LIVE AT THE RED ROOM—LIVE!
Last October, I told you about an ongoing project at the Red Room at Grill. Here's what I said: "The Red Room at Grill has begun a nifty concert series. Here's the deal: Three or four local bands perform on a bill together, and the whole show is professionally recorded by Original Audio Visual, a company owned and operated by The HangArt's Jake Renaud (who also bartends at the Red Room). Eventually, the highlights of the show will be released on CD at a show featuring the same lineup of bands."
The first installment of Live at Red Room, Vol. I, which featured excerpts of live sets from Lenguas Largas, Otherly Love, Acorn Bcorn and Lifers, was released in February with the usual fanfare of a CD-release party, at which all four bands played.
The latest edition in the series, Live at Red Room, Vol. II, features six acts instead of four, so the venue is holding two separate release shows this weekend.
As Renaud wrote in a recent e-mail, "It's pretty eclectic (and) has its ups and downs. I feel good about it, especially as an album that communicates what's going on in the space, those profound day-to-day moments that come and go and come again."
I received a pre-release copy of the disc that, unfortunately, has no track listing and no info about whose songs are whose—and with six bands and 21 tracks, it's not easily delineated. Hopefully, I'll get this right, but forgive me if I don't.
The disc begins with six songs by Discos—Ben Degain from Terraformation, Ricky Shimo from Lenguas Largas and The Jons, John Polle from Lenguas Largas and the Solace Bros., and Tommy Melchionda from Twine and Terraformation—who released their self-titled debut album in May. On that album, the band merged the precision of Brian Eno with modern indie rock; on their live set here, they're far more unhinged. I wrote that the album version of "Tow-K-O" sounded like "T. Rex filtered through a Here Come the Warm Jets-era Brian Eno prism." Here, it builds and builds with plenty of guitar noise before it threatens to fly off the rails.
Led by David Lane, who since 2008 has released three full-length albums—the latest is this year's Biography Is a Cemetery—Madame Zero probably isn't for everyone. On their three songs here, Lane's voice borders on the "outsider" category, occasionally reaching the heights of Danielson's Daniel Smith. I don't mind it, and if you can get past the voice (which at times recalls other reedy indie singers like Doug Martsch), the songs are rather lovely—sparse but with enough wiggle room for sections of mournful horns and stately organ chords.
Meanwhile, John Polle—a veteran of Treepeople and the Solace Bros., and a current member of Discos and Lenguas Largas—does something rather unexpected with his four songs here: He explores his softer singer-songwriter side. These songs are Polle singing and playing acoustic guitar with no outside accoutrements. They fall on the bluesy side of things, and anyone familiar with Polle's work knows the dude can write a song and play a mean guitar. Plus, it's always cool to hear musicians you're a fan of branch out into entirely new genres.
Up next is Mad River Glenn, led by Anthony Cutrone, who is fond of detouring into a cockney accent at will. You get a straight-up '70s-era punk song; one from a slightly later era that reminds of the Stranglers; and, best of all, a jaunty little guitar-pop tune with a ridiculously infectious hook that begins with the line, "With your camera phone, you take pictures of people you don't even know."
French Quarter, aka Stephen Steinbrink, turns in three tracks of hushed, gorgeous, modern singer-songwriter fare, the type of which you simply need to hear in order to do it justice. (Track 19 on my copy actually contains two of his songs.)
Closing out Live at Red Room, Vol. II, is a pair of songs by the duo Ultramaroon, which consists of singer-guitarist Mike Pearson and drummer Dick Solomon (also of Lenguas Largas). They come off here like a less-sloppy, less-distorted, less-outright-bluesy version of Doo Rag. This is certainly not the best performance the band has turned in, but it's nice to have any recorded material from these guys.
Night one of the Live at Red Room, Vol. II, release party takes place on Friday, July 22, and will feature performances by John Polle, Ultramaroon and Discos. The lineup for the second night, Saturday, July 23, is Madame Zero, Mad River Glenn and French Quarter. Music begins at 10 p.m. each night, and as always, admission is free. The Red Room at Grill is located at 100 E. Congress St. Copies of both Live at Red Room volumes will be available for purchase.
Questions? Head to redroomtucson.com, or call 623-7621.
TRAVELOGUE OF EMOTIONS
On their previous two albums, New York City's Pistolera combined traditional Latino music forms with modern pop and rock, with an emphasis on getting asses onto the dance floor. Their third and latest, El Desierto y La Ciudad (The Desert and the City), released July 12 on Luchadora, is a grand departure: a concept album divided into two parts, Side A and Side B.
As singer, songwriter and bandleader Sandra Velasquez puts it, "I'm a bit nostalgic. I remember the days when people listened to albums from beginning to end and were rewarded for the experience. ... This CD is a travelogue of emotions. The A Side places us in thoughtful solitude in a vast desert, where dreams are formed. The B Side then transports us to the hustle and bustle of the New York City streetscape, where dreams are fulfilled."
As such, it's a much-more-thoughtful listen; you won't do as much dancing while listening to it as you would if you put on one of the band's first albums (though there are still some dance numbers, too). But it's all beautiful, enough so that you won't mind if you can't follow the Spanish lyrics. (Tellingly, all songs are sung in Spanish, save album closer "Floating.") It should make for a lovely performance.
Pistolera performs at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Saturday, July 23. Salvador Duran opens at 8 p.m. Admission is $8, and all ages are welcome. Head to solarculture.org, or call 884-0874 for more info.
MORE 'FLOR DE MUERTOS'
If you missed the sold-out world-premiere screening of Flor de Muertos at the Loft back in May, have no fear. The Rialto Theatre, where much of the film was shot during Calexico's annual Dia de Los Muertos blowout concert in 2009, will be showing the film four times over the weekend, with bonus live performances attached to a couple of them.
The documentary was directed by BrinkMedia's Dan Vinik and intersperses concert footage from that 2009 show with scenes of the All Souls Procession, and interviews about the border situation and the attitude toward death in Mexican culture. Reports from the premiere screening were overwhelmingly positive, so don't miss it this weekend.
Flor de Muertos shows at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at the following times: 8 p.m., Friday, July 22 (patio reception begins at 6 p.m. with a performance by Salvador Duran; $10); 2:30 p.m., Saturday, July 23 ($6); 8 p.m., Saturday, July 23 (a performance by Mariachi Luz de Luna will follow; $15; free admission for film crew listed in credits); 2:30 p.m., Sunday, July 24 ($6). All showings are open to all ages. For more information, call 740-1000, or check out rialtotheatre.com.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Khaira Arby and Key Ingredients of African Soul at Club Congress on Friday, July 22; Peter Frampton at AVA at Casino del Sol on Wednesday, July 27; Ludo at Club Congress next Thursday, July 28; Fair to Midland at The Rock next Thursday, July 28; Yourself and the Air and One Big Happy Sound at Club Congress on Saturday, July 23; Igor and Red Elvises at Plush on Sunday, July 24; Bang Tango and Dirtnap at The Rock on Saturday, July 23; Krum Bums at O'Malley's on Wednesday, July 27.
It saddens me to report that journeyman local musician Ricky Dean Pegram passed away on Friday, July 15. A bass player, singer-songwriter and harmonica player for 32 years, Dean was perhaps best known for his work with the Saddle City Band in the 1980s and '90s. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.