Has it really been only two years and change that the Fourth Avenue underpass has been closed for reconstruction? Because for those of us who used it regularly, it seems like an eternity.
But there it is, in black and white: The reconstruction began in June 2007. Even more remarkable than time playing tricks on us is the fact that the project is actually being completed on time. Considerably over budget, of course, but on time.
The underpass is unique in downtown's landscape, a corridor linking the two most entertainment-rich streets in the area, Fourth Avenue and Congress Street. And its closure has been frustrating for all involved: Businesses in the area hated it, because it tinkered with their operations and patronage; patrons hated it, because there was no easy way to get from one side of it to the other. But this week, that all changes, as the new, improved underpass finally opens up.
It's something worth celebrating, so celebrate, we will.
This Thursday, Aug. 20, following a ribbon-cutting and dedication, the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., will open its doors around 7 p.m. for a free, all-ages performance by local singer-songwriter Salvador Duran. Meanwhile, across the street at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., a special Optimist Club dance night featuring São Paolo, Brazil's Database, French Horn Rebellion and O/W/L/S will follow the early Los Campesinos! show. Admission is $3, or pick up a lifetime-pass card for $6.
Then, on Friday, Aug. 21, the festivities kick into high gear. The Create Your City Art Party begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Winsett Park Stage (next to Bison Witches) with puppets, clowns, stilt-walkers and dancers. At 7:30 p.m., a parade with performers will lead revelers from Winsett Park to the Rialto, where there will be "performance installations, interactive arts, vending and so much more," according to a press release. Additionally, there will be lots of live music from the likes of Mata Leão, Combo Westside, Michelle Blades, Batucaxé, Tom Walbank and the Ambassadors, Ensphere, PLOY, Flagrante Delicto and Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout. In other words, a little something for everyone. Advance tickets are available at the Rialto for $10; they'll be on a sliding scale from $10 to $25 at the door. The event is being co-produced by Creative City and Parasol Project, though a slew of other people and organizations will be representin'. For more information, head to creativecity.org, or call the Rialto at 740-1000.
That same evening, the festivities at Hotel Congress begin at 6 p.m. with a new installment of Jeff "Mr. Tidypaws" Grubic's ongoing musical performance art project, the Ad Nauseum Project. Each ANP project—and they've gone down in Tucson, Los Angeles, San Francisco and France—is unique, taking an unusual idea and playing it out in front of a live audience. Friday's event is titled "Grubic's Cube," and here's the deal: A live band, which will include Grubic, Arthur Vint, Sean Rodgers and Kevin Stultz, will perform while encased in a large cube. While the band is playing, audience members will inflate balloons and place them inside the cube. The band will only stop playing once it's physically impossible to do so because of all the balloons. Admission is free.
Later that night, starting at around 8 p.m., the club will also host a free dance party to celebrate the underpass opening, featuring Stockholm DJ Style of Eye.
The folks at Hotel Congress are also hoping to have a bit of construction done in time for these events. The club and Tap Room are getting a new floor installed, and the much-anticipated opening of the expanded patio, dubbed the Hotel Congress plaza, should be completed as well, since "Grubic's Cube" is scheduled to happen there.
Call Congress with questions at 622-8848.
BEWARE OF LIVE BEARS
Local trio Mostly Bears will release a stopgap live album this week called Team of Spirits: Live at Club Congress (Funzalo), which is just that—a nine-song document of the live Mostly Bears experience. For those who have complained that the band's studio material can't quite match the power of its live show, the album may not be essential, but it's definitely a worthwhile purchase.
Plus, in addition to seven Mostly Bears originals, the set includes two great covers: A faithful version of the Hollies' "Bus Stop" and an only slightly less-so take on Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good." For a band known for its proggy rock, the covers go a long way in demonstrating its versatility.
Mostly Bears celebrate the release of Team of Spirits with an all-ages performance at—where else?—Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Saturday, Aug. 22. Opening at 7 p.m. is The Fade. Admission to the all-ages show is $6. Call 622-8848 for more information.
SPEAKING OF ANIMALS ...
Host of The Road Show on KXCI FM 91.3, Tucson Weekly contributor and tireless voice of voiceless animals Mel Mason has organized another animal-centric show. No More Homeless Animals Day will feature eight local bands on two stages at The Hut, 305 N. Fourth Ave. The event starts at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23, and here's what the schedule looks like:
Outdoor stage: Space Over Desert (6 p.m.), Courtney Robbins (7 p.m.), Leila Lopez (8 p.m.), Tom Walbank (9 p.m.). Indoor stage: Seashell Radio (6:30 p.m.), the Hounds (7:30 p.m.), Young Mothers (8:30 p.m.), the El Camino Royales (9:30 p.m.).
The event is free and open to anyone 21 and older; leashed pets are welcome at the outdoor stage. For further details, call 623-3200, and check out City Week in this issue.
A BETTER NAME THAN 'GREENCAMERON'
The perpetually touring machine known as Ryanhood makes its first local appearance this week since the April release party for The World Awaits, its fine new album. Since then, the band, led by Cameron Hood and Ryan Green, has performed at UA's Arizona Stadium opening for Jay-Z and Kelly Clarkson, and received a shout-out via Twitter from Ellen DeGeneres. The earnest, acoustic-based pop act will perform at a show they're calling "Ryanhood's Last Night of Summer" at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Saturday, Aug. 22, with Flagstaff-based Telescope opening at 8 p.m. Admission to the all-ages show is $10. Questions? Ring 'em up at 740-1000.
FROM BILLIARDS TO BORN-AGAINS
In case you haven't heard, the former Main Street Billiards, at 8640 E. Broadway Blvd., is now the Main Street Concert and Event Center. There are still pool tables and other bar games, but the space now doubles as a performance venue as well. This week, Main Street hosts a pair of back-to-back shows.
First up, on Wednesday, Aug. 26, the Summer Rock Fest Tour, featuring Bang Tango, Faster Pussycat, Bulletboys and Sister Sin pulls in for a night of '80s hair metal.
Then, next Thursday, Aug. 27, former Korn guitarist and born-again Christian Brian "Head" Welch will perform a show in support of his debut solo album, Save Me From Myself (Driven/Ryko/Warner Bros.), released nearly a year ago. The album, a '90s-style throwback to the nu-rock of his former band, documents Welch's battle with drug addiction, his departure from Korn and his newfound faith.
Calls to obtain specifics went unanswered at press time, but if you'd like to give it a try yourself, the number is 546-3464.
ON THE BANDWAGON
New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain is performing two rare solo shows this month, one of which happens to be going down at O'Malley's, 247 N Fourth Ave., on Saturday, Aug. 22. Snakes in Love and Broken Romeo open the 10 p.m. show, and admission is $11 in advance, or $13 on the day of the show; 623-8600.
Other good stuff this week includes: George Clinton at the Rialto on Tuesday, Aug. 25; the Warlocks, the Morning After Girls and Gliss at Club Congress on Wednesday, Aug. 26; Randy Travis at UA's Centennial Hall on Saturday, Aug. 22; Davila 666 and Lenguas Largas at Club Congress on Tuesday, Aug. 25; and Arizona Voodoo Kittens' "Tiki-Exotica" show at Kon Tiki on Saturday, Aug. 22.