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MUSICAL DESERT

Since this is quite possibly the driest music week we've endured all year--what a way to close it out, huh?--I've decided to clue you in to some of your live-music options for New Year's Eve (which is technically next week, but often requires planning ahead), the rare night in the next few weeks that actually offers options.

Additionally, I'd like to wish those of you who celebrate Christmas a joyous one. And, as for my fellow Jews, I'll see you at the matinee of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, as well as the Chinese restaurant afterward.

Be happy and safe, everyone.


RETURN OF THE WEARY

Even a classy holiday like New Year's Eve can't take the shitkicker out of the shitkicker. Said shitkickers should probably head out to Vaudeville Cabaret, where the Hacienda Brothers and the Weary Boys will provide both slow-dance fodder and songs to play your spoons by.

Austin country-bluegrass combo the Weary Boys have become Tucson favorites in recent years, partially due to the fact that their van (and, therefore, they) got stranded here a few years back while on tour. During that extended visit, they made the most of their time by playing as many gigs as possible, thereby giving locals plenty of opportunities to be won over by their hillbilly voodoo. (Van repairs aren't cheap.) The Boys enjoyed their spell in Tucson enough that they recorded their third album, Good Times, at Wavelab Studios. Their brand-new one, Holy Ghost Power, released on Dec. 15, ties together the tradition of merging gospel and country music that you almost forgot existed. The material here is superbly suited to the group's strengths and, as always, the Boys' exuberance is infectious. Still, as anyone who's seen them live can attest, their albums just don't do them the justice their performances do.

The Hacienda Brothers are the inspired pairing of roots rock veteran Chris Gaffney (he's one of Dave Alvin's Guilty Men) and Paladins frontman Dave Gaffney, both of whom are acclaimed songwriters. They were originally tossed together, along with the since-departed Teddy Morgan, to play a party here in Tucson in 2002, and hit it off well enough to write some songs together and record a demo. That demo wound up in the hands of the legendary songwriter/producer Dan Penn, who's had a hand in such songs as "The Letter," "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" "I'm Your Puppet" and "Cry Like a Baby." So wowed was he by the demo that he jumped in his Lincoln and drove 2,000 miles to Tucson, to produce the duo's debut album. Set for release on Feb. 22, on Koch Records, the self-titled album is chock full of vintage bluesy country with Southwestern teases, exotica surf nods and Memphis soul, not tacked on but fully integrated. My favorite five-word song lyric excerpt: "Hail Mary, full of gin."

The Hacienda Brothers and the Weary Boys perform at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., Friday, Dec. 31. The show starts at 9 p.m. and costs $15 at the door, with a couple bucks off if tickets are paid for in advance. For more information, call 622-3535.


SPEND NEW YEAR'S WITH A MONKEY

New Year's Eve at Hotel Congress can mean only one thing: an appearance by the only Vegas-caliber brother act to emerge from Lotsaslavia and settle in Tucson--or anywhere in the world, for that matter--ever. The Zsa Zsas come not to praise your favorite songs, but to bury them--albeit with unmistakable pinache, finely crafted costumes and a rather testy singer. Every song is a medley, and every show has a theme. This time around it's New Wave Eve, which should equate to Flock of Seagulls haircuts and botched Duran Duran covers. Should you purists tire of the Human League's "Fascination" being sung as "keep feeling masturbation," head into the Banquet Room, where the original versions of your fave '80s jams will be spinning for your dancing pleasure. Not enough? We're mighty curious about "Henry The Ape and his Mouse that rides a cat that rides a Dog trick." We love animals. Especially monkeys.

New Wave Year with The Zsa Zsas begins at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31. Advance tickets are available for $20 at the hotel's front desk; they'll be $25 at the door (if any remain). Hotel Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. For further details, call 622-8848.


ACCOMMODATING GENTS

Plush is ushering in the new year with a pair of local bands that can accommodate just about any mood. Want relaxing jazzbo stuff for that romantic toast? Check. And the meaningful slow dance that follows that toast? You're covered. What's that? The champagne is making you giggly and you feel like shakin' that sweet, sweet ass on the dance-floor? Fret not, brothers and sisters; the upstanding young lads of Sunday Afternoon and the Nick Luca Trio have got your back.

Doors open at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31, with live music beginning at 9 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $12 at the club, or online at virtuous.com. They'll be $15 on the day of the event. Questions? Call 798-1298.


FROM THE CHEAP SEATS

Cover charges for New Year's Eve are usually a bit pricey, so here's a fine option for the wallet-contents-challenged. You can pretty much never go wrong by attending a Galactic Federation of Love show, but all signs point to tonight being so, so right. First off, it's free. Second, it's at the Red Room at Grill, so it's gonna be nice and intimate. Third, it's the GFL, man! They totally rock! What more do you need to be convinced that this is cheapskate heaven? I don't see any hands.

Galactic Federation of Love performs sometime around 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31. The Red Room at Grill is located at 100 E. Congress St. The number to call for more info is 623-7621.


SURELY SURLY

The segment of the population that spends way too much money on cars and tattoos will be most pleased to hear that the Surly Wench Pub hasn't forgotten your needs on this year-end/-beginning occasion. What's that? You want some fine-ass ladies to rock you into the new year? Your dream is answered twofold. None other than the mighty Whiskey Bitch will make your head-bouncing neck as sore as you want it to be, come Jan.1. Toss in openers the Sweat Band and the hotness becomes, well, almost too hot.

Whiskey Bitch and the Sweat Band ring in the new year at the Surly Wench, 424 N. Fourth Ave., Friday, Dec. 31. Call 882-0009 for bonus details.

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