Vic Chesnutt makes a gracious return to our humble burg. If you're unfamiliar with Vic, I refer you to an article highlighting his last visit in the January 28 Tucson Weekly, available on our online archives (www.tucsonweekly.com). For those of you without 'Net access, Vic Chesnutt is one of the finest singer/songwriters alive today: a quietly intense performer who writes sad, funny songs -- often both at once -- about sticky situations and stupid preoccupations.
Don't miss Vic Chesnutt's early show at 7 p.m. Saturday, November 13, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Tickets are $6 at the door. The Electric Company with the Spyder from Mars follows the show. Call 622-8848 for more info.
Though it might sound like mere Larry King-esque hyperbole, no one is as inventive on their instrument as Bela Fleck is on the banjo. Becoming a member of proto-modern bluegrass pioneers New Grass Revival in the early '80s, Fleck cut his chops alongside the likes of Sam Bush and John Cowan, and helped propel that group to its greatest heights, both commercially and artistically, until the Revival collapsed in 1989. But Fleck quickly put together a new outfit.
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (Warner Brothers), released in 1990, not only signaled a new direction for Fleck, it represented a virtual reinvention of banjo music itself. While there were still bluegrass elements, this wasn't your daddy's Earl Scruggs, or even your hip uncle's John Hartford. This was something altogether different: too funky to be bluegrass, too jazzy to be funk, and there's that fusion element, too. Record store clerks everywhere went into exasperated fits: Where the hell do we file this stuff?!?
Earlier this year, Fleck revisited his roots for the release of The Bluegrass Sessions: Tales From The Acoustic Planet, Volume 2 (Warner Brothers), a sequel of sorts to 1994's Volume 1, in which he gets a bunch of great musicians together -- Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Vassar Clements, and the aforementioned Scruggs and Hartford, amongst others -- to throw down on a pack of "newgrass" tunes. And for those who never ventured into the Flecktones' catalog of goodies, your patience will be rewarded on Tuesday when Greatest Hits of the 20th Century (Warner Brothers), an 11-track set of the finest moments in the careers of the Flecktones -- which also includes bassist Victor Wooten and his brother, Roy "Future Man" Wooten, who plays some crazy portable thunderous drum machine thing -- appears in record stores.
Augmented by multi-instrumentalist Jeff Coffin, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones will appear for their eighth Tucson stop in nine years, performing two shows, one at 7 p.m. and one at 10 p.m. Saturday, November 13, at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. Advance tickets range from $20 to $24, with a $2 discount for In Concert! members, and are available at the Temple box office, Hear's Music, and all Dillard's outlets, or by phone at 622-2823.
A few other worthy shows on the same night...
Jet-setting ska mavens Warsaw make an increasingly rare local appearance with college reggae faves Stuck in a Groove and local upstarts Zero to Sixty (who I've yet to see, but let me say their publicity photo looks fabulous). Get an early start and check out this all-ages triple bill at 5 p.m. Saturday, November 13, at The Cellar, located in the basement of the UA Memorial Student Union. Cover is $5 at the door.
The KFMA crowd will be flocking to see alterna-rockers Jimmie's Chicken Shack, Joydrop and Earth to Andy at 6 p.m. Saturday, November 13, at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave. Advance tickets for this all-ages show are available for $10 at CD Depot, Zia on Oracle, Zip's University, Strictly CDs and CD City. They'll be $12 at the door. For details, call the club at 629-9211 or log onto www.therockaz.com.
An eclectic and nifty local double bill featuring art rockers Pathos and a samba set from Sangre del Sol hits the Double Zero, 121 E. Congress St., at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, November 13. Cover for the all-ages show is $5 at the door. For more info call 670-9332 or log onto www.youthincrecords.com.
BARBER'S STYLE: It's been a while since a jazz vocalist has received the kind of critical accolades that Patricia Barber has. Last year's Modern Cool (Premonition) earned her comparisons to Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell and Cassandra Wilson, a five-star review in Down Beat magazine, and an endorsement from Stereophile Magazine as, "the most important jazz singer to emerge in the '90s."
Her recently released follow-up, Companion (Premonition/Blue Note), a seven-song live set recorded in Chicago this summer, reminds me of a jazzier, piano-oriented cross between the Cowboy Junkies and Fiona Apple. In addition to four original compositions, the disc includes such cover tunes as a sultry, near-10 minute take on "Black Magic Woman" and a hypnotic and beautifully drony version of Sonny and Cher's "The Beat Goes On."
Patricia Barber takes the Rialto Theatre stage, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. Wednesday, November 17. Advance tickets are available for $12 at Hear's Music and Antigone Books. Call 740-0126 for more information.
FOLK FEAST: The Tucson Kitchen Musician's Association is throwing a fundraising hootenanny on Sunday to benefit the 15th annual Tucson Folk Festival, set to take place in May 2000. The lineup for this weekend's gathering includes multi-instrumentalists Kathy Budway and Shanti Foster, folkabilly blues courtesy of Ice-9, local bluegrass maestros Degrees Plato, the Mollys' Nancy McCallion, who's performing with a special mystery guest, and rockers High Lonesome. The event takes place from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, November 14, at the Valley of the Moon, 2544 E. Allen Road. Tickets are $6 general admission, $5 for members of TKMA, KXCI, TBS, TFTM or DBA, and available exclusively at the door. For more information give the TKMA a call at 319-8599.
FRANKIE, MY DEAR: Dig up the old "Frankie Says 'Relax' " T-shirts and head on over to The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave. at 8 p.m. Monday, November 15, for a Where Are They Now? show courtesy of Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Holly Johnson and company will surely treat you to renditions of all their hits, like "Two Tribes," "Welcome to the Pleasuredome," and, of course, the homoerotic anthem, "Relax," at this 18-and-over show. Call 629-9211 for details.
BROTHER GRIM: Up-and-coming alt-country singer/songwriter Steve Owen brings his self-proclaimed "bouncy songs with suicide lyrics" to town this week. His songwriting motto: "If you write a story and don't know how to end it, just kill 'em. That always works." Ever the optimist, the San Franciscan will be playing along with L.A.'s fabulous skewed popsters, The Negro Problem, and our own Al Perry at 9 p.m. Thursday, November 11, at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St. Call the club at 670-9202 for more details.
AND A REMINDER: And finally, don't forget to pick up your tickets for the upcoming all-ages Stereolab and Olivia Tremor Control show, which hits town on Thursday, November 18, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. You can get 'em in advance for $10 from CD Depot, CD City, Toxic Ranch, the Congress Street Store and Zip's University. They'll be $12 at the door. Call 740-0126 for details. Check out these pages next week for full coverage of this can't-miss show.