If you've ever debated seeing Jason Webley perform live, this week is the time to do it.
Webley has announced on his website that he will be "taking a very long break from touring," going so far as to announce that his "last show" will be in his hometown of Seattle on Nov. 11. "Until then, I am going to be playing just about everywhere I've ever played before on this beautiful planet one last time."
It seems appropriate that he chose that particular date—11/11/11—for his last show, because Webley is obsessed with the number 11. For example, he's currently halfway through a series of 11 limited-edition collaborative EPs with people like Rev. Peyton and Sxip Shirey, with 1,111 copies of each EP being issued. The first sentence in that announcement that he'll be taking an extended hiatus from touring is: "Welcome to the most Elevenly year of our lives!"
Webley is not your average singer-songwriter; he is far more conceptual and theatrical. This is a guy who dressed up his Toyota like a tomato; a guy who used to stage a mock death/funeral every Halloween and stay in character beyond. (After the first Halloween funeral, in 2000, he disappeared for six months.)
But he is also a troubadour in the traditional sense, hopping in his car and traveling from town to town armed with his guitar, his accordion and—in a Webleyesque twist—a bottle full of coins from around the world.
That dichotomy between the traditional singer-songwriter and the conceptual artist plays out in his music, too. Over the course of five solo albums and six (so far) collaborative EPs, he covers all sorts of stylistic ground—indie folk-pop ("Almost Time to Go," from 2007's The Cost of Living), Tom Waits-ian cabaret (his traditional show-closing "Drinking Song," from 2002's Counterpoint) and Nick Cave-meets-Leonard Cohen love songs ("Icarus," from 2004's Only Just Beginning: "I'll say a word for sickness / she is my favorite mistress / yes she knows my body like no other can"). On Counterpoint's "Train Tracks," he sounds a lot like Crooked Fingers.
His latest album, 2010's Evelyn Evelyn, a collaboration with the Dresden Dolls' Amanda Palmer, is a concept album of songs "by" and about two fictional conjoined twins who, as the story goes, Webley and Palmer rescued from a circus in order to make the recordings.
Jason Webley performs at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Saturday, Jan. 8. Chris Black opens the all-ages show at 9 p.m. Admission is $8. For more information, call 884-0874.
Venus DeMars (nee Steven Grandell) is something of a hero to the LGBT community. A transgender male-to-female, for the last 16 years, DeMars has been fronting the band All the Pretty Horses, which combines glam, goth and punk with a flair for flamboyant showmanship. Or, as the Village Voice's great Chuck Eddy once put it: "Imagine Bowie when he still sang fruity, fronting Cream circa 'White Room.' Only harder, dancier and with notably fewer dead spots."
For a show at Plush this weekend (and on her entire current tour), DeMars will be performing as a solo-electric act, playing All the Pretty Horses favorites, some new songs written for the band's upcoming seventh album (due this spring) and, likely, a couple of covers from the likes of Bowie and T. Rex.
DeMars will take the middle slot at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, Jan. 7, sandwiched between openers The Pork Torta and closers Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout. The show begins at 9:30 p.m., and cover is $5. For further details, head to plushtucson.com, or call 798-1298.
2010 was a pretty damn good year for Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights. The Dallas-based blues-rock quintet released its debut album for Atlantic Records, Pardon Me, in April; performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that same month; headlined Relix magazine's South by Southwest showcase in March; and toured incessantly, hitting Bonnaroo and sharing stages with AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kid Rock and ZZ Top, with whom they toured as their fellow Texans' opening act. Their songs were heard on Friday Night Lights, Boardwalk Empire, Criminal Minds and ESPN.
One of the songs on Pardon Me was co-written with the Black Crowes' Rich Robinson. Songs like "Gypsy Woman" and "Pardon Me" are clearly influenced by the Crowes, with their searing blues-rock guitar riffs, soulful Southern-man vocals and rock-radio-ready production. Other obvious touchstones are Led Zeppelin, Kings of Leon, Southern rockers like Skynyrd and The Outlaws, John Mayer and Lenny Kravitz (though that's likely just because Kravitz, Mayer and Tyler borrow from the same sources).
Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights headline a show at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Wednesday, Jan. 12. Also on the bill are Tom Walbank and the Ambassadors and Amy Rude, who starts off the night at 9 p.m. Admission is $8. For more info, head to plushtucson.com, or call 798-1298.
If you've never seen the unique That 1 Guy (aka Mike Silverman) perform live, you owe it to yourself to do so.
Currently based in Las Vegas, Silverman attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied the bass. He later became a jazz studio musician and performer, contributing his singular style to the music of others, but eventually felt that both the bass and his role as a sideman were too limiting.
He had the idea to create an instrument that would provide an outlet for the type of music he wanted to make, and he followed through: The Magic Pipe is a homemade instrument constructed from steel pipes and joints, and bass strings, and is equipped with various electronic trigger points. It looks a bit like a steampunk harp and stands about 7 feet tall. To watch Silverman manipulate it—as well as the other homemade instruments he's constructed since, not to mention the looping pedals—with such deft musical precision is pretty astounding stuff.
That 1 Guy performs two full sets at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., starting at 9:30 p.m., next Thursday, Jan. 13. Admission is $8. That website and phone number, again, are plushtucson.com and 798-1298.
This Saturday, Jan. 8, is the second Saturday of the month, which can only mean one thing: It's time for Second Saturdays Downtown, the cultural hoo-ha which brings vendors, street performers, food carts, musicians—and you!—to downtown Tucson. You can get lots more info at 2ndsaturdaysdowntown.com, but here are a few highlights you might want to check out: AC/DC tribute band TNT at the Rialto Theatre (a first-time participant in the event); local modern country band Grind at the Fox Tucson Theatre; and live mural paintings by Joe Pagac.
Speaking of the Fox Tucson Theatre, the venue will host a performance by the fantastic Harlem Gospel Choir on Wednesday, Jan. 12, as part of the celebration of the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. with an opening performance by the Tucson chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop. Tickets range from $15 to $40, and more info is available at foxtucsontheatre.org, where you can also buy tickets, or by calling 547-3040. (You can also read more in our City Week section.) The Fox is located at 17 W. Congress St.
Lenguas Largas, The Creamys, Eine Kleine Chinmuzik and Chubby Cheeks and the Burrito Blowouts at the Red Room at Grill on Saturday, Jan. 8; The Temptations at the Diamond Center at the Desert Diamond Casino (Pima Mine Road location) next Thursday, Jan. 13; Oceano, For the Fallen Dreams and Upon a Burning Body at Skrappy's on Monday, Jan. 10; Arvel Bird and Tony Redhouse at Abounding Grace Church on Saturday, Jan. 8; Greeley Estates, Loren Battle and others at The Rock on Friday, Jan. 7; the Lemon Drop Gang at the Red Room at Grill on Sunday, Jan. 9; Ferrodyne and Lunar Light Collectors at Sky Bar on Saturday, Jan. 8; Dry River Yacht Club at Plush on Tuesday, Jan. 11; Dogbreath, Logan Greene and Steff Koeppen and the Articles at Dry River Collective on Friday, Jan. 7; Treehouse Fire and Sycamore Bends at the Red Room at Grill on Tuesday, Jan. 11; Super Stereo at Optimist Club next Thursday, Jan. 13, at Club Congress.