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TROUBADOUR TRAVELS

Richard Buckner's current bio--and likely all the ones before it--refer to him as a "modern-day troubadour," a term overused to the point of annoyance, except that it was pretty much invented for him. It seems that every time Buckner passes through town, the question, "So, where are you living now, Richard?" is met with a different answer. Austin, Edmonton, Atlanta--hell, for a while there, he seemed pretty serious about holing up in a casita on Elm Street. (When Buckner passed, Al Perry moved in.) Ultimately, he opted for Brooklyn this time, and we can't help but wonder if the money earned from that Volkswagen minivan commercial that's on every time you turn on the toob played any part in the decision. (For the real estate novice, Brooklyn rents remain ever-so-slightly higher than those in Tucson.) Either way, he's certainly deserving of the German cheese, even if he still crisscrosses the land in his 1996 Toyota pickup, which should have just cleared 400,000 miles by the time he reaches Tucson this week (no exaggeration).

The occasion for this visit--not that he needs one--is the release of his latest album, Dents and Shells, released a few weeks ago on his new home of Merge Records. Much of the album was recorded here, at Wavelab with Craig Schumacher, as well as in Austin and, as the liner notes state, "various hotels and hovels." And if you caught any of his performances while he was in town recording, some of these songs may sound familiar.

Because his songs always seem so honest and personal, people try to relate each of his albums to whatever's going on in his life at the time. By that measure, Dents and Shells would seem to recount the breakup of his second marriage, which he seems to be handling much better than the first one, documented on 1997's brutal Devotion + Doubt. The album begins with these lines from "A Chance Counsel": "Another washout, brakelights showing / Probably gonna slow down, no way of knowing / let's hear the outline / 'I see where it's going.'" The song, even as it's drenched in forlorn pedal-steel, is downright snappy--it's got a good beat; you can dance to it. When he reaches its final lines--"Sparklers are passing to the corners of the night / I feel the heat and they move on glowing / But I can pull away"--you realize this is no mopey, woe-is-me breakup album; it's one of loss and regret, sure, but also one of redemption, of realizing some tough decisions are for the best.

It's also his best album of original material in years, serving as a sampling of just about everything Buckner does well. Where 2002's Impasse was texturally interesting, the songs here are far more varied and accessible. (2000's The Hill was excellent, too, but it comprised Edgar Lee Masters poems set to Buckner's music.) He doesn't have any new tricks up his sleeve this time around, but when you can write songs like this, you don't need 'em.

Richard Buckner performs with Damien Jurado and Dolorean at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 on the day of the show. For more information, call 622-8848.


GROK THE VOTE

In case you hadn't heard, there's this little thing happening this week called an election, which, by my understanding, is when people vote for the person they'd like to be their leader for the next four years, then the Supreme Court tells them who that person actually is. But don't let that dissuade you from heading to the polls this Tuesday. With countless attorneys in place on both sides, it's a pretty safe bet things will be different this time around. And, hey, if being a part of democracy in action isn't incentive enough to get your ass into the voting booth, consider this: If you don't vote, you'll have to shell out $7 to attend the Virgin Voter Ball at Hotel Congress, which is free to those sporting an "I voted" sticker.

The event, sponsored by the Tucson Suffragettes, comprises simply too damn much stuff to be contained under one roof, so the ball will utilize the hotel's parking lot, too. TVs will be spread out so you can watch the election results in between the entertainment, and participants include Tucson Puppet Works, bellydancers, the Tucson Roller Derby girls, and a host of local nonprofits. Oh, yeah, there's music, too: a lot of it, both local and not-so-local. Performing for your listening pleasure will be L.A.'s Kennedy, Minnesota's Mark Mallman, BASSCK, Galactic Federation of Love, Mankind, the George Squier Orchestra and Mariachi Azteca del Sol, who will be joined on a few numbers by a singer that goes by the name of Linda Ronstadt. Good "get," folks!

It all kicks off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2, and all ages are welcome. Hotel Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. Questions? Give 'em a ring at 622-8848.


A CONGRESS NIGHTMARE UNRELATED TO D.C.

Following the rousing success that was the 2004 Fall Club Crawl, Congress Street will once again be closed off to traffic for this week's big-ass Halloween event, Nightmare on Congress Street. Much like the Crawls, a single wristband gains you entry to outdoor stages and clubs alike. Participating venues include 7 Black Cats, Vaudeville Cabaret, The Red Room at Grill (tonight dubbed The Redrum), Sharks and Club Congress. The event is headlined by '80s power-poppers The Romantics--and, in the spirit of the night, what's creepier than a middle-aged guy in a skinny tie singing in a lisp: "I hear the secrets that you keep when you're talking in your sleep"? Other performers include The Iguanas, The Zsa Zsas, Chango Malo, Tucson Puppet Works, Al Foul and the Shakes, Warsaw, Hipster Daddy-O and the Handgrenades, Bombs for the Bored, Custom Made Scare, Whiskey Bitch, Wasted Aces, Dixie Witch, Amplified Heat, Harry Hernandez and Salsa Rengue. There will, of course, be the requisite costume contests, as well as the general sense of mayhem that comes along with a few thousand unrecognizable, drunken rogues converging on a relatively small area. Can I get a "yee-haw"?

Nightmare on Congress Street begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30. Wristbands are available for $10 in advance at all Bookman's locations and Hotel Congress. They'll be $15 on the day of the event. You must be 21 and up to attend, and all proceeds benefit the Congress Street Historic Theatres Foundation.


CLAP YOUR PAWS

A trio of local acts will take to the stage at City Limits this week to raise funds for a trio of nonprofits that specialize in the rescue and adoption of dogs and cats. The adorably named Woofstock Benefit Concert for Homeless Animals will earn much-needed money for The Center for Animal Rescue and Adoption, The Greyhound Adoption League, and The Hermitage Cat Center, with performances by Annie Hawkins, Nowhere Man and Love Mound. A fine lineup for an excellent cause, wethinks.

Doors for Woofstock open at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29. Advance tix for the 21+ show are available for $10 at all Bookman's locations at the venue. They'll be $12 on the day of the show. City Limits is located at 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road. For further details call 237-2331 or log onto www.savemoreanimals.org/woofstock.


MOORE CHANGE

With his latest album, Luminaria (Yep Roc), Ian Moore continues the drastic transformation he's undergone since his days playing guitar for Joe Ely. His recent albums have positioned him as one of the most soulful singer-songwriters around, and one of the most diverse. His crooning falsetto reminds of the late Jeff Buckley, and he brings a similar amount of emotion to the table as well. But his songs are more traditionally structured, more instantly appealing, even as they're equally substantive. And we can't recall Buckley ever suddenly lurching unexpectedly into a Beach Boys-influenced jaunt, as Moore does at the end of the terrific "Caroline."

If you're familiar with Moore, you don't need prodding; but if you've never seen or heard him, do yourself a favor and check out his show this week. You won't regret it.

Ian Moore performs on Friday, Oct. 29, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Cathy Rivers opens at 9:45 p.m. Admission is five of the best bucks you'll ever spend. Call 798-1298 for more 411.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Washington D.C.'s Q and Not U deserve a huge following. Whether they have one or not, I have no idea. But on Power, their latest album for Dischord, they marry a punk ethos with Suicide synth, XTC quirk, and Prince funk, in the process demonstrating a band far more interesting and fun than the bulk of overhyped funk-punk train-jumpers populating the nation's highways these days. They'll be at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave., next Thursday, Nov. 4. El Guapo opens at 9 p.m. For more info on this all-ages show, call 884-0874.

Former garage rock anti-diva Holly Golightly--the onetime member of Thee Headcoatees--now trades in melancholic weepers, acoustic blues, country, soul, psychedelic chime-rock--just about everything but the ephemeral three-chord stomps she traded in with her former band. She'll perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Monday, Nov. 1. The show kicks off at 9:15 p.m. with opening sets from Mr. Airplane Man and Tom Walbank. Admission is $8. That number again is 798-1298.

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