IT'S CONCERT WEEK IN TUCSON
OK, Tucson, are you ready for this?! It's the type of week where you'll wish your wallet was fatter than it actually is; the type of week in which you'll wish you could clone yourself in order to be in at least two places at once. Basically, what I'm saying is that in terms of both quantity and quality, this is one of the best weeks for live music I can remember, and this old tree has its share of rings.
Check out the rest of the music section and you'll find info about some great shows: the Weekly's Exile on Congress Street festival, which brings Dinosaur Jr., among other great bands, to town; the Ghost B.C. show; the Cave Singers; Youth Lagoon. That's merely a fraction of a fraction of all the great stuff happening in Tucson this week. I'll try to cram as much of the other stuff in here as I can, but be sure to check our listings section for tons more great shows.
SEEING THE SUGAR MAN
Unless you've been shacking up with cave people, you likely already know the story of Sixto Rodriguez. The Cliffs Notes read something like this:
Detroit singer-songwriter releases a pair of literate folk-rock albums in the early 1970s under the name Rodriguez. They're well reviewed but don't sell many copies. Rodriguez becomes an excavation and demolition worker and pretty much forgets about his music career. Until a film crew decides to make a documentary about him once they discover he's as big as the Beatles in South Africa.
Forward to today: That documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, blows up and goes on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary this year, which only gains him new fans curious to check out what the fuss is all about.
If you've seen the film, or even the 60 Minutes segment about him, you know the story is a riveting if unlikely one. But none of this would matter if Rodriguez's music sucked. Listen to 1971's Coming From Reality, or better yet, his 1970 debut Cold Fact, and it's likely you'll agree with the South Africans. Clearly influenced by the wordplay of Dylan and the arrangements of Leonard Cohen and Burt Bacharach, Rodriguez's music was clearly due for reevaluation, and perhaps one of the more shocking things about the story is that it's taken so long for it to be rediscovered.
Now in his 70s, nearly blind and with difficulty walking, Rodriguez is finally getting a victory lap in the United States in the form of his first extended tour here, and fans are selling out almost every show he plays.
As of this writing, there are still (at least) some lawn tickets available for his show at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, on Friday, April 19. Congrats to Howe Gelb and Giant Sand, who are opening not only the Tucson date of the tour – the show starts at 8 p.m. – but also shows in Mesa, L.A., and San Francisco. Tickets for the all-ages show are $35 for reserved seats (if there are any left) and $30 for a spot on the lawn. For more info check out rialtotheatre.com, statesidepresents.com, and casinodelsol.com, or call 740-1000.
Ben Bridwell has come a long way since I first met him in the mid-'90s, when he was making pizzas at a now-defunct joint called Cardinal's Pizza in the Nob Hill strip mall on Speedway, just west of Campbell. He worked there with his friend Jenn Ghetto, and another friend, Mat Brooke, worked a few doors down at Bentley's. The pizza shop was two doors down from a record store I managed, so I got to know them pretty well.
While still in Tucson, Ghetto and Brooke started a band called Carissa's Wierd (sic), but the trio of friends relocated to the Pacific Northwest not too long after that. They settled in Seattle, where they all took day jobs, and Carissa's Wierd soon became one of the biggest bands in the region. After turning down offers from the likes of Sub Pop, Bridwell started Brown Records to release the band's music, and eventually he became a band member, too.
When Carissa's Wierd broke up, Bridwell decided to form his own band and invited Brooke to join. Although Brooke left the fold shortly after the band's first album, 2006's Everything All the Time, Bridwell, who later moved back to his native South, not only kept Band of Horses going, they became one of Sub Pop's flagship acts before later signing with Columbia. They've yet to release a bad album – their sound is beautiful, sometimes anthemic indie rock with a touch of the South – and that includes their latest, last year's Mirage Rock. (Brooke went on to form a new band, Grand Archives, who have released two excellent albums on Sub Pop, while Ghetto now performs solo under the name S.)
Given that backstory, you'd think Band of Horses would make it to Tucson more often than they do, but their show here this week is only their third-ever performance here.
Band of Horses performs an all-ages show at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Monday, April 22. Roadkill Ghost Choir opens the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $28 on the day of show. For more info head to rialtotheatre.com or call 740-1000.
If you're like me, it is pretty much imperative to make it out to the Pima County Fair, which runs from today, Thursday, April 18, to Sunday, April 28, once each year. And with a wildly eclectic schedule of shows scheduled for the main stage this year, you might as well make that one time coincide with a show you want to see – admission to shows is free with paid fair admission ($8 for adults, $3 for children 6-10, free admission to children 5 and under, $5 parking fee), after all. Here's the hodgepodge of a schedule: Silversun Pickups at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 19; volumized-hair-rockers Skid Row, Warrant, and L.A. Guns at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 20; Kumbia King Allstarz at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 21; Tesla at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24; Tyga at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 25; Hollywood Undead at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 26; Easton Corbin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 27; Larry Hernandez at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 28.
The Pima County Fairgrounds are located at 11300 S. Houghton Road. For more information check out pimacountyfair.com or call 762-3247.
One of the three bands that make up the holy trinity of second-wave British ska acts (the other two are the English Beat and the Specials), The Selecter arrives in town on Sunday, April 21, for an all-ages show at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Spirit Familia opens at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $23 on the day of show. More info at rialtotheatre.com or by calling 740-1000.
I'd like to recommend a pair of shows this week headlined by two international acts that might otherwise get lost in the madness.
Tinariwen is a Tuareg band whose members hail from the southern region of the Sahara Desert. Unlike their musical peers, the group traded in its traditional instruments for guitars and drums, and started making a name for itself in the West. For their most recent album, 2011's incredible Tassili (Anti-), the group set up a makeshift studio in the middle of the desert and used all acoustic instruments. The sound is positively mesmerizing and Tassili was one of my favorite albums of 2011.
Tinariwen performs at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, April 23. Sihasin opens the 18-and-up show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 on the day of show. Check out hotelcongress.com/club or call 622-8848 for more info.
ON THE BANDWAGON
There are tons more great shows this week including appearances by: Har Mar Superstar at Plush on Monday, April 22; Capital Cities and Gold Fields at Solar Culture Gallery on Wednesday, April 24; Cosmonauts, JJUUJJUU, Blackfeet Braves, and The Resonars at The District Tavern on Monday, April 22; Night Beats, Dream Sick, and Shit Ton at Topaz on Sunday, April 21; Black Bananas and Vintage Sugar at Plush on Wednesday, April 24; Whitehorse at Playground on Tuesday, April 23; Hayes Carll and Warren Hood and the Goods at Club Congress on Wednesday, April 24; White Mystery and Acorn Bcorn at The District Tavern on Tuesday, April 23; Face to Face and For or Against at Club Congress on Sunday, April 21; Bang Tango and Dirtnap at The Rock on Sunday, April 21; RAC and Penguin Prison (DJ set with live vocals) at Opti Club at Club Congress next Thursday, April 25; Houses of Light (two Tartufi members acoustic) and Courtney Robbins at Café Passe on Friday, April 19; and much, much, much more.