CALMING SEASThe biggest touring season in recent memory seems to be slowing down a bit, if not exactly coming to a halt. This week, we'll mostly focus attention on goings-on by local performers.
NEKO FOR A CAUSEFirst up, though, we'd like to mention a show worthwhile in both content and cause.
If you caught the New Pornographers show last month and walked away satisfied but mumbling the words, "Still, it could have used more Neko," well, your wish comes true this week.
After taking to the road with her own band during the spring and summer months, then the Pornos for a fall tour, the multitasking platinum-piped singer--that's Neko Case--will treat Tucsonans to a rare solo performance, one of only two shows she's scheduled for the rest of this calendar year. With her entire back catalog recently re-mastered and re-released (in some cases with bonus material), Case will perform a benefit show for the humanitarian organization No More Deaths, a coalition of Tucson activist groups that seeks to reduce the number of, or eliminate entirely, migrant deaths in the Arizona desert. Also on the bill is newlywed Salvador Duran (congrats, Sal, and while we're at it, Steven Eye, too).
Catch two of the most gorgeous voices around, and help save lives while doing it, when Neko Case and Salvador Duran perform at 8 p.m. next Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Admission is $20, with advance tickets available at the venue's box office, online at rialtotheatre.com or by calling 740-1000, the same number to call for more information.
A DELUXE REUNIONThis year has been filled with reunions, anniversaries and reappearances by old friends (more on that below and in weeks to come), and this week's annual Scooter Rally isn't just another notch on the Vespa, either. Nope, this year's event marks the 20th anniversary of the event, officially dubbed the 20th Anniversary Tucson-Nogales Fall Classic Scooter Rally. Before taking those machines on a 125-mile ride through Southern Arizona, participants--scooter enthusiasts, all--will gather in Tucson on Friday for the traditional rally kickoff.
Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St., hosts the event, which begins at 6 p.m. and runs all night long. Classic scooters will, of course, be in abundance for the fanatic and casual observer to peruse and discuss--but for those of us who are scooter-less, the music just might be the big draw.
A quick history lesson: The Scooter Rally was organized in its first 13 years by one David Schuttenberg. Name sound familiar? If you've been around town for a while it should: Schuttenberg is also the "Dave" behind Dave's Big Deluxe, Tucson's pre-eminent '90s ska band, which came to a halt in 1998 following band members' relocation to other cities.
A recent e-mail from Schuttenberg reveals, "We haven't seen each other in nine years ... and a few of us haven't really played much of anything at all for years now. That's about to change. ... All members from our last incarnation (from '95-'98) are getting back together for this show, save our trombone player who passed away almost three years back.
"I was hoping I could enlist the Weekly to put out the call for all friends, current and former, to come out and tear it up with us, one last time (for now)."
Well, Dave, consider it done. And for those who never had the pleasure of seeing the band the first time around, consider this an opportunity to school yourselves in a bit of Tucson ska history; they were indeed hella fun back in the day.
Also on the bill this time around are the lovely song stylings of Pearl Handled Pistol and Le Chat Lunatique, and the date for the big soiree is Friday, Nov. 9. For more details, head to tucsonscooterrally.com or call 622-8848.
SPASM REDUXSome time ago, Tucson hard-core punk vets (since 1985!) Blood Spasm told us they were playing their last show ever. And then they played another show after that. And this week comes another one. So, we asked headmaster Bob Spasm: What gives? "I know a while back, we said 'last show ever,' but I ask you which is worse: The (false) promise of a band or a politician? As of now, we will keep doing shows twice a year (one in March and one in November) as long as all living original members are willing."
This week's outing is a pretty great one, indeed, perhaps best summed up by Bob in another recent e-mail: "1967 was the 'summer of love'; 2007 is the 'winter of hate.' Come celebrate with Blood Spasm and (from Los Angeles) Gunfight, featuring Duane Peters (ex-U.S. Bombs and Huns). Also keeping this 'peace train' rolling are The Phoenix City Muggers, the Last Call Brawlers and Vanish Twin. This mess takes place Saturday, Nov. 10, at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., at 9 p.m. There will be no ballads, no emo, no Goth, no New Wave, no old wave, no holding hands to show you're in love, and definitely no sissy-ass so-called punk bands with numbers in, or initials only as, their names. Just balls-out punk rock and rockabilly. Five bands, no filler. This is the best show in Tucson this week according to me."
And we thank you kindly for that, Mr. Spasm. Cover is $8, and you can call 622-3535 for further info.
SERPE'S NICE PACKAGEIt's no backhanded compliment to say that the first thing you'll notice when you pick up a copy of In Seed, the new, six-song EP by Michael John Serpe, is the package that contains the CD. This is, after all, a guy whose last release, 2006's A Night in Gins Hollow, was packaged in a cardboard fold-out of a Bombay Sapphire Gin bottle that came pre-scented. Serpe and his Home Recorded Culture, a label and package design company, hark back to a pre-iTunes, DIY indie culture when packaging mattered (and, for some of us, it still does). Serpe once said that HRC was defined by "the stream of 'small' projects by 'small' people, doing beautiful things, who follow through on refining and articulating individual experience for the sake of giving back and adding to the inspiration that has inspired them."
Back to In Seed, then, whose packaging is some of the coolest I've seen since, well, since A Night in Gins Hollow. Manufactured in a limited edition of 490 copies, the disc itself is found between two slim wooden boards that appear to be silk-screened with the cover art and held together by binding tape. Inside, cardboard foldouts contain lyrics and liner notes, the most traditional element of the package. But it's the wood that provides the warmth, the notion that you're not holding some mass-produced, carbon-sucking "product."
And if the packaging of In Seed is cooler than that of Gins Hollow, the music contained therein is a great leap forward, too. Serpe's musings on everyday life are still intact; what Tucsonan can't identify with the observations found in "Harder to Find"? ("Helicopter fuzz drowning out my buzz, with his searchlight on flushing out some creep on my street, who's playing hide and seek / I'm sitting inside; though the porch is nice, you just don't take chances this time of night.") But where Gins Hollow had a certain ramshackle charm, this time, Serpe's songs are enveloped in the kind of soothing warmth indicated by the wooden package. As recorded and mastered by Graig Markel, who also performs on the disc, In Seed's sound recalls the soothing tones of The Sea and Cake and latter-day Talk Talk, even if the music itself doesn't. In a word, lovely.
Michael John Serpe celebrates the release of In Seed with a release party at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, Nov. 9. The blowout begins at 9 p.m. and will also include a slew of supporting acts: Redlands, Cathy Rivers, Jeremy Cashman, Low Ones, Quincy, Courtney Robbins, Brian Field, the Dusty Buskers and The Mighty Joel Ford. All this for a paltry $3! Questions? The number to call is 798-1298.
ON THE BANDWAGONThat same night, former Tucsonan Ozlo, self-proclaimed "funky soul honky No. 1," will return from his current home of Atlanta to his old stomping grounds for a very special performance, for which he'll be backed by a group of musicians and backup vocalists. Also on the bill is Greyhound Soul, whose Joey Peña will be celebrating a birthday, so you just know this sucker's gonna be pure fire. Check it out at The Hut, 305 N. Fourth Ave., at 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9. Call 623-3200 for more info.
Finally, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the first show D.C. groundbreakers Fugazi ever performed, locals Found Dead on the Phone will perform that band's classic 1991 album Steady Diet of Nothing, in its entirety, at Che's Lounge, 350 N. Fourth Ave., on Saturday, Nov. 10. Admission is free. For further details call 623-2088.