A TRULY SPECIAL EVENT
I'd imagine a lot of the younger people reading this have never heard of El Casino Ballroom, let alone attended a show there.
Built in 1947, the ballroom has served as an epicenter of sorts for the South Tucson community, and in its heyday, it hosted pretty much every Mexican-American act of significance. (Since 1968, the venue has been owned and operated by the Latin American Social Club, and still hosts events such as weddings and quinceañeras.) El Casino is the subject of a new documentary, The Heart and Soul of Tucson—El Casino Ballroom, directed by Daniel Buckley, which premiered at the Fox Tucson Theatre last weekend.
In the 1980s, the ballroom became home to tons of great shows that helped raise funds to not only keep community radio station KXCI FM 91.3 on the air, but to put the station on the air in the first place. Depending on who was playing, these shows were presented (usually by local promoter Jeb Schoonover, who produces the Tucson Weekly's Club Crawl® and Tucson Area Music Awards events) under the banners "House Rockin'" or "Blues Review" concerts.
Those shows came to an end in November 1991, when a massive storm blew half of the roof off the joint. (Somewhere, I still have a concert poster for a show by the Pixies and Pere Ubu that was scheduled for shortly after the storm, and obviously never happened.) The ballroom was closed entirely for the next nine years, but via donors and volunteers, the half of the structure that still had a roof was reopened. It has been serving the community ever since (an effort to restore the venue to its original size is under way; go to elcasinoballroom.com for more info), though concerts open to the public have become a rarity—which makes an event being held there this week all the more special.
In conjunction with his documentary, Buckley approached KXCI about holding a show there similar to the concerts of yore. Schoonover and Marty Kool, host of the station's Blues Review show, teamed up to present this week's House Rockin' Blues Review on behalf of the station.
The show, which takes place at El Casino at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 10, is loaded with some of the finest blues musicians in Tucson.
Tom Walbank and Stefan George will perform together with a full band; the Mike Hebert Band, featuring three members of the Kings of Pleasure as well as vocalist Katherine Byrnes and saxophonist Jeff Grubic, will perform; and the night culminates in the Bad News Blues Band serving as house band for Arizona Blues Hall of Fame members including Hans Olson, Tony Uribe, Danny Krieger, Mike Blommer, Hurricane Carla Brownlee, Steve Grams, Alex Flores, John Strasser and Heather Hardy.
Tickets for this momentous concert are available for $10 in advance at the Parish Gastropub, the Folk Shop, Antigone Books, kxci.org and the KXCI studios, where station members can purchase them at the discounted price of $8. They'll be $12 at the door. Food will be available via food trucks in the parking lot.
El Casino Ballroom is located at 437 E. 26th St. For more info, head to kxci.org, or call 623-1000.
The years have been rather kind to Duran Duran. Although they were ubiquitous in the 1980s on MTV (back when the network actually played music videos) and pop radio, they were often dismissed by critics as pretty-boy pop fluff. Perhaps they were, and are. But along with their good looks, the band's music has aged extremely well. While the slick production so rampant in the '80s marks their music as very of-its-time, look past that, and listen to any of their varied hits (the earlier the better)—"Rio," "Girls on Film," "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Planet Earth," "Is There Something I Should Know?"—and tell me they don't hold up.
During the band's heyday, it was inconceivable to think that they would perform anywhere but a massive stadium—which made seeing them at the Rialto Theatre several years ago almost surreal. Likely due to the thirst for '80s nostalgia, their stock has risen a bit since then, but it will certainly be a treat to hear those hits performed at the relatively intimate Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheater at Casino del Sol this week.
Duran Duran performs at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, at 8 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 12. Advance tickets are available for $40 to $150 at casinodelsol.com or by calling (800) 344-9435.
WILL HE BE WEARING RHINESTONES?
For a lot of people, David Allan Coe is best known for a song that wasn't even a hit—for him, anyway.
Coe wrote the No. 1 song "Take This Job and Shove It," but it was the late Johnny Paycheck who drove it up the charts. In fact, dozens of artists—George Jones, Tanya Tucker and Willie Nelson among them—have covered his songs, but hits have remained elusive for Coe himself.
Perhaps the biggest reason why is that, for most of his career, Coe was one of the most eccentric and rebellious figures in country music, which didn't go over so well in conservative Nashville. His life and antics are the stuff of legend: He spent most of his 20s in prison; he's lived in a hearse, which he parked in front of the Ryman Auditorium, home to the Grand Ole Opry, and later, in a cave after the Internal Revenue Service seized his home; and for a spell, he donned a Lone Ranger mask and a rhinestone suit given to him by Mel Tillis for performances, calling himself the Masked Rhinestone Cowboy.
It's tough to say exactly what to expect when David Allan Coe performs at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., next Thursday, Aug. 16. The all-ages show begins at 8 p.m. with opening sets by Chuck Wagon and the Wheelchairs and Hillbilly Bo. Advance tickets are available for $25 at the Rialto box office or by calling 740-1000. For more information, head to rialtotheatre.com.
NEXT FOR NANCY
Nancy McCallion is debuting her new all-star band at a performance this week. The founding member of The Mollys and the Last Call Girls will front a dance-oriented band called Nancy McCallion and Her New Wee Band, which also includes guitarist Chris Burroughs, guitarist and fiddle-player Tom Rhodes, bassist Steve Grams and drummer Gary Mackender.
Nancy McCallion and Her New Wee Band headline a bill that also includes the Mighty Maxwells and Kevin Sorenson at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 11. Cover is $5. For further details, check out boondockslounge.com or call 690-0991.
ON THE BANDWAGON
We've barely scratched the surface of all the fine shows happening in town this week. Here are some more: David Sanborn and Brian Culbertson at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Saturday, Aug. 11; Jay Brannan and Ryan David Green at Club Congress on Saturday, Aug. 11; Soriah, Nathan Youngblood and William Merkle at Solar Culture Gallery next Thursday, Aug. 16; Buckethead at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, Aug. 10; Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Wednesday, Aug. 15; All-American Rejects and Eve 6 at AVA at Casino del Sol tonight, Thursday, Aug. 9; Cats and Jammers! benefit for Pawsitively Cats featuring the Marnie Chastain Band and The Collectors at Boondocks Lounge on Sunday, Aug. 12; GoGoSnapRadio and Dying Bedmaker at Solar Culture Gallery on Friday, Aug. 10; Tucson Roller Derby Party featuring Love Mound, Shrimp Chaperone and Sugar Stains at Surly Wench Pub on Friday, Aug. 10; Meiko and Buddy at Club Congress next Thursday, Aug. 16; Serene Dominic at Plush on Wednesday, Aug. 15; 8 Minutes to Burn at Mr. Head's on Saturday, Aug. 11; Al Perry, Al Foul and Hank Topless at Plush on Friday, Aug. 10; Parallels at Opti Club at Club Congress next Thursday, Aug. 16; Discos and Boreas at RR Nites at La Cocina tonight, Thursday, Aug. 9; the Austin/Tucson Songwriter Connection featuring Colin Gilmore, Russell Bartlett and Kevin Pakulis at Boondocks Lounge on Tuesday, Aug. 14; Y&T, Newtronn 1 Project and Billy Moon at The Rock next Thursday, Aug. 16; Blind Divine, Caught on Film, HAIRSPRAYFIREANDGIRLS and Rich Hopkins at Club Congress on Friday, Aug. 10; Suzanne Westenhoefer at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, Aug. 11; Other Desert Cities and Catfish and Weezie at Sky Bar on Saturday, Aug. 11; A House, A Home and The Canes at Plush on Wednesday, Aug. 15.