The event has changed locations several times over the years. The first one was held at the old Nino's Steakhouse in the late '80s; Holiman decided to revive it in 1994 at Club Congress, where it remained for several years. The last few years saw a change in venue, as Plush took over hosting duties, but this year, the 13th consecutive since its rebirth, sees a return back to Congress. That decision was largely one of convenience, says Holiman. This year, the Wooden Ball expands for the first time into two nights, in order to be more inclusive and present a more rounded representation of Tucson music, and Congress was better suited for a multiple-night event.
Bands and performers tend to pull out all the stops at the Ball, reconfiguring their own songs to best suit the unplugged format, and unveiling previously unheard covers--all in a 20-minute set--which makes the event all the more special. Here, then, is the schedule for the 2006 Wooden Ball, in descending order of appearance: Friday, Jan. 13: Al Perry, Loveland, Camp Courageous, Downtown Saints, Creosote, Ned Sutton, Nowhere Man, Mark Matos and Nick Luca Saturday, Jan. 14: Greyhound Soul, Luca, The Wyatts, Sunday Afternoon, Tom Walbank, Jon Murphy, Little Sisters of the Poor and Chris Holiman.
Music begins at 8 p.m. on both nights. Admission is $6 for one night, or $10 for a two-night pass. Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. For more information, call 622-8848 or log onto hotelcongress.com.
Riverboat Gamblers, who combine the tunefulness of late-'70s British punk with the power of early '80s American hardcore, headline the gig. If you've never seen this group from Denton, Texas, play live, consider this a hearty endorsement. Sharing the bill are two of Tucson's finest punk ensembles, The Knockout Pills and Swing Ding Amigos.
Things get underway at 9:45 p.m., and admission is a measly $6. Need more info? Call 798-1298 or log onto plushtucson.com. Plush is located at 340 E. Sixth St.
The other musical link: Local singer-songwriter Will Elliott will be performing live at the opening. Elliott's self-released CD, The Doorman, is a lovely collection of songs mostly performed with minor chords on an acoustic guitar and Elliott's winsome voice. "Put Down the Gun, Boy" is only enhanced by the melody stolen from Leonard Cohen.
The opening begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13. A Shot in the Dark is located at 121 E. Broadway, and admission is free to all ages. For further details call 882-5544.
We'll give credit where it's due: The show is a benefit for T.E.A.M. (Teen Empowerment and Advocacy Movement) Tucson, with proceeds being donated to the Street Outreach Programs of Our Family Services, whose beneficiaries include Skrappy's, Street Outreach, Reunion House, Teens in Transition and other homeless youth programs.
Local bands will open the show, which begins at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15 at the Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave. Tickets are $25 for students of participating Tucson area high schools, and $30 for the general public, available in advance at the TCC box office, ticketmaster.com, or by calling 321-1000. For more info call 791-4101.
Folk singer-songwriter Greg Brown, along with Jason Wilber, brings his gravelly baritone and passel of lyrically astute songs to the Berger Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd., at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday, Jan. 19. Advance tix for this all-ages show are available for $23 at (800) 594-8499 or rhythmandroots.org. They'll be $26 at the door.
And, finally, Howe Gelb apparently had so much fun fronting his Danish bandmates in Giant Sand on New Year's Eve that he's asked Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., to give him one more night to do his thing. The band's performance on Sunday, Jan. 15 will be their last American date this calendar year. Once again, Marie Frank will serve as opener. Things kick off at 8 p.m., and admission is $8. Call 622-8848 for more info.