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NOT A CREATURE WAS STIRRING

As is the norm for this time of year, there's not a heck of a lot to report. Most folks--bands included--are stone-cold lampin' by the fireplace with family and friends, so be thankful for the few interesting shows this week to give you an excuse to excuse yourself from the requisite family functions.

However you spend it, have a wonderful holiday weekend, each and every one of you.


HOLIDAY BLOAT, SANS FOOD

The Bloat Christmas celebration at Club Congress has become a holiday tradition of sorts, though not the type you'd share with Grandma. (She'd ask way too many questions in her confusion, thereby stomping on your holiday buzz.) But for those with a well-honed sense of humor and a penchant for the musically adventurous, well, this thing was invented for you.

Bloat isn't merely a record label, you see; it's more of a skewed perspective of life--and this week, of Christmas! (A quick aside to relate my favorite moment of Bloat Christmases past: Bebe and Serge's set a few years ago consisted of a pack of handlers carrying an ostensibly drunken Serge, clad in Santa suit, onto a couch on stage, where he remained passed out and motionless for the duration of their set, while Bebe carried on as normal, shrieking holiday songs and generally terrifying those not-in-the-know crowd members. This lasted for a half-hour or so. At the end of the set, the same handlers came back on stage to carry Serge away, as if nothing unusual had happened. It still stands as one of the greatest performance-art pieces I've ever seen. Sadly, Bebe and Serge will not be performing this year, but Serge--God bless him--will be serving as master of ceremonies.)

This year's fiesta includes sets from Coin, Shark Pants, Ultra Maroon and Gary Bear (who, at some point, will portray the Baby Jesus), in addition to a live manger scene, Bloat-style, and a billed "Jewish takeover," whatever that means.

The Bloat Christmas celebration begins at 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 23. Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St., and cover is $5 for those of drinking age. Need more details? Call 622-8848.


DON'T PAINT YOUR WAGON

In case you haven't heard by now, the Chuck Wagon and the Wheels reunion show scheduled for Friday, Dec. 23, at City Limits, has been cancelled. Here's hoping it gets rescheduled at some point in the future, for the benefit of both die-hard fans and those of us who were too young to see them on their first go-round.


A PRESENT FROM CONGRESS

Club Congress seems to be in the gift-giving spirit this holiday season, as they'll be hosting not one, but two of their Congress Libre shows this week. ("Libre" means "free," for you monolinguals out there.)

First up--on Christmas Eve, no less (the night is being billed as the "Club Congress Christmas Libre Eve Service")--is a triple bill headlined by Tucson pop-rock scientists Nowhere Man, which also features openers Territory and Hombre, a Seattle-based combo who have got the Casio-tone locked down tightly, and former Truck frontman Jesse Stanley. You can only hang out with your crazy uncle for so long, right?

Nowhere Man will be back for another free show on Tuesday, Dec. 27, but this time, they'll be taking the middle slot, just after James London's Solo Jamboree, and right before the slanted alt-country-ish scrappiness of Campo Bravo, who are just off a tour of California. After breaking the bank on all those presents, you can't afford a cover anyway, can you?

Congress Libre Version 1.0, featuring Nowhere Man, Territory and Hombre and Jesse Stanley, starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 24 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St.

Congress Libre Version 2.0, featuring Campo Bravo, Nowhere Man and James London's Solo Jamboree, also starts at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at Club Congress.

Both shows are 21-plus and free. Call 622-8848 for more info.


BITCH IS BACK

The big-ass riffs, the sleazy dancing girls, the onstage donkey show; OK scratch that last one, but admit it: You miss the spectacle that was Whiskey Bitch, doncha? Well, this week brings another opportunity to rock out with yer cock out, as the co-ed combo reunites for the holidays. It's highly recommended that you start practicing throwing the devil's horns hand-sign and doing neck exercises the moment you read this, in preparation, lest you wake up the next morning with "headbanger's malady." You'll thank us later.

Whiskey Bitch headlines at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, Dec. 28. FANSS (since we're not a family newspaper, that's the Fuck All Night Super Stars) open the show, with DJ Buttafly spinning wax before, in between and after the bands. The evening kicks off at 9 p.m., and cover is $4. For more information, call 622-8848.


ACOUSTIHOOD

It's somewhat appropriate that the acoustic guitar-and-vocals duo of Ryan Green and Cameron Hood (the latter is formerly of Easyco), who perform under the name Ryanhood, chose the week of Christmas to perform a pair of shows at Club Congress, as they're another entry in the "Yes, we're Christians, but please don't call us a Christian band" sweepstakes. The former Tucsonans are doing quite well peddling their brand of infectious indie-folk out East these days in their adopted home of Boston. Hot off the heels of opening for Jason Mraz nationwide, including a date at Centennial Hall a few months back, they'll settle into the confines of Congress this week, likely the smallest of venues they've played in a while.

The duo falls squarely in the realm of "acousti-groove," as evidenced by their latest album, Forward (Four Miles Music, 2004). They're big on easily digestible hooks, pretty harmonies and, according to their press kit, sport "the hilarious live presence of Tenacious D," which you'd never guess from listening to the album. What you will figure out by listening to Forward is that both Green and Hood are remarkable guitarists, and they've got a surplus of potential in the way of commercial radio (this is, after all, a group that your mom might enjoy as much as you).

Ryanhood perform on Wednesday, Dec. 28 and Thursday, Dec. 29 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The opener on the 28th is Haley Jane, and Music Video open on the 29th. Both shows are all-ages and start at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $7; they'll be $10 at the door, if any remain (the band's last three local shows have sold out). Call 622-8848 for the 411.

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