BLUE SUEDE SURFBOARD: In an unholy meeting of epic proportions, surf guitar master Dick Dale and the Mexican Elvis, El Vez, pair up for a show this week.
Dale, whose music has been exposed to a new generation of fans via the Pulp Fiction soundtrack (and more recently, Pizza Hut commercials), is widely recognized as the king of all surf guitarists, and recent shows attest to the fact that he can still shred the fretboard with the best of 'em. And in addition to his blustery guitar outbursts, Dale is amusingly self-reverential live, referring to himself in the third person while patting himself on the back for a lifetime of musical accomplishments. We'll let him get away with it; he's earned his bragging rights.
El Vez, meanwhile, could probably get by on kitsch and humor value alone, but luckily he's talented enough that he doesn't have to. The artist, formerly known as Robert Lopez, grew up more enamored with the New York Dolls than with his fried peanut putter and banana sandwich-eating near-namesake. A former member of '70s punks The Zeros, Lopez started his El Vez routine in 1989, influenced by the sometimes serious, sometimes funny and outlandish shows he saw his father perform growing up.
Musically El Vez is all over the board: straightforward frenetic punk on one track, gospel on the next. And he still mines classic tunes for inspiration, often performing familiar cover songs with his own Latino-centric lyrics or dishing out faithful renditions of tunes made famous by Elvis himselvis. He's just released his first studio album in five years, the fabuloso Boxing with God, on Sympathy for the Record Industry.
Witness Dick Dale and El Vez, along with opener Bargain Music, at 9 p.m. on Friday, November 2 at Backstage, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road. Advance tickets are available for $18 at Zip's University, the Guitar Center and at the club. For more information call 733-6262.
TOOT SUITE: In A Distant Place, released last year on Canyon Records, is a musical experiment gone right. It pairs the Native American flutes of Arizona's own R. Carlos Nakai with the Tibetan flutes and longhorns of Nawang Khechog, and both are accompanied by the exotic guitar work of William Eaton and a myriad of percussive sounds from Will Clipman. And while the music contained within falls easily into the New Age bins, it is also slightly more esoteric than that tag would lead you to believe: New Age music for those who don't like it, and, of course, for those who do.
Nakai, Eaton, Clipman and Nawang reunite for one very special performance at 7 p.m. on Sunday, November 4 at the Berger Center at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Advance tickets are available for $15 ($13 for seniors and In Concert! members) at Hear's Music and Antigone Books, by phone at 327-4809, or online at DoTucson.com. They'll be $2 more at the door.
A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS: Former KXCI-FM program director Mike Landwehr has had a rough year--surgery and a lack of medical insurance aren't exactly bed buddies--but luckily he's got a bunch of musician friends who care enough to throw him a benefit show to help out with the mounting medical bills.
The Mollys, Teddy Morgan, Tony & The Torpedoes, The Wayback Machine, Big Galoot, Mitzi Cowell & The Valiants, Stefan George and Kathleen Williamson will do just that at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 3 at Boondocks, 3306 N. First Ave. Donations--all of which will be given directly to Landwehr--will be taken at the door, and a portion of all food sales that night will go toward the cause as well. For further details call KXCI at 623-1000, ext. 20, or the club at 690-0991.
HEARING DOUBLE: I can't help but wonder if a line from the chorus of "Low on Cash," the opening track on Ric Richter & Double R Band's brand new Roadmap (Double R) is a goof or a play on words: "Don't take Discovery, American Express -- ." Everyone knows it's "Discover," right? Anyway, the tune itself is a slice of swampy barroom choogle, and it's followed by the title track, a sweet little country blues number your grandfather might have sung on the front porch. Elsewhere, "I Don't Got You" could have come from some old Mose Allison LP, and Rainer's "Where's That At?" becomes a toe-tappin' singalong.
Ric Richter & Double R Band celebrate the new disc with a CD release party at 6 p.m. on Sunday, November 4 at Boondocks, 3306 N First Ave. Admission is $5. Call 690-0991 for more information.
SCOOT OVER: Downtown will be infested with mods this weekend as the annual Scooter Rally returns to Hotel Congress. The shindig will be highlighted by performances from Arizona oi! masters The Glass Heroes, which includes former Social Distortion drummer Bob Stubbs and Beat Angels guitarist Keith Jackson, surf 'n' lounge combo The Badabings, and The Bloodshots, oft-compared to The Backyard Babies and Rose Tattoo. DJ Spoiler will intermittently be spinning tunes from his collection of garage, lounge, ska, jazz, rock steady and punk music, and let's not forget the dozens of vintage scooters in the parking lot for your gawking pleasure.
It all goes down at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 2 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Cover is five bucks. For further details push the buttons that say 622-8848.
POP PSYCH: Austin's Primordial Undermind plays psych-skronk tunes with an overt pop sensibility that have the Terrascope generation gushing lots and lots of positive adjectives. It'll team up with Seattle's Kinski for a performance at new downtown hotspot Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E Congress St., at 8 p.m. on Monday, November 5. For details call 622-3535.
BIRTH MARK: Cleveland trio Birth has garnered gushing praise across the board from press and fans alike for its dynamic fusion of organic drum 'n' bass and jazz-influenced improvisation. Comprised of Joshua Smith (saxophone and live electronic processing), Jeremy Bleich (bass) and Joe Tomino, the band boasts a fan base that includes jazz-heads, indie rockers and electronica junkies, and will release a new album, Find, on Accurate Records, in February.
Birth performs as part of the Zeitgeist Emerging Voices series at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 6 at the Mat Bevel Institute, 530 N. Stone Ave. Advance tickets are available for $8 at CD Depot and Antigone Books. They'll be $10 at the door.