SURE AS SPRING
It's a weird time of year in Tucson. With locals, students, snowbirds and gem show folks all vying for the same spaces and streets, Tucson is as crowded as it gets all year. And yet, aside from a busy period for local acts releasing new albums (lately, it seems like I've been getting an email a day alerting me to a new local release), it's a rather slow stretch musically. That will all change, of course, over the next couple months, when touring acts hit the road in droves, not to mention the runoff acts from South by Southwest and Coachella that will inundate our local venues. So, consider this the calm before the storm. And while you're at it, start squirreling away a few ducats here and there for the spring. You'll be glad you did.
ALL THE TIME
Our feature article this week is about a show celebrating the final album by Black Sun Ensemble, whose leader, Jesus Acedo, passed away last year. But this week also kicks off an annual concert series that continues in honor of the man who founded it.
It's been two years since Jonathan Holden passed away at age 60. Holden channeled his love of music—his motto was "Music is medicine"—by promoting the Rhythm and Roots concert series, which featured performances by both local and touring roots-based acts that, in many cases, wouldn't have happened in Tucson without him. The concert-promoting business is a tricky one; often one successful show can make up for a few money-losing ones, and Holden understood that as well as anyone. He wasn't afraid to book acts that he didn't expect to break even on—he just wanted to bring them to town so that the interested few could see them perform. (Local musician and Weekly contributor Jim Lipson recalled, shortly after Holden's death, "I'd see him right after shows where he lost a lot of money, and all he would do was say, 'Well, it was an artistic success.' Even though he didn't like to lose money, he never let that get in the way of booking a show he wanted to book, with a performer that he thought was really deserving.")
A new Rhythm and Roots season had just kicked off when Holden passed away, and his wife Susan was left to decide whether to cancel the remaining shows, or continue the series in his honor. With the help of a crew of volunteers, she opted for the latter. And once that season was over, and all the shows had gone on as planned, she had to decide again: Do I book another season of shows, or do I let the two decades of shows stand as Jonathan's legacy? This week kicks off the second series of shows Susan Holden has booked after Jonathan's death. The inaugural concert of this year's season doubles as a fundraiser for Rhythm and Roots.
Although John Coinman lives outside of Tucson, local shows are a rare occurrence. In addition to fronting his own band, Coinman serves as guitarist and musical director for New West, the band helmed by Kevin Costner. (Coinman was music supervisor for Dances With Wolves and contributed songs to the soundtrack of The Postman.) He's a fine singer-songwriter, his songs boasting a distinct Southwestern twang with a pop core underneath, and his band is composed of some serious ringers: guitarist Peter McLaughlin, drummer Larry Cobb, bassist Blair Forward, and pedal steel player Neil Harry.
The John Coinman Band kicks off the 2014 season of Rhythm and Roots at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are available for $15 at Dark Star Leather, hotelcongress.com, and rhythmandroots.org. They'll be $18 on the day of show. Use those same websites for more info.
We'll keep you posted about future Rhythm and Roots shows, including upcoming performances by Fred Eaglesmith, Terri Hendrix with Lloyd Maines, and Roy Book Binder.
Meanwhile, Bonnie Vining, who presented concerts under the Live Acoustic Venue Association (LAVA) banner for nearly five years at a number of venues around town, will continue to promote an occasional show at the Vail Theatre of the Arts, but LAVA, which she stepped away from last April, is coming to an end.
In a recent email, Vining writes: "You'll probably recall that I retired from presenting LAVA concerts in April. We met with several of you who expressed an interest in keeping LAVA going and received some wonderful offers to volunteer for pieces of the work. However, there were still some big gaps, and we were unable to find anyone willing to take the lead, so I will be wrapping up and dissolving the organization soon."
Thanks for all the great LAVA shows over the years, Bonnie!
YOU CAN NEVER KNOW
For the last few years, Solar Culture Gallery proprietor Steven Eye has been toiling away in the space just east of Solar Culture, building a series of caves with "resonant sound chambers" as a sort of sacred art project.
The Galactic Center, at 35 E. Toole Ave., which in addition to housing studios for local artists, has hosted several events since Eye began managing the property (which, like Solar Culture, is owned by Steve Fenton). Last year the space became a gathering center for the gem show crowd, hosting nightly events, and this year the same thing will happen, although the crowds are expected to be even larger.
Eye completed the cave sculptures in time for the gem show events, and the grand opening of the renovated space will take place starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1. Grand opening events include the unveiling of the Cave Temples, "Global Interdimensional & Visionary Art" by Tribe13, a live "mantra fusion" performance by Savitur, DJ Joshua Pocalips and more.
The Galactic Center will be open from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. nightly from Saturday, Feb. 1, through Tuesday, Feb. 11, and there will be workshops during the day throughout the gem show. Admission on Saturday is free; after that it's a minimum suggested donation of $5. We'll keep you posted about a couple very special upcoming shows at the center, but for now, much more info about the gem show goings-on is available at solarculture.org. Call 884-0874 with questions.
The Rio Yaqui Benefit Show will feature performances by La Familia Yucupicio, Gertie and the T.O. Boyz, Aztral Folk, and Caliche con Carne to raise money "to benefit the Yaqui Nation in its efforts to preserve their natural and legal water rights and to protect the Rio Yaqui." It starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Global Justice Center Stardust Ballroom, 225 E. 26th St. Admission is a donation of $10, or $5 for those with low income.
La Luz, who merge doo-wop and surf music with the sound of the girl groups of the '60s, were forced to postpone their November Tucson show when the band's van was hit by a semi truck while they were headed from Boise back home to Seattle. The van was totaled, they lost all of their equipment, and the members suffered injuries, thankfully none serious. With the help of donations via a Paypal account, the band is back on its feet and back on the road and will make up the Tucson date on Friday, Jan. 31, at 191 Toole, 191 E. Toole Ave. The all-ages show starts at 7 p.m. with opening sets by The Resonars and Acorn Bcorn. Admission is $5.
Other shows this week include Authority Zero and Guttermouth at The Rock on Saturday, Feb. 2; The Rebel Set, City Mouse, The Hunky Newcomers, and American Revelry at The District Tavern on Friday, Jan. 31; Arizona Balalaika Orchestra's 34th Annual Concert at the Pima Community College Proscenium Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 1; Breathe Carolina, Mod Sun, Ghost Town, and Lionfight at The Rock on Wednesday, Feb. 5; Sphynx at Sky Bar next Thursday, Feb. 6; Dry River Yacht Club, The Cordials, and Sun Bones at Plush on Friday, Jan. 31; Freak Funk Dance Party at Exploded View on Saturday, Feb. 1; Kings of Pleasure on Sunday, Feb. 2, at Hacienda del Sol; Technical Difficulty and Conqueror Worm at Surly Wench Pub on Saturday, Feb. 1; The Unday, Stuart Oliver, and St. Varela at Plush on Saturday, Feb. 1; Black Skillet Review with Gary Mackender and Mitzi Cowell at Boondocks Lounge next Thursday, Feb. 6.