THE ENIGMATIC MS. HILL
It's been a decade since Lauryn Hill, hip-hop goddess and onetime member of The Fugees, released a new album—and that was the scattershot live session MTV Unplugged No. 2.0.
But this week, the Rialto Theatre will host a show by Hill (who now prefers to go by Ms. Lauryn Hill, like, all the time) on Monday, Nov. 26.
Hill has been in the news recently, though not for her music. This summer, she pleaded guilty to three counts of tax evasion, with each count carrying a maximum sentence of one year. She arranged to have her sentencing moved to Nov. 27—the day after the Tucson show—so that she could make arrangements to pay her back taxes.
This all comes on the heels of a decade of odd behavior by Ms. Hill in which she's regularly been as many as two hours late for performances, at least one of which was described as a "live obituary." (On that Unplugged album, which left the between-song banter intact, she declared, "I'm deranged," and at a 2003 Vatican Christmas concert, she attacked the Catholic Church for its history of child abuse.)
In 2008, her career was enough of a mess that People magazine ran a story titled "Whatever Happened to ... Lauryn Hill?"
But in recent months, she seemingly has been on an upswing, with shows garnering largely positive reviews; she also debuted at least one new song. She recently announced a string of live dates with Nas, all but one of which precede the Tucson date.
A review of one of those recent shows with Nas in the Dallas Observer raved, "This show was not haunted by her reputation. Her voice sounded like bourbon being poured, and she brought new life to a catalog that was already technically perfect. ... She did it all with unmatched skill, no matter what the chatter has been about her work in the last decade. ... It was church in there, and I mean that as a compliment."
Ms. Hill did, however, make the audience wait and hour and 45 minutes between Nas' opening set and hers, prompting the reviewer to make a recommendation: "You guys, it's Lauryn. Bring something to read."
Based on her tax woes and the timing of this tour, these shows may very well be a cash-grab to help pay the bills—but that didn't stop you from going to those Pixies reunion shows, did it? And you were glad you went, weren't you?
Ms. Lauren Hill performs, likely with a yet-to-be-announced opener, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8:30 p.m., Monday, Nov 26. Advance tickets for the all-ages show are $58 for general admission on the floor, and $63 for reserved seats in the balcony. More information is available at rialtotheatre.com and 740-1000.
It's not mere hyperbole to say that Béla Fleck is to the banjo what Jimi Hendrix was to the
guitar—and I'm not necessarily talking about technical skill here. Sure, Fleck can throw down a bluegrass tune—the genre most closely associated with his instrument—but he seems to be more interested in pushing the limits of the banjo, seeing just how it can fit seamlessly into virtually any genre of music.
Having established roots in the bluegrass outfit New Grass Revival, he went on to front the experimental Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, which gave him the opportunity to tinker with genres. Whether in those groups, as a solo performer, or collaborating with outside players, Fleck has performed bluegrass, world beat, R&B, psychedelic jam-band music, classical, jazz and beyond.
It's jazz that Fleck will be playing at his appearance this week at the Fox Tucson Theatre, in a collaboration with the Marcus Roberts Trio. Roberts is a gifted pianist whose style largely harkens back to the pre-modern jazz era—he is best known for playing a version of ragtime.
The pairing of Fleck and the Roberts Trio, which also includes drummer Jason Marsalis and bassist Rodney Jordan, began in 2009, at the Savannah Music Festival, where Fleck sat in with the band. After that appearance, the two began writing songs separately for a collaborative project, which saw the light of day this summer as the album Across the Imaginary Divide (Rounder), which touches on bluegrass, gospel, blues, bossa nova, Latin music, Gypsy jazz and swing, among other genres.
Béla Fleck and the Marcus Roberts Trio perform at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. Advance tickets are $34 for reserved seats in the back orchestra or the balcony, and $40 for front orchestra seats. For tickets or more info, head to foxtucsontheatre.org, or call 547-3040.
Black Cherry Burlesque, the local crew that updates that art for the 21st century—the pinup girls have tattoos!—while honoring its tradition, debuts a new series of shows this week.
Black Cherry Raw Burlesque, which will take place on the third Friday of every month, will feature a live band performing the striptease music, which is usually canned. The backing band includes Jacob Hacker (from Wolfman and the Nards, on guitar and vocals), Stephanie Johnston (aka Stephka von Snatch, on drums), Michael O'Brien (aka DeadMike of Demon City Wreckers, on upright bass) and Eli Szabady (saxophone). The show was produced and directed by Inga Kaboom (aka Surly Wench Pub co-owner Kate Johnston) and Fanny Galore. Black Cherry Burlesque's normal shows, on the first Friday of each month, will continue as well.
Black Cherry Raw Burlesque debuts at 8 and 10 p.m., Friday, Nov. 23, at the Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave. Admission is $10. For more information, call 882-0009.
Next Thursday brings with it a fresh installment of Chris Black's ChamberLab series, for which local composers who don't usually work in the genre compose chamber-music pieces, which are then performed by local musicians for what Club Congress' website calls "entertaining and eclectic orchestrations that combine modern DIY attitude with a classical antiquity." In addition to Black, next week's performance will include pieces composed by Benjamin Degain, Marco Rosano and Dante Rosano.
ChamberLab takes place at 8 p.m., next Thursday, Nov. 29, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is $5. For further details, head to hotelcongress.com, or call 622-8848.
It's tradition that the Wayback Machine hosts a post-Thanksgiving shindig, featuring a plethora of special guests sitting in, each year at Booondocks Lounge, and this year is no different. This year's Annual Dance of Thanks Party will take place at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 24, at Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave. Cover is $8. For more info, head to boondockslounge.com, or call 690-0991.
ON THE BANDWAGON
There's lots more great stuff headed our way this week, including: The MMG Tour featuring Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Wale, Machine Gun Kelly and DJ Scream at the Tucson Convention Center Arena on Tuesday, Nov. 27; Wovenhand and Louise Le Hir at Club Congress on Wednesday, Nov. 28; Delicate Steve, Cy Dune and Discos at Plush on Monday, Nov. 26; Straight No Chaser at UA Centennial Hall on Friday, Nov. 23; The Acacia Strain, Veil of Maya, Upon a Burning Body, Volumes and others at The Rock on Tuesday, Nov. 27; The Stone Foxes, Tom Walbank and Bold Bird at Plush on Sunday, Nov. 25; Kid Ink, T. Mills and Serge Dog at the Rialto Theatre next Thursday, Nov. 29; Joe Buck Yourself and the Hooten Hallers at Surly Wench Pub on Wednesday, Nov. 28; Make Me Famous, Get Scared, Heartist and I Am King at The Rock on Wednesday, Nov. 28; Al Perry, Skip Heller and Hank Topless at La Cocina on Friday, Nov. 23; Roll Acosta at Playground Bar and Lounge on Tuesday, Nov. 27; Truelove and Friends featuring The Tryst at Monterey Court on Tuesday, Nov. 27; Mustanottas at Sky Bar on Saturday, Nov. 24; Beyond Words at The Hut on Saturday, Nov. 24.