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ARE YOU READY FOR SOME COVERS?

It's tough to believe another year has passed, but here we are again. All around town for the last month or two, bands have put their own songs on hold in order to learn a set of songs they may never play again, all in the name of charity. You guessed it: Next Thursday, Dec. 1, brings the first night of the three-night extravaganza known as the Eighth Annual Great Cover-Up. (Nights Two and Three will follow on Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3.)

In case you've slept through the first seven, here's a little backstory: The idea for the event was stolen wholesale from our friends in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., where The Great Cover-Up was the most anticipated musical event of the year. I had attended a few of those while living in Illinois in the early '90s and thought it was just about the most purely fun musical event I'd ever attended. When I moved back to Tucson in 1995 and told my friend, Shoebomb singer-guitarist Melissa Manas, about it, she decided to take action and organize one here. The first Tucson incarnation was held at Club Congress in 1998, where it has remained every autumn since. When Melissa became pregnant after a couple of years, I decided to make sure the Cover-Up stayed alive; with the help of numerous folks over the years--most notably current Rialto booker (and occasional Weekly contributor) Curtis McCrary, who has co-organized for the past several--I've had a hand in the event for the last six years.

A brief explanation, then, of what the The Great Cover-Up actually is: Local bands--somewhere in the neighborhood of 34 this year, each of which usually performs original material--perform a 20-minute set of cover songs by an artist of their choosing. Some live out their rock-star fantasies and choose a band that's inspired them; some prefer the comical route and stage a piss-take; others fall somewhere in between those two. Part of the fun is that you never know who's performing what beforehand, or how they've chosen to approach it.

And perhaps the best part of all: Every penny raised by the event goes directly to the Brewster Center, a local service organization that provides shelter, crisis intervention and advocacy for victims of domestic violence. Each year the goal remains to surpass the monetary tally of the previous year; this year, we've got our eyes set on $6,000, which we nearly hit last year.

As always, we'd like to give thanks in advance to our primary sponsors: Rainbow Guitars, Sticks N' Strings and our own Tucson Weekly. Not to mention KLPX DJ Chita, who will be on hand to emcee once again, as will Don Jennings, host of KXCI's Locals Only program.

Tickets to the event are $7 for a single night, $12 for two nights or $15 for the whole shebang. Again, your entire cover charge goes directly to a tremendously worthwhile cause. You're also urged to arrive early, as you never know what you're gonna miss, and each band has put in a lot of time to prepare, whether they're performing first or last. Here, then, without further ado, is the schedule for Night One of The Great Cover-Up 2005: 8 p.m., Lucy Chair; 8:30 p.m., Bella Union Gap; 9 p.m., the Chesterfield Kings; 9:30 p.m., Feed; 10 p.m., scratchingthesurface; 10:30 p.m., P.I.A. ; 11 p.m., Seven to Blue; 11:30 p.m., Nowhere Man; midnight, Gat-Rot; 12:30 a.m., Old Man; 1 a.m., La Cerca. (Please note that this schedule is accurate as of press time, but is subject to change.)

Artists those bands will be covering, in no particular order, are: Dolly Parton, Los Lobos, Face to Face, Buddy Holly, Mudhoney, Motley Crue, Rod Stewart, Brian Eno, the Plasmatics, Jawbreaker and Manu Chao.

Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. Call 622-8848 for further info, and check back in this space next week for info on Night Two and Night Three. Until then, we'll see you there.


IN DEFENSE OF HUMANITARIANISM

Tuesday, Nov. 29 brings together an impressive array of local bands and musicians for another extremely important and worthy cause. Under the banner Humanitarian Aid Is Never a Crime: A No More Deaths Awareness Show, money and attention will be raised for the case involving Shanti Seliz and Daniel Strauss, two volunteers with No More Deaths, a border humanitarian organization.

Quoted directly from an e-mail I received from Chango Malo bassist Justin Lillie, who has organized the benefit with his girlfriend, Hannah Gibson, here's Seliz and Strauss' story:

"July 9, 2005: A sweltering day on the cruel Arizona border. Two No More Deaths volunteers found a group of distressed migrants in the desert. Most were hungry, thirsty and suffering from severe, crippling blisters. Left untreated, these can prevent a person from walking, a frequent cause of death in the desert.

"The three seriously ill men were taken to the No More Deaths Camp and examined by a certified nurse practitioner, who then consulted with a volunteer physician and a lawyer. They advised that the men should be medically evacuated to Tucson for treatment.

"Daniel Strauss and Shanti Sellz, volunteers at the camp this morning, offered to drive the men to a safe place to be treated by the No More Deaths physician and nurse or taken to a hospital if necessary.

"The United States Border Patrol stopped them.

"The three sick men were taken into custody without receiving medical attention. The No More Deaths doctor and nurse offered to treat them at the Border Patrol detention facility--however, the Border Patrol turned them away.

"Daniel and Shanti were arrested and charged with the 'crimes' of transporting illegal aliens and conspiring to do so. The 'crime' committed by these two young volunteers on July 9, 2005 was medically evacuating three extremely sick people on the advice of a physician, nurse and lawyer.

"Their act was clearly HUMANITARIAN, NOT CRIMINAL.

"If Daniel and Shanti had not acted, the lives of a father, son and their companion could have been claimed by the cruel Arizona desert--a fate that claimed the lives of 279 others in Arizona in 2005."

Seliz and Strauss' trial is scheduled to begin in Tucson on Dec. 20, and money raised at this all-ages benefit show will go towards the pair's legal costs. Performers include Chango Malo, The Jons, Tom Walbank, Spacefish, Al Perry, Howe Gelb and DJ Daddy. It all begins at 7 p.m. at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5. For more information on No More Deaths, head to nomoredeaths.org. For show details, call 622-8848.


THE NEXT LEVEL

On past releases, Tucson quartet Lagoon have come off like a frenetic Brit-pop combo, but on their latest full-length, Graduation (self-released), which will be released this week at a CD release party, the band has tempered things considerably. If we're trading in '80s British band comparisons, Graduation is less Smiths and more Echo and the Bunnymen or Aztec Camera (yeah, I know, they were Scottish)--the album shows more moodiness and depth than Lagoon have displayed in the past, and it suits them extremely well. In keeping with the album's title, singer/songwriter/primary songwriter David Ziegler-Voll has made a huge leap here in his singing, and especially in his songwriting. There's the welcome air of a fresh start on Graduation.

Lagoon's CD release party hits Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, Nov. 26. Opening at 9:30 p.m. are Nowhere Man and The Daring Few. Cover is a mere $3. For more 411, call 798-1298.


CABARET COMBATING CANCER

In addition to the No More Deaths benefit show, the aforementioned Howe Gelb will be staging another one of his beloved cabaret shows this week, with proceeds earmarked for the Arizona Cancer Center's High Risk Breast Clinic. For those who have never attended one, these shows feature Gelb switching off between guitar and piano, performing a mix of his own tunes, standards and whatever the hell he feels like playing at any given moment, in a relaxed, seated setting with mood lighting, and cocktails and hors d'oeuvres available. (No smoking is allowed.)

Gelb begins playing at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is $7.

Following Howe's performance, things get a bit more raucous at Congress' late show. Performing country classics that you know, love and can't help but dance along with is the Fraidy Cats, an all-star band that includes Al Perry, Jefferson Keenan, Tommy Larkins and Jim Parker. Toss in a set of stompin' Delta blues courtesy of Tom Walbank, and my friends, you've got what we like to call a "winning combination."

This one kicks off at 9 p.m., also on Friday, Nov. 25, and cover is a fiver. That number again is 622-8848.


ON THE BANDWAGON

We seem to have run out of room, but we'd be remiss if we didn't at least mention a couple other fine shows headed our way this week.

Critics' darlings The Earlies, along with Castanets and Phosphorescent, are at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Monday, Nov. 28. The show starts at 9:30 p.m., and cover is $7. Call 798-1298 for more info.

Chamber-goth cello-and-vocals trio Rasputina return to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., along with openers Aberdeen City, at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27. The all-ages show is $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Call 622-8848 for more details.

As always, check out our club listings for other worthwhile shows.

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