WAIT AND SEE
If recent show announcements are any indication, we're going to have quite the bounty of awesomeness in the way of touring acts in Tucson this spring. But for now, things are fairly slow in that respect. Luckily, there are some great local shows this week to make up for it. But first, those touring acts...
WE STILL MISS THE BEARD
The story of Matisyahu is a peculiar one. Born Matthew Paul Miller in 1979, he was raised as a Reconstructionist Jew. He initially dropped out of high school to follow Phish around the country, gobbling up mushrooms along the way. He eventually finished high school and embarked upon a two-month study program in Israel, where he reconnected with his Jewish roots—enough so that it spurred him to join the Lubavitch branch of Hasidic Judaism.
Around the same time he was studying Torah, he began his musical career as a dancehall reggae artist, incorporating elements of hip-hop, rock, and Jewish hazzan. All of which is interesting enough, but not as interesting as this: Completely out of left field, the guy got huge, attracting an audience composed equally of Jews, reggae fans, and college kids (OK, the last two might be a bit redundant), and scoring a pair of back-to-back gold albums—2005's Live at Stubb's and 2006's Youth (both on Sony).
But then a funny thing happened. At the end of 2011 he posted a fairly cryptic item on Twitter that read in part: "When I started becoming religious 10 years ago it was a very natural and organic process. It was my choice. ... I felt that in order to become a good person I needed rules—lots of them—or else I would somehow fall apart. I am reclaiming myself. Trusting my goodness and my divine mission. ..." Throughout his career Matisyahu had only been seen in a long beard and yarmulke; in the photo accompanying the Twitter post, he was clean shaven, and wrote: "And for those concerned with my naked face, don't worry ... you haven't seen the last of my facial hair."
Last summer he released a new album, Spark Seeker (Fallen Sparks), which was a bit more modern sounding and seemed meant to appeal to a wider audience. Although spiritualism is still at the root of his music, it's no longer the music's main purpose.
Matisyahu returns to Tucson for a show billed as An Acoustic Evening With Matisyahu on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. The all-ages show begins at 8 p.m. with an opening set by Levi Robin. Advance reserved seats on the floor range from $29 to $41, and are available at rialtotheatre.com or by calling 740-1000. Use the same info for more details.
If you missed the Supersuckers' homecoming show at Club Congress last month, you're in luck. The frontman of the self-proclaimed "greatest rock and roll band in the world" is returning to Hotel Congress this week for a solo show on the hotel's patio.
While still fronting the 'Suckers, Eddie Spaghetti has found time to release three solo albums since 2004, the most recent being 2011's Sundowner (Bloodshot). Those albums are, for the most part, a lot more country-leaning than the balls-out rock 'n' roll of the Supersuckers, and contain more cover songs than originals.
Eddie Spaghetti hits the patio at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St., around 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25. Admission is free. For more info head to hotelcongress.com/club or call 622-8848.
MARSHALL STACKS AND PROVOCATIVE NAMES
From the "Wow, those guys are still together?" file, Nashville Pussy brings its brand of raw, hard Southern rawk to town this week.
The band formed in the late '90s when the cowpunk band Nine Pound Hammer broke up. That band's guitarist, Blaine Cartwright, formed the Pussy, assuming vocal duties in addition to guitar, with his guitarist wife Ruyter Suys in the fold. The pair has been the core of the band ever since; these days they're joined by bassist Karen Cuda and drummer Jeremy Thompson. The sleaze-rock band's most recent album is 2009's From Hell to Texas (Steamhammer), so don't be surprised if you hear them road-testing some new material.
Nashville Pussy performs at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, Jan. 30. Sugar Stains and Texas Trash and the Trainwrecks open the show at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are $10; they'll be $12 on the day of the show. For more details call 622-8848, or log on to hotelcongress.com/club.
The co-ed bicoastal trio—from Virginia and California—of Elaine Dempsey, Lawrence Lambert, and Karl Weme comprise Big Wide Grin, a harmony-rich (all members sing) contemporary, soulful folk-pop band whose members switch instruments—guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, and all sorts of percussion instruments—depending on which song they're performing. They've gotten rave reviews along the folk festival circuit on which they regularly perform, and I'm guessing the Baby Boomer gen will eat this stuff with a spoon.
Big Wide Grin make a return appearance to town as part of the Live Acoustic Venue Association's spring series of shows at Abounding Grace Sanctuary, 2450 S. Kolb Road, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26. Advance tickets are available for $15; they'll be $20 cash at the door. Get more info and advance tickets at lavamusic.org.
YOU WILL BE ASKED TO LET IT WHIP
Combining the words "danceable jazz" to arrive at their name, the Dazz Band began life as a funk band in Cleveland in the early '80s, eventually scoring a trio of crossover pop hits: "Let It Whip," Joystick," and "Let It All Blow," which still sound funky fresh today.
The Dazz Band will perform at Monsoon Nightclub at Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road, at 9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25. Tickets are $15. For more info check out ddcaz.com or call 294-7777.
FUN WITH GENRES
Speaking of funk, four of Tucson's funkiest acts will perform a show under the banner Local Love Funk Fest this week at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. The all-ages show begins at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26, and will feature sets by Cosmic Slop, The Tryst, the AmoSphere, and Intertwine. Admission is $5 in advance, $7 on the day of show.
Also at the Rialto: Local promoter Tucson Rock Alliance begins a monthly series of genre-specific shows at the theater this week, all featuring exclusively local acts. The inaugural "Tucson's Best" showcase is being billed as the "alternative edition," and will feature performances by (in descending order of appearance) Stands With Fists, Scorned Embrace, Neiphi (the band's final show), Armastus, Drowning Arizona, and Brandon Jim, who will also host the event.
The all-ages show begins at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27. Tickets are $10 in advance. The Rialto Theatre is located at 318 E. Congress St. For tickets or more info head to rialtotheatre.com, or call 740-1000.
LOCAL SHORT TAKES
When the three instrument-playing members of Cadillac Steakhouse performed a show as Steakhaus sans singer recently, a shelf full of beer was on the stage front and center, with a mic stand placed in front of it. It was a good joke, sure, but there's no replacing the band's tiny dynamo of a singer, Nikki Rosing, who no longer lives in Tucson. The good news: She'll return to town this week to front the band at a show at The District Tavern, 260 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, Jan. 29. The show should get rolling around 10 p.m. and will also feature performances by Havarti Orchestra and Sleep Like Trees. Admission is free. Call 791-0082 for more info.
Another great, free, locals-only show will take place at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Sunday, Jan. 27, when two psychedelic country-rock bands—Ohioan, who will have just arrived back in town after a West Coast jaunt, and Golden Boots, who have suddenly become active again while Dr. Dog is on a brief hiatus before starting work on a new album (the two bands share Dimitri Manos as a member)—take to the stage. That one starts around 7 p.m.
Finally, Plush has a pair of jam-packed local shows this week, too. Up first, on Friday, Jan. 25, is a mostly acoustic showcase featuring the angelic harmonies of the old-timey Silver Thread Trio, the acoustic modern pop of duo Ryanhood, and the co-ed bluegrass act Run Boy Run, who appeared on last weekend's edition of NPR's A Prairie Home Companion and will kick off the show at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $8.
On Monday, Jan. 28, Plush will play host to another sweet-ass lineup of locals, this one featuring Gabriel Sullivan and the Taraf de Tucson, Billy Sedlmayr (playing with a full band), Mariachi Luz de Luna, and the French Tourist DJ (aka Nantes, France's Laurent Allinger, formerly of Little Rabbits). That one gets started at 8 p.m., and admission is a five-spot.
Plush is located at 340 E. Sixth St., and more information is available at plushtucson.com, or by calling 798-1298.
There's lots more great stuff happening around town this week, so be sure to check our listings sections.