Despite the fact that Campo Bravo's last CD was released less than seven months ago, Mark Matos and crew will celebrate the release of a new album, Songs for Messy Lovers (f8), at Club Congress on Wednesday. The bad news first: Our advance copy was recorded at such a low volume we had to crank it to 11 to even hear the damn thing, and it had a couple skips to boot. Hopefully, the levels will be remedied in the final version. The good news: Once we were actually able to hear it, we thought it was a great leap forward from its predecessor. Or, in Yoda-speak: Very impressed we were.
Many of these nine songs will be familiar to those who have seen recent Campo Bravo shows, and they represent some of the best songs Matos has written so far. In the past, one wouldn't have been out of line in saying that Matos' Howe Gelb reverence got in the way of some of his songs, that they were a bit too close to the real deal. But here, Matos seems to have finally found his own voice. Sure, Gelb's influence is still present on tracks like "The Length of You" and "Of 6 & 7" (which sounds like old-school Giant Sand with a Beatles' "Taxman" guitar passage), as is Neil Young's influence ("Walkie Talkies"; "Collision Course"). But, like other tracks here, "The Realist" and "The Leaving" are his alone, with witty wordplay like "I'm sure you'll find a new muse to amuse you" tossed off casually. The production, courtesy of Golden Boots with Rick Davies and Matos, and mixing are also top-notch, with subtle touches like harmonica and violin--nine other musicians contributed to the album--adding just the right amount of color to the arrangements.
Celebrate the release of Songs for Messy Lovers at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Also on the bill are The Rise and Fall of Amy Rude, San Francisco's Judith and Holofernes and Golden Boots. For further details, call 622-8848.
Next Thursday, the folks at KXCI (91.3 FM) toss a bash in celebration of the release of the third volume in their Locals Only series, which compiles songs recorded live in the station's Studio 2A by a diverse selection of Tucson bands and musicians. This time out, the release party will feature performances from Molehill Orkestrah, Music Video, Lagoon, Tammy West, Greg Morton and Mark Robertson-Tessi and guests, and Wendy Adams and the Drama Kings.
Things kick off at 8:30 p.m. at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Thursday, May 26. For further details or to purchase advance tickets for $5, point that browser to kxci.org. Plush's number is 798-1298.
Ludacris performs tonight, Thursday, May 19, at the Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheater at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. with opening sets by AKON and Keyshia Cole. Tickets are $65 (gold seating), $55 (reserved) and $20 (lawn). For more information, call 838-6700.
Along the way, he also found time to record three solo albums which take a rather skewed approach to traditional folk, blues and ethnic music. Or, as I once described them: "... at once challenging and pleasing to the ear: swampy ballads and off-kilter square dances, quiet interludes abruptly interrupted by burps of noise, and back again, with his leathery voice guiding the audience on a whirlwind tour of absurd tall tales amidst the cacophony." His most recent, 2004's Head Off (Candlebone), which includes a rare new co-write from Beefheart, has received glowing reviews, including four stars in Mojo and a 7.5 from Pitchfork.
You have no excuse to miss Tepper this weekend, as he'll be performing twice.
First up is the inaugural installment of Hotel Congress' Live Art Series, in which musicians who are also visual artists display their works and perform their music. On the bill along with Tepper is Tucson's own Tom Walbank. Things kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 20. Hotel Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. Call 622-8848 for more information.
Then, the following night, Tepper performs as one of a dozen or so acts taking part in Downtown Saturdays, a somewhat hipper update on the old Downtown Saturday Nights that used to draw thousands to the area back in the day. The event runs from 6 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, May 21, at two locations: Stone Avenue between Broadway Boulevard and Congress Street; and the open lot on the Thrify Block, east of the Bank One building. Tepper will perform at the Thrifty Stage at 11 p.m. Other performers include Al Foul, Tesoro, George Howard and the Roadhouse Hounds, Colorado hip-hop act Dialogue and Makako. Come on down, and let's make this thing work, people.
Roller Derby season is in full effect once again, and on Saturday, May 21, unclassifiable punks Rancid Vat will perform between periods, and DJ Kim Sin will be providing musical accompaniment to a bout between Tucson Roller Derby's VICE Squad and Arizona Roller Derby's Surly Gurlies. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at Bladeworld, 1065 W. Grant Road. Advance tickets to the all-ages event are $8 at Bladeworld, the Surly Wench Pub, Biblio Bookstore, Spooky Tooth Cycles or TucsonRollerDerby.com. They'll be $10 at the door. Kids under 12 are free with an adult.
Jazz legend Sam Rivers (he plays tenor and soprano sax, flute, and piano), 81, will bring his Sam Rivers Trio to the Mat Bevel Institute, 530 N. Stone Ave., at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 21 as part of Zeitgeist's Jazz at the Institute series. Advance tix are $15 at Antigone Books; they'll be $18 at the door. For more info, call 622-0192 or head to matbevel.com.
Yet more stuff: Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra will be at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Wednesday, May 25 (884-0874); Citizen Cope is at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Sunday, May 22 (798-1298); and The Young Dubliners will play City Limits, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road, next Thursday, May 26 (733-6262).
As always, be sure to check our music listings for more.