BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER...Please note that if you are planning to attend the concert tonight--that is, Thursday, March 22--by Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Secret Chiefs 3 (about which I wrote in last week's issue), the venue has been changed from Solar Culture Gallery to the roomier Rialto Theatre. See you all down there.
STEFAN GEORGE GATHERS HIS FELLOWSLocal music buffs and nightclub habitués may be familiar with the work of singer-songwriter-guitarist Stefan George, who has played acoustic folk and blues--and occasionally dallied in electric rock 'n' roll--in these parts for many a year. They may not, however, be as familiar with George's country tendencies, although he has played on and off with various bands that included a healthy amount of twang in the mix.
He aims to remedy that with his latest, self-released CD, Blue House, an excellent collection that boasts 12 new original tunes in old-timey country and honky-tonk styles. Frankly, I don't know why he didn't do it sooner; George's voice and guitar picking fit pretty near perfectly with the material, which he says is inspired by the Carter Family, Hank Williams and the Stanley Brothers.
To sweeten the pot, George recorded these songs at Wavelab Studio with an all-star band of local players (he calls them "ringers"), including Tim Wiedenkeller on banjo, Earl Edmonson on mandolin, fiddle and guitar, Neil Harry on pedal steel, Steve Grams on bass and Tom Larkins splitting time with John Convertino on drums.
All those musicians (with the exception of Convertino) will join George on stage for a CD-release party this week, and George cautions that the convergence of these talents may not happen again for a while
Stefan George and His Fellow Travelers will play next Thursday, March 29, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Loveland will open the show at 9:15 p.m., with George taking the stage at about 10:15. A $5 cover will be required. Call 798-1298 for more information.
ASKIN' FOR A SPANKIN'A quick search for the Asylum Street Spankers in the Tucson Weekly archives reveals that the 13-year-old Austin-based band has played no fewer than 10 times in Tucson since the turn of the century.
Sir Seigel wrote about most of those gigs in this very column, usually employing some variation of the statement, "If you've never seen Asylum Street Spankers live, you have no idea what you've been missing." Indeed, the Spankers' nonelectrical excursions into the homespun realms of country, bluegrass, vaudeville, blues, folk and jazz have become the stuff of independent-music legend. The band will have a spankin' new album to flog when coming through town this week--the family-oriented Mommy Says No!
Yep, the Spankers have embraced children's music, exploring childhood from the perspectives of adults as well as kids on songs such as "Training Wheel Rag," "You Only Love Me for My Lunchbox," "When I Grow Up" and the soon-to-be-classic "Boogers."
Never fear, though, Spankers fans: Our heroes have not abandoned adult fare--such as on their album-length ode to pot-smoking, Spanker Madness in 2001, or the truly sublime Dirty Ditties EP in 2002.
For instance, click over to the band's Web site (www.asylumstreetspankers.com, natch) to listen to a great, ragtime-style cover of Prince's "Darling Nikki" by Christina Marrs and the Speakeasies, a side group led by the Spankers' flame-haired singer. My Windows Media Player is complaining because I've played it so much.
Asylum Street Spankers return to Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Wednesday, March 28. They'll start at 9:30 p.m. and play two sets covering the entire evening, as is their wont. Tickets cost $10 in advance and $2 more on the day of the show. Further information can be had by calling 798-1298.
PERENNIAL FAVORITESIf you were anywhere near the music scene in Tucson in the late 1980s and early '90s, you'll remember the Gin Blossoms, a Tempe band with a serious following in the Old Pueblo. The band got signed to the majors pretty quickly, enjoyed lots of great, catchy rock-pop radio hits--"Hey Jealousy," "Found Out About You," "Allison Road," and "'Til I Hear It From You" are just a few--sold millions of records and then faded away gracefully in the late '90s to settle down with their families.
The Blossoms regrouped in 2002 and last year released a nifty new album, Major Lodge Victory, on the independent label Hybrid Records. The boys in this incarnation consist of singer Robin Wilson, guitarist Jesse Valenzuela, bassist Bill Leen and guitarist Scotty Johnson, who are joined by relatively new drummer Scott Kusmirek. On the new recording, the band further indulges sophisticated pop tastes while maintaining a cool Raspberries-meets-Tom-Petty rock vibe.
It's all pretty darn incandescent, taking me back to those halcyon days of hopeful young adulthood. But if you're just curious and not ready to drop $15 on the new CD without hearing it, you can stream the entire album at thegins.com.
Now in their 40s, the Gin Blossoms probably don't care for staying out late in bars any more than the rest of us "well-adjusted" middle-agers.
So they'll perform an early show on Monday, March 26, at Tucson Electric Park, 2500 E. Ajo Way. And we mean early--the music will start at about 4 p.m., immediately following a spring-training game pitting the Milwaukee Brewers against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Tickets, which include the game and concert, cost from $5 to $15, but you need to also budget another $5 for parking. Call 434-1367 for more info.
INDIE-RAP AT VAUDEVILLEMaybe you haven't noticed, but there is a hip-hop revolution of sorts going on downtown. The production team of Effin' Elements has been presenting homegrown and national hip-hop artists and rappers regularly at Vaudeville Cabaret.
No, they don't feature Jay-Z or Nas. Instead, they offer the sort of hip-hop music that has been bubbling up from the underground to fertilize the grassroots. It's making a stir at the local level all over the country, nay the world, and has been nicknamed indie rap or even undie rap.
This week, they have another event up their sleeves, a show dubbed Bridging the Gap XI (East Meets West), in which hip-hoppers from Tucson and Phoenix share the stage with some acts from back East. The lineup will include Meridox, Sol Camp, Jake Palumbo, Ollie Ox, the CCS Crew and DJ Grappla holding down the center.
FYI: The folks at Effin' Elements plan to continue with shows such as these as part of an ongoing series.
The event starts at 9 p.m., Wednesday, March 28, at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St. Cover charge is $4. Call 622-3535 for more.
THE MUSIC JUST KEEPS COMINGWhile the Fourth Avenue Street Fair goes on around the corner, legendary reggae singer Eek-a-Mouse will headline an all-day festival that begins at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 23, at Twelve Tribes Reggae Shop, 345 N. Fifth Ave. Also on the bill will be the acts Wa Da Da, Uproots, 602 Reggae Band and DJs from Twelve Tribes. Tickets cost $25. Call 620-1810.
Clay McClinton, son of legendary roadhouse singer Delbert McClinton, will perform soulful blues, rock and country at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, at Nimbus Brewing Company, Suite 138, at 3850 E. 44th St. Admission is $7; 745-9175.
The Los Angeles-based Rose's Pawn Shop, whose members are all in their 20s, will perform a uniquely aggressive take on traditional Appalachian and bluegrass music at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, at The Hut, 305 N. Fourth Ave. Admission is free; 623-3200.
The rowdy Celtic band Gaelic Storm, which rose to fame after appearing as the party band in Titanic, will start revving its engines for next year's St. Patrick's Day with a concert at 8 p.m., Friday, March 23, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Tickets will set you back $23, and all ages are welcome; 740-1000.
Also at the Rialto: San Diego alt-rockers Swichfoot, with opening act Copeland, at 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 28 ($20 in advance, $21 the day of the show); and veteran thrash-metal act Testament, with support from Passing Over, You Apart, Illusory Veil and Fevered Dreams, at 7:30 p.m., next Thursday, March 29 ($19 advance, $21 day of show).