First up is Ice-9, a local trio headed by singer/guitarist Michael Tanzillo, who also wrote 13 of the 14 songs included on the group's new album, Partners in Crime. The other members are harmonica player Richard (that's right--just Richard; doesn't quite have the same ring as Madonna or Cher or Dolemite, huh?) and Bill "Slim" Rost on bass, though for this release they're joined by guests Mitzi Cowell and Mark Holdaway, both on guitar, drummer Tom Tanzillo and singer Nancy Lynn Bright.
Ice-9 specializes in old-timey acoustic country music with a slight case of the blues, rendered here in a manner ramshackle enough that it's not difficult to envision the band's members hanging out on a Saturday afternoon, playing these tunes for friends and family while the smell of grilled meat permeates the air. With a few exceptions these songs are about two things: romantic love in all its many permutations and traveling.
On the love side, topics include: pining for a departed lover ("Not Too Far"), the moment of realization that one is in love (the jaunty "Converted," which benefits from one of Tanzillo's strongest vocal performances on the disc), being thankful for love ("Take My Hand"), the defiance of a man in love (the slinky "Fertile Love," a highlight even though its title makes me want to take a shower and wear a jimmy-hat 24-7), and that us-against-the world feeling that comes with being in love (the curiously somewhat morbid-sounding "Partners in Crime").
On the travel tip we've got: the urge to wander, even if it means a seat on a Greyhound ("Travelin'"), boat travel as metaphor for, well, something ("Heading Out to Sea") and hitching to California to acquire a new crankcase ("Crankcase Blues"). Elsewhere, the eerie, reverb-laden "Split Between the Eyes" benefits from some fine harp playing courtesy of Richard, Cowell's tasteful guitar playing and some nifty vocal interplay between Tanzillo and Bright; it sounds a bit like the rootsier side of Timbuk 3, and that should be taken as a compliment.
Celebrate the release of Partners in Crime when Ice-9 performs at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Old Town Artisans Courtyard, 201 N. Court Ave. For this all-ages show the trio will be joined by all of the guest performers on the CD. Admission is $6.
Later that night former Mollys frontwoman Nancy McCallion will return to the scene of the crime, so to speak, when she celebrates the release of Live at the Auld Dubliner, a collection of Irish folk songs recorded at the namesake pub over a two-night stint in May of this year. On the CD McCallion's band comprises former Mollys accordionist and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Schramm, guitarist Danny Krieger, violinist Heather Hardy and fiddle player Tom Rhodes. (Schramm, Krieger and Rhodes will perform with McCallion at this weekend's show.)
The disc includes some cover songs, including Ewan MacColl's classic "Dirty Old Town" (made famous by The Pogues), which opens the album, a slew of traditional tunes and some McCallion originals. The band is absolutely stellar throughout, particularly the guitar work provided by Krieger and Hardy's gorgeous violin playing; still, their contributions are always in service to the song, aiding and abetting but never getting in the way. This is one of the rare times in recent memory that I've been thankful for extended instrumental passages.
Which is not to say that I'm not equally thankful when McCallion's voice re-enters the mix. The veteran has been around long enough to play to her strengths, which she does here. Unlike a lot of Americans who perform traditional Irish music, McCallion has the smarts to not adopt a phony brogue, a tactic that never seems to convince. Still, her cadence is spot-on and her voice is supple enough to adopt to uptempo songs and ballads alike.
Nancy McCallion performs at The Auld Dubliner, 800 E. University Blvd., at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20. Admission is $6. For more information call 206-0323.
The hybrid of punk rock and rockabilly known as psychobilly will be represented by a double bill of Detroit's Koffin Kats and Tucson's own Left for Dead on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at the Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave. Things get rolling at 9 p.m. and you can call 882-0009 with any questions that might be gnawing on your craw.
Speaking of hybrids, remember those crazy '90s, when the hybrid of rap and rock was all the rage? Phoenix's Phunk Junkeez, one of the genre's progenitors, sure does, as evidenced by its latest album, Hydro Phonic (2007, Dmaft). Not a hell of a lot has changed in the band's sound since it released its debut album back in 1992, unless you count a cover of Mungo Jerry's oldies radio classic "In the Summertime," complete with lyrics adapted to tell us how much they love smoking weed, as progress.
They'll be at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave., on Wednesday, Oct. 24, along with openers The Diversion Program, Punk A.P. , Sinphonics, Concrete Understanding and Worm. Doors to this all-ages show open at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $10 at Bookmans, Hardcore 101, Southwest Guitar Center and at the venue. For further details call 629-9211.
Speaking of bands that love their ganja, Slightly Stoopid began about 10 years ago as a SoCal punk outfit that incorporated elements of reggae. These days, though, any remaining traces of punk rock have been eviscerated in favor of jammy grooves that center on Caribbean rhythms, reggae and dub, complete with faux Jamaican accents. Look no further than the title of its latest album, Chronchitis (2007, Stoopid), for proof that some things, alas, never change.
Slightly Stoopid performs at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., next Thursday, Oct. 25. The all-ages show begins at 8 p.m. with openers Fishbone, who nearly 20 years into its career still puts on a hell of a good show, and Supervillains. Advance tix are available for $17.50 at the venue's box office, rialtotheatre.com, or by calling 740-1000. Use the same number for any questions you may have.
Venture to the point of no return on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Tucson Electric Park, 2500 E. Ajo Way. Gates open at noon. Advance tickets are available for $35 or $50 for X-Zone VIP at Catalina Mart and klpx.com. Children 12 and under are granted free admission. For more info log on to the aforementioned Web site.