And happen it will. Two nights, two stages (not including the hotel lobby, which will also feature entertainment), one evening barbecue and more than 25 live acts, both local and national--all at a ridiculously low price.
Here's a rundown of the riches:
Friday, June 16, outdoors: Tucson's own cosmic cowboys, Golden Boots, are up at 8 p.m. The songwriting and voice of David Bryan are stellar, and he's got a pack of musicians backing him who are tailor-made for the windswept-country thing. We're talking, of course, about Tucsonans Loveland, at 8:45 p.m. Jay Bennett may be best known as the dude who got fired from Wilco in that documentary about them, but his Warren Zevon worship and pop smarts collide in his subsequent solo work at 9:45 p.m. Helmed by former Tucsonans Bill Elm and Mike Semple, at 10:45 p.m., Friends of Dean Martinez perform a brand of instrumental music that could be called twilight exotica as easily as anything else. Like some lab concoction of the ramshackle qualities of Howe Gelb (who released his first album on his Ow Om label) and the exquisite guitar fingerpicking of his muse, John Fahey, M. Ward hides beneath his baseball cap at 11:45 p.m.
Friday, June 16, indoors: For the last 10 or 15 years, Jason Lytle's band, Grandaddy, merged a lo-fi aesthetic with space-age pop and an animosity toward technology. Just prior to the release last month of the acclaimed album Just Like the Fambly Cat (V2), Lytle announced the band was breaking up. At 9:15 p.m. he'll perform what we're pretty sure is his only scheduled solo club date so far this year (though he's playing a few in-store gigs prior to this one). Phoenix area singer-songwriter Lonna Kelly flaunts her wares at 10 p.m. The Solace Bros. , just off a few weeks on the road, are a Tucson power trio that utilizes the unlikely union of baritone guitar, drums and Crumar organ to arrive at a blissful, smile-inducing pop, rock and roll (as opposed to stop, drop and roll). Their fire starts blazing at 11 p.m. Though he'll never live down his former band Wall of Voodoo's '80s classic "Mexican Radio," Stan Ridgway these days embarks upon the musical equivalent of film noir--lots of shady characters involved in lots of shady pursuits. He takes the stage at midnight, just prior to a slot reserved for a mysterious Special Guest at 1 a.m.
Saturday, June 17, outdoors (with BBQ): At 5:30 p.m. high schooler Andrew Collberg demonstrates why he's the spearhead of Tucson's next wave of beloved, Beatles-inspired singer-songwriters. Speaking of Beatles-inspired singer-songwriters, at 6 p.m., Nik Freitas adds his '70s AM rock-radio worship to the mix--think Todd Rundgren, Steely Dan and Elton John rolled up into one tasty pop burrito of sound. Former frontman of the poptastic Rugburns and co-author of Jewel's breakthrough hit "You Were Meant for Me," Steve Poltz now favors crafty folkish tunes with a literary bent. His between-song banter is often as entertaining as his songs, which you'll hear at 6:45 p.m. After fronting the soulful jangle-rock duo The Spinanes for Sub Pop in the '90s, in 2001, Rebecca Gates released the slightly more subdued album Ruby Series on Badman. Hear what she's been up to since at 7:30 p.m. Mike Coykendall is an audio engineer who has recorded the likes of Bright Eyes, M. Ward, Richmond Fontaine and Beth Orton, and was once frontman of San Francisco's Old Joe Clarks, who placed his literate tales in a country/bluegrass setting. Last year, he released his solo debut, Hello Hello Hello, on Hopewell, and he'll perform at 8:15. At 9 p.m. David Slutes' own band (one of 'em, anyway), Little Sisters of the Poor, who are more serious than the Zsa Zsas, and less rockin' than the Sand Rubies, take the stage. Studio rat Adam Selzer fronts the darkly moody Norfolk and Western at 9:45 p.m. And speaking of darkly moody, the eloquent elegance of reunited indie legends American Music Club, fronted by the one and only Mark Eitzel, return to the stage at 10:45 p.m. If it looked for a while like Cracker--the band that rose from the ashes of the awesome, and also recently reunited, Camper Van Beethoven (both are helmed by David Lowery)--was running out of steam, fear not: Their just-released Greenland (Cooking Vinyl) is the dictionary definition of "return to form." Hear songs from it, and hopefully a whole lot more, at midnight.
Saturday, June 17, indoors: The indoor proceedings begin with what's being labeled as an "All-Star Hootenanny," and with the list of luminaries in town this weekend, that could mean just about anything. Expect the unexpected at 9 p.m. At 10:40 p.m., it's WaveLab's Nick Luca's own Luca, whose upcoming album Sick of Love (due out Aug. 22 on Funzalo) is said to be a slightly edgier version of what we've come to expect from the trio. Get a taste of things to come at 10:40 p.m. Austin's Ian Moore has evolved from a blues prodigy to a thoughtful singer-songwriter with a knack for inventive pop arrangements. He'll perform at 11:15 p.m., just prior to locals The Beta Sweat, who kick out the jams with a concoction of Zeppelinesque blues-rock riffs and the soulful wail of singer Marina Cornelius at 12:15 a.m. The 1 a.m. slot is reserved for the ominously dubbed "Special Guest." Who it'll be is anyone's guess.
The cost to see one of these acts alone at a club can often run you more than 10 bucks. So consider it quite the bargain when I tell ya that admission to these shows is $13 a night, or $20 for both nights. (Conference registrants get in for $9 a night, $13 for both.) Advance tickets are available at Hotel Congress (two-day passes), Zia Records and the Rialto Theatre box office (single-day tickets). These shows are expected to sell out, so plan ahead: Either get 'em in advance or show up very early. Hotel Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. All questions will be answered by calling 622-8848.
The ever-evolving New York indie-rock quartet the French Kicks aren't afraid of laying a sultry Motown cover on yer ass. We "discovered" them at South By Southwest several years ago and have been fans ever since. See why at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, June 20. Local buzz band The Crowd get things rolling at 9 p.m. Cover is a five-spot. Call 622-8848 for details.
Finally, this just in: Details are a bit spotty, but we're suckers for a benefit, so here goes: Salpointe student Andrew Donnellan was recently involved in a gymnastics accident that has left him a quadriplegic, and he requires surgery. To help raise funds for his medical bills, some of his friends are performing as part of The Andrew Donnellan Benefit Show. These friends include Kool Shades (who we've heard great things about), Offshore Melodies, John Knott, Chatterbox and Thesis, among others. Things get underway at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 17 at St. Francis Cabrini Church, 3201 E. Presidio Road. A $5 donation is requested.