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WILCAN'T

The ongoing saga of the on-again, off-again Wilco/Howe Gelb show, scheduled for April 29 at the Rialto Theatre, came to a grinding halt last Thursday. Just as the issue of The Weekly that announced it looked like the show would go on was hitting the red boxes, we received an e-mail from Sam Hunt of Thrill Jockey Records (Gelb's label) that included the following: "As quickly as it came, the dream of the Howe Gelb/Wilco tour is over as all of the dates on the tour have been cancelled." As we said two weeks ago--when we initially reported that it looked like the tour would be cancelled--here's wishing Wilco's Jeff Tweedy a complete and speedy recovery in rehab, and hoping that they remember Tucson (and Gelb) when new tour dates are planned.

While the cancellation is a tough blow to Tucson--which hasn't hosted a Wilco show in almost eight years--there's more than enough to keep you busy this week, live music-wise. So much, in fact, that we simply couldn't cram it all into these pages. Be sure to check the club listings in this section for the big picture, but here are some highlights for the upcoming week.


PLEASE RELEASE ME

Two very different local albums are being released this week, and with them come the requisite CD release parties.

Following two fantastic EPs, The Solace Bros. will finally release I Think of You. (Water Closet Sounds), their full-length nine-song debut this week. The somewhat unorthodox three-piece (guitar, organ and drums, plus vocals) specializes in a unique brand of feel-good quirk-pop that we can't recommend highly enough. (Look for an upcoming feature article on the band in these pages.) Performing along with the Bros. as part of their release party are blistering Seattle speed-punks the Catheters (stepping in after L.A.'s Run Run Run had to cancel), whose third album, Howling ... It Grows and Grows!!!, will be released on Sub Pop next month, and the excellent local hook-laden rock trio The DeLudes.

The Solace Bros., the Catheters and The DeLudes will perform at 9 p.m. on Friday, April 23 at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., along with Electroshockbox, who will DJ and MC. Cover for the all-ages show is five bones. Call 884-0874 for more information.

The following night brings the release party for a CD miles away on the musical spectrum. Tucson Voices: A Compilation of Premier Acoustic Artists (Infinite Music) does a rather nice job of rounding up a representation of what Tucson's coffeehouse scene would be, if it had one. The 17-track disc runs the gamut from standard singer-songwriter fare (John Clinebell, Mitzi Cowell, Cantrell Maryott, Kathy Rote, among others) to British-style folk (Elise Grecco), guitar instrumentals (Tom Cassidy) and folk-blues (Sanford & the Blooming Cereus).

A number of the artists who appear on the disc--including Maryott, Cowell, Bright and Childers, Clinebell, Grecco and several others--will perform as part of the release party at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 24, at Nimbus Brewing Company, 3850 E. 44th St. Cover is $4. Call 745-9175 for further details.


WHERE'S DEAN?

Though Friends of Dean Martinez began as a local side project nearly a decade ago--counting such luminaries as Joey Burns, John Convertino, Tommy Larkins, Van Christian and Howe Gelb among their ranks--not long after, original member Bill Elm split for Austin, taking the band's name with him and reassembling as an entirely new outfit (former Tucsonan Mike Semple, now based in L.A., is a current member). Though the band's latest album, Random Harvest (released this week on Narnack), cranks up the guitars and impresses with a newfound sense of dynamics (in other words, it rocks more than any of the Friends' previous albums), the band's sound hasn't changed that much, still paying pedal steel-inflected homage to twangy desert country instrumentalists of yore, like Santo and Johnny.

The prodigal sons return to Tucson this week for two very intimate shows at the Red Room at Grill, 100 E. Congress St. On Tuesday, April 27, the band will perform a late show at 10 p.m. (reserve your seat for $10; they're advance only) and an early dinner show at 7 p.m. While tickets for the dinner show are rather pricey (when we asked, the cost hadn't yet been determined, but estimates were in the $80 range) we've seen a copy of the menu for the show, and it made us drool: the chefs are out to impress. For details on the shows, call 623-7621.


GOOD REPUTATION

Though we didn't think it was possible, Elizabeth Elmore just keeps getting better.

With her former band, Sarge, and her current one, Chicago-based The Reputation, singer/guitarist/songwriter Elmore has always written about prickly affairs of the heart, couched in the tenets of vintage, guitar-driven indie rock, replete with hook after delectable hook. The band, newly signed to Lookout!, recently released their second album, To Force a Fate, and though we didn't receive a review copy, we did take in The Rep's showcase at South By Southwest in Austin last month, which demonstrated a band that has reached a newfound maturity in the best possible sense. These days, it seems, they're taking a few more risks, varying impressively from song to song: a groovy little bassline here, a lot more piano there, all without losing the combination of edginess and melodiousness that made us fall for them in the first place.

The Reputation performs next Thursday, April 29 at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. The Fashionistas open at 10 p.m. Cover is a fiver. Call 798-1298 for more information.


ALL ABOUT SOUL

Comprising singer/guitarist John "JB" Bingham, bassist/programmer Christopher "CT" Thomas and a slew of studio musicians on their eponymous debut LP (2003, No Mayo), The Soul of John Black plays some of the finest soul music we've come across in ages.

Bingham's pedigree is almost too good to believe: He became friends with Miles Davis after auditioning for--but not getting--a guitar-playing gig in Miles' band. But he did end up writing a song that appeared on Amandla (1989, Warner Brothers), Miles' last studio album. For eight years, he was a primary member of Fishbone, contributing songs, guitar, keyboards and backing vocals. Before starting up The Soul of John Black he was a session musician, performing on tracks by artists as varied as Bruce Hornsby (alongside Jerry Garcia and Bonnie Raitt) and Eminem. A song he wrote during an early incarnation of SOJB was recently covered by rapper Aceyalone on his latest album. Thomas, meanwhile, studied bass with Henry Low, principal bassist for the St. Louis Symphony before taking up with jazz vets such as Marcus Roberts, Kenny Garrett and various Marsalis family members.

All of which helps to explain the eclecticism of The Soul of John Black, which combines vintage soul, folky strums, psychedelic rock and minimalist beats with a fresh--but not too modern--hip-hop feel.

Remember the rush you felt the first time you heard that first Terence Trent D'Arby album, like you'd just discovered a talent who was smart enough to assemble his myriad influences into something that sounded at once familiar yet completely original? The same dizzying gifts are on display here; let's just hope The Soul of John Black are better at sustaining their career than ol' Terence was.

The Soul of John Black performs on Saturday, April 24 at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. DJ Clay Steele opens at 9:45 p.m. Cover is $7. For further details, call 798-1298.


TASTE OF BAKERSFIELD

Though their latest album, Tangled in the Pines (2004, Dualtone), hasn't garnered the critical acclaim that met their late-'90s releases--and they've lost co-founding member singer/guitarist Gary Bennett, and stand-up bassist Smilin' Jay McDowell since their heyday--you can bet that Nashville's BR549 will still put on a hell of a show this week. After all, how many bands' live albums rank among their very best (see 1996's Live at Robert's EP and 2000's Coast to Coast, both released on Arista)? The energetic combo is the dictionary definition of retro-country-cool, veering from barroom honky-tonk to rockabilly, Bakersfield smoothness to Western swing, all with convincing panache.

BR549 performs at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 24 at City Limits, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road. All tickets are $12, available in advance at the venue, all Ticketmaster locations, online at ticketmaster.com or by phone at 321-1000. For more info, call 733-6262.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Some other shows worth your time and money this week:

Eyedea & Abilities, Blueprint and Sole on Saturday, April 24 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. (622-8848); Voodoo Glowskulls, The Cause, Demolition Boys and Left for Dead on Sunday, April 25 at Skrappy's, 201 E. Broadway Blvd. (358-4287); Old Time Relijun (K Records) on Wednesday, April 28 at BICAS, 44 W. Sixth St. (628-7950); The Sounds and Division of Laura Lee on Thursday, April 29 at City Limits, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road (733-6262); Jucifer and Whiskey Bitch on Friday, April 23 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. (622-8848); Little Feat on Sunday, April 25 at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. (798-3333); G. Love & Special Sauce on Friday, April 23 at City Limits, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road (733-6262).

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