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SOME ALBUMS TO MONITOR

That noise you hear is the sound of local albums dropping. A lot of local albums dropping.

Over the next couple of weeks, loads of new CDs—including new titles by Al Perry, Cathy Rivers, Ryanhood, The Runaway Five and Verdant—will be feted with release parties.

And that's not all. This week, The Monitors, a relatively new local trio that features two members of the Ten Percenters and former Nowhere Man frontman Vikas Pawa, will also release a new album, Two. As with the group's first album, the new one is available for free download at the band's Web site, or you can purchase a CD that contains both albums.

As for Two, it contains a dozen new songs that draw inspiration from The Police ("I'll Breed Again," "Spiral") and Dinosaur Jr. ("Concorde"), and use hard-charging guitar riffs in the service of snappy pop songs ("Wear Me Out," most of the album). Although they don't really sound like Weezer, I'd recommend 'em to anyone who thinks that band jumped the shark following Pinkerton. Loud, chunky guitar riffs and undeniable pop hooks? What's not to like?

The Monitors celebrate the release of Two by performing in between headliners Sketching in Stereo and openers Four Five Six at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, April 3. The show starts at 9:30 p.m., and cover is $5. Call 798-1298 for more information.

COVER MANIA!

It's not every day that a cover band can demand an audience large enough to warrant a show at the Rialto Theatre—but this week the venue is hosting not one, but two cover band shows, on consecutive nights.

First up, on Monday, April 6, is Dark Star Orchestra, a Grateful Dead tribute act that is even more obsessive in their re-creations of that band's music than Deadheads are about their bud. The band doesn't just play Dead tunes; it re-creates, down to each individual solo, an entire actual Grateful Dead show, start to finish. At the end of each show, the band announces which show they've just performed, i.e., "That was Barton Hall at Cornell University, from May 8, 1977." But that's not all. From a press release about DSO: "The band adapts their stage positioning, vocal arrangements, specific musical equipment and instruments to fit the era of the show they are performing"—so don't even try that "wasn't Bobby positioned at stage left at the Cornell '77 show?" stuff. DSO don't play that.

Showtime is 8 p.m. on Monday, and tickets for this all-ages performance are $24 in advance, $26 on the day of the show.

Then, on Tuesday, April 7, three local cover bands take the same stage for a benefit for the Tucson Community Food Bank, which needs all the help it can get right about now. Headlining the show, in their debut performance, is Styxmania, a (you guessed it) Styx cover band that includes guitarists Robert Nigro (as Tommy Shaw) and Robert Beaver (as James Young), keyboardist Burt Diaz (as Dennis DeYoung), bassist Rich Wirsing (as Chuck Panozzo) and drummer Tommy Rat (as John Panozzo). Opening the show are '80s cover band 80's and Gentlemen and Led Zeppelin cover band Whole Lotta Zep.

This one is also open to all ages and gets rolling at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Admission is two cans of food, or a monetary donation to the Tucson Community Food Bank.

The Rialto Theatre is located at 318 E. Congress St. For further details, head to the Rialto Web site, or call 740-1000.

MUSIC, ART, GREAT CAUSE

As long as we're on the subject of benefit shows, here's another for your consideration.

Like most nonprofits these days, Wingspan, Tucson's LGBT Community Center, is hurting financially. And what better way to make a donation to the organization than to take in a rare local performance by R. Carlos Nakai, the Grammy Award-winner who has brought the sound of the Native American flute to folks all over the globe? Nakai will be accompanied by local percussionist William Clipman, who himself was nominated for a Grammy this year.

The performance takes place at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 4, at the Tucson Lifestyle Courtyard at La Encantada, 2905 E. Skyline Dr., Suite 152. Reservations are $75 and can be made by calling 624-1779, ext. 121, or by e-mailing Mike Herdegen. Admission includes a wine and hors d'oeuvres reception, and the opportunity to buy works of art from the Pamela Laurence Collection Gallery, which will donate 20 percent of its proceeds for the night to Wingspan.

ROAD TRIP!!!

Music fans looking for a weekend road trip have a couple of worthwhile options this week.

Old Bisbee Records and The Red Rooster Café present The Good Medicine Show and Folk Revival, which will take place at the site of the Café and Universal Ranch RV Park, in Arivaca, at 15785 W. Universal Ranch Road. (Google Maps is the best!) Billed as "a much-needed celebration of life and art in response to our recent economic, social and spiritual struggles—a hearty dose of good medicine we all could use," the event starts at on Saturday, April 4, and runs until 3 p.m., Sunday, April 5, and will feature performances by Molehill Orkestrah, Flam Chen, The Dusty Buskers, Family of Light, The Kate Becker Project, The Tangelos (formerly Joshua Butcher and the Melancholy), Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl, Merrily (of Fatigo), Dylan Charles and the Evolution and Keith Allen Dennis. Admission is $25 per person for on-lot camping, and $15 per person for off-lot camping. For more info, head to the Show Web site, or call (520) 398-9200.

Meanwhile, up in Tempe, the Circle K Tempe Music Festival celebrates its seventh year with two days of music.

The festivities begin at 5 p.m., Friday, April 3, and performers for Friday night are Kid Rock, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Cowboy Mouth, The Outlaws and Pop Evil. The action continues the following day, Saturday, April 4, at noon, with performances by 3 Doors Down, The All American Rejects, Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman, Mutemath, Shiny Toy Guns, Vayden, Tongue Dried Sun, Wensday and Telescope.

The Circle K Tempe Music Festival takes place at Tempe Beach Park, at the northwest corner of Rio Salado Parkway and Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe. Tickets for the event are $45 per day, with discounts for two-day passes. They're available at livenation.com or by calling (800) 594-TIXX.

SHORT TAKES

Françoise Cactus and Brezel Goering constitute Stereo Total, a sexy, French-German electro-lounge pop duo that hasn't visited Tucson in more than six years. They'll headline a show at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., at 7 p.m., Monday, April 6, that also includes Leslie and the LYs, the silly/funny cult act that's doing all it can to bring back appliqué sweaters. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 the day of the show. Call 622-8848 for more info.

Politically charged Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn, best known for his '80s sorta-hits "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" and "Lovers in a Dangerous Time," arrives at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m., Friday, April 3. Tickets to the all-ages show are $27 and $33 for reserved floor seats, or $25 and $27 for reserved balcony seats. Call 740-1000 for further details.

"Booginator," a show featuring dueling boogie-woogie pianos courtesy of Tucson's Arthur Migliazza and Dutchman Mr. Boogie Woogie, will take over Old Town Artisans, 201 N. Court Ave., at 7 p.m., Monday, April 6. Advance tickets are available for $11.75 at Migliazza's Web site.

The ickily titled Clam Jam II, featuring performances from female-centric acts Mozart's Sister, The Tryst and Courtney Robbins, hits Nimbus Brewing Company, 3850 E. 44th St., at 9 p.m., Saturday, April 4. Cover is $5. 745-9175.

Canuck singer-songwriter Kate Maki, whose excellent new album, On High, was co-produced by Howe Gelb and released on his Ow Om label, opens for fellow Canadian folk-rockers Great Lake Swimmers, whose new album, Lost Channels (Nettwerk), was released earlier this week, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Sunday, April 5. Tucson's Andrew Collberg starts things off at 9 p.m. $8 advance, $10 day of show. 798-1298.

Finally, in the man-do-I-feel-old department, April 5 will mark the 15th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's suicide. To mark the occasion, the Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd., is hosting the Nirvana Sing-Along, featuring subtitled live performances and videos by Nirvana and other grunge-tastic acts of the era, as well as clips from classic '90s movies—subtitled for maximum sing-along action, natch; 8 p.m., Saturday, April 4. $7 general admission, $4.75 for Loft Cinema members; 795-0844.

Rest in peace, Cricket.

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