Dave Gonzalez, guitarist for the Paladins/Hacienda Brothers/Stone River Boys, recently saw Mad Max and the Wild Ones (Bud Light Music Stage, 11 p.m.), and all he could say was that they're one of the best rockabilly bands he's seen in a long time.
Maybe that's because the band fashioned their sound after the Paladins. Or perhaps it's because the band includes a dad and his three sons (ages 18, 14 and 10)—and it's the 10-year-old who actually steals the show as the lead singer.
No, it's not the story you're thinking (dad gets kids hooked on great music, teaches them how to play, starts a family band). In fact, it was the opposite: The three kids started playing in the basement and needed their dad to play bass; they actually had to teach him everything he knows. Now they've got a new CD out and are hitting the road, spreading their revved-up rockabilly twang throughout the Southwest. As their promo states, they're "the greatest band under 400 pounds."
The Mike Eldred Trio (Bud Light Music Stage, midnight) just released a CD titled 61 and 49, as in the highway numbers of that famous crossroads down in Mississippi. Blues guitarist Eldred started his career as the guitarist with Lee Rocker (the Stray Cat's former bassist, whose band Big Blue, along with the Paladins, helped define the rockabilly/blues genre). Eldred has gone on to craft this sound into something uniquely his own. On this new record, he is helped out by several of his guitar buddies: Ike Turner, Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley), Cesar Rosas (Los Lobos) and Kid Ramos. For the live shows, former Paladins drummer Brian Fahey keeps the band grooving with his trademark big beat.
Chicano soul legend Rudy Palacios will perform with Se Salen on the Tejano/Mia Stage (at 11 p.m. and midnight). Palacios was the guitarist for Sunny and the Sunliners, and he was also one of the main songwriters who penned the hit "Talk to Me." After he retired, he realized that he wanted to get out and perform many of the hit songs that he had written for the group. As a side note, Rudy is scheduled to come back to Tucson in December with his band.
At 9 p.m. on the Bud Light Music Stage is the zydeco/norteno/blues mix of Felix y los Gatos, from Albuquerque. Guitarist Felix Peralta leads this accordion-fueled party mix with a slew of great original songs and potent vocals. This will be Tucson's first look at what surely will be a crowd favorite; after all, we're a town that loves its zydeco, yet is squarely rooted in the sound of Northern Mexico.
Chris Miller and James Sasser (Bud Light Music Stage, 10 p.m.) hail from Portland, Ore. That's not a city that one would consider a hotbed of country music, but once you hear the rich baritone voice and the plaintive notes of the Telecaster, you'd swear they came from a place like Bakersfield. Perhaps the sound comes from the fact that Chris Miller spent so many years in Austin as a sideman for the likes of Wayne Hancock, Dale Watson, Chris Gaffney, Ted Roddy and Marcia Ball. Or maybe it's because James Sasser originated from cowboy stock out in rural Oregon. In any case, the end result is pure honky-tonk music, the way Waylon, George and Hank would've liked it. Since Chris Miller also plays guitar and lap steel for Dave Alvin, he has enticed the rest of the Guilty Men to come out and tour with him.
Award-winning Australian singer songwriter Matt Ellis (Rialto Theatre, 8 p.m.) has become quite familiar with Tucson. He has performed at the Red Room and Hotel Congress, participated in the HoCo Festival in 2009, and has had recording sessions with Tucson's Nick Luca and Jacob Valenzuela on his new album, which he mixed with Craig Schumacher at Wavelab Studio. Club Crawl® will mark Matt's first performance at the Rialto Theatre, and his first return to Tucson since releasing his latest album, Births, Deaths and Marriages, earlier in the year.