MAGICALLY DELICIOUS: It's a crime that so few people were fans of Boston's Helium back in the '90s. On their debut full-length, The Dirt of Luck (1995, Matador), the band married overdriven, angular guitar hooks and retro synth noodles (the kind that are all the rage these days) with a solid rhythm section, to arrive at songs that were appealingly dark--a bit unsettling, maybe, but so damned interesting that you couldn't turn them off.
Everything was held together by singer/songwriter/guitarist Mary Timony, veteran of feminist punk foursome Autoclave, and the thinking man's rock goddess supreme. And while Timony subtly carried her politics over to her work in Helium--"Pat's Trick" wasn't exactly about a magician--her breathy and versatile voice ensured that feminism never sounded quite so sexy.
By Helium's final album, though, 1997's Magic City (Matador), things got a bit weirder, both musically and lyrically. With the addition of Polvo guitarist Ash Bowie, the band incorporated cello, sitar, and harpsichord for a sound that added '70s prog to its '90s indie-rock, and Timony's lyrics--true to the album's title--became increasingly fantastical, as a sampling of the song titles attest: "Medieval People" and "Aging Astronauts," "Lady of the Fire" and "Lullaby of the Moths." (Unicorns, rainbows, and castles! Oh my!) But the quirks that made the band so appealing to begin with were not lost, just embellished a bit. Luckily, Timony's "magic" is a far cry from Tori Amos' "majick."
Following Helium's break-up at the end of the century, Timony began her solo career with the similar-minded, if more stripped-down, difficult and chamber-rock-y album Mountains (2000, Matador), before getting around to The Golden Dove (Matador), released in May of this year. With help from Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous, Timony has found everything appealing about her solo debut and lent it more focus on Dove. Here, the mystical aspects mask far more grounded sentiments, as if the only way to write about grown-up ideas like lost love is to cloak them in imagery, as on the album's most immediately catchy song, "Blood Tree": "Go away/Leave me alone/Go chew on your dog's bone/The only boy I ever loved/turned into a Golden Dove/And moved to California." Turns out this fairy still wears boots, after all.
Mary Timony performs on Sunday, June 23, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Gabrielle opens the show at 9 p.m. Cover is a paltry $5, which I'd gladly pay just to stare at Ms. Timony for an hour. Call 622-8848 with questions.
TRAVEL LOG: Sure he's a madman onstage, playing the fastest damn Delta blues you ever heard on drums and guitar simultaneously, all while singing through his specially rigged helmet-with-face-shield. Sure he's fond of tit clapping and giving willing lady fans "leg rides." And sure, offstage he's just about the nicest darn guy you ever met. But, people of Tucson, do you have any idea just how much Bob Log III loves you? Dou you know what lengths he'll go to, just to rock yer ass off?
Case in point: I recently received an e-mail from Mr. Log from Sweden, in which he announced his plan to break a personal record by traveling his greatest distance ever to make it to a show, which just happens to be taking place about two miles from his residence.
His itinerary reads thusly: June 18, drive from Seinajoki, Finland to Turku, Finland (4 hours); take "disco boat" from Turku to Stockholm, Sweden (13 hours); drive from Stockholm to Copenhagen, Denmark (9 hours); fly from Copenhagen to Amsterdam (2 hours); fly from Amsterdam to Los Angeles (12 hours); fly from L.A. to Tucson (1.5 hours); land in Tucson at 6:10 p.m. on June 21, and go directly to soundcheck. Let's just hope that helmet doesn't get him pulled aside by airport security--he's got a gig to get to, man!
Be a part of the welcome wagon when Bob Log III, Bebe and Serge, and the Okmoniks perform at 9 p.m. on Friday, June 21, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Four bucks gets you in the door. For more information dial the numbers 622-8848 and speak into your telephone handset.
GOOD GODFATHER: After 40 years of playing his distinctive style of the blues in his hometown, mentoring future guitar heroes like Stevie Ray Vaughan (whose classic "Cold Shot" was co-written by him) and Marcia Ball, W.C. Clark has truly earned the title of The Godfather of Austin Blues. One listen to his brand-new album, From Austin With Soul (Alligator), will leave anyone convinced. Clark, who won a coveted W.C. Handy Award for Best Soul/Blues Album, for 1996's Texas Soul (Black Top), injects his modern Texas guitar blues with a healthy dose of Stax-style Memphis soul, and only seems to improve with age. Soulful blues simply doesn't get any better than this.
W.C. Clark performs at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, at Nimbus Brewery, 3850 E. 44th St. Admission is $10. Additional info is yours for the asking at 745-9175.
DIRT BIKE RIDE: If I were to describe New York City co-ed four-piece Dirt Bike Annie as a pop-punk band, you might get visions of Green Blink Day 182 or something, so I won't. Instead, I'll just say they're a revved-up, feel-good, danceable punk band with songs that average about two minutes, and have titles like "Are You Ready to Dance?," "Pow! Check It Out," and "Come On! Come On!" (not the Cheap Trick song). They kinda remind me of old-school Bis, when they were still fond of the shouty call-and-response, and therefore, were still good. In other words, they're hella fun and they totally rock.
Dirt Bike Annie, along with The Retainers and Drop Dead Susie, perform at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25, at the eastside location of Bookman's, 6230 E. Speedway. Admission is free. For further details call 748-9555.
DUDE, WANNA GET STONED? Tucson as of late seems to have been struck by a big bad case of Tribute Night Fever (funny thing is, I've been to nearly all of them and somehow I'm still not sick of 'em), and the night sweats continue this week with an homage to Sir Mick Jagger (try getting used to that one) and the Rolling Stones. Performers bashing out Stones tunes for your listening pleasure include--but, as they say, are not limited to--Al Perry, Truck, Love Mound and Tom Walbank & Doug Smith.
The Rolling Stones Tribute Show hits the stage of Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., at 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 22. Questions? Call 622-3535.
WAYBACK MACHINE: San Francisco's The Waybacks describe their music as "acoustic mayhem," which seems about as fair as anything, as long as that description doesn't register in your brain as "wacky." Instead, the band--which appears this week as part of the ongoing Plaza Palomino Courtyard Concert Series--uses flatpicked guitar, mandolin, fiddle, standup bass and brushed drums to play tunes that touch on bluegrass, country, jazz and Tin Pan Alley, to name but a few. More traditional than, say, later Bela Fleck, but you could file it under new-grass just the same.
The Waybacks perform at Plaza Palomino, at Fort Lowell and Swan, on Saturday, June 22. Mitzi Cowell opens the show at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $12 at Antigone Books, Brew & Vine, CD City, City Grill, and Enchanted Earthworks, online at www.frontrowticketcenter.com, or by phone at 1-866-GOT- TIXX. They'll be $15 at the door. For more information call 297-9133.
YOU'RE GONNA BE A STAR: The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is teaming up with Vaudeville Cabaret for a three-part series of fundraisers, taking place on the third Friday of June, July, and August, to benefit MOCA.
Have you ever wanted to try out for Stupid Human Tricks, but lacked the cojones to trot out your "special talent" on national TV? Consider part one of the series your tryout, as the illustrious Mr. Tidypaws presents the Underground Talent Showcase. All are invited, either to perform, or merely to drunkenly point and laugh at your idiotic friends as they perform.
Don't be shy, people: Head on down to Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., at 9 p.m. on Friday, June 21. Admission is a $5 donation at the door. For more info call 622-3535.
WIZARDS OF OZOMATLI: Though they're not quite the same band they were when they counted Cut Chemist and Chali 2na amongst their ranks, L.A.'s Ozomatli still whip up a heady brew of Latin rhythms, streetwise hip-hop, positive politics, and ass-shakin' jazzy funk. And as good as they are on record, the band's live shows must be experienced to fully grasp the full dilly.
See for yourself, when Ozomatli performs at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 21, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are available for $15 at all Zia locations, or online at www.rialtotheatre.com. Call 798-3333 for additional info.
MILLER TIME: With his solo debut, Thus Always to Tyrants (Sugar Hill, 2001), former V-Roy Scott Miller left behind the playfulness of that alt-country combo and delved into something a bit more earnest. Punctuating his Petty-meets-Mellencamp barroom rock with trad folk ballads like "Dear Sarah," whose lyrics were culled from the wartime letters of his great-great-grandfather, Miller's sketches mark him as a songwriter worth looking into.
Do so, when Scott Miller performs on Thursday, June 20, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. A set by Creosote singer/songwriter Jason Steed kicks things off at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $5. Call 798-1298 with questions.