Two of my favorite holiday-season musical events occur this week. One has nothing to do with the season at all; the other has everything to do with it.
The former is the 12th annual Great Cover-Up. An eclectic roster of local bands and musicians have been toiling away, forsaking their original tunes to learn songs by an artist more famous than themselves, in order to perform a one-time-only set at the shindig—all for a very worthwhile cause.
While the event has spanned three nights in recent years, this year's Great Cover-Up takes place over two nights, Friday, Dec. 18, and Saturday, Dec. 19, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. In case you've been living in a cave for the past 11 years, here, from a previous column, is the story of the history of the event:
"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 Tucson Weekly contributor) Curtis McCrary, and Congress bookers David Slutes and Dan Hernandez—I've had a hand in the event for the last nine years. This year, McCrary and I have taken a hiatus, and the Congressmen have recruited former Locals Only (KXCI FM 91.3) host Don Jennings to act as ombudsman for the event's planning.
Now, back to the description of the event, borrowed from a previous column:
"Local bands—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 (third) 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 schedule of acts, in order of appearance, and subject to change. Also, please note that Saturday's portion of the event ends around 11:30 p.m., to make way for Congress' usual Bang! Bang! dance night.
Friday, Dec. 18: The Watson Tweens (7:30 p.m.), The Stellas (8 p.m.), I Am the Lion (8:30 p.m.), The Ghost of 505 (9 p.m.), The Distortionists (9:30 p.m.), The Runaway Five (10 p.m.), Young Mothers (10:30 p.m.), The Swim (11 p.m.), Tina and the Skirts (11:30 p.m.), Spacefish (midnight), Emergency Broadcast System (12:30 a.m.), American Black Lung (1 a.m.) and Gabriel Sullivan (1:30 a.m.).
Acts being covered on Friday, in random order: Creedence Clearwater Revival, the White Stripes, NOFX, Devo, the MC5, Daft Punk, Pat Benatar, TLC, movie theme songs, Tom Petty, Rage Against the Machine, Neil Young and a surprise.
Saturday, Dec. 19: God of Sea (7:30 p.m.), Monster Pussy (8 p.m.), Kool Shades (8:30 p.m.), Crossing Sarnoff (9 p.m.), the Break Up Party (9:30 p.m.), Seashell Radio (10 p.m.), Shaun Harris and Flagrante Delicto (10:30 p.m.), Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout (11 p.m.).
Acts being covered on Saturday: Talking Heads, Eagles, Black Sabbath, the Velvet Underground, Samiam, Nazareth, War and Gorillaz.
Doors open each night at 7 p.m., and music begins promptly at 7:30 p.m. Admission is a suggested donation of $7 per night, the entirety of which will be donated to TAMHA. You are strongly encouraged to arrive early: You never know what you'll miss if you get there late, and each band has put in a lot of time and energy to prepare, regardless of whether it's the first band of the night, or the last. Call 622-8848 for more information.
As our longtime readers may know, I'm a big fan of holiday music; aside from A Charlie Brown Christmas (and its soundtrack) and the Bing Crosby-David Bowie duet of "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy," there is perhaps nothing I look forward to this time of year more than KCXI FM 91.3's annual Sonic Solstice radio show.
Each year—this will be the eighth—local bands and musicians take the holiday spirit to the airwaves by performing holiday-themed songs, both traditional and original. Acts generally get 10 minutes of airtime to perform two or three songs live, and are usually interviewed by the program's hosts—this year, Laurie Starr, Dr. Dan Twelker, Mel Mason (a Weekly contributor) and Michael John Serpe. The show hearkens back to a time of destination radio, when folks would gather in living rooms all over the country to listen to the same live radio program, and it has the same giddy, anything-can-happen vibe.
The subject-to-change schedule of live performers for this year's show, with approximate set times in parentheses, is: Nancy McCallion (5 p.m.), Stefan George (5:20 p.m.), Tom Walbank (5:30 p.m.), The Modeens (5:40 p.m.), Mitzi Cowell (6 p.m.), Kevin Pakulis (6:20 p.m.), Namoli Brennet (6:40 p.m.), Michael P. (7 p.m.), Chris Holiman (7:20 p.m.), Drama Club (7:40 p.m.) and Gabriel Sullivan (8 p.m.), plus some possible special, surprise guests. Also, expect to hear some recorded highlights from past shows.
This year's Sonic Solstice runs from 5 to 9 p.m., Monday, Dec. 21—the actual winter solstice. Tune in; you'll be glad you did.
Known as "The Record Store Too Tough to Die," Toxic Ranch, the punk- and indie-centric shop that sits at 424 E. Sixth St. (just east of Fourth Avenue), is currently in its 20th year. To celebrate, owner Bill Sassenberger (aka The Jolly Rancher) will be hosting a live, in-store show featuring Phoenix folk-punks Andrew Jackson Jihad and Tucson's own Celtic-bluegrass combo the Dusty Buskers. The performances start promptly at 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19, and will end by 6 p.m., so don't be late. Admission is free to those of all ages. Call 623-2008 with questions.
Dayna Wagner, who performed on the local jazz-nightclub circuit throughout the '70s, and at the resorts in the '80s and '90s, returns to the stage this week after an extended hiatus to perform a tribute to Barbra Streisand. "Hello Gorgeous! A Tribute to Barbra" begins at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 18, at the Desert View Performing Arts Center, 38759 S. Mountain View Blvd., in SaddleBrooke. Tickets are $19 in advance, or $20 at the door. For more info, head to tickets.saddlebrooketwo.com, or call 818-1000.
Although details weren't available at press time, another benefit is being held this week for Marc Scape Lind, a perennial scenester and all-around good guy who has been battling serious illness, and is currently on the mend. Healing for Mark Scape Lind will take place at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., starting at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 23. Watch hotelcongress.com for details, or call 622-8848 with questions.
Be sure to check out our listings section for info about more local performances this week, including: Rooney and Crash Kings at Club Congress; A Rock-a-Surf-a-Swingy Holiday Shindig featuring Hipster Daddy-O and the Handgrenades, The El Camino Royales and Shrimp Chaperone at Plush; the Better Than Mistletoe Holiday Show featuring The Maine, The Summer Set and Tonight We Have Rhythm at the Rialto Theatre; Paper Tongues at The Rock; Corbin Dooley, ... music video?, and Matt McCoy at Plush; Gilby Clarke at the Branding Iron North; and the Ten Tenors holiday concert at the Fox Tucson Theatre.
Happy holidays, everyone!