By the time you read this I'll be in Austin, waist-high in the three Bs of South by Southwest: bands, beer, and BBQ. If memory serves me correctly (and it very well might not), this will be my 15th SXSW, but this year is notable for one big reason: Never have so many Tucson acts been selected to perform at official SXSW showcases. This is largely due to the efforts of the soon-to-depart-Tucson Marianne Dissard, who organized a Tucson music showcase at the fest via her new Tucson Music Factory label, which is sponsoring the event along with KXCI 91.3 FM and the Tucson Weekly. So, on behalf of Tucson, thanks, Marianne.
Thanks, too, to Gene Armstrong, who will be filling in for me at the Soundbites desk next week.
For those of you who can't make it to Austin, stay tuned to our We Got Cactus music blog, where we'll do our best to convey the sights, sounds, and utter madness of SXSW.
As for live music happening around Tucson this week, well, we're sort of in the eye of the SXSW hurricane. If last week was an onslaught of acts passing through town on their way to Austin, and next week is largely the same, this week there's a an influx of SXSW-destined acts because, well, they're all in Austin. Still, there's plenty to keep a music lover satisfied.
LET'S ALL PRETEND WE'RE IRISH
As we all know, there's a large Irish contingent in Tucson, but on St. Patrick's Day, we're all Irish for a day, right? This year St. Pat's falls on Sunday, March 17, which may not be all that conducive to sucking down copious amounts of green beer, depending on whether or not you need to work or go to school on Monday. So, yes, there are several Irish-themed events taking place on Sunday, but there's also a good number taking place on Saturday, March 16, in order to give you time to recover before the new week begins. Here are some worthwhile options for both days.
Since no holiday can pass us by without a dose of good old American commercialism, Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. will once again host the Great Guinness Toast, a worldwide event that, according to Guinness, actually took place on Feb. 15. Whoops! Better late than never, I suppose, and if you're going to cheat, the night before St. Patrick's Day seems like a logical alternative. Supplying the soundtrack for your Guinness swilling will be the ragtag, eight-piece ensemble Jimmy Carr and the McAwkward Moments, who normally perform rambunctious takes on Appalachian music without the "Mc" attached to their name. The Solid Gold DJs round out the entertainment at this 9 p.m. show on Saturday, March 16. The show is 21-and-over and admission is free. Questions? Head to hotelcongress.com/club or ring 'em up at 622-8848.
Your other Irish-centric option for Saturday night is a St. Paddy's Eve Dance Party at Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave., featuring live music all night long courtesy of Nancy McCallion and Her Wee Band. McCallion was, of course, singer-songwriter for the internationally acclaimed Irish/Mexican roots band The Mollys, and with this relatively recently formed band, McCallion – with a little help from her friends Gary Mackender (drums and accordion), Danny Krieger (guitar), Tom Rhodes (fiddle and mandolin), and Steve Grams (bass) – gets back to her Irish roots. If the music and beer don't quite get you to your Irish happy-place, Boondocks will be offering plates of corned beef and cabbage for purchase.
The St. Paddy's Eve Dance Party at Boondocks Lounge runs from 8 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, March 16. Cover charge is $10. For more info check out boondocksloundge.com or call 690-0991.
If you can't make it to see Nancy McCallion and Her Wee Band at Boondocks on Saturday (or if you imbibed a wee bit too much on Saturday night and are in need of a little hair o' the dog), the group will also be performing a St. Patrick's Day Acoustic Show from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 17, at La Cocina, 201 N. Court Ave. Admission is a suggested donation of $10. There's more information at lacocinatucson.com or by calling 365-3053.
Similarly, if you'd like to spend St. Patrick's Day proper at Boondocks Lounge, the Lisa McCallion-fronted Last Call Girls will toss some Irish flair into their normally country-oriented set from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the venue for a St. Patrick's Country Dance Party on Sunday, March 17. Cover charge is $5, and corned beef and cabbage will once again be on the menu. Use the same contact info as above for more details.
Meanwhile, over at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., local trio The Dusty Buskers will headline a bill with their rambunctious concoction of traditional Celtic, bluegrass, and Appalachian folk music. The Sunday, March 17 show kicks off at 9:30 p.m. with the lauded, lefty-leaning punk-grass combo the Haymarket Squares from Phoenix. The performances will be abetted by live Irish dancers. Cover is a fiver. For more info go look at plushtucson.com or call 798-1298 with questions.
In keeping with the traditional old-timey acoustic-music theme, the Get Right Rounders, a local guitar/banjo/fiddle trio, will tear up the stage at Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave., at around 10 p.m. on Sunday, March 17. Cover is $5 and if you need more info, check out surlywenchpub.com or call the friendly folks there at 882-0009.
Apparently The Hut, 305 N. Fourth Ave., is having a St. Patrick's Day event of some sort on Saturday, March 16, but we couldn't track down any information about it. The venue is, however, celebrating the holiday again on Sunday, March 17, with ... a reggae party. It's part of a daylong celebration being billed as The Hut/O'Malley's on Fourth: 20th Anniversary St. Patty's Day Block Party. Performers include reggae-rockers SKITN, Tucson reggae royalty Neon Prophet, and ska band 2Tone Lizard Kings. Unfortunately, details about times and cover charge couldn't be had at press time (hey, The Hut, clean out your damn voice mailbox, willya?!), so you're on your own there. The Hut's not-very-helpful website is huttucson.com, and if you'd like to try your luck, its number is 623-3200.
THE MORE YOU DRINK, THE BETTER WE SOUND
Similar to whatever's going down at The Hut and O'Malley's, the show at Che's Lounge, 350 N. Fourth Ave., on Saturday, March 16, has nothing to do with Irish music – unless of course The Hillwilliams (still one of the funniest band names ever) feel the urge to work up a couple last-minute Irish-themed ditties (which they probably will).
Ever since guitarist-singer Scott Lema -- one-third of the band along with bassist-singer Jim Cox and drummer-singer Matt Shannon -- moved from Tucson to Wisconsin several years ago, Hillwilliams gigs have become so rare – the last one was 2 ½ years ago – that each one is billed as a reunion show. The band is goofy, funny, and above all entertaining. Part of the fun is trying to figure out who's drunker, the audience or the band.
Come to think of it, The Hillwilliams do have something in common with St. Patrick's Day: They're both all about drunken depravity, and who doesn't like that?
The Hillwilliams begin at 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, at Che's. As always, there is no cover. Call 623-2088 for more info.
ON THE BANDWAGON
There's so much great stuff happening around town this week that has absolutely nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day that I don't even know where to start. So I'll just remind you to check out our listings sections and start, well, here: "Blues at the Crossroads" tribute to Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf featuring the Fabulous Thunderbirds, James Cotton, Bob Margolin, and Jody Williams at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Friday, March 15; Lariats album release party for Our Native Tongue Is Bad News with American Standards, Territory, and Hollow Hills at Club Congress on Saturday, March 16; Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band with Lake Street Drive at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, March 16; The Mavericks at the Fox Tucson Theatre next Thursday, March 21; Dash Rip Rock at Club Congress on Wednesday, March 20; Local Love presents Hippie Fest with 8 Minutes to Burn, Top Dead Center, The Tryst, Carlos Arzate and the Kind Souls, and Funky Bonz at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, March 15; Ghost to Falco and Algae & Tentacles at La Cocina on Wednesday, March 20; Saint Maybe, Low Hums, Gabriel Mintz, and Best Dog Award at Topaz Tundra on Saturday, March 16; Flagrante Delicto, The Pork Torta, and Diptych at Plush on Friday, March 15; Author and Punisher and Not Breathing at Solar Culture Gallery on Friday, March 15; Anomalys, Las Ardillas, Los Vigilantes, Nightmare Boyzzz, and Paint Fumes at The District Tavern on Tuesday, March 19; Pure X and Dream Sick at Solar Culture Gallery on Wednesday, March 20.