POWERHOUSE FEMALE VOCALISTS
Some of the finest female singers to emerge in recent years will visit Tucson for concerts this week. All are worth your time and money, if you've some to spare.
I've been a fan of Nicki Bluhm since the first moment I heard her voice. With her San Francisco-based backing band, the Gramblers, Bluhm sings an arresting combination of rock, country and soul. The group – which also features Nicki's husband, Tim Bluhm, a successful producer and artist in his own right – just released its second album together, titled simply Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers. The first was the shockingly good 2011's Driftwood. Both records will be deeply satisfying for fans of late-1960s and early '70s rock, as will Bluhm's 2008 solo and the Duets project that she Tim released in 2011.
And although the band has enjoyed successful appearances at Bonnaroo, South by Southwest and the Newport Folk Festival, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers have found their largest audience on YouTube, where their "Van Sessions" videos have gone viral with in excess of 3 million hits, the most popular being their cover of Daryl Hall & John Oates' "I Can't Go for That."
Anyone who's seen the band perform during previous Tucson visits, or who has checked them out on the Internet knows the tall and willowy Nicki Bluhm has pipes and presence, as well as the best bangs in rock, next to Chan Marshall of Cat Power. Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers will play at around 8 p.m. (doors open at 7) on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Advance tickets cost $10; they'll be $12 at the door. Call 622-8848 for more information.
Carla Morrison is a young (27) alternative-rock singer from Tecate, Baja California, with a rich, sweet and smoky voice. She happens to sing en Español happens to be incidental, but at the same time she expertly emphasizes the tender and melancholy qualities of that romance language.
Morrison has released a handful of albums, including the excellent Mientras Tú Dormías in 2010 and the even more excellent Déjenme Llorar last year. That one took home awards at the Latin Grammys for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Alternative Song (for the title track).
Carla Morrison and her band will play Monday, Sept. 30, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. The show starts at 8 p.m. and will include opening acts Jandro and Sol Pereya. General admission tickets cost $21, plus any additional service charges. Call 740-1000 for more information.
A couple of excellent bands featuring both male and female vocalists will play in the Old Pueblo during the coming week, as well.
As you might guess from the band's name, He's My Brother She's My Sister is led by brother-sister duo Robert and Rachel Kolar. Based in Los Angeles, this quintet also includes a double bassist, lap-steel player and a tap-dancing percussionist.
The Kolars trade off on vocals; sometimes one or the other of them takes the lead, with the other harmonizing. Sometimes they sing duets, which can range from the rowdy to the tender. The band's boisterous Americana style can be twangy, bluesy and garage-rockin' all at once. It has been termed "glam folk," "psych-acoustic, "cirque rock" and "garage country."
After forming in 2009, the band released an EP before last year's righteous full-length debut album, Nobody Dances in This Town. They will play next Thursday, Oct. 3, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Phoenix's wonderful Dry River Yacht Club will open the show at about 8 p.m. Advance tickets cost $8; at the door, they will be $10. All ages admitted. Calling 622-8848 will get you more details.
The Naked and Famous originally come from New Zealand, and they play engaging danceable electro pop with a strong post-punk influence. The band's front line includes singers Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers, who play keyboards and guitar, respectively. Their 2010 album, Passive Me Aggressive You has won them worldwide attention, with sales of more than 500,000, which these days equals a hit. It's pretty catchy, too.
Just last week, The Naked and Famous released the follow-up, In Rolling Waves, which they are touring to promote. They'll play Sunday, Sept. 29, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Opening act The Colourist will take the stage at 8 p.m. General admission tickets cost $23 in advance and $26 the day of the show; reserved seats in the balcony go for $3 more, respectively.
MORE MUSICAL GOODNESS
We trust that community radio station KXCI (91.3 FM) has completed its fall membership drive by the time you read this – the station was less than $5,000 short of its $120,000 goal this past Tuesday morning. Now comes time to celebrate (and a little more fundraising).
The "Amplify KXCI" concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Parish restaurant, 6453 N. Oracle Road, will focus specifically on raising some money for much-needed improvements to KXCI's Studio 2A, where musicians play live over the air. Performances will include the acoustic blues of Roman Barten-Sherman, JMC & His Wooden Hearts playing garage-rock and -pop, and indie folk by Treehouse Fire. Admission is $5. Call 623-1000 for more information.
The six composers of ChamberLab – Benjamin DeGain, Dante Rosano, Marco Rosano, Tony Rosano, Michael Simmons and curator Chris Black – will present a concert of all-new musical pieces inspired by the work of prolific local painter and muralist Joe Pagac at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Pagac also will create paintings live on stage as the music is played. The music will be arranged for trios consisting of cellist Simmons, violinists Ben Nisbet or Samantha Bounkeua and the composer on an instrument of his choice. Admission is $12. Info: 622-8848.
Two of Portland's finest are on the road and will hit Tucson together. The band Menomena, a fascinating art-pop ensemble, and the acclaimed electronic duo The Helio Sequence will play Wednesday, Oct. 2, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. These two groups have led parallel careers: each has been in existence for most of the 21st century, and each have five acclaimed albums to their credit, the most recent of which both came out in 2012. Menomena will start the show at 10:30 p.m. Admission prices were not available at press time, but if you call 798-1298, they'll probably be able to clue you in.
Psychedelic-pop maestro Ty Segall has a new band. Fuzz (not to be confused with the '90s Tucson punk band of the same name) features Segall on drums and vocals, Charles Moothart on guitar and vocals and Roland Cosio on bass. Fuzz will see the release its debut album, titled simply Fuzz, this Tuesday. The band will celebrate with a gig the next night, Wednesday, Oct. 2, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The show starts at 8 p.m. with opening act CCR Headcleaner. Tickets cost $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Info: 622-8848.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Also worthy of note are the following upcoming concerts: Loves It!, The Lonesome Heroes and Silverbell on Thursday, Sept. 26, at Plush; Heather Hardy, Lisa Otey & Diane Van Deurzen, Grams & Kreiger, Ed Delucia and Pete Swan on Friday, Sept. 27, at Tohono Chul Park; Man Man and Xenia Rubinos on Friday, Sept. 27, at Club Congress; Run Boy Run on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Unitarian Universalist Church; Terry Malts on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Tiny Town Gallery; Monsters Scare You, Lion I Am, Victory Heights, My Sweet Lenore, From Oceans We Rise and Verona on Sunday, Sept. 29, at The Rock; Widower and Destroyer of Light on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Tucson Live Music Space; and The Littlest Birds on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Monterey Court.