Seriously, I'd be going out almost as often even if it wasn't my occupational duty. I can't think of anything more fun than going out to a smoky, dingy club and seeing a band I've never heard blow me away. I am, and always have been, a music junkie. And for people like me, the event taking place at Club Congress this Friday is a musical wet dream. Bearing in mind just how often I venture out into the Tucson nightlife, let me flatly state that the most fun I had at a live music event last year was, bar none, the Great Cover-Up.
The concept, based on a University of Illinois tradition, is pretty simple: get a slew of local bands to play a 15- to 20-minute set by an artist everyone's familiar with; then sit back and watch the magic unfold.
Anyone who witnessed last year's maiden voyage will undoubtedly never forget seeing Annie Hawkins show her (heretofore unrecognized) art-punk roots in her Jane's Addiction set; or seeing Shoebomb play a flawless round of Cars songs while their heads were weighted down with a dozen cans of hairspray. Al Perry beautifully indulged his devotion to Brian Wilson's Beach Boys, while the ragged majesty of a Creosote just drunk enough to pull off a jaw-dropping set of countrified Prince covers was second only to the complete genius of the Weird Lovemakers playing their Devo card to the hilt, all yellow jumpsuits and robotic dance moves.
And to sweeten the deal even further, the entire proceeds from the event -- more than $3,000 -- were donated to The Brewster Center, a local charity devoted to offering refuge to victims of domestic abuse.
This year, the event's organizers are looking to at least double last year's fundraising effort, and it doesn't look like they should have any trouble. The tally of bands has been upped from nine to 15, and to accommodate the increase, the action will be staggered between the club's indoor stage and an outdoor stage in the Hotel's parking lot.
So without further ado, in ascending order, here's this year's stellar lineup: Bebe & Serge (covering '80s dance-pop sensations L'Trimm); Chris Holiman's Downtown Saints (covering The Replacements); Agave, the duo of Tammy Allen and Susan Delaney this time backed by a full band (covering David Bowie); Panic Over Trainwreck (covering Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers); Starcrunch (covering Hall and Oates); the Annie Hawkins Band (keeping it hard again by covering Led Zeppelin); Crawdaddy-O (in the most inventive set of the night, performing selections from Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar); Greyhound Soul (covering The Rolling Stones); Shoebomb (covering The Who); The Simplistics (covering The Pixies); Creosote (covering X, with special guest Tammy Allen standing in for Exene Cervenka); How to Build a Rocketship (covering the Velvet Underground); Al Perry (covering the Sex Pistols); one of Dave Slutes' side projects, Little Sisters of the Poor (covering the Bee-Gees); and the Weird Lovemakers (covering Cheap Trick, and I'd plunk my money down just to see Gerard dressed like Bun E. Carlos).
The Second Annual Great Cover-Up kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 3, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. A $10 donation is suggested, and all proceeds will once again benefit The Brewster Center. Call 622-8848 for more information.
JUMPIN' JOHNNY: The Plaza Palomino Courtyard Concert Series continues this week when Jumpin' Johnny Sansone blows through town to turn the courtyard into a Louisiana dance party.
After stints in Colorado, Austin and North Carolina, where he honed his blues harp skills, Sansone settled in New Orleans in 1989, soaking up the local sounds before recording his most recent album, Crescent City Moon. The disc was originally released over five years ago by Sansone himself, who used to sell them at gigs; but after the album swept Offbeat magazine's annual Best of the Beat competition by winning four awards (Song of the Year, Best Harmonica Player, Best Blues Band and Best Blues Album of the Year), the original supply was depleted, and Bull's-Eye Blues, a division of Rounder Records re-released the album.
The disc finds Sansone and his band -- augmented by such guests as guitarist Sonny Landreth and a horn section courtesy of the Iguanas -- dusting their Chicago blues harmonica and swamp blues with a sprinkling of zydeco and Gulf Coast R&B. Considered one of the best blues harpists in the biz today, Sansone also plays a mean accordion, and his singing voice has been compared to that of Charlie Musselwhite, James Harmon, Doug Sahm and John Hiatt.
Jumpin' Johnny Sansone performs outdoors at Plaza Palomino, at the corner of Fort Lowell and Swan roads, at 8 p.m. Saturday, September 4. Tickets are $12 in advance and at the door for KXCI and TBS members. They'll be $15 at the door for non-members. Advance tickets are available at Enchanted Earthworks, Hear's Music and Beaver's Band Box, or by phone at 881-3947. For more information call 297-9133.
THE FOURTH DIMENSION: The Fourth Avenue Merchants Association is hosting a welcoming party for students this weekend on Saturday, September 4. In addition to a sidewalk sale and various games and events, the Rendezvous on the Avenue will feature a variety of musical talent as well.
At 3 p.m. take your pick between Quartal Equinox at Chocolate Iguana (they'll play another set at 6 p.m.) and DJs Starskee Suave and Buttafly at Magpies Pizza. At 4 p.m. Willis takes the stage at Winsett Park, followed by The Cobras at 5 p.m. The evening winds down with a set by Ravens Omen at the Gateway Villa Patio.
And if that's not enough free, live, outdoor music for you, don't forget that every Thursday night from 7 to 10 p.m. the Monsoon Madness series continues at Winsett Park. Upcoming performances this month include: Deb Norris, Morrighan and Unified Field Theory on September 2; Mike Lesley, The Wrecks and Quartal Equinox on September 9; Stephanie Freez and Silver on September 16; Samba Del Sol and The Cobras on September 23; and Crazy Crow and The Kindred on September 30.
The series is a fine way to spend a Thursday evening, checking out a slew of up-and-coming local bands without paying a cover charge.