Three-time Grammy winners Los Lobos will ring in the New Year in the city that saxophonist/percussionist/flutist Steve Berlin calls his "home territory."
The legendary East L.A. band has built up an impressive body of Latin-flavored music for three decades. Looking back on Los Lobos' legacy, Berlin says the band's biggest accomplishment is having remained a group for 35 years.
"While you're doing it, you don't think about where you are evolutionarily," said Berlin. "While you're doing it, you don't even know time is going by."
Berlin admits that Los Lobos' music has certainly evolved; the band has been producing more politically charged records as of late. On their 2006 studio album, The Town and the City, the group tackles the issue of immigration.
"In the past, we were kind of reticent about putting a specific political message out there, because it tended to come back to us in a weird way," Berlin said. "It was after a proposition in California that outlawed illegal immigrants' rights that we made that record."
In October 2008, Los Lobos joined the Music for Democracy's "Be the Change" Get Out the Vote Initiative, asking voters to support presidential candidate (and now President-elect) Barack Obama.
Having been successful with their politically tinged work, Los Lobos is looking toward their musical future.
"We are planning for our next album," Berlin said. Before they head for the studio, however, Los Lobos have a stop to make at the Rialto Theatre.
Tickets for Los Lobos' New Year's Eve performance range from $46 to $81, and are available at the Rialto box office; all ages are welcome. —M.N.
According to Carl Stagner, a member of Southern-gospel-music group the Disciples Quartet, the word "quartet" does not always insinuate the number four.
"I remember Jay Leno made fun of a group, the Dove Brothers Quartet, on his show, because there are five of them," Stagner said. "There are a lot of groups that call themselves a quartet, but they tack on an instrumentalist."
For the Disciples Quartet, Stagner is the fifth person, a piano player who occasionally sings. And that's not the only rule the contemporary quartet has bent, he said.
"We are kind of unusual, because we have a female in our group," Stagner said. "Occasionally, she'll sit out on a song, and the four guys will sing a cappella, like the traditional Southern-gospel quartets."
This holiday season, Stagner's four-man, one-woman quartet will leave Anderson University, a Christian college in South Carolina, to tour in Arizona for their second time in three years. On this trip, the young quartet will perform in Catalina, Tucson's northern neighbor. They've planned a show with a few Southern-gospel classics, including "The Haven of Rest" and "Just a Little Talk With Jesus"—and several group favorites, like "Heat of the Battle," "Ship Was Made to Sail" and "Just a Prayer Away."
"Since we are all between the ages of 21 and 22, people often say, "We're surprised to see kids your age singing this style of music,'" Stagner said. For Stagner, who was drawn to the music genre at a young age, Southern gospel's four-person harmonies and quick tempos have become a way of life.
The show is free, but donations will be accepted. —M.N.
To ring in the New Year, why not celebrate with music from years past? The Tucson Retro Rockets will be playing a collection of classic rock from the 1960s at the Savoy Opera House to usher in 2009.
"We do... stuff that people in their 40s and 50s know, but also stuff that kids know, too, because they've been listening to it with their parents," said Walker Foard, guitarist and vocalist for the Retro Rockets. We find that the music we play is pretty intergenerational; all the kids seem to know it, especially the Beatles stuff."
The Retro Rockets formed almost two years ago. Foard and a friend were playing classic rock together and decided to expand their band. They recruited musicians through an advertisement in the paper and started working on their music.
Last New Year's Eve, they were booked by a club, but decided to throw their own New Year's party this year.
"We said, "We've got enough of a following and enough people who really enjoy us; why don't we try to put on our own show this year and make it a little bit more reasonably priced?' So that's what we did," Foard said. The band hopes to sell enough tickets to break even, he added.
Guests will be treated to appetizers, party favors, music, a trivia contest and a champagne toast at midnight.
"We're a great dance band; the stuff that we do is really danceable, and it's also a lot of fun," Foard said.
The band usually ends shows with "A Hard Day's Night," by the Beatles—but they are not sure what they will play when the clock strikes midnight.
"We might be corny and play "Auld Lang Syne.' I don't know," Foard laughed.
Tickets are $45 per person, including tax and gratuity. For tickets, visit the Rockets Web site, or call 403-1897. —C.C.
Ring in 2009 in high style with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra at the Arizona Inn.
The New Year's Eve party is the second of TSO's four Moveable Musical Feasts held during the orchestra season. These events bring together fine dining and music at different locations throughout Tucson, said Terry Marshall, public relations manager for TSO.
"People should be looking forward to a great New Year's Eve evening with a variety of entertainment all in one location," Marshall said.
TSO's principle percussionist Homero Cerón will be playing as guests arrive. Following hors d'oeuvres, TSO's piano trio will perform.
A gourmet dinner designed by the Arizona Inn's head chef will be served—and there will be an open bar!
After dinner, violin player Carla Ecker and clarinet player Jeremy Reynolds will perform. A dessert buffet will follow, and a champagne toast will be served as the ball drops at midnight.
As 2008 turns to 2009, the music at the Arizona Inn will shift from classical to jazz. Swing 'N the New jazz ensemble, featuring vocalist Martha Reed and members of the TSO, will perform classic dance music for guests to groove along with.
After the night of music and food, guests can head for their rooms, if they choose: The Arizona Inn is offering room specials for attendees.
"It's a great way to ring in the New Year, to meet new people," Marshall said. "We have some people who have been coming back year after year, because they like doing it so much. And also the winter visitors are here, so a lot of them enjoy making new friends while they're in Tucson."
Tickets are $195 per person. To purchase tickets, call 882-8585; visit the Orchestra Web site; or visit the TSO box office at 2175 N. Sixth Ave. To reserve a room at the Arizona Inn, call (888) 812-4758. —C.C.