I WANT MY VH-1! Dear Cox Communications: please hear my plea. In the name of commerce, we the music-loving cable television subscribers of Tucson have for too long been denied the (often guilty) pleasures of VH-1's nighttime programming (not to mention Comedy Central's daytime programming, E! Network's nighttime programming, Bravo's daytime programming, the Independent Film Network and Sundance Channel's entire programming schedules--but let me stick to the point). We understand, fiscally speaking, why you do this: by using one cable channel for two networks -- one network getting the daytime shift while the other gets prime-time and graveyard duties -- you can give us a taste of both networks (and yes, have bragging rights that you carry x number of networks, even though you actually only carry x-y number of channels) and still only pay for the rights to broadcast one channel.
Perhaps if I was a number cruncher, I'd see the logic there, too. But I'm not; I'm a music fan who sees no logic in anything preventing me from being able to view the Tom Waits episode of Storytellers, VH-1's update on MTV's Unplugged concept, except with added anecdotal introductions to each song by the performers about the song's origins.
The show also pairs like-minded performers such as Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, engaging them in playful, informative conversation before requesting one of the other guy's songs. Based on the album released last year from those sessions, it must have been one hell of a show. But I wouldn't know, because I didn't get to see it.
And unless VH-1 is running one of those Behind the Music marathons on a weekend afternoon, it's rare that I get to see that show, either (but when they are, let me tell you, I become a zombie-eyed, couch-sored cathode letch).
Lest I'm addressing one of those people with "real lives" who can't afford to blow a Sunday afternoon to hear what MC Hammer is up to these days, let me fill you in: Behind the Music is sort of like the Inside Edition of music documentary television. It manages to cover virtually every sordid detail about performers' personal lives, while somehow managing to skirt around the issue of what makes the band or individual worthy of having a documentary made about them in the first place. But believe me, there are lots of sordid details to keep your attention.
A lot of that has to do with the fact that the show generally features either bands recently reunited after a somewhat acrimonious breakup years earlier -- bands like Blondie, Culture Club and Fleetwood Mac, who obviously have plenty of dirt to dish about the past; or else the program focuses on complete has-beens now grateful for any public attention they can get. Count Leif Garrett, Grand Funk Railroad and Rick Springfield among their ranks. (Want to play the fun game "Guess Which One of These Three Is Flat Broke Now?" If you answered "all of the above," you're correct!)
Then there's my personal favorite, the one where Uncle Ted Nugent spouts an hour's worth of complete inanity about the evils of drugs, the beauty of killing Bambi, and the beautiful evil of women.
If you've ever even been tempted to read Pamela des Barres' groupie-tells-all tome, I'm With The Band, then Behind the Music is for you. Sure it's crap, but it's entertaining crap; and as far as I know, it's the only hour-long weekly music documentary show on the air--or almost on the air, from our local standpoint.
So people of Cox Communications, please take heed! Don't deprive us any longer! (We haven't even mentioned Pop-Up Video, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, and the VH-1 Fashion Awards.)
We, the music-loving Cox Cable subscribers of Tucson, hereby agree to pay our bills on time, wait at least 20 minutes before calling to complain when our cable goes out, and never, ever demand a new remote control in place of our old, defective one (in truth, an unruly, beer-spilling houseguest is responsible for its defectiveness anyway).
In return, please give us our VH-1, so that we don't have to move to the Foothills just to subscribe to Jones.
RETURN OF THE DEAD-INFLUENCED: One of the late Jerry Garcia's pals, David Nelson returns to town this week (after a mere five month absence) in support of his band's new release, Visions Under the Moon, on High Adventure Records. The album mines Nelson's typical gotta-fill-that-post-Jerry-void, but is unique in that it contains no Dead covers. (The solitary cover tune is a Gratefully flavored version of Dylan's "Absolutely Sweet Marie".)
The David Nelson Band appears on Friday, July 23, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Doors open at 8 p.m. for this all-ages show. Advance tickets are available for $8 at Congress Street Store, Hear's Music, Guitars, Etc., and Zip's University. They'll be $10 at the door. Call 740-0126 for more information.
For a full run-down on the David Nelson Band, you can also check out the article "Dead At The Improv" (Tucson Weekly, February 8, 1999), available from our online archives at www.tucsonweekly.com.
REIGN OF TERROR: Death metal, or "black metal" as its proponents prefer, is scary stuff. Maybe it's because most of the bands hail from either Norway or Sweden or Florida (places I confess to knowing little about -- y'know, all that stuff about fear of the unknown and all). Or maybe it's because the genre's mere existence is meant to scare the bejeezus out of me. It's hard to say.
But for those less wimpy than I, who like their metal fast and dark, with vocals that swoop from the operatic range down into the sulfuric Satanic depths of the larynx -- for those who'd gleefully pay for the privilege of being pummeled into submission by five of the better bands of the genre -- now's the time to start lighting your candles and drinking your goat's blood, because The Kings of Terror Tour is coming our way.
The tour (which takes its name from the Nostradamus prediction, "In the year 1999 and seven months, the great King of Terror will come from the sky") will be headlined by Norway's Emperor, embarking on their first U.S. tour ever to promote the release of IX -- Equilibrium, on Century Media Records. They must be really good, too, because Gregory Whalen of Terrorizer says, "Few bands are worth dying for. Right now, Emperor are actually worth killing for." We've assured our legal department it's a genre big on metaphor.
In addition to our esteemed headliners, you also get Norway's Borknagar; Sweden's Witchery, which includes members Sharlee D'Angelo (ex-Mercyful Fate and Arch Enemy) and Patrick Jensen (ex-Seance and The Haunted); Peccatum, a combination of neo-classical and avant-garde metal styles; and Divine Empire, the lone American band in the lineup.
If Slayer sounds like a bunch of wussies in your book, then don't miss this show, which hits the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, July 28. Tickets are $20, and can be purchased in advance at Sticks 'N' Strings, Zip's University, Strictly CDs, Zia on Oracle, or by phone at 1-800-965-4827. Call 740-0126 for show time and other details.