Though the desire to vilify and criticize is inherent in our American blood, the Tucson music scene leaves little to bemoan. Just seek and ye shall find--but that's a cardinal rule for life, not just a Southwestern Saturday night. Whether you're a mariachi maniac, a Juilliard junkie or a country cretin, you can find a tuneful time in Tucson.
Let's put the next month under a microscope. Before the first 30 days of 2002 have passed, Buena Vista Social Club's Ibrahím Ferrer, various Hopi Indians, "cajun superstars" Beausoleil and blues singer Candye Kane will all have hummed through the Old Pueblo.
Sure, the really big acts tend toward the larger venues, like Centennial Hall and the Tucson Convention Center, but if you delve a bit deeper, you'll see that there were blues, Latin and Western music festivals at various locales around town in November alone. Whatever your musical craving--even if you're one to secretly sing along to zydeco in the shower--it can be assuaged somewhere between the concrete and dust.
Just because I feel like it, I'm going to be brazen, bold and anything but politically correct. Let's divide Tucson into pieces. Where might each faction go to listen to live music to its liking? Want to play a little make-believe? Good. Here we go.
(Disclaimer: Any similarities to any person, living or dead, is unintentional and purely coincidental.)
Friday, December 14, 7:03 p.m. I slip into my black Mercedes Benz and double-check to see if both tickets are in my Cartier. Check. Diamond necklace centered on my chest. Check. Nails unchipped for public appearance. Check. As my husband and I drive south on I-10 for a good half hour to get to the Tucson Convention Center, I put on my Leonard Bernstein CD to get in the mood.
7:38. We park.
7:46. After checking my coat, we hustle to our fifth-row seats to enjoy an evening of Mahler's delights. Nancy Davis Booth has the most fabulous soprano timbre I've heard since Dawn Upshaw. I simply cannot contain my excitement.
8:02. House lights dim.
Friday el 22 de diciembre, 9:36 p.m. If Juan Carlos and Jen would apúrense we could get going. Two more spritzes of Hugo Boss. Put my cross around my neck. ¡Listo!
10:42. Finally those idiots show up in JC's busted El Camino. Drive over to South 12th.
11:08. Say wazzup to Nuñez at the door of Escándolo. Give him the $5 cover.
11:12. Order a pitcher of Bud Lite. I have exactly $6 for the beer and a tip. My cousin and her friend should be here soon. They'll get the next round. Inquietud already began playing. I think there's a norteño group here tomorrow.
Random Friday, 10:14 p.m. These stupid pants make my thighs look enormous! Maybe if I turn up 98.3 I can drown out the sound of my roommate and her boyfriend. Got my fake I.D., $20 and lip liner. Lemme finish this Red Dog. OK, let's bounce.
10:28 The walk from the dorm to Gentle Ben's wasn't that far, but these damn boots are hurting my feet already. I hope One Blood is good. I mean, uh, Bob Marley is sooo cool, so I guess I'll like them. I can't believe Tucson has reggae. I thought there was only country music out here.
10:29. Omigod. Mike is here.
12:45 am. Last call already?
Random Sunday, 4:45 p.m. Gosh, I have never had such a hankerin' to hear honky-tonk piano as I do today. Scott finally finished with the horses and Maggie picked up the kids. We should leave in about a half hour.
5:15. Get my jeans off the line. Clean off my boots a little.
5:27. Stop at Arco to fill up the Chevy on the way to the Last Territory Steakhouse.
5:55. Park in the Sheraton lot. Put a little more spray in my hair before we go in.
6:07. Sit back at the table with a Jack and Coke. There's Duncan Skitt! He's so darn good!
Random Wednesday, 7:27 p.m. No, Thursday? Wait. It must be Friday. Yeah, it's Friday.
Go into Brooklyn Pizza. Order a slice and a microbrew. Find out it's Saturday.
7:43 p.m. Stumble back onto Fourth Avenue. Fix my flannel. Hide my joint.
Later. Wander down to Stone. Sit along the muraled wall at the Mat Bevel Institute. Watch the drum circle start to form. Listen to djembes and impromptu folk singing into Saturday morning. No, Sunday morning. Wait ...
Saturday, December 30, 2:30 p.m. Brush my hair. Tidy up the trailer. Pile the family into the Datsun. Drive 45 minutes into town.
3:22. Arrive at Rillito Raceway Park. Get some nachos. Listen to the drums.
4:25. Dance with my friends.
5:38. Sit and sing some of the traditional songs I know.
In light of cultural hyper-awareness, let me remind you that I am typifying various socioeconomic, ethnic and age groups based solely on my own imagination. Though the people are not, all of the events they are attending are real, and you too--whether you're a purple people-eater, a vegan or anything in between--can attend.
Tucson gives us the ability and facility to cross cultures, delve into the unknown and come out the other end unscathed. What the hell, go to the Hawaiian Slack Key Festival on January 24 at the TCC. Try a night of salsa dancing at El Parador on Broadway. Catch Havana's Albita Rodriguez at Centennial Hall in February. There's nothing to lose but a few bucks and some preconceived notions of your neighbors.