THESE ARE MY PEOPLE
Gems and craft beers are, like, so last week.
With the rock folks leaving town for greener pastures, and all of Tucson's microbrews consumed during Arizona Beer Week (it actually runs through Saturday, Feb. 22, but play along with me here), this week, with the WGA-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Tucson Rodeo happening in town, it's all about country music and ... whatever golfers listen to (besides polite clapping). Yeah, I have no idea what golfers listen to, so for now let's take a quick look at a few things cowboys might like to do when they're not riding or tying up livestock.
There are, of course, establishments devoted entirely to country music: The Maverick (6622 E. Tanque Verde Road), Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill (4500 N. Oracle Road No. 370). But I'm more interested in events that likely wouldn't be taking place if the rodeo weren't in town this week.
Rodney Atkins had a somewhat troubled entry into the world, though it wasn't his fault. Put up for adoption by his 19-year-old biological mother after what has been referred to as a "traumatic first date," he bounced among adoptive homes as a baby due to health issues before he was finally adopted for the long haul. He was born and raised in Tennessee, learning to play guitar in high school, writing songs while in college. In his 20s he moved to Nashville to get signed to a label, which he did in 1996 (or 1997 depending on who you ask), to Curb Records.
His initial recording career somewhat mirrored his first few years of life; which is to say, there were some false starts. Atkins released a single, which didn't do much, then scrapped the entirety of what was intended to be his first album because he wasn't satisfied with it. Luckily, he was able to talk label head Mike Curb into giving him more time and money to work on it the way he wanted to. Honesty, his true debut, was finally released in 2003, but was only a moderate success.
After adding a little edge to his sound and trading in his cowboy hat for a baseball cap, he released the follow-up, If You're Going Through Hell, in 2006. It would prove to be his breakout album: The title track wound up as the top country hit of 2006, according to Billboard, and three other songs on the album landed at the top of the country charts.
His most recent two albums, It's America (2009) and Take a Back Road (2011) haven't fared quite as well, receiving mixed reviews and diminished sales (although the title tracks of both reached No. 1 on the Billboard country chart).
Rodney Atkins will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road, in Sahuarita. Tickets are $25 and $30, and you can get more info at ddcaz.com or by calling 294-7777.
Based on its music, The Far West could be from just about anywhere. There's some classic honky-tonk, a bit of the Bakersfield sound, classic alt-country a la Uncle Tupelo (or even Gram Parsons), and singer Lee Briante's deep sandpapery voice, which sounds an awful lot like John Prine's. And that makes perfect sense: Though the band is based in Los Angeles, its members hail from all over the country—Chicago, Texas, upstate New York and, yes, even California. The critically acclaimed combo is set to release its second album Any Day Now any day now (Feb. 25, actually). They'll make a return trip to Boondocks Lounge this weekend for a show with an equally fine local combo handling opening duties.
Ned Sutton has been singing country songs around Tucson since the 1970s and his current band, Last Dance (Neil Harry on pedal steel, drummer Aaron Emery, Chris Davis on guitar, and bassist Dan Sorenson), is excellent. The band plays classic country covers—Merle, Johnny, George, etc.—but will toss in a few local classics, too. (Sutton once released an album of George Hawke covers.)
The Far West and Ned Sutton and Last Dance will perform starting at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23, at Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave. Cover is $5. For further details check out boondockslounge.com or call 690-0991.
Local band Country Line will provide the soundtrack for a Rodeo Dance and dinner happening this weekend at the Sabbar Shrine Temple, 450 S. Tucson Blvd. Social hour begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, a brisket dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m., and from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., kick up your heels to country classics (with a few rock 'n' roll tunes from the '50s and '60s tossed in for good measure) courtesy of Country Line. Tickets are $15 per person, or $25 per couple, and they're going fast. For more info head to sabbarshriners.org.
Meanwhile, in Hipsterville, Club Congress' weekly Thursday night dance party, Optimist Club, will host a special Mustache Party: Rodeo Edition tonight, Thursday, Feb. 20. I'm guessing the DJs' set lists won't vary much from the usual Opti format, but Opti Club members, in addition to free admission (it's a $3 cover if you don't have a membership card), will receive free fake mustaches, too. But the best part of the night? Free mechanical bull rides all night long for all! Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St., and you can head to hotelcongress.com/club or call 622-8848 for more info.
COMING BACK TO TOWN
The name Adam Marsland may ring a bell for longtime Tucson music fans. In the 1990s Marsland frequently played in Tucson clubs with his power-pop band Cockeyed Ghost, who were then part of a burgeoning "pop underground" scene in Los Angeles along with The Negro Problem, The Wondermints and others. While Stew from The Negro Problem became involved in the theater world in New York (dude won a Tony!) and The Wondermints became Brian Wilson's backing band, Marsland, in addition to collaborating with his peers and others, including members of the Beach Boys and art-punk outfit Trotsky Icepick, and playing on Badfinger's Pete Ham's posthumous solo album, forged a wildly acclaimed, if under the radar, solo career. (Marsland is an accomplished singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist.)
In those early solo days, he was a road warrior (his debut solo album was a 2002 live collection called 232 Days on the Road) and passed through Tucson at least a couple times. But it's been a while since Marsland returned to town, which he'll do this week armed with a brand-spankin'-new release, The Owl and the Moon, which came out last month.
The album opens with "Contamination," a slice of blue-eyed soul that would have fit right in on a '70s AM Gold station, as would have much of the album. Elsewhere, the wistful "No One's Ever Gonna Hear This Song" steals a page from the Beach Boys playbook, while the backward-looking "Power Pop Days" resembles the Raspberries' brand of its titular genre than, say, Cheap Trick or Big Star. It's a lovely album.
Adam Marsland will perform before The Modeens and after Al Perry at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, Feb. 21. The show starts at 9 p.m. and cover is $6. For further details head to plushtucson.com or call 798-1298.
Prom Body LP fundraiser with Neon Eon, Algae & Tentacles, and Ocean Void at Topaz on Friday, Feb. 21; R Dub's Slow Jams Live! featuring John Legend, Next, Mario, and SoMo at UA Centennial Hall on Friday, Feb. 21; Mischief Madness (aka Michelle Shortt) birthday party with I Am Drugs, SICKorWELL, CCS Crew, Stands With Fists, Optic City Allstars and more at Mr. Head's on Saturday, Feb. 22; 12th Planet Smog City Tour at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, Feb. 21; Escape the Fate, Eve to Adam, and New Years Day at The Rock on Tuesday, Feb. 25; Lewis Black at the TCC Music Hall next Thursday, Feb. 27; J Boog at the Rialto Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 23; Paula Poundstone at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 22; Decker, Marvin and the Cloud Wall, and Horse Black at Club Congress on Saturday, Feb. 22; Sundowners and Black Moods at Plush next Thursday, Feb. 27; Lydia at Club Congress next Thursday, Feb. 27; Side Effects, Autopilots, The Distortionists, Spunk Dolls, and Whiskey Knuckles at The Runway Bar and Grill on Saturday, Feb. 22; Jacques Taylor and the Real Deal at The Hut on Saturday, Feb. 22; Rotary Speed Dial and Sorry About the Garden at Monterey Court on Friday, Feb. 21; The Determined Luddites at Borderlands Brewing Company on Friday, Feb. 21; Carnifex at The Rock on Sunday, Feb. 23; Sun Bones, Black Jackalope Ensemble, and Secret Highway Secrets at Club Congress on Wednesday, Feb. 26; Sugar Stains and Drop Tank at Sky Bar next Thursday, Feb. 27.
Please note that this week's Pentatonix show at the Rialto Theatre is sold out.
Shortly before going to press we received the sad news that Lavinia White, longtime Tucson musician, member of BK Special, and musical and life partner of Stefan George for the last 25 years, has passed away. All of us here at the Weekly pass along our heartfelt condolences to George as well as the rest of White's friends and family.