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I'M BAA-AACK

After conducting some necessary business at Tucson Medical Center, I am, in the immortal words of Steven Tyler (or was it Gene Autry?), "back in the saddle again"--for a week, at least. Gene Armstrong will be back next week as your humble Soundbitean, while I'm making a full recovery in Austin, Texas, at South by Southwest. After that, I'm afraid you're stuck with me once again for the long haul. Big shout-outs to both Gene and Weekly editor Jimmy Boegle for all their aid in my absence.

But there's waaaay too much stuff going on this week for me to keep babbling, so here, my friends, is what a mighty busy musical week in Tucson looks like.


WXSW WOULD EARN MAD SCRABBLE POINTS

2007 marks the second consecutive year that downtown/Fourth Avenue clubs have taken advantage of all the acts passing through town on their way to and from SXSW by hosting West by Southwest, a mini-festival that takes place on three nights, over two weeks. I suspect Mr. Armstrong will tell you all about the festivities going down on March 19 and 20, so I'll just cover this week's portion here.

The day is Tuesday, March 13, and here's the deal: You buy a wristband for $8, which grants you entry into four different venues--feel free to mosey about--each of which has a pretty impressive lineup scheduled for your listening pleasure. Here, then, is what you'll find as you wander around. (All times listed are scheduled start times.)

Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., will start the night off at 9:30 p.m. with the swirly-sexy sounds of SoCal trio Gliss, followed at 10:30 p.m. by the fantastic country-soul outfit The Hacienda Brothers, who will be representing Tucson with an official showcase in Austin this year. I've never heard of Lilydale, but they've been compared to Arcade Fire, and they are up at 11:30 p.m., followed by Washington, D.C.'s The Cassettes, who merge folk, rockabilly and indie-rock into a heady brew the likes ye have never before heard. They'll be on shortly after midnight. Congress is 21 and up, and you can call 622-8848 for more information.

Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., will get things rolling at 9 p.m. with San Francisco psych-folk-pop duo The Dodos. Then it's Bon Savants (10 p.m.) and Do Make Say Think (11 p.m.), both of which Annie Holub has written about elsewhere in this issue. Plush is 21 and up, and the number to call for more info is 798-1298.

Meanwhile, over at The Hut, 305 N. Fourth Ave., take in a trio of acts from Los Angeles. Bodies of Water, a co-ed quartet who describe themselves as "Abba meets the Muppets," will start things off at 9:30 p.m., just before The Western States Motel, whose sunny pop makes room for the occasional rainy day, at 10:30 p.m. Then, at 11:30 p.m., it's the blissed-out, '60s-informed psychedelic pop-rock of Kind Hearts and Coronets. Finally, though he's not on the schedule we've been issued at press time, we have been assured that at some point during the night, former Tucsonan Mike Semple will be playing a solo set. You might remember Semple as frontman for Dog and Pony Show and onetime guitarist for Giant Sand. These days, he's a member of Friends of Dean Martinez and fronts Secretary Bird, who will make a local appearance at the end of the month. The Hut is 21 and up, and the number to call for further details is 623-3200.

Finally, things get rolling over at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., at 8 p.m., when anti-folkie and Moldy Peaches pal Jeffrey Lewis takes the stage. At 9 p.m., it's the raucous roots rock of Bobby Bare Jr. , who, when he's on, puts on one hell of a live show. Then, at 10 p.m., Philly's finest, Dr. Dog, pay homage to the Beatles as they perform tracks from their hot-off-the-presses new CD, We All Belong (Park the Van). Solar Culture is all-ages, and you can call 884-0874 for more information.


AND OVER AT VAUDEVILLE ...

Vaudeville Cabaret may not be taking part in the WXSW festivities, but they've got a pretty awesome week of shows lined up as well. Here are some highlights.

On Saturday, March 10, the night starts off at 10 p.m. with the organ 'n' fuzz garage rock of Tucson's The Okmoniks, who will be performing their first local show in a year. Next up is Birthday Suits, a frenetic punk duo from Minneapolis, followed by the down 'n' dirty rock of Oakland, Calif.'s The Time Flys. Headlining are Portland, Ore.'s The Nice Boys, who play some of the finest power-pop around these days. Imagine Nick Lowe, Cheap Trick and the Ramones joining forces, with just a hint of T-Rex tossed in for stompability, and you're on the right track.

Monday, March 12, the club will host a punk extravaganza in four parts. Ex-Weird Lovemaker Greg Petix's latest outfit the Cuntifiers get things rolling at 10 p.m., with the Trashies, who sound like a good-old, '80s-style, snotty punk rock band, with the addition of a creepy-sounding keyboard, following. Then, local trio Shark Pants demonstrate why they're one of the finest punk acts our humble burg has to offer. And finally, headliners Geisha Girls give a crash course in what would have happened if Robert Smith fronted an angular Brit-punk band.

On Tuesday, March 13, it's a rather unusual pairing for an unusually early show at Vaudeville. Beloved local country-rockers Fourkiller Flats hit the stage at 8 p.m., followed by The Chairs of Perception, a trio that includes two former members of the Urinals and 100 Flowers. The sound something like a more accessible Mission of Burma.

And, though the show on Wednesday, March 14, featuring Gito Gito Hustler, 400 Blows, Triclops and Qui is featured elsewhere in this issue, we'd be remiss if we didn't warn you that the headliner (that's Qui) includes none other than former Jesus Lizard frontman David Yow. Yowza!

For further details on any or all of these shows, call 622-3535.


BUY THE NEW ENGLANDER, AND GET THE BRIT FOR FREE!

The Rialto Theatre hosts an inspired twofer of critically acclaimed singer-songwriters this week.

Though she's been lauded throughout her career for her poetic lyrics, melodic guitar playing and distinctive vocals, New Englander Patty Griffin's most recent album, Children Running Through (Ato, 2007), her first in nearly three years, has already been widely acknowledged as the most potent of her career. It bundles up elements of smoky jazz, acoustic folk, gospel, rockabilly, country and even R&B into a tidy, gorgeous package of classy goodness.

Sharing the bill is the legendary British folk-rocker Richard Thompson, whose career began in the '60s as a founding member of the seminal Fairport Convention. After cutting a solo record that carried the distinction of being the worst-selling album in Warner Bros. history, he got married and recorded a series of albums with his wife, Linda, bookended by the classics I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (Hannibal, 1974) and Shoot Out the Lights (Hannibal, 1982). The latter explored, with bruising emotional clarity, the couple's impending doom, and from there, Thompson began his solo career--marked by dark, witty lyrics and a guitar style that is technically astounding but never gets in the way of melody--in earnest. It's rare indeed to find an artist so gifted in so many areas.

This can't-miss pairing takes to the stage of the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 9. Advance tickets for the all-ages show are available for $30 (reserved seated floor) and $26 (reserved seated balcony) at the venue's box office, online at www.rialtotheatre.com or by calling 740-1000. Call the same number for further details.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Well, we're almost out of room, and we've barely scratched the surface of all the fine musical goings-on around town this week. So, be sure to check out our club listings for further info about shows worth your time and money, including appearances by and Robert Cray, among many others.

Plus, don't forget about the second benefit show for TucsonScene.com's SXSW showcase, which hits The Hut on Friday, March 9. Your cover charge goes toward sending performers Naim Amor, Salvador Duran, Will Elliott, Marianne Dissard, Andrew Collberg and Vicki Brown to Austin next week.

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