I'm guessing it was about a year ago that Cynda Cated told me she'd had cancer. It was at one of those late-night, after-hours get-togethers at a friend's house, and she was out celebrating the last day of her chemotherapy, which we all toasted. For the previous year, she had been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy at the Arizona Cancer Center for breast cancer, and in true Cynda fashion, she had never even bothered to tell me.
I met Cynda through our mutual involvement in the late, lamented underground radio station Radio Limbo, for which she served as a tireless volunteer. If you ever attended one of those benefit show blowouts thrown on behalf of the station, you have Cynda to thank. Even that night, just as she was finishing up her chemo, she was still plotting ways of getting Radio Limbo back on the air.
Once she was declared cancer-free by her doctors, Cynda decided to make a fresh start and move to Seattle. You may remember the Weird Lovemakers, at the Club Congress 20th anniversary weekend, refusing to play another song until they had collected money for their ailing friend. I, for one, was shocked to learn that friend was Cynda. It seems the cancer, as cancer has a way of doing, had come back. And it came back with a vengeance.
Cynda has been undergoing chemo once again, this time in the hope that a miracle will happen: The cancer has metastasized to her spine and liver, and she has been diagnosed as terminal. While government assistance has been covering the essentials--food stamps and housing--she has no way of paying other expenses, such as her phone bill. To aid with the expenses, her friends here in Tucson are showing her a little love in the form of a benefit show this Friday, Jan. 20.
Cynda will be flying in to attend the event, which will feature live music from The Pork Torta, Mankind and Al Perry. There will also be an auction or raffle, with prizes including an original Steven Eye mask, a Bloat Records basket, handmade lamps, a Biblio Books package, a DVD of the Making Waves documentary and signed copies of books by Max Cannon. And, because Cynda loves her cherry pie, homemade pie and coffee will be sold, too.
The all-ages benefit for Cynda Cated begins at 9 p.m. on Friday at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave. There's a suggested donation of $10. For more information, call 884-0874.
SUPPORTING RYANAnother benefit show will take place this week, this one to aid Ryan Collins, who recently lost his leg in a motorcycle accident. Live music will be provided by The Kuz~N~Stanley Band, Wrecking Crew and Mikey and the Maniacs. All proceeds from the event will go toward paying costs of a prosthetic leg, and rehabilitation and education needs for Collins, who had been awarded a wrestling scholarship just prior to his accident.
The benefit for Ryan Collins runs from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21 at Kino Veterans Memorial Park, 2805 E. Ajo Way (it's across from Kino Hospital, and the entrance is on Forgeus Avenue). Admission is a $5 donation, and there will be a motorcycle show with a $15 entrance donation.
MONTREAL REMIXIf you missed Of Montreal's performance last summer at Club Congress--and kicked yourself when your friends told you how awesome it was, how much ass they kicked and how you were an idiot for missing it--this week brings an opportunity to redeem yourself.
Once the unpopular younger sibling to fellow Elephant 6 bands such as Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control and Apples in Stereo, Of Montreal have finally broken through and made a name for themselves--and deservedly so. After almost a decade of releasing excellent if underappreciated albums, the band's persistence has finally paid off. Their 2005 release, The Sunlandic Twins (Polyvinyl)--which merges typical Elephant 6 hooky, '60s-style psych-pop with a newfound danceable, funky edge--has managed to sell 30,000 copies since its release last April. It also garnered them MTV2 airplay and spent 20 weeks in the Top 20 on CMJ's radio charts.
And soon, Of Montreal will get the remix treatment. On a digital- and vinyl-only EP, set for release in late spring or early summer, songs from The Sunlandic Twins and 2004's Satanic Panic in the Attic (Polyvinyl) will be tweaked by the likes of !!!, Supersystem, Broken Spindles, Grizzly Bear, IQU, Mixel Pixel, Trash UK, Making Time's DJ Dave Pianka and I Am the World Trade Center.
In the meantime, the band is once again taking it on the road, with current dates scheduled to run through the middle of March, culminating in an appearance at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas. Billed as the Nonsloth Music for Orto and Others Tour, the bill, which also includes DJ Jester the Filipino Fist, underground rap jokesters Grand Buffet and MGMT, will hit Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, Jan. 24. This all-ages show begins at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $10 (plus a $1 service fee) at hotelcongress.com. For further details, head there, or call 622-8848.
BEFORE THE BLUES CHALLENGEBrit expat and local Delta blues master Tom Walbank has received an invitation to perform and compete at the 22nd annual International Blues Challenge, which will take place in Memphis, Tenn., Jan. 26 through Jan. 28. The event is something like a South by Southwest for the blues, set in a battle-of-the-bands format, that seeks to give the careers of unknown blues artists an extra push. Previous competitors in the event include Susan Tedeschi, John Weston, Albert Cummings and Tommy Castro.
Walbank and friends (rumored to include Howe Gelb and Bob Log III) will perform at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Saturday, Jan. 21 to raise funds for his excursion to Tennessee. Opening at 9 p.m. are Tempe's Love Blisters. Admission is $4. Call 622-8848 for more info.
PROTEST PERFECTIONWhile his father was busy winning a Golden Globe award for co-writing the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, James McMurtry was doing what he's been doing for the past 15 or so years--performing his literary songs for adoring masses across the country.
The McMurtry clan has longtime ties to Tucson: Dad Larry spends a good deal of time here with his friend and writing partner Diana Ossana, and James attended the UA a couple of decades back. This week, he returns to his former stomping grounds for a show at Plush, in support of his recent album, Childish Things (2005, Compadre), his first studio release in three years. The album is a fleshed-out version of folk-rock, with fiddles and other flourishes circling around, but the emphasis is still squarely on McMurtry's vivid character sketches.
The album's centerpiece is "We Can't Make It Here," a protest song of sorts that covers the sad state of our union--the lack of assistance for war veterans ("There's a Vietnam vet with a cardboard sign / sitting there by the left turn line"), the chasm between the working poor and the wealthy ("Minimum wage won't pay for a roof, won't pay for a drink / If you gotta have proof just try it yourself Mr. CEO / See how far $5.15 an hour will go / Take a part time job at one of your stores"), the outsourcing of American jobs and the lack of opportunity it engenders ("Now I'm stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store / just like the ones we made before / 'cept this one came from Singapore"), and the president's lack of acknowledgement of all of them. Stephen King called the song "stark and direct, this may be the best American protest song since 'Masters of War.'"
James McMurtry performs on Tuesday, Jan. 24. Joe Pena opens at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $10, with advance tickets available at virtuous.com. Plush is located at 340 E. Sixth St. For more info, call 798-1298.