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THE TUCSON MUSIC SCENE'S BEST!

To misquote the great philosopher MC Hammer: Stop! TAMMIES time!

Next Thursday, Sept. 3, at a ceremony and concert at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., the Weekly will celebrate the 16th annual Tucson Area Music Awards, our celebration of the best local music that Tucson has to offer, as voted by you, our music-lovin' readers. The event will kick off the Labor Day weekend HoCo Fest helmed by the folks at Hotel Congress. (More on that next week.)

You may remember that we changed the voting process last year; the model worked so well we stuck with it this year. There were two rounds of preliminary voting—one for readers, and one for a team of critics made up of music writers, local club bookers, DJs and others with intimate knowledge of the local music landscape. The top vote-getters in each round were then placed on a multiple-choice online ballot, and the ultimate winners were picked by readers from that list.

Once again we received a record number of eligible votes in our TAMMIES poll—almost 2,400—surpassing last year's previous record. Sincere thanks go out to all of you who took the time to vote; it means a lot to us, and we couldn't do it without you.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the hundreds of local bands and musicians who provide us with world-class entertainment, week in and week out, often for little recognition. The TAMMIES is our way of saluting and thanking them, and we hope you'll join us next Thursday to do the same.

In TAMMIES tradition, the awards announcements will be interspersed with a fine, diverse lineup of local acts performing brief live sets. This year's performers are the Holy Rolling Empire, Tom Walbank, Sentido, Spirit Familia and Conner Cecil. The 2009 inductees into the TAMMIES' Tucson Music Hall of Fame, Calexico, will also make an appearance.

Our special TAMMIES supplement, with stories on all the big winners, will be available at the event and in the Sept. 10 Tucson Weekly.

The ceremony begins at 7 p.m., but be sure to get there early, at 6:30 p.m., for Taste of the TAMMIES, in which local eateries—including BrushFire BBQ, Cup Café, eegee's and El Saage—will provide free food on a first-come, first-served basis.

Admission to this all-ages event is also free, thanks to our sponsors, Parties Plus and the Chicago Music Store. Call the Rialto at 740-1000 or the Tucson Weekly at 295-4221 with any questions.


GABRIEL GETS A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS

Gabriel Sullivan serves as bassist and singer in the American Black Lung, which is often tagged as a mere hard-core band, but is so much more—British Invasion, garage rock, pop, punk, metal and the blues all find their way into the group's sonic stew. He also co-fronts the Fell City Shouts—once accurately described by local music promoter Jeb Schoonover as an amalgam of the styles of Tom Waits, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Townes Van Zant—along with his girlfriend, Brittany Dawn.

With the release of By the Dirt (Fell City), his debut album under his own name (though he received help from plenty; more on that in a sec), Sullivan has made the jump to solo artist. This week, By the Dirt gets the full CD-release party treatment.

On the first listen, one might dismiss the album as mere homage to the aforementioned Waits, but listen a couple more times, and you get past it. Yes, Sullivan's voice is all gravel and sandpaper; yes, the musical bed upon which it rests is a fucked-up version of the blues in many cases; and yes, the album is populated with hard-luck cases. But focus on the songs themselves, and you're in for a real treat.

"God's Filling Station," which opens the album, starts with a blast of harmonica courtesy of Tom Walbank, before it settles into a warped, loping groove. It's one of those songs that sounds as if it could fall apart at any second, but thankfully never does. (Sullivan sings and plays banjo and bass on the track, while Rudy Bagdalini is credited with "drums, auto parts.") The album's pull quote, printed prominently on the jewel case, is, "We all live and die by the dirt," and it comes from the title track, a not-quite-ballad highlighted by Connor Gallaher's guitar playing and Marco Rosano's clarinet work. "He'd seen it all, his roots ran deep / But nobody cares what happens underground / He had old scissor eyes, they'd cut you down / And this old world will never stop turning 'round / We all live and die by the dirt," Sullivan sings.

Brittany Dawn makes her first vocal appearance on "House Built on Love," and she provides the perfect foil to Sullivan: If Sullivan's grit is sand, she's all sugar. Likewise, in the song, Dawn's narrator is pleading for her man, who makes his money away from home, to be more present, while Sullivan's narrator justifies it by explaining that he's just providing for her. It's just plain lovely.

The album also includes two covers whose local authors were both taken too soon: His take on Chris Gaffney's (Hacienda Brothers) "The Gardens" is weepy and gorgeous and has that timeless quality found in so much of M. Ward's work; and he fully inhabits Rainer's powerful "Life Is Fine."

Put it this way: If Tom Waits released this album today, it would leave his legion of fans drooling.

The album was recorded with Nick Luca and Craig Schumacher at the Upstairs Studio and Wavelab "one and a half times," according to the liner notes—half of the album was accidentally erased and had to be re-recorded. In addition to the previously mentioned contributors, Mark Pierce, Arthur Vint, Ian Stapp, Joey Burns, Mike Hebert, Andrew Collberg, Vicki Brown and Johnny Saczko, as well as Luca and Schumacher, lent a helping hand, too.

Most of them will be on hand at the CD-release party for By the Dirt, which goes down at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, Aug. 28. Sullivan's songs will be interspersed with songs by his contributors—it's a regular ol' Tucson hootenanny. Doors open at 8 p.m., and admission is $5, or $10 with a CD. I recommend the latter option. Call 622-8848 for more info.


AT LAST: TIKI TIME!

If you've been by The Hut, 305 N. Fourth Ave., recently, you've probably noticed that not-so-well-shrouded behemoth sitting out front. It is, of course, the giant tiki head that for years called Magic Carpet Golf home. The Hut acquired it when Magic Carpet went out of business last year, and on Saturday, Aug. 29, The Hut will celebrate the unveiling of the tiki in grand style, with a music festival.

The action takes place on three stages: One at The Hut, one on Eighth Street, and one at O'Malley's (I'm guessing in the parking lot). Doors open at noon, and the first act goes on at 4 p.m. Here's the lineup:

The Hut stage: Evy Llyan (4 p.m.), Big Galoot (6 p.m.), gHosT cOw (7 p.m.), the El Camino Royales (8 p.m.), Geoffrey J. (9 p.m.), Sand Rubies (10 p.m.), the Kings of Pleasure (11:30 p.m.), The Tryst (12:30 a.m.).

Eighth Street stage: Shrimp Chaperone (6:30 p.m.), the tiki unveiling with performances by the Mission Creeps, Flam Chen and Chaz Cadaver (8:30 p.m.), the Martini Kings (10 p.m.), the Del Reys (11 p.m.), the 2 Tone Lizard Kings (midnight), 8 Minutes to Burn (1 a.m.).

O'Malley's stage: the Tone Monkeys (8 p.m.), Rasta Sauce (9:30 p.m.), Elephunkus (10:45 p.m.), Black Tuesday (11:30 p.m.).

Doors open at noon, and admission is $15. For further details, call 623-3200.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Blondie at Desert Diamond Casino on Tuesday, Sept. 1; Johnny Winter at the Rialto Theatre on Wednesday, Sept. 2; Marcy Playground at The Rock on Saturday, Aug. 29; The Bled, I Bet It Was a Massacre and AV at Club Congress on Sunday, Aug. 30; Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers at the Rialto on Saturday, Aug. 29; Strange Boys, Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout, Mean Beans and Blankets at Club Congress on Wednesday, Sept. 2; The Weight at Plush on Tuesday, Sept. 1; the Voodoo Organist at Club Congress on Friday, Aug. 28; Van Halen tribute band Atomic Punks at the Rialto on Friday, Aug. 28.

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