip CD-release party at Plush on Friday, July 29; Marcia Ball at the Rialto Theatre on Sunday, July 31; Chicago at AVA at Casino del Sol on Tuesday, Aug. 2; Hapa at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, July 30; Joan Sebastian at AVA at Casino del Sol on Saturday, July 30; Bowling for Soup at The Rock on Wednesday, Aug. 3; Dread Crew of Oddwood at Surly Wench Pub on Saturday, July 30; AmoSphere at Boondocks Lounge on Saturday, July 30; Hank Topless at the Red Room at Grill on Friday, July 29; Norma Jean, Sleeping Giant, The Chariot and more at The Rock on Saturday, July 30; The Croutons at Plush on Sunday, July 31.