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COVERS FOR A CAUSE

Because I'm a sucker for benefits--and because I'm an organizer of one coming up this week--let's start off with details about two such events.

Next week brings the cover-song bliss-out we call The Great Cover-Up, now in its 11th year. A wide assortment of local acts have been forsaking their usual practice sessions in order to learn songs by an artist more famous than themselves, so they can perform these songs for a one-time-only set at this year's shindig.

This year's event kicks off at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., next Thursday, Dec. 11. (Night Two and Night Three will follow on Friday, Dec. 12, and Saturday, Dec. 13--more details next week.) And, in case you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about, here, from a previous column, is the history of the event and its origins:

"The idea for the event was stolen wholesale from our friends in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., where The Great Cover-Up was the most anticipated musical event of the year. I had attended a few of those while living in Illinois in the early '90s and thought it was just about the most purely fun musical event I'd ever attended.

"When I moved back to Tucson in 1995 and told my friend, Shoebomb singer-guitarist Melissa Manas, about it, she decided to take action and organize one here. The first Tucson incarnation was held at Club Congress in 1998, where it has remained every autumn since. When Melissa became pregnant a couple of years later, I decided to make sure the Cover-Up stayed alive; with the help of numerous folks over the years--most notably current Rialto booker (and Weekly contributor) Curtis McCrary, who has co-organized for the past several--I've had a hand in the event for the last eight years." (Club Congress' David Slutes and Dan Hernandez have also made massive contributions to the organization of the event.)

"A brief explanation, then, of what The Great Cover-Up actually is: Local bands--somewhere in the neighborhood of 26 this year, each of which normally performs original material--perform a 20-minute set of cover songs by an artist of their choosing. Some live out their rock-star fantasies and choose a band that's inspired them; some prefer the comical route and stage a piss-take; others fall somewhere in between those two. Part of the fun is that you never know who's performing what beforehand, or how they've chosen to approach it."

For the second consecutive year, all proceeds from this year's Great Cover-Up will be donated to the Tucson Artists and Musicians Health Alliance, an organization whose mission statement reads, in part: "TAMHA is an alliance of artists, musicians, medical professionals, politicians and arts advocates who are dedicated to finding and advocating for health-care resources in our community. Chief among our goals is to be an information resource as well as a funding mechanism for artists and musicians who would otherwise not know about or have access to proper health care."

Here, then, is the subject-to-change schedule of acts for Night One (please note that Thursday's portion of the event closes earlier than usual, at midnight, in order to accommodate Congress' regularly scheduled dance party, The Optimist Club, which will follow the live portion of the night): Early Black (9 p.m.), The Runaway Five (9:30 p.m.), The Distortionists (10 p.m.), Rock Sauce (10:30 p.m.), The Mean Maheens, featuring Love Mound's Mike Mihina (11 p.m.) and Tongue Dried Sun (11:30 p.m.).

Artists being covered on Thursday, in no particular order ('cause we wouldn't want to ruin the surprise of who's covering whom), are: The Go-Go's, Dio, Stone Temple Pilots, Joy Division, songs from Disney films and another band to be announced.

Tickets to the event are $7 for a single night (a buck cheaper than the last couple of years), $12 for two nights or $15 for the whole shebang. Again, your entire cover charge goes directly to a tremendously worthwhile cause. You're also urged to arrive early, as you never know what you're gonna miss, and each band has put in a lot of time to prepare, whether they're performing first or last. For further details, call 622-8848.


SAVE A (SKY) ISLAND AT THE HUT

The Sky Island Alliance, which is "dedicated to the protection and restoration of the rich natural heritage of native species and habitats in the Sky Island region of the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico," will be the recipient of funds raised at a benefit this week at The Hut, 305 N. Fourth Ave., on Saturday, Nov. 6. Live music, courtesy of Planet Jam, the Determined Luddites, the Dusty Buskers, Shrimp Chaperone and Family of Light, kicks off at 6 p.m. Admission is a suggested donation of $5. More information can be had by calling 623-3200 or pointing ye olde browser to the Alliance Web site.


SILVER CELEBRATION

KXCI FM 91.3's month-long celebration of its 25th anniversary continues this week with a bunch of events you can catch up on at KXCI.org, but here's some info about the most notable.

The universally loved Al Perry will headline a free surf-rock-centric show on Sunday, Dec. 7, at rarely used historic venue the El Casino Ballroom, 437 E. 26th St. Also on the bill: Kevin Daly's Chicken and Waffles (Daly is a veteran of Trophy Husbands and Flathead), Shrimp Chaperone and the self-described "high-octane surf and alt-country music" of Big Galoot.

The music begins at 3 p.m. and rolls until 8 p.m. Beer, wine and other beverages will be available for purchase, as will food from Stolen Recipe Barbeque.


SHORT TAKES

Canuck AOR rocker-turned-softie Bryan Adams will post up at the Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6. Bonus points to anyone who yells out a request for "When the Stars Go Blue" and gets booted from the show for it. Tix are $35 to $45. To order, head to the Fox Web site, or call 547-3040.

KWMT The Mountain FM 92.9 will celebrate the release of the third volume of its series of live CDs, Live in Studio C, Vol. 3, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E Congress St., with performances from Meiko and Angela Taylor on Friday, Dec. 5. The disc itself features songs by neither, but it does include tunes by the likes of Sheryl Crow, Colbie Caillat, Brandi Carlile with Indigo Girls, Tegan and Sara, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and many others. Tix are $20, and each one includes a copy of the CD. Call 740-1000 for more info.

Laydeees! Jerry Lewis--yes, that Jerry Lewis--will sing, crack wise and no doubt tell stories from his long life in showbiz at Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road, next Thursday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $48.50, $65 and $75 in advance, and $53.50, $70 and $80 on the day of the show, at all Ticketmaster locations, or by calling 321-1000. For further details, call (866) 332-9467.

Written as an accompaniment to an art piece created by visual artist Charles Long for the Whitney Biennial earlier this year, (k)no(w)here, the latest album from Baltimore's Wilderness, was conceived as a single, flowing piece of music. It's a drippy, crawly slice of post-punk that recalls a slightly less epic Slint--though it's still pretty darn epic. Wilderness performs at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Saturday, Dec. 6. San Serac and La Cerca open the all-ages show at 9 p.m. Admission is $8. Call 884-0874 for further info.

Elsewhere: Taking Back Sunday and two openers are at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Sunday, Dec. 7; DJ Icey, Corbin Dooley, DJ Haaps and Zev spin at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, Dec. 5; the Nightmare Before Christmas celebration at the Sculpture Resource Center, 640 N. Stone Ave., will feature live performances from Calle Debauche, Tryst, Jimmy Carr, Winelord and Caliche Con Carne on Thursday, Dec. 4.

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