HERE'S WHERE THE STRINGS COME IN
In case you hadn't noticed, it's become all the rage in recent years for pop and rock bands to perform backed by symphony orchestras. Typically, bands will set up dates with the orchestras indigenous to whatever towns they're visiting well ahead of time, giving the orchestras time to rehearse the material; and then the band shows up and performs a unique, one-time-only show in each town.
The method seems to apply to popular music acts regardless of genre: Romantic gypsy band DeVotchKa's done it. Aging British rockers like The Who and the Moody Blues have done it. When Jimmy Kimmel brought his late-night show to Brooklyn last year, his musical guest on one of the shows was the rootsy Avett Brothers backed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Hell, even hard rockers like Guns N' Roses and Kiss have done it. (It may seem anathema to a genre built on rebellion, but all rules went out the window right around the time Jann Wenner thought the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was a good idea. Pop and rock music has become respectable, damnit! And as a by-product, a new generation of fans is—hopefully—turned on to the symphony.) Even our own Calexico's done it, albeit in Europe.
Last summer, someone on my Facebook feed posted a link to one of those European Calexico shows as it was happening. I clicked on it and caught the end of the show; and, I have to admit, it was pretty fantastic. Calexico's music, with its wide-open desert feel, almost seemed like it was written to be performed this way. And it got me excited for their scheduled show in Tucson this week, where they would perform with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Except that they're not.
Due to a scheduling conflict, Calexico had to cancel the collaboration. But remarkably enough, the Indigo Girls, currently out on a tour on which select dates are performed with local orchestras, were able to step in on the very same date as the originally scheduled Calexico show. (See, that's how many bands are getting in on the act!)
How the harmony-rich folk-pop duo's music translates to widescreen remains to be seen by Tucsonans, but this isn't the Girls' first trip to the orchestral rodeo: They first performed with an orchestra in 2001.
The arrangements for the orchestral stops on the current tour were done by seasoned veterans Sean O'Loughlin (Chris Isaak, Feist, The Decemberists, Josh Ritter) and Stephen Barber (Rosanne Cash, Alejandro Escovedo, John Legend), and the shows have been receiving fantastic reviews.
Indigo Girls fans and curiosity seekers alike can find out for themselves when the Indigo Girls perform with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. Tickets are $49 and $65 in advance and available at tucsonsymphony.org, where you'll find more information, too. You can also call the TSO box office at 882-8585.
THE CANCELLATION POLKA
Speaking of scheduling snafus ....
In November of 2012, it seemed like half the shows scheduled to take place in Tucson were canceled at the last minute. The Daniel Johnston show scheduled to take place at Club Congress was called off due to "scheduling conflicts." (Pro tip: Usually, when a show is canceled the day before it's supposed to happen due to scheduling conflicts, it ain't scheduling conflicts.) Rick Ross' Maybach Group Tour, scheduled for Nov. 27 at the TCC Arena, was called off on the day of the show, also due to "scheduling conflicts." (In fact, the remainder of the tour ended up being canceled. Do a little Internet sleuthing on that one — there are some pretty frightening theories out there as to why.) And the Wovenhand show scheduled for Club Congress on the following night, Nov. 28, was canceled for a far less mysterious reason: illness.
The good news, then, is that two out of those three shows have been rescheduled. The Daniel Johnston show is now set to take place at Congress on Saturday, Feb. 2. (After you read about the Rick Ross situation, you might agree that it's probably a good thing that one hasn't been rescheduled.)
And the intense, darkly spiritual Wovenhand, led by former 16 Horsepower frontman David Eugene Edwards, is now scheduled to perform at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, Jan. 22. Tucson's Saint Maybe, whose 2012 debut album Things As They Are received nearly universal acclaim, will open the show at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are $10 and available at hotelcongress.com/club or by calling 622-8848.
FOLK IN SAHUARITA
Despite its name, the shows in the 12th Annual Javarita Coffeehouse Concert Series don't actually take place at the Javarita Coffeehouse in Sahuarita anymore. Although these days the shows take place at the nearby Good Shepherd United Church of Christ, also in Sahuarita, the series' mission remains the same: providing "top-notch acoustic roots music, while also educating and informing our performers about the situation and struggles of the Borderlands and the Southwest desert," according to its website. What began as a series of jam sessions and open mic nights has evolved into a full-fledged series of roughly once-a-month shows.
The current series has already featured performances by Christopher James, the Silver Thread Trio, and a Mariachi Christmas show with Azteca del Sol, and upcoming shows include Tom Russell (Friday, Feb. 15), Scott Ainslie (Friday, March 15), and Work o' the Weavers (Friday, April 12). And this week, on Friday, Jan. 18, the series will feature a concert by Tom Chapin.
Chapin is, of course, the brother of Harry Chapin, the late, beloved singer-songwriter whose songs include "W*O*L*D," "Taxi," and his biggest hit, "Cat's in the Cradle." (Harry died in a car accident in 1981.) Prior to Harry's solo career, Harry and Tom, along with their brother Steve, released an album as a trio without much success, which led the brothers down their own individual career paths.
Although Harry's folk-pop landed him on the pop charts, Tom, along with continuing to perform his own brand of folk, also hosted the TV show Make a Wish in the early-to-mid-'70s; performed on Broadway in several shows, most notably Pump Boys and Dinettes; and he performs regularly on the storytelling festival circuit. Three of his albums of children's stories have won him Grammy Awards in the category of Best Spoken Word Album for Children.
This week he puts on his singer-songwriter hat (although I'm guessing there will be some storytelling and a few of Harry's songs involved, too) for a performance at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18, at The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, 17750 S. La Cañada Dr. Tickets are $20 at the door. For more info check out thegoodshepherducc.org or call 625-1375.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Here is just a sampling of some of the other fine shows headed our way this week: Prohibition Era Music Night with Katherine Byrnes, Jimmy Carr and the Awkward Moments, and Chris Black at Club Congress on Friday, Jan. 18; Arvel Bird at Abounding Grace Sanctuary on Saturday, Jan. 19; Ex-Cowboy, Logan Greene Acoustic, Tommy Plural, Can of Beans, and Shark Pants at Tucson Live Music Venue next Thursday, Jan. 24; Glossary, Telegraph Canyon, and The Tryst at Plush tonight, Thursday, Jan. 17; Last Call Girls at Boondocks Lounge on Sunday, Jan. 20; Beatles tribute band The Fab Four at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 19; 8 Daze a Week! Tour featuring Oso Negro, Phil A, Wake Self, Big Meridox, Jivin Scientists, and DJ Young Native at Plush on Sunday, Jan. 20; Popular Culture, The Original Saku, Jess Matsen, and Holyhead at Topaz Tundra tonight, Thursday, Jan. 17; Church Key, Hollow Hills, and Brass Hands at Plush on Friday, Jan. 18; Amy Rude, Black Ginger, and Golden Boots at La Cocina next Thursday, Jan. 24; Black Cherry Raw burlesque with a live band at Surly Wench Pub on Friday, Jan. 18; Gila Bend, Michael P. and the Gullywashers, and the Wayward Saints at Plush on Saturday, Jan. 19; The Last Slice, Ocean Void, Galen Breakers, and Boreas at Tucson Live Music Venue on Saturday, Jan. 19; Lethal Dosage, We Killed the Union, Thorncaster, Wrathgate and more at The Rock on Saturday, Jan. 19; The Chain and Custody Battle at The Boxing Gym on Wednesday, Jan. 23; Margate, DC Fallout, and No Radio at Tucson Live Music Venue on Sunday, Jan. 20; Iron Maiden tribute band The Iron Maidens at Paradiso Bar and Lounge at Casino del Sol tonight, Thursday, Jan. 17; Songwriters Night with Gabriel Palacios and Andy Bell (guest performers are welcome) at Mr. Head's on Tuesday, Jan. 22.