There's a new twist this year to the musical performances at this week's edition of the twice-a-year Fourth Avenue Street Fair, set for Friday, Dec. 9 through Sunday, Dec. 11, on the stretch of the avenue from Ninth Street to University Boulevard. Due to the organizational diligence of Alanna Luna, a stage located at Fourth Avenue and Fifth Street will feature free live music while doubling as a holiday toy drive for the needy.

Under the banner Tunes for Tots, Luna is soliciting donations of new, unwrapped toys for children to be given away this holiday season, in exchange for the full lineup of free entertainment she and the performers are providing. There will be more than a dozen drop-off sites for the toys, most located near the entrances of the fair. The performers span a wide range of genres and ages, including the Last Call Girls, Case 520, The Wyatts, Red Hawk and Night Dove, Ego Jones, Cinder Bridge and Pet Rock, a punk band whose members are 10 to 13 years old. Entertainment on the stage runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.


Hard to believe, but this week, Tucson psych-rock pioneers Black Sun Ensemble celebrate their 20th anniversary of existence by releasing Bolt of Apollo (Slow Burn), a new 10-track full-length that goes a long way toward explaining why everyone from Mudhoney's Mark Arm to Camper Van Beethoven has become so enamored with the band over the years.

Due to myriad difficulties suffered by their leader, Jesus Acedo (who was diagnosed a few years back as schizophrenic, but as the band's only original member remains a stunningly talented guitarist), BSE have endured their share of drama during their existence. The fact that they even exist today is a small miracle; credit Acedo's current band--Eric Johnson (bass, banjo), Leila Lopez (who replaces Bolt drummer Ernie Mendoza), John Paul Marchand (percussion) and Brian Maloney (sax)--for that. As for Bolt of Apollo, it's a fine distillation of Eastern-influenced, psychedelic raga-rock showcasing Acedo's dynamic fretwork on guitar, as well as sitar guitar--which sounds exactly as its name suggests. Bolt is trippy, yes, but its appeal also surpasses those who use words like "trippy."

Black Sun Ensemble celebrate their 20th anniversary with a CD release party for Bolt of Apollo at 11 p.m. next Thursday, Dec. 15 at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Admission is $3. Call 798-1298 for more information.


Black Sun Ensemble aren't the only ones celebrating a birthday this week; community radio station KXCI throws itself a party in honor of its 22nd anniversary on Saturday, Dec. 10, and you're invited to the festivities.

The house band for the event is none other than The Iguanas, who, like most other New Orleans-based performers, will be on the road for the foreseeable future. The band's latest album is 2003's Plastic Silver 9-Volt Heart (Yep Roc), which resembles what Los Lobos might have sounded like had they emerged from the Gulf Coast region instead of East L.A. Both bands share a musical diversity that, in The Iguanas' case, ranges from slow-burning, subdued, sax-laced grooves ("Mexican Candy") to Morphine-influenced, exuberant forays into dark corridors ("Flame On"), and from bouncy but tempered sing-alongs ("Yesterday") to catchy, ambient folk-rock tunes ("The First Kiss Is Free"). Plastic Silver 9-Volt Heart is the sort of album that makes you wonder why it didn't get more acclaim and attention upon its release two years ago.

Give The Iguanas another shot at KXCI's 22nd Anniversary Celebration this weekend at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Tucson's Black Leather Zydeco open at 9 p.m., but get there early for some authentic N'awlins grub from The French Quarter. Advance tickets are $15 for KXCI members and $22 for the general public, available at Antigone Books, CD City and KXCI, by phone at 623-1000 ext. 13, or online at kxci.org. They'll be $3 more at the door. For more information, call 740-1000.


Twenty-two of the biggest names in Tucson's folk-based music scene have come together for Lullabies for New Beginnings, a compilation of largely original bedtime songs whose proceeds will benefit New Beginnings for Women and Children, a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization helping homeless women and their children to become economically self-sufficient. The disc was recorded at KXCI's Studio 2A by the station's music director and engineering wiz, Duncan Hudson, who--along with all the performers--donated his time to the cause.

This weekend, Green Fire Music and Art Collective, 925 E. Fort Lowell Road, will host a children's concert and CD release party to commemorate Lullabies for New Beginnings' release. The performance begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11, and will include Lisa Otey, Round the House, Heather Hardy, Carla Brownlee, Sabra Faulk, Danny Krieger, Beverly Seckinger, Sara P. Smith, Melanie Morrison, Dianne Van Deurzen, Jo Wilkinson, Lisa McCallion, Neil McCallion, Shanti Foster and founding members of The Mollys, Nancy McCallion and Catherine Zavala. Admission is $10 for adults, and children will be admitted free. For further details, call 408-0677.


Jay Bennett is perhaps best known as, along with Jeff Tweedy, the man responsible for the sound of Wilco's albums up through Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (and for those who have seen I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, the documentary about the making of that album, the guy who got fired during its creation). Since his departure from Wilco, Bennett has released a collaborative album with Edward Burch, as well as two proper solo albums, and done a fair share of production work, most notably on the latest album by Blues Traveler. This week, he returns to his favorite local haunt, Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., for an early, non-smoking, cabaret-style show, just like Howe Gelb does from time to time.

The show starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, and tickets are a mere $6 in advance, $7 on the day of show. For more details call 622-8848.


Simply put, Tucson, you rock! Thanks to every single one of you who contributed in any way to the massive success that was The Great Cover-Up 2005. Our goal was to make this the biggest, bestest Cover-Up ever, and thanks to you, we succeeded in every which way. With attendance at a record high of nearly 1,400 over three nights, we stomped our goal of raising $6,000 for our traditional beneficiary, The Brewster Center, into submission: At a date in the near future, we will present a check to The Brewster Center somewhere in the neighborhood of $7,600--again, a new record.

There's a long list of folks we'd like to single out for their tremendous efforts in doing so, and those people are: Curtis McCrary; David Slutes, Nicole Schwartz, Richard and Shana Oseran, Ken Andree, Matt Marcus, Wayne Sult, and the entire staff at Club Congress; Mike Sydloski and all at Rainbow Guitars; Justin Bernard and everyone at Sticks N' Strings; Jill A'Hearn and all at the Tucson Weekly; Don Jennings and everyone at KXCI; Chita from KLPX; The Brewster Center; and last, but foremost, all of the bands who participated in the event: Chesterfield Kings, Ghost Lodge, P.I.A., Seven to Blue, Nowhere Man, Gat-Rot, Lucy Chair, Ham on Demand, La Cerca, Al Perry, scratchingthesurface, Sabatino Killers, Found Dead on the Phone, Molehill Orkestrah, LemonMan and the Bubble Babies, Lovemound, Sencha, Feed, Amy Rude and Sugarbush and Friends, Fukuisan Go!, Hans and the Killers, Old Man, Spacefish, The Jons, Crawdaddy-O, Chango Malo, and Jesse Stanley and Friends. And, of course, thanks to all who attended.

Our hearts are full of Tucson pride, and our appreciation is boundless. We'll see you again next year.


Be sure to check out our club listings for other worthwhile shows that didn't fit in this space, including Blynd's CD release party at City Limits, on Friday, Dec. 9; Ozomatli at the Rialto Theatre, on Sunday, Dec. 11; and Propagandhi at Skrappy's, on Friday, Dec. 9.

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