Even in the worst economy in years, people have been more generous than ever in donating to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake.
That star-studded Hope for Haiti Now telethon—regardless of what you thought of it—raised an initial $58 million, a record amount for a disaster-relief telethon. And that amount doesn't include corporate donations or sales of the digital album containing songs performed on the telethon—the biggest one-day album pre-order in iTunes history, and the No. 1 iTunes album in 18 countries.
In other words, a lot of money has been raised. But more is needed, and Tucson musicians are donating their time this week to help in that effort.
James Jordan, founder of local country-bluegrass combo Caliche Con Carne, devotes the bulk of his time to his "day job" as national co-coordinator, along with Chuck Kaufman, of the Alliance for Global Justice. They were part of a recent delegation to Haiti investigating human-rights abuses, but they also spent a good deal of time, as Jordan wrote me in an e-mail, "visiting schools, places providing food and clothing for the poorest of the poor, and meeting with labor and peasant organizations" as well as "with an organization that is focused on reforestation and community development, especially in rural places."
Most of their time was spent in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel, the two cities hit hardest by the quake; they left Jacmel just five days before it hit. The soccer field adjacent to where they stayed, in the Delmas neighborhood, was immediately turned into a triage emergency-care area before any outside aid had made its way into the country.
Needless to say, the devastation is far more personal for them than most. Jordan helped raise money locally more than a year ago after Haiti was hit by a series of hurricanes and tropical storms, and he's back at it this week to raise money for victims of the earthquake.
Featuring a dozen local acts, the Benefit for Haiti begins at 3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 31, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The schedule, as of our deadline: Naïm Amor (3:35 p.m.), Amy Rude (4:10 p.m.), Maggie Golston (4:50 p.m.), Hank Topless (5:25 p.m.), Jimmy Carr (6 p.m.), Caliche Con Carne (6:35 p.m.), Dirk Wednesday (7:20 p.m.), Spirit Familia (7:55 p.m.), Salvador Duran (8:45 p.m.), Green Light (9:20 p.m.), The Jits (8:55 p.m.) and The Sleeky Chaps (9:55 p.m.).
You may have noticed a gap between the last two bands; it's a window to announce the winners of a silent auction that will take place throughout the benefit. Additionally, attendees are encouraged to bring hard donations of first aid and personal-hygiene supplies, over-the-counter medicines, blankets in good shape, and dry goods such as rice and beans. Those will be turned over to Tucson-based World Care, which will also receive a percentage of monetary donations raised; the bulk of the proceeds will go to Haiti Reborn.
Admission is a $5 suggested donation. For more information, call 622-8848. Otherwise, see you there.
Two new local albums receive the release-party treatment this week.
Following the 2008 release of their self-titled EP, five-piece Race You There are dropping their debut full-length, Acts of Treason (self-released). The album's nine tracks reveal a band with an awful lot of potential, but something of an identity crisis.
Its opening track, "Eastern Shore," would likely be filed in the neo-singer-songwriter category were it performed by a telegenic young solo performer. As it is, it's a slightly beefed-up ballad with a lovely melody aided by Jacob Acosta's considerable vocal talents; he swoops easily into a falsetto on the song's chorus. It's followed by "Why Are You So Distracting?," which is more indie-pop than singer-songwriter; it features a pleasing guitar tone, but it's hampered by a sing-song melody that doesn't suit Acosta's voice. "Starcrossed" is another successful ballad in a Jeff Buckley vein, until it hits the soaring chorus. Most successful is "Scrapbook," a dreamy, midtempo, minor-key tune that benefits from vocal harmonies between Acosta and Clarissa DuBose. But when the anthemic chorus kicks in, things start to sound a bit formulaic. Lucky, then, for "Walking Dead," a 6 1/2-minute epic that takes the time to build layers; it's a rare display of restraint and tension that completely works.
Race You There's CD-release party for Acts of Treason hits Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, Jan. 29. Opening the show are Phoenix's Sketching in Stereo and Tucson's Provocative Whites, who start at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $5. Also worth noting: The bands have partnered with the Red Cross to donate half of the night's total earnings to Haiti victims. For further details, call 798-1298.
Although it's been available for about a month now, Killing the Magic (Oranguitwang), the debut solo album by Gila Bend leader Loren Dircks, is finally getting a proper release party this week. As Gene Armstrong noted in his review of the album, in our Dec. 31 issue, Dircks reaches beyond Gila Bend's metal-addled country to explore a variety of styles, including "a quasi-Tin Pan Alley love song complete with banjo and a Bacharach-style French horn" ("More Than Life Itself") and "You Run Like a Wild Horse," which "flirts with hip-hop rhythms and a wheedling Dr. Dre synthesizer motif." Most impressively, for the span of styles it incorporates, the entire album still sounds like the work of Dircks, who performed almost every sound heard on it.
Gila Bend fans, don't fret: There's still some blazing guitar work from the Telecaster master to be found here (look no further than "Guitar Hero Gone," a lamentation of the titular video game whose music video has already garnered more than 5,000 hits, according to Dircks); but there's a whole lot more, too.
Loren Dircks' CD-release party for Killing the Magic kicks off at 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29, at The Hut, 305 N. Fourth Ave. Opening the show are Al Perry, Texas Trash and the Hangovers, Big Galoot and kAZual featuring naRcotic. Cover is $4, which can be applied to the cost of a copy of the CD. For more info, call 623-3200.
The second installment of Powhaus Productions' monthly rock 'n' roll dance parties hits the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Friday, Jan. 29. The Glitter Ball will feature glam-rock tunes spun by DJ Dan Shapiro and DJ T-Bag (aka Travis Spillers), as well as brief live performances from Cadillac Steakhouse, Ultramaroon and Silver Fox. Appropriate dress is highly encouraged, and as usual, the whole event will be taped for later use. Admission is $3; 18 and up. Doors at 9 p.m.; 11 p.m. showtime. 740-1000.
Elsewhere: Opening night of the Jem and Jam featuring BLVD, Ana Sia and Organic Collective at Plush next Thursday, Feb. 4; Heart at the Diamond Center at Desert Diamond Casino on Sunday, Jan. 31; Bowerbirds and Julie Doiron at Club Congress on Wednesday, Feb. 3; Polysics, The Runaway Five and Cadillac Steakhouse at Plush on Tuesday, Feb. 2; New Found Glory, Saves the Day, Hellogoodbye and Fireworks at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 30; Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Al Foul and Awkward Moments at Club Congress on Friday, Jan. 29; The Subtle Way and 14 other bands at The Rock on Saturday, Jan. 30; the Supervillains, Mike Pinto and Rasta Sauce at Club Congress on Tuesday, Feb. 2; Fourkiller Flats and Lunar Light Collectors at Che's Lounge on Saturday, Jan. 30; Gentlemen of Monster Island, The Necronauts and Monster Pussy at Plush on Saturday, Jan. 30; Skitn, 8 Minutes to Burn and Funky Bonz at The Hut on Saturday, Jan. 30; gHosTcOw in the lounge at Plush on Monday, Feb. 1.
Congratulations to Tom Walbank and Arthur Migliazza, who were among the top eight at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis last weekend.
Congrats, too, to local composer and producer Steve Mutimer, who has seven songs featured in Coming and Going, the most recent film by writer/director Edoardo Ponti.