CHEESE WHIZ: It seems like every other band you read about these days is said to be the product of a panoply of influences. It used to be enough to simply call a band "rock and roll" or "country" or what have you, with the addition of a few choice adjectives to contour the outline, and maybe a like-sounding band or two tossed in as a point of reference. Lately though, it's become commonplace to read that a band is "a potent mixture of punk, swing, ska, house, rockabilly, electronica, country and jazz, with feet planted firmly in the rock and roll tradition." Or something like that. So here goes another one -- sort of.
The String Cheese Incident, a band with roots in traditional bluegrass, are somewhat different in a certain respect. Whereas most poly-influenced bands assimilate elements of other musical forms into their musical repertoire or simply (and somewhat obviously) clash together two divergent genres (e.g. a ska cover of a classic rock song), SCI actually delves fully into those other types of music. It would be easy to say that the band incorporates strokes of jazz, funk, salsa, calypso and Afro-Cuban genres into its sound, but one listen to the new double live disc, Carnival '99 (released on the band's own label, SCI Fidelity, and distributed by Ryko) demonstrates not only a love for a variety of genres, but a respect for them as well. (Carnival '99 will be available in stores on February 1.)
In addition to a pack of well-written self-penned tunes, the album reveals the band's influences through reverent cover versions of songs by a truly diverse group of artists. There's the jam-heavy New Orleans funk of The Meters' "Hey Pocky Way"; a lightning-fast interpretation of the bluegrass standard "Shenandoah Breakdown"; a jaunty little countrified rendition of Jean-Luc Ponty's "Mauna Boa"; and the funky jazz fusion of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints"; as well as a take on Weather Report's "Birdland."
But the track that perhaps best exemplifies the String Cheese modus operandi is the lovely seven-minute-plus stroll through Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," in which the band respectfully stays true to the spirit of the original, save the replacement of Paul Desmond's sax by, in turns, mandolin, acoustic guitar and piano. Its sheer reverence for the original version will move you way more than, say, a swing version of Kiss' "Detroit Rock City" (which, by the way, has actually been done).
Check out the third Tucson appearance of The String Cheese Incident this week at 8 p.m. Monday, January 31, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are available for $15 at CD Depot, Hear's Music, Congress Street Store, Zip's University and Guitars Etc. They'll be $17 at the door. Call 798-3333 or log onto www.rialtotheatre.com for more info.
SUDS CELEBRATION: Nimbus Brewing Company, the cavernous watering hole and brew pub, is celebrating its third birthday this weekend. In addition to their new Saturday night tradition of marching bagpipers every hour, on the hour from 6 to 10 p.m. (in the words of Nimbus himself, "I don't know a whole lot about bagpipe music, but it sure goes good with beer"), the festivities will also include live sets from the Determined Luddites, Jupiter Dave and Good Question.
The shindig kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday, January 29, at Nimbus Brewery, 3850 E. 44th St. (way more centrally located than it sounds). Three bucks will get you in the door, and the oh-so-tasty on-site brewed pints will be on special for $1.50. Call 745-9175 for more info.
CIRCUS MAXIMUS: Let your freak flag fly this weekend when the fifth annual Le FreakShow commandeers the Mat Bevel Institute. Subtitled Circus Exotica, this year's event features the multi-cultural, multi-media mix we've all come to know and love: a fire show by Flam Chen; puppet shows courtesy of the Bighead Puppet Company; an Ashtanga Yoga exhibition by Darren Rhodes; Kung Fu tap dancing (!) by the Retainer Club; body art by Krishna; belly dancing; and performance art from Chico Montoya and Company. Oh, and there's music too. Whatever, Shewchuk (formerly Willis), Cortex Bomb, Mad Lad, Mankind and the M.C. Reverend Fun Yung Moon will all provide a skewed soundtrack for the festivities.
Le FreakShow 5: Circus Exotica hits the Mat Bevel Institute, 530 N. Stone Ave., at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 29. Admission is $5, with a $1 discount for anyone dressed in full freak regalia or donating two cans of food for the Tucson Community Food Bank. For more details, call the Flower Fresh Company at 623-3475.
BORDERING ON SUBLIME: When Brad Nowell, leader of third wave ska outfit Sublime, died of a heroin overdose a few years back, many thought the band's pioneering sound was lost forever, including the trio's remaining members, bassist Bud Gaugh and drummer Eric Wilson. But in late 1996, as a tribute show was being organized as a benefit for Nowell's infant son, Jakob, the duo decided to take part in honoring Nowell by throwing together a makeshift band with several of their buddies. The gig went so well that they decided to keep the ball rolling, keeping the newly formed lineup intact and giving it the somewhat unwieldy moniker of the Long Beach Dub All Stars. Over three years later, the band has finally released its debut album, Right Back (Dreamworks), and is embarking on its first full-fledged U.S. tour, which will bring the All Stars to Tucson this weekend.
Catch the Long Beach Dub All Stars at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 29, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are available at all Dillard's outlets for $19.50, or you can call 1-800-638-4253 to charge them by phone. For further information call 798-3333.
PEACE POP: And finally, Tempe's The Peacemakers, the band that rose out of the ashes of The Refreshments and features that band's primary singer/songwriter, Roger Clyne, will make the rare trek down I-10 this weekend. The band appears at 9 p.m. Saturday, January 29, at Mutt's, 424 N. Fourth Ave. Call the club at 628-8664 for details.