The marketing folks at Guinness—the makers of the Irish stout and the people who verify that some guy hula-hooped for nine days straight—must be geniuses.
In 1993, they decided to establish a new potential world record: the world's biggest toast (a raised-glass salutation, not a browned slice of bread). Since they also manufacture that delicious brown stout, they decided to start the Great Guinness Toast, a worldwide hoisting of pints of said stout. (Never mind that the toast was actually begun by a pub in Pittsburgh.) Since then, the Great Guinness Toast has consistently broken its own record for the world's largest toast.
Hotel Congress has participated in the GGT in years past, but this time around, they're going all in.
Starting around 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 19, the Dallas-based band the Killdares, who play a Celtic-influenced brand of rock (though there's some Southern rock and power pop in there, too), will perform on the hotel's plaza. The performance will coincide with the GGT.
After that, revelers will head into Club Congress to witness a performance by the Zsa Zsas, that shadowy band of men of indistinct Eastern European heritage (ever heard of Lotsaslavia?) who claim to have invented entertainment itself. They'll no doubt try to pass themselves off as Irish on Friday—they're calling themselves the McZsa Zsas for the event—as they've never met a bandwagon on which they didn't jump. Expect lots of mangled Irish music as well as the inevitable U2 medley. That's all they play, folks: nothing but medleys.
When asked "Why Ireland? Why now?" singer Milos (Mc)Sucrose responded: "Because we share a common European heritage, we feel compelled to celebrate with our brothers. It's time someone stood up for these louts. Lord knows they have trouble standing up on their own. ... Yes, they are loud, stupid, drunk and have potato stuck in their teeth. But so do we. I think that's potato. It could be something else. Whatever.
"We play every Irish song ever written! OK?," he continued before adding, "We are also getting paid very well for this."
Hotel Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. Admission to the Killdares is $10, which entitles you to stick around for the Zsa Zsas; cover charge for the Zsa Zsas show is only $5. For more information, call 622-8848.
But the Irish fun doesn't stop there. On Wednesday, Feb. 24, the Chieftans, purveyors of traditional Irish music for nearly a half-century and the world's most popular traditional Irish band, will take to the stage at UA Centennial Hall at 7:30 p.m. The group is touring in advance of the March 9 release of its new album, a collaboration with Ry Cooder called San Patricio (Fantasy/Concord) that tells the story of the titular battalion of Irish Americans who deserted the U.S. Army to fight alongside the Mexicans in the Mexican-American War.
Centennial Hall is located at 1020 E. University Blvd. Tickets range from $15 to $72 and are available online at uapresents.org, at the Centennial Hall box office or by calling 621-3341.
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Minneapolis rapper P.O.S. got his start as a multi-instrumentalist who played in punk bands. But once he discovered hip-hop, he never turned back.
As a founding member of the Doomtree crew, he released his first rap album, Ipecac Neat, on the respected Doomtree label, in 2004. The larger Rhymesayers Entertainment, also Minneapolis-based, which is home to acts like Atmosphere and MF Doom, took note and released P.O.S.' next two albums, including his most recent, 2009's semi-breakthrough Never Better.
Although the term "rap-rock" has negative connotations, bringing to mind the '90s influx of wannabe rappers fronting lame-ass hard-rock bands (Fred Durst is now directing movies, by the way), P.O.S. merges rap and rock more convincingly than almost anyone out there right now. For proof, look no further than Never Better's "Drumroll," in which he frenetically raps over—and manages to keep up with—a martial drumbeat and feedback-spewing guitars.
P.O.S. performs at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Doors open at 7 p.m., and fellow Rhymesayers artists Grieves and Dessa open the show. Tickets are $13 in advance, available at ticketweb.com; they'll be $15 on the day of the show. For more details, call 622-8848.
Following the implosion of Union Carbide Productions, a Swedish band with a devotion to early '70s Detroit proto-punk (the Stooges and MC5, specifically), three of that band's members in the mid-'90s went on to form The Soundtrack of Our Lives, a band with a similar devotion to '60s psychedelic rock, The Who, Love, the Kinks and Pink Floyd. Their fifth album, and first for Yep Roc, last year's Communion, manages to be an amalgam of those bands and much more: It's absolutely fantastic and deserving of a much wider audience.
The Soundtrack of Our Lives perform an all-ages show at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The Static Session opens at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16 in advance, or $18 on the day of the show. Call 740-1000 for further details.
From his 1974 debut with Chick Corea's legendary jazz-fusion band Return to Forever; to his Guitar Trio collaboration with fellow fretboard whizzes Paco de Lucia and John McLaughlin; and through his continued exploration of Latin and other world music forms, Al Di Meola is one of the most acclaimed and popular jazz guitarists of the last 35 years. His latest outfit, World Sinfonia, pairs Spanish and Italian influences with his unmatched technical prowess.
Al Di Meola and World Sinfonia perform an all-ages show at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m., tonight, Thursday, Feb. 18. Tickets are $29 and $36. Call 740-1000 for more info.
Former Tucson resident and Campo Bravo leader Mark Matos brings his new, San Francisco-based band Os Beaches back to town this week. The group released its debut album, Words of the Knife, late last year on Porto Franco. After I called the Conor Oberst-influenced disc "a largely subdued, countrified affair" in a previous column, Matos chimed in to comment: "Although my new record is a bit subdued, don't be fooled: Mark Matos and Os Beaches is a rollicking, noisy, psych-gospel, electric Kool-Aid kind of live experience." (Don't be surprised if Matos performs some other shows around town in the upcoming weeks; he'll be in town recording through March.)
Check it out for yourself when Mark Matos and Os Beaches headline a show at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., next Thursday, Feb. 25. Also on the bill: the instrumental gypsy duo Bajo Turbato, which is a collaboration between Chris Black and Gabriel Sullivan, and Michael Serpe's Space Over Desert. The show begins at 9:30 p.m., and the cover is $5. 798-1298.
Though we reviewed it way back in November, folk-blues singer-songwriter Stefan George is finally getting around to celebrating the release of his latest album, Cloth (self-released). On Saturday, Feb. 20, he'll play a set at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., sandwiched by openers the Kissing Cousins—Americana originals performed by the Silver Thread Trio's Laura Kepner-Adney and Gabrielle Pietrangelo, along with Michael P. on drums and David Desoucey on upright bass—and headliners Crawdaddy-O, Tucson's own Cajun brass band. Things get started at 9:30 p.m., and cover is $5. Call 798-1298 for more info.
Bob Schneider, whose music ranges from country and rock to funk and singer-songwriter, takes a break from his longstanding, wildly successful Monday night residency at Austin's Saxon Pub long enough to perform a string of West Coast dates this month, including a show at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Smile Smile opens at 9 p.m. $15. 622-8848.
Also: The Take Action Tour featuring We the Kings, Mayday Parade, A Rocket to the Moon and There for Tomorrow at The Rock on Friday, Feb. 19; Matt Hires, Jason Castro (yes, the dreadlocked American Idol dude) and Caitlin Crosby at Solar Culture Gallery on Saturday, Feb. 20; Kelly Hunt and the Carnivaleros at the Rialto Theatre next Thursday, Feb. 25; Leila Lopez, Coyote Grace and Seashell Radio at Plush tonight, Thursday, Feb. 18; Zac Harmon at Club Congress next Thursday, Feb. 25; and tons more, so be sure to check out our club listings.