THIS ONE'S FOR YOU, SYLVIA
In honor of Arizona State Sen. Sylvia Allen, who recently affirmed for us all that the Earth is 6,000 years old, I'm taking a cue from another story in which I'm guessing she believes: the story of Noah's Ark. I figure if I pair up some of the shows happening this week, the number of acts who come to Tucson to perform will multiply and prosper.
Yeah, I know; it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. But, then, neither do creationism nor the story of Noah's Ark.
DE LA SNOOP
The Rialto Theatre's got a killer pair of rap shows headed our way this week. (And in case you're keeping up with the saga, as of our press time, no agreement had been reached regarding the fate of the spaces the theater has been using as offices, a green room and storage—déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra might say.)
Simply put, when De La Soul's debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, was released in 1989, it changed the sound of rap forever. Where most previous rap was fairly straightforward—sampling from older rap songs and old-school funk jams—on this album, producer Prince Paul and the group's three members drew from Steely Dan, Schoolhouse Rock, albums of French language lessons, Hall and Oates and, famously, The Turtles, who later filed a copyright-infringement suit. No precedent had yet been set in cases of sampling, and it's fair to say that the same album could never be made today—the sample clearances would simply be too expensive.
But not only does the album still exist; it sounds nearly as fresh as the day it came out. It's a veritable neo-psychedelic stew of sounds, and while a good chunk of the album is basically about the pursuit of pussy—or, in De La parlance, "buddy"—it never crosses over into misogyny. It proved that rappers could take serious risks and didn't need to be hard-posturing to be respected, and that the rap umbrella was big enough to cover a whole lot of ground. In a way, what punk was to bloated rock, De La Soul was to rap: An opening of doors, and of the mind, to the possibilities that existed in the genre. And those same purists who condemned De La as daisy-loving hippies at the time will no doubt tell you today that 3 Feet High and Rising is one of the greatest rap albums ever created.
On a tour that celebrates that landmark debut album, De La Soul brings its "20 Years High and Rising" tour to the Rialto, 318 E. Congress St., for an all-ages show on Tuesday, July 28. Doors are at 7:30 p.m., and Kenan Bell and Shaun Harris will open. Advance tickets are $23; they'll be $25 on the day of the show.
Earlier in the week, one Calvin Broadus takes the mic at the Rialto. After changing his name to Snoop Doggy Dogg (currently it's just Snoop Dogg, thanks) and appearing on Dr. Dre's seminal 1992 album The Chronic—and, the following year, his own Doggystyle, which debuted at the top of the Billboard album chart—Snoop became one of the most beloved rappers in the world, within a matter of months. Along with Dre, he embodied G-funk, a new, stripped-down version of rap that put the West Coast on the map for good (thereby finishing the job begun by Dre's N.W.A. years earlier). Although he traded in gangsterisms, he delivered them in a stoney, laconic drawl, and it was difficult to parse how much of what he rapped about was fact, and how much was fiction. Here was a guy who could simultaneously brag about his stable of hos, then turn around and go on Martha Stewart Living to do some baking (no, the other kind of baking)—a balancing act I can't recall witnessing in any other performer. The guy is pure charisma, and everyone from gangsters to grandmas seem to love him. Never mind all that "izzle" stuff—and admit it, even that was pretty entertaining the first couple dozen times you heard it. He remains one of the most respected and recognizable stars in hip hop 17 years after he appeared on the scene—no small feat in any genre, let alone the fickle world of rap.
Snoop Dogg performs, along with a live backing band, at the Rialto Theatre on Sunday, July 26. Stephen Marley—Grammy Award-winning producer, reggae artist, son of Bob—opens the all-ages show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $48 in advance, or $52 on the day of the show. For more information about either of these shows, call 740-1000.
A pair of classic blues-rockers who made their names in the '70s and who continued to churn out hits into the '80s headline respective shows at the Diamond Center at Desert Diamond Casino this week.
Hard to believe, but next year, legendary Texas trio ZZ Top will mark 40 years of existence. Sporting all of its original members—guitar god Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard (ironically, the only member who doesn't have a beard)—the group started out playing gritty blues-rock, slickened up just in time for the video age of the '80s, and recently has returned to the style that made them famous as they continue to tour consistently. They'll be at the Diamond Center at 7 p.m., Sunday, July 26. Tickets are $45 in advance, or $50 on the day of the show.
Just as ZZ Top began scoring hits in the early '70s, a Delaware dude by the name of George Thorogood—with his backing band, the Destroyers—began combining Chicago blues riffs with the rock style and attitude of Chuck Berry. After recording a string of FM-radio staples, including "Move It on Over," "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" and "Who Do You Love?"—all of which were covers—he apparently began to realize he could make a lot more money if he started writing his own songs. "Bad to the Bone" and "I Drink Alone," both original Thorogood tunes, arrived just in time for maximum play on MTV. The band's latest album, out on July 28, is The Dirty Dozen (Capitol), which combines six new studio tracks with six "fan favorites," half of which have been out of print for a while in the United States.
George Thorogood and the Destroyers perform at the Diamond Center next Thursday, July 30. Erstwhile blues-guitar prodigy Jonny Lang opens the show at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $40 to $65; they'll be $5 more on the day of the show. The Desert Diamond Casino is located at 1100 W. Pima Mine Road. The number to call for tickets for either show is (800) 745-3000.
ON THE BANDWAGON
There are dozens of other fine shows headed our way this week, so let's see how many of them we can cram in here: Magnolia Electric Company and the Donkeys at Solar Culture Gallery on Monday, July 27; The Handsome Family at Club Congress on Wednesday, July 29; Monterey tour kickoff at The Living Room on Wednesday, July 29; North tour kickoff with Long Live the Smoking Gun and Juarez at The Living Room on Friday, July 24; Girl in a Coma and Miss Derringer at Plush on Friday, July 24; I Bet It Was a Massacre CD-release at The Rock on Saturday, July 25; Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and Concern at Solar Culture Gallery on Sunday, July 26; The Album Leaf and Terraformation at Plush on Monday, July 27; Emperors of Japan and Nick Kraus and His Austin Torpedoes at Red Room at Grill on Saturday, July 25; Angel Taylor at Club Congress on Monday, July 27; the Thrash and Burn Tour featuring Devildriver and many others at the Rialto Theatre on Monday, July 27; Christopher Lawrence at Level on Saturday, July 25; Betsy and Her Dusty Guitar at The Red Room at Grill on Wednesday, July 29 .