So, it was a bit of a shock when the first release on Glacial Pace wasn't by an indie-rock newbie at all, but last year's Boneclouds, by neo-folkie Mason Jennings.
Jennings, who had released five albums prior to Boneclouds, had built a grassroots following by touring his ass off, winning fans over one room at a time. In fact, his earliest albums were released on his own label, Architect Records, even though he had offers from major labels to release them. (To date, his first four albums have sold more than 100,000 copies.) But Jennings was more interested in creative control than the lure of big money and the risk of being lost in the major-label shuffle. It appears to have taken a fellow-minded artist like Brock to convince him to make the move. And move, he has, as in moved up from the cozy confines of Solar Culture Gallery, where he performed in 2003 and 2004, to the Rialto this week.
Boneclouds sees Jennings stretching out a bit more stylistically than he has previously. It's not a huge departure from his past work, and certainly won't alienate longtime fans, but there are some subtle differences. It would be difficult to imagine, say, the reverb-treated vocals on the chorus of sing-songy album opener "Be Here Now," on his more stripped-down 2004 release Use Your Voice (Bar/None). The prominent pounding of drums on the bluesy stomper "Some Say I'm Not" is a new twist that suits the darkness of the lyrics: "To look at a baby / you've gotta be brave / In the black of his eye / is your own grave." In fact, one of Jennings' best gifts is coming up with arrangements to best serve his songs. "If You Ain't Got Love," a gorgeous, heartbreaking tale of nearly losing a significant other to illness is, suitably, composed of just hushed vocals and a single, sparsely fingerpicked guitar. Boneclouds feels like a natural progression in an already remarkable career of a gifted singer/songwriter.
Mason Jennings performs an all-ages show on Tuesday, June 12, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Ferraby Lionheart opens at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $16 at the Rialto box office, online at rialtotheatre.com or by phone at 740-1000.
For the first time in a while, that voice will be on display in Tucson proper this weekend. Still the most famous Tucsonan (sorry, Garry Shandling), even if she doesn't spend as much time here as she used to, Linda Ronstadt performs at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 8, at Casino del Sol's AVA, 5655 W. Valencia Road. Advance tickets are available for $65, $45 and $25 at casinodelsol.ticketforce.com or by calling (877) 840-0457.
But, wait. Which Beach Boys is it? There are no fewer than three different Beach Boys-related acts that regularly tour and perform. Purists stick to the shows performed by damaged genius and head Boy Brian Wilson, while folks who either haven't done their research or simply don't care who's singing the songs, as long as they get to hear "I Get Around" and "Good Vibrations," go see the Endless Summer Band (former Beach Boy Al Jardine's knockoff, formerly known as Beach Boys Family and Friends, then the Alan Jardine Family and Friends Beach Band), or even The Beach Boys themselves, who currently count two original members among their ranks: Bruce Johnston and Mike Love. (If you're not prepared for a vitriolic, hours-long monologue about how evil the litigious Mike Love is, don't mention his name to any serious Beach Boys fan. Right, Al Perry?)
It's that "official" version of The Beach Boys that will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 9, at the Diamond Center at Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road. Advance tickets are available for $32, $37 and $45, at all Ticketmaster locations, the casino's box office, by phone at 321-1000 or online at ticketmaster.com. For more info, call 393-2799.
I don't play much air guitar these days; come to think of it, I don't think I've played any since that fateful day. But if I had the enthusiasm today that I had back then, I'd surely be spending a lot of time in front of the mirror, practicing for this week's Air Guitar Battle Royale, at the Loft Cinema.
As evidenced by the new documentary film Air Guitar Nation, which opens at the Loft on Friday, June 8, and will be screened following the Battle Royale, air guitar has come an awful long way since the concept was originally introduced. Air guitarists these days take their craft awfully darn seriously, working their way toward the Air Guitar World Championships, in Oulu, Finland. In other words, chumps need not apply.
Battle Royale participants will compete in two rounds: In round one, the air guitarist picks his or her own song to rock out to, while in the second round, the air guitarist must improvise to a mystery song chosen by the staff. The audience then decides the winner by applause. And, yes, there are prizes involved.
Throw on the spandex and head over to the Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd., at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12. Admission is $8.50 for the general public, $5.50 for students and $4.75 for Loft members. For further details, head to loftcinema.com or call 322-5638.