HELPING HANDCraig Schumacher is putting his time and money where his mouth is. The highly regarded producer, engineer and owner of Wavelab Studios is holding a pair of benefit shows at the Rialto Theatre this weekend to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, with proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity, an organization he feels is one of the few that can be trusted in the wake of disappearing funds and no-bid contracts that have stalled rebuilding efforts in New Orleans.
Schumacher has several connections with the city, and in talking to him, it's clear that he feels a certain obligation to do whatever he can to help out. "My wife and I have been going down there forever for Jazz Fest--one of the best musical events probably in the world--and just fell in love with the city," he says.
Schumacher is one of the organizers of the TapeOp Conference, an offshoot of TapeOp magazine, both of which are geared toward providing practical information to independent music producers and engineers. After a succession of locales, Schumacher convinced the magazine's publisher and editor to hold the convention in New Orleans, which they did, in June of this year. Things went so smoothly there that, Schumacher says, "We really sort of felt like we had found our home." Enter Katrina, which dashed those hopes for the foreseeable future. (Schumacher is currently looking into the possibility of holding next year's conference in Tucson.)
In keeping with the "think globally, act locally" ethos, in recent weeks, Schumacher has also been working on setting up Mike Prado, a former engineer at New Orleans' Piety Street Studio (which Schumacher describes as "the Wavelab of New Orleans"), who came to Tucson following the hurricane, with a ProTools studio called Big Block Recording Studio in the same building that houses Wavelab.
And this weekend's benefit shows, billed as Wavelab vs. The Weather, are yet another step in Schumacher's efforts to contribute whatever he can to aid Katrina's victims. The lineup for Saturday, Nov. 12, will feature Sunday Afternoon, Luca, Chango Malo and Haley Jane, while Sunday, Nov. 13, will see Fourkiller Flats, Neko Case, Rum Tenor, the Determined Luddites and Paul Wild. Case's appearance is particularly notable, as it's one of the few times she will be performing until her new solo album is released next spring.
Attendees are also highly encouraged to bring a can or two of food to the shows, to replenish the local food bank, which was nearly depleted after supplies were sent to aid hurricane victims.
Both shows are open to all ages, with tickets going for $7 in advance for a single night, or $11 in advance for both, available at the Rialto box office, 318 E. Congress St. They'll be $9 at the door. Call 740-1000 for more information.
PROPS FROM DETROITI recently received an e-mail from Brian Smith, onetime Tucsonan and former member of The Pills and Gentlemen Afterdark (who performed at Club Congress' 20th Anniversary celebration in September), who is now the music editor at Detroit's Metro Times. Bearing in mind that it's extremely rare for the music editor from one weekly rag to e-mail another in order to draw attention to a band, here's a portion of what he wrote regarding The Hard Lessons, who perform in Tucson this week: "Look, I don't pimp Detroit bands to anybody (much less type out e-mails)--mainly 'cause I don't give a shit--but this is different. The band DOESN'T suck. They don't suck in a way that can make the most jaded-fuck cynic care about something new again. I wouldn't steer you wrong. The keyboard/singer has (a) voice like a young Etta James, the guitarist is Pete Townshend incarnate, the drummer is a midget. The three of 'em equal the best contemporary rock band in Detroit, and they're fillin' up the shitholes here with sneak-in high school kids, dogged fans and pea-heads like Jack White. No shit. Their story is great, too--a couple of young teachers (23-ish) who bailed on education careers to play the devil's din and are now crisscrossing this horrible country on nickels and fumes with no label support, no publicist, no nothin'. Just like it should be!"
While it hasn't changed my life in the same way it apparently has Smith's, the band's recent album, Gasoline (No Fun, 2005), is a giddy concoction of garagey, good-time guitar riffs (they are from Detroit, after all), cheesy sustained organ, inspired drumming, dueling male/female vocals and, best of all, melodies that stick with you once the album's over. Should make for an awfully fun live show.
Catch The Hard Lessons at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, Nov. 16, as part of a bill that also includes Live the Day, The Infernal Racket and Ghost Cow. Things get rocking at 9:30 p.m., and you can call 622-3535 for further info.
DIFFERENT DIOSListening to Dios (Malos)'s new self-titled album (Star Time International, 2005), it's tough to believe that anyone would confuse the band with metal screecher Ronnie James Dio. But that didn't stop him from filing a lawsuit against them a couple years ago, when they were still called merely Dios--hence the addition of "(Malos)" to the name. As a result, the band's latest LP is their second self-titled one (the first was Dios).
The new album also marks some other changes. The group left their garage studio in the South Bay of Los Angeles to record with Phil Ek, who has produced The Shins, Modest Mouse and Built to Spill, in Seattle. The result is a rather intoxicating collection of hazy, breezy, atmospheric pop songs that never get bogged down in their tricks. It recalls The Shins and Grandaddy, but is not as '60s-obsessed as the former, and not as analog-devoted as the latter. Regardless, it should appeal to fans of both.
Dios (Malos) performs on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Swords and The Crowd open the all-ages show, which will set you back 10 bucks. Call 622-8848 for details.
ON THE BANDWAGONTough-to-categorize local trio Worm (formerly Gloworm) recently released a new album, Unity of Three (Shiloh), which expands on their past influences--'60s and '70s blues-rock, psychedelic pop and prog--to include a healthy dose of mid-era Meat Puppets. Check 'em out at the Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave., on Friday, Nov. 11. Underbelly opens at 10 p.m. Call 882-0009 for further info.
Nominated in both 2004 and 2005 for a W.C. Handy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Female Artist (the awkward syntax is theirs, not mine), Janiva Magness stops in Tucson this week in support of her 2004 disc, Bury Him at the Crossroads (NorthernBlues). The album pairs Magness' powerful, note-perfect voice with a truly inspired band whose arrangements recall Tom Waits on one song, and delve into spare Delta blues on the next. She'll be at Boondocks, 3306 N. First Ave., on Saturday, Nov. 12. Call 690-0991 for all the details.
Smooth country crooner Don Williams brings his repertoire of classics to the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Tickets to the all-ages show are $35, available at the venue's box office. Call 740-1000 for more info.
And finally, Soundbites would like to wish a fond farewell to musical jack-of-all-trades Ozlo, who will be moving to Atlanta soon. You can do the same tonight, Thursday, Nov. 10, when he performs his final local show before relocating, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Things get started at 9:30 p.m., with a $4 cover. Call 798-1298 for the 411.