J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices, Kaia Chesney, Fourth Avenue Street Fair Main Stage, March 24

Settling into one of the only available chairs with my $6 lemonade, I arrived in time to catch the last couple of songs by Tucson's Kaia Chesney, who played a solo acoustic set that served as mere background music for those gorging on grub at nearby picnic tables and, unfortunately, not many others. Which was too bad, because the songs were lovely.

The rub for musical acts playing the Fourth Avenue Street Fair is that no one really goes there to hear music. It's just one mere element of the over-stimulation extravaganza.

J.P. Harris, a singer-songwriter-guitarist from Nashville, had a leg up on Chesney in the attention-grabbing department in the form of an electric three-piece band, the Tough Choices—and the decibel levels that came with it. From the opening song, "Bright Lights and Country Music"—one of several covers played over the course of two sets, joining originals from the band's recent debut album, I'll Keep Calling—it was apparent that none of that newfangled alt-country stuff would be emanating from the stage: Harris is armed with a rich voice built for classic Nashville country music, and that's exactly what the tight band—featuring a killer lead guitar player—played over the course of the next two hours.

There were trucking songs, divorce songs, road songs, lots of drinking songs, and a new addition to the country canon: a tattoo song. And by about the fourth tune, something funny happened: People started trickling in to actually listen to the music, and not just people with giant turkey legs in their hands. Little by little, people started dancing in the street on the particularly steamy, bright March afternoon. By the band's final song, the title track from the new album, the front of the stage was filled with two-steppers—and one couldn't help but get caught up in the moment.

J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices are scheduled to play at Club Congress at the end of June, and if they were that good out of their element, I imagine they'll be even better in their natural environment.

More by Stephen Seigel

  • Soundbites

    Sacred Machine and Topaz say goodbye
    • Mar 20, 2014
  • Soundbites

    Your guide to enjoying music and avoiding drunken morons on St. Patrick's Day
    • Mar 13, 2014
  • Soundbites

    March Radness invades the east end of downtown and more.
    • Mar 6, 2014
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Morgan James: More than a Cover Girl

    Morgan James bring her classic soul to Tucson as part of Hunter tour
    • Jun 18, 2015
  • Robert Rich

    Rich’s new album Filaments takes the listener on an inner exploration
    • Apr 2, 2015

The Range

Song of the Day: 'Cosmic Love Song No. 23' by Louise Le Hir

The Lantern Fest: Get Your Shine On

Fill Up On Beer, Bands and Brats at 4thtober Fest

More »

Latest in Live

  • Noise Annoys

    Baby Gas Mask, absurdist soul and prog, plus Chaka!
    • Oct 13, 2016
  • B-Sides: DJQ

    • Jul 28, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Noise Annoys

    Mute Swan and the Curse of Local Hype
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Honky Tonk Girl

    How this Tucson 19-year-old might trip the country electric
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2016 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation