By the time you read this, we trust that Stephen Seigel will have returned to the safety of Tucson after another South by Southwest adventure in Austin—with all of his limbs un-fractured.
In Stephen's absence, I have attempted to match the insights, concision and elán that have come to characterize this column. Fat chance, I know, but the wealth of music in the Old Pueblo this coming week should still make this worth reading.
If you were among the couple thousand lucky souls to attend last year's Festival en el Barrio Viejo, featuring Calexico and friends, you may still be aglow with the memories of good cheer, fellowship and amazing music under the springtime sun.
We're excited to report that the event will return for a second, bigger and better iteration this Saturday. Calexico again will play host, and this time around, bands from out of town—albeit bands with notable Tucson connections—will join in the fun. Legendary English rocker Robyn Hitchcock, who might as well be named an honorary Tucsonan, will be there, as will the volatile Southern California Latin-funk-reggae ensemble B*Side Players.
I'm especially looking forward to The Baseball Project, an all-star group that features Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate); Linda Pitmon (Golden Smog); Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows); and Peter Buck (R.E.M.). Their two albums—including the recent Vol. 2: High and Inside—are terrific, among the best indie-rock releases of the last five years.
Want more? The show also will feature local heroes Gabriel Sullivan and Taraf de Tucson, the Silver Thread Trio, Al Perry, Kiss and the Tells, Los Gallegos and Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School.
A benefit for community radio station KXCI FM 91.3, the Festival en el Barrio Viejo will happen between 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday, March 26. You can enter at the corner of Cushing Street and Meyer Avenue, just south of the Tucson Convention Center. Advance tickets cost $22, or $19 if you are KXCI member. On the day of the show, expect to pay $26 at the gate. Call 740-1000 for more information.
The details of the early history of la música Cubana often are debated. You know: who came first, who added which instruments, who first brought it to the United States, etc.
It's certain, however, that the historic group Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Piñeiro was there when at least some of that went down. The septeto was formed in 1927 by bassist-singer Piñeiro (1888-1969), who is cited as the first bandleader to add trumpet to the traditional sextet son sound, introducing the element of swing. He's also credited as the originator of the musical term "salsa," thanks to his tune "Échale Salsita," which roughly means "put some salsa on it."
Septeto Nacional has released many albums in the United States over the decades, my personal favorite being the archival release The Music of Cuba/The Cuban Son/Recordings 1936. The group's latest is Sin Rumba No Hay Son, a wonderful travelogue through the ever-evolving world of Cuban music, including styles such as rumba, sun, bolero, guaracha and conga-son.
Cuba's Septeto Nacional will play at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 30, at UA Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. Tickets range from $22 to $42, with a variety of discounts available. Call 621-3341 for more information.
Speaking of variations on Latin music, the Florida-based Klezmer Company Orchestra will visit Tucson for a special concert on Tuesday night. This group's wonderfully eclectic style combines sounds of the Jewish diaspora with jazz, Afro-Cuban, chamber music and even the New Orleans second-line tradition.
Led by music director and accordionist Aaron Kula, the KCO is headquartered at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
The event is a benefit for the Tucson Jewish-Latino Teen Coalition and has borrowed its name—"Beyond the Tribes: A Latin Jazz and Klezmer Extravaganza"—from the title of the KCO's excellent new album, Beyond the Tribes.
The Klezmer Company Orchestra shows off serious musicianship, a canny grasp of ethnomusicology and a disarming sense of humor. Cheeky titles such as "JewOrleans March," "2nd Avenue Hoedown" and "Miami Beach Rumba" are exactly as described.
The Klezmer Company Orchestra will play at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 29, in the auditorium at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, 3800 E. River Road. A free Latin-dance class will precede the concert at 6:45 p.m. Tickets cost $15, or $10 for seniors, students and the military. There's also a special "Patron" package with two tickets and a CD for $50. Call 299-3000 for tickets or information.
The Portland, Ore.-based Alameda plays gorgeously quiet acoustic folk-pop, with modest orchestral touches, that has been compared to the music of Nick Drake and Low. The main trio—singer-guitarist Stirling Myles, cellist Jessie Dettwiler and classical clarinetist Jennifer Woodall—is augmented on its lovely debut album, Seasons/Spectres, by collaborators from the bands Horse Feathers, AgesandAges and various regional symphonies. Alameda will play at 8 p.m., Sunday, March 27, at the Dry River Collective, 740 N. Main Ave. Admission is by donation. Click on dryriver.org for more information.
For more than 75 years, the Sons of the Pioneers have defined Western music history.
Even though some of their songs may seem hokey to modern listeners, classics like "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," "Riders in the Sky," "I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)" and "Cool Water" are inextricably woven into American culture. The group, which used to winter each year in Tucson and hold down a residency at the Triple C Chuckwagon, will return to town to play at 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 25, at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Tickets cost $32 in advance, or $35 at the door. Call 319-9966 for more information.
Perhaps one of the most nimble, creative and clever rappers in hip-hop, Murs (who cut his teeth in the Living Legends crew in the San Francisco Bay Area) will return to Tucson for a gig on Wednesday, March 30, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The all-ages show will begin at 7 p.m. and feature fellow hip-hoppers Tabi Bonney, Whole Wheat Bread, Ab Soul and DJ Foundation. Advance tickets are $13; they're $15 on the day of the show. Call 622-8848.
Straight outta Barcelona come The Pinker Tones, who play bouncy, electronic bubblegum-pop. Their albums, including last year's irresistible Modular, are the sort of records indie-rock cognoscenti have in their collections as guilty pleasures—or at least as a refreshing chance to clean the musical palate between doses of The Strokes and Arcade Fire. The Pinker Tones will perform Wednesday, March 30, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Los Angeles band Polaris at Noon and locals O.W.L.S. will open at 9 p.m. Admission is $8 at the door; 798-1298.
Combine the roar of classic Detroit rock with the flavors of rockabilly and Misfits-style ghoul-punk, and what do you get? The Koffin Kats, naturally. Expect an upright-bass-slapping evening of psychobilly revelry when they play at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 26, at the Rhino Pub, 1112 E. Sixth St. $10 at the door; 867-8123.
On Friday, March 25: the Adopt-a-Bull benefit with Lovemound, Hogjaw, Cogswell and Izzy Edible at the Surly Wench Pub; jazz bassist and singer Kristin Korb with Llew Matthews at the Westward Look Resort; Peachcake at Plush; The Expendables at The Rock; and Merle Jagger at The Hut.
Jimi Hendrix tribute band Are You Experienced on Saturday, March 26, at The Hut.
Youthful rockers Senses Fail, The Ghost Inside, Man Overboard, Transit and Scorned Embrace on Sunday, March 27, at The Rock.
The Strange Noize Tour 2011 on Monday, March 28, at the Rialto Theatre, featuring hip-hop artists Krizz Kaliko, Johnny Richter, Kutt Calhoun, Saigon, Potluck and Jhornay.
On Tuesday, March 29: Golden Boots and the Curious Mystery at Solar Culture Gallery; Jazzphones and Kyle Brondson at Sky Bar; and Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and Orgone at Plush.
Finally, alternative hard rock by Forever the Sickest Kids, Breathe Carolina and The Century on Wednesday, March 30, at The Rock.