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LIKE SAND THROUGH THE HOURGLASS, THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR TAMMIES

The Tucson Area Music Awards, or TAMMIES, have become something of an institution around these parts, a yearly gauge of the current state of our local music scene.

For the last 13 years, we've asked you, the local music fan, to tell us who and what you love most about Tucson music, in order to formally give props to them in the form of a gorgeous plaque, or a certificate telling them they're special. (Hell, that's part of the fun--what will the awards look like this year?) We carefully chose the term "Readers' Choice Awards" to denote these honors.

And, for the last three years, we've chosen a group of local musicologists--people who work in the Tucson music scene in some capacity--to choose their own favorites. It's not that we don't trust your opinions (OK, sometimes we don't); it's just that we wanted to have a say of our own. We thought long and hard and came up with the term "Critics' Choice Awards" for these coveted badges of honor and prestige.

You've voted. We've voted. And this week, the results will finally be revealed in a not-so-secret ceremony we're calling the 13th Annual TAMMIES Awards. As has been the custom for the last several years, the main portion of the night's festivities centers around what we're celebrating in the first place: local talent, in the form of live performances by some of Tucson's finest. Sure, the awards will be awarded, but the presentations will be sandwiched between short live sets from The Deludes, The Drakes (they're baaaack!), the Bad News Blues Band, Se Salen, George Howard and Nick Luca. It's our little way of saying thank you to all of the fine music local artists provide us with, year in and year out--it's our little party to unite the Tucson music community for one night each year. Admission is free to those of all ages, so consider it our gift to you, the performers and fans alike, for keeping things musically exciting around town.

The 13th Annual TAMMIES begin at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 28, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. For more information, call 740-1000.


IN THE TIME OF CHIMPANZEES, HE WAS A MONKEY

I know it's difficult to do now, but try to think back to the first time you heard "Loser" by Beck--which served as an introduction to him for all of us. The year was 1994, a time when most musicians tended to pick their genre of choice--the musical cross-pollination that we take for granted today barely existed--and remain within that box. Beck didn't. Even that single song merged several genres: There was the slide blues guitar riff, lazily rapped nonsensical lyrics by a white dude, a funky beat, a tinge of psychedelia and a chorus that was partly sung in Spanish and partly self-deprecating in a humorous fashion, while still relaying the ennui that summed up the slacker ethos. It was impossible not to love.

Beck Hansen could have stopped right there, and he'd still be remembered today--albeit as a one-hit wonder. But the album that "Loser" appeared on, Mellow Gold (DGC), was just as diverse as its one hit, and over the years, he's revealed himself to be one of the most diverse and gifted songwriters and musicians of his generation.

The very same year that Mellow Gold was released, two more Beck albums hit the racks: the fucked-up experimental noise-fest Stereopathetic Soul Manure (Flipside) and the trad-folk homage One Foot in the Grave (K). Two years later, he teamed up with the production duo the Dust Brothers (the mad geniuses behind the Beastie Boys' masterpiece Paul's Boutique) for Odelay (DGC, 1996), which merged every genre in the book in unusually artful ways across its 13 tracks. In 1998, he paid homage to the Brazilian tropicalia movement--while still managing to put his own genre-hopping spin on it--with Mutations (DGC). Midnite Vultures (DGC), released the following year, was a goofy but lovable genre exercise in which he indulged his love of funk, soul, R&B and hip-hop. 2002's Sea Change (Geffen/Interscope) found him in sincere, singer-songwriter mode, exploring affairs of the heart as his marriage was crumbling. Last year, he reteamed with the Dust Brothers for the underrated Guero (Interscope), which serves as a sort of career summary, merging touches of many of the genres he's previously explored, but still not disappointing. And for all of his musical talent, he's also a gifted lyricist, both deft and daffy, skillfully gliding from absurd to profound in the blink of an eye.

On his current tour, he's playing smaller venues in smaller cities than he usually does, but it's by no means scaled back. He's performing both time-tested crowd favorites and road-testing songs from his upcoming album, and he's getting all theatrical on us--robots, animatronics and video footage to accompany songs are all part of the deal.

That deal hits Tucson at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. The show is sold out, so unless you've got a fair amount of eBay savvy and a wad of cash, don't expect to get in without a ticket in hand. For more details, call 740-1000.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Lord knows Tucson loves its roots music, and we seem to have taken a special liking to Austin, Texas' Weary Boys, whose live shows have become borderline legendary here. The quintet merges country, bluegrass, rock and gospel, and their latest album, Jumpin' Jolie (Weary, 2006), veers further into honky tonk and country-rock territory than previous releases. It just may be their best yet.

The Weary Boys perform at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., on Saturday, June 24. For further info, call 622-3535.

As the leader of Primus, singer and bassist Les Claypool was a serious musician who never took himself seriously. His bass playing--a funky, slappy beast--was as distinctive as his voice, which croaked humorous tales of characters such as Jerry the race car driver. For the last decade, he's been issuing solo albums, the latest of which is Of Whales and Woe (Prawn Song, 2006), which sounds pretty much like everything else he's ever done.

Les Claypool performs an all-ages show at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Friday, June 23. Carneyball Johnson opens at 8 p.m. Advance tix are $22, available at the venue's box office; they'll be $24 on the day of the show. That number again is 740-1000.

File locals the Dubious Duo under "out there." Mike Marlin (5-string and prepared banjo, voice, windup toys, junk percussion) and Eric Dahlman (cornet, french horn, voice, coyote and duck calls, percussion) perform improvised free jazz, and they'll be holding a CD release party for their debut album, Children of Siberia (Spiney Palm), at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 28, at The Red Room at Grill, 100 E. Congress St. We're pretty sure admission is free, but you might want to call 623-7621 to verify that.

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