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TO HELP YOU SURVIVE THE SEASON

From family and friends visiting to cooking a crowd-pleasing meal and battling crowds to get that last minute shopping done ... you know where we're going with this: We all know the holiday season can be a mighty busy, mighty stressful time.

Well, we're here to help. Even the most fervent fan of the season needs some time to relax, and what better way is there to do so than to take in some live music and libations? In order to help alleviate your burden, and make your relaxation planning more convenient, we'll be exploring some of the week's (admittedly rather meager) musical offerings in chronological fashion. You can find New Year's Eve options in this issue's New Year's Guide, but here are some potentially fine outings in the days leading up to 2010.


CHRISTMAS NIGHT

After you've been woken up by screaming children at an ungodly hour to watch them greedily tear into their gifts, fake-smiled your way through the "delicious" Christmas ham, and saved Aunt Dottie from stumbling drunk into the living-room wall, it's time to get your blues 'n' rockabilly on.

Head over to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., where Tucson's king of vintage rockabilly, Al Foul, and Tom Walbank, master of harp-tastic, primal Delta blues, will have you dancing off that fruitcake. If Grandma slipped you a few bucks, and you're feeling generous, buy the guys some whiskey, woncha? They gave up their Christmas night to entertain you, ferchrissakes. Five bucks is all it takes, and the music starts around 9 p.m. Call 622-8848 with questions.

Or, if you decide to put Grandma's dough to work making more dough (you hope) by playing a little blackjack at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, here's another option: Once your chips have been surrendered to the dealer, instead of hitting up the ATM for the fourth time, why not take in local Latin rockers Los Nawdy Dawgs? Admission is free—which is a very good thing, because you've got no money left, remember? Call (800) 344-9435 for more info.


SATURDAY, DEC. 26

OK, so your folks weren't hep to you going out on Christmas night, and after being cooped up inside all day (and night) having to listen to Uncle Tony's borderline-racist jokes, it's time to blow off some steam.

If you were once (or are currently) a member of the KISS Army, but didn't make it up to Phoenix for the band's recent concert, you should head over to The Hut, 305 N. Fourth Ave., where Tucson's KISS tribute band, Wasted Aces, will present a very special KISS-Mas show. Donning traditional KISS makeup and costumes, the band will play two sets of KISS classics abetted by a "dazzling display of lights, smoke and extravagant backdrops," according to a press release. The night begins at 10 p.m. with another Wasted Aces tradition, a KISS karaoke contest; the winner gets a $50 cash prize. The group also promises other KISS-themed giveaways. Admission is $5, and you can call 623-3200 for further details.

If you like your music a little more raw and modern, you should probably head down the street to Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., where HAIRSPRAYFIREANDGIRLS will be playing its debut show. The band includes singer/guitarist Josh Levine (see this week's Nine Questions), guitarist Noah Gabbard (Bombs for the Bored), bassist Justin Lillie (The Gentlemen of Monster Island and Chango Malo—who, by the way, are currently wrapping up what will be their final album) and drummer Ernie Gardner (Red Switch). Following on the heels of Red Switch's September reunion show, this will be the first peek at new songs from Levine since that band broke up in 2004. Also on the bill are The Provocative Whites—who have a clever new Karate Kid-themed video for their "DanielSong" tearing up the Internets at the moment—and Overcast Off, who start the night at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $5. Call 798-1298 for more information.


TUESDAY, DEC. 29

So the Christmas shine has worn off, and you've got a couple of days until New Year's Eve rolls around. Falling smack-dab into the humdrum little sweet spot between the two, the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame's annual fundraising concert hits Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The lineup reads like a who's-who of Tucson blues, and it should: Everyone playing is a Hall of Famer. Catch the Bad News Blues Band, Grams and Krieger, Ed DeLucia, Gerry Glombecki, Gary Mackender, Juke Joint Johnny Strasser and Stefan George as they throw down some sweet blues and house-rockin' R&B for your listening pleasure—and to bulk up the ABHF's coffers. Admission is a suggested donation of $5, but I'll bet they wouldn't mind if you wanted to give more. The show runs from 7 to 10 p.m., and you can dial 622-8848 with your questions.

It was recently announced that Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair Tour, which rounded up some of the biggest female musicians of the day a decade ago, is being revived in 2010. While she's not yet big enough to warrant an invitation, Colorado singer-songwriter Lara Ruggles would fit the bill well. Her slightly ethereal songs, backed by her piano- and guitar-playing, fit nicely into the template forged by McLachlan (and Tori Amos, Jewel and the young Joni Mitchell)—and she sings the hell out of them. She'll be in the Red Room at Grill, 100 E. Congress St., at around 10 p.m. Admission, as always, is free. Call 623-7621 for more info.


WEDNESDAY, DEC. 30

For some, battling the drunken masses on New Year's Eve can be more of a hassle than it's worth. If you fall into that category, why not celebrate the new year a day early?

The end of the year tends to be a nostalgic time, as we look back on the events of the last 12 months and try to put them in context. Those whose sense of nostalgia runs deeper by, say, a decade or two, might want to drop into Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Wednesday.

Desert rock put Tucson on the musical map, but anyone who's seen any of the three bands that are playing at the Desert Rock JamboreeGreyhound Soul, the Sand Rubies and Gila Bend—can tell you that, if anything, these acts have all gotten better with time. In other words, whether you remember when Auntie Ramos' Pool Hall was released or not, you can't really go wrong with this killer lineup.

The night is set up as a round-robin, which means each band will play two sets in rotation—so you probably won't miss your favorite of the three, no matter what time you arrive. But just so you know, the music begins around 9 p.m., and admission is $6. That number again is 622-8848.

Sure, I could tell you that the band 100 Monkeys has a new album out called Grape; that a press release says "the 14-track album is a mix of blues, rock and funk"; that the band's members "take turns playing different instruments and lead vocals, a style they call 'the Monkey Switcheroo'"; and/or that those instruments include "the occasional harmonica, mandolin, fiddle, trumpet or flute." But, really, what you need to know is that the group's performance at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave., may very well be drowned out by the shrill screams of 'tween girls.

Why? Because one of the dudes who takes part in 'the Monkey Switcheroo" just happens to be the hunky Jackson Rathbone, who is better known to most people as the guy who plays Jasper Hale in the Twilight movies. Good thing this one's all ages, eh? Tickets are $16 and may be purchased in advance at all Ticketmaster outlets and local Bookmans locations, online at ticketmaster.com or by calling 321-1000. For further details, call 629-9211.

Have a lovely Christmas, everyone!

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