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CLUB CONGRESS, FAMILY STYLE

Calling all Dumbledorks! (Yes, I stole that joke from Ace of Cakes, but only because that's about the extent of my Harry Potter knowledge. That, and the fact that the li'l guy who plays the boy wizard--he's a boy wizard, right?--in the movies was rather pleased with the cake that the gang at Charm City Cakes made for one of the film's premieres. But I digress.)

This month, Spin magazine has an article called "Theatrical Release," whose subhead reads: "With a little ingenuity (and very little cash), upstart bands are going to dramatic lengths to put on a show." Such would seem to be the case with The Unlimited Enthusiasm Expo '08 (aka Camp Jump and Yell for Boys and Girls Wizards), which arrives at Club Congress this weekend.

Since I know so very little about the bands involved, and even less about their subject material, here's a bit of info as cobbled together from a press release: The headliner is a band called Harry and the Potters, who "sing songs about the plight of being a young wizard, and have primarily toured libraries for the past four years. ... Last year, Harry and the Potters packed the main Tucson library, and their return was requested by all their young loyal fans."

Also on the bill are Math the Band, who sing "songs about the water cycle while doing aerobics" and perform "so hard" that they apparently throw up after every show; and Uncle Monsterface, who play "songs about wearing capes as accompanied by sock puppets and giant monsters" and "perform a sock-puppet rock-band cover of Madonna's 'Like a Prayer.'"

Other stuff promised at the Expo: giant monsters, huge video projections, inflatable monkeys, campfires, circus tents, Kool-Aid, PB&Js, name tags, bubbles, Nintendo and "a completely open and welcoming mindset ... with kids and adults, parents and teenagers, all collectively enjoying themselves in an outpouring of geeky summer fun."

Best of all, the whole dang thing is completely do-it-yourself instead of being sponsored by some new "extreme" product for your consumption.

The Unlimited Enthusiasm Expo '08 sets up camp at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 12. All ages are, of course, welcome, and tickets are $10 in advance, or $12 on the day of the show. For more info, head to unlimitedenthusiasm.com or dial 622-8848.


VARIED HOMECOMINGS

Two former Tucsonans will bring two very different shows to two different venues on two different nights this week.

Tripp Nasty grew up in Tucson and cut his teeth playing in such Bloat Records bands as the revered Mondo Guano (who, of course, begat Doo Rag) and Duarte Six. He now lives in Denver, where he fronts Bongo Fury!, the band he'll bring to town this week. In a letter that accompanied a homemade CD whose "cover" is composed of several cutout "snowflake" overlays--trust me, it's DIY-pretty--he writes: "For some reason I left beloved Tucson (it's a convoluted tale how I got to Colorado of which I won't speak, so ... ) and I now write weird string quartets and play music about mountains inspired by North Indian and Karnatic folk music." Would you expect any less from a former Bloat-er?

Meanwhile, the CD is a sampler of four songs that sound exactly as advertised: lots of strings playing droning Far Eastern tunes with the occasional Krishna-inspired chant. It's pretty interesting stuff, and should sound far better live than in its recorded incarnation.

Bongo Fury! open for My Feral Kin at 8 p.m., Friday, July 11, at Dry River Collective, 740 N Main St. No cover charge is listed at Dry River's Web site, so we're guessing that like most shows there, it's free with a suggested donation for the performers. For further info, head to dryriver.org.

From the other side of the musical spectrum come the Liz Painter Band, whose namesake frontwoman lived in Tucson from 1991 to 2003, but moved to Taos, N.M., a few years after graduating from the UA. She writes in a letter that all of the songs on her current self-released CD, Home Before Dark, were written in Tucson. Those tunes are earnest, folky, acoustic-based story-songs that are reminiscent of Joni Mitchell (one song even name-checks Don Juan), Ani DiFranco's mellower stuff, and '70s singer-songwriters in general--as much as anything you're likely to hear on 92.9 The Mountain these days.

The Liz Painter Band headline a show at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, July 16. Opening at 9 p.m. are Namoli Brennet and Amber Norgaard. The cover is five bucks. Call 622-8848 for further details.


MUSICAL DEMOCRACY IN ACTION

For those unfamiliar with the Fox 11 Music Melee, here's the gist: The local Fox TV affiliate, in cooperation with KXCI FM 91.3, asked local bands and musicians to send in a music video of an original song. Those videos were then posted on FOX11AZ.com, where people could vote for their favorites. The Top 5 vote-getters have been asked to perform at the live version of the Music Melee, which will hit the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 11. Those performances will then be recorded and posted on the Web site for the final round of voting. A drum roll, please, for this year's crop of five: Hecker, Rock Sauce, Less Than Famous, King Karl and Stand Alone. All ages are welcome, and a fiver gets you in the door, with proceeds going to KXCI. Questions? They've got answers at 740-1000.

And while we're on the subject of local music voting, let me take this moment to remind you that the final round of voting for our own annual Tucson Area Music Awards is now underway. We've taken the top vote-getters in both our readers' and critics' polls, and combined them to arrive at a list of nominated finalists. You can find that list, along with an online ballot, at TAMMIES.com, where voting will continue through Thursday, July 24. You'll also find a list of rules and FAQs, along with the answers to go with them.

Rock the vote, people!


ON THE BANDWAGON

Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., will be celebrating the ho-ho-holiday a little bit early this year, and you can join in on the fun. In addition to a fine lineup of poppy rock goodness--Brooklyn-via-Boston combo Bishop Allen, and Tucson's Lemon Drop Gang and The Swim--X-Mas in July will feature a pair of DJs (Carina Auler and Chick Cashman, one of whom will be dressed as Santa), a tacky Christmas tree, snow machines and mistletoe kisses. No word on whether the night will also include an uncomfortable family argument, but it all gets rolling at 8 p.m., Friday, July 11. Admission is free. That number again is 622-8848.

Though they got their start as part of the third-wave ska movement of the '90s, Rx Bandits have lately more fully embraced straight-up poppy punk and pure reggae. They'll headline an all-ages, tour-kickoff show at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, July 15, but the real draw, as far as I'm concerned, is middle-slotters Portugal. The Man, whose upcoming album, Censored Colors, slated for a Sept. 16 release, is extremely inventive and totally awesome. If it doesn't take them to that "next level" that bands seem to refer to so often, well, I'll do something horrible to myself. Opening the show at 7:30 p.m. are Facing New York. Tix are $14 in advance, $16 on the day of show. Call 740-1000 for more info.

More good stuff: Murphy's Law, Bricktop and Knuckle Junction at Vaudeville Cabaret on Wednesday, July 16; B.B. King at Desert Diamond Casino on Sunday, July 13; Joshua Radin, Vanessa Carlton and Alexa Wilkinson at Club Congress on Tuesday, July 15; and The Underground Railroad to Candyland, Shark Pants, UltraMaroon and Digital Leather at Vaudeville Cabaret on Saturday, July 12.

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