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HAPPY 235TH, USA!

The Fourth of July is this coming week—and so are the attendant musical celebrations. Since the actual holiday falls on Monday this year, expect to celebrate a day or two early. Here's a look at some big event-type happenings—Fourth-related and not—going on this weekend.

Tucson's Calexico has played all over the world, at all sorts of festivals, sharing bills with all sorts of acts. Still, I imagine this weekend's Second Annual Red, White and Boom likely represents one of the strangest bills on which they've ever found themselves.

The event is sponsored by Arizona Lotus Corp., the entity that owns radio stations KFMA FM 92.1, KLPX FM 96.1, KCMT FM 102.1 and KTKT AM 990—each of which draws from different demographics. And, it seems, Lotus has tried to include a taste of each of their stations' music at Red, White and Boom. How else can you explain a bill that features as headliners maligned '80s pop-rockers Starship featuring Mickey Thomas, the bastard child of the Jefferson Starship that unleashed slick atrocities such as "We Built This City," "Sara," and "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" on the world; a, um, Santana tribute band called Savor: A Tribute to Santana; and ... Calexico? Though the odd lineup is easy to poke fun at, it's also hard to argue with the fact that the show is completely free. (And for those expecting the "Boom" part of the fest to mean fireworks: "Due to safety reasons," Lotus says, expect a "patriotic laser light show" instead.)

Red, White and Boom takes place at the Pima County Fairgrounds, 11300 S. Houghton Road, on Sunday, July 3. Here's the schedule: gates open (5 p.m.), Savor: A Tribute to Santana (6 p.m.), Calexico (7:20 p.m.), Starship featuring Mickey Thomas (8:55 p.m.), the laser light show (10:10 p.m.). Your free tickets must be picked up in advance at one of dozens of locations around town; for a list and further information, head to the websites of any of the sponsoring stations.

Modern country fans will no doubt want to head to KIIM FM 99.5's annual Freedom Festival, which takes place at the Kino Sports Complex Soccer Fields, 2500 E. Ajo Way, on Saturday, July 2. This year's event will be headlined at 9 p.m. by modern honky-tonker Tracy Lawrence, who enjoyed a huge string of hits in the '90s. He'll share the stage with Neil Russell and the Southern Drawl (4 p.m.), Ash Bowers (5 p.m.), Bunny Sweeney (6:20 p.m.) and Steve Holy (7:40 p.m.). Gates open at 3 p.m., and a fireworks display is scheduled for 10:15 p.m. Ticketing is rather complex, so in the name of saving space, we'll refer you to kiimfm.com for information—with the caveat that if you buy your tickets in advance, you'll save a decent amount of dough.

And now, a different kind of Independence Day celebration: By now, you've no doubt heard of the movement to start a 51st state, Baja Arizona, in order to escape the increasingly frightening shit going down in Arizona's capitol city.

The organization behind the movement, Start Our State, will be holding an event called Baja Arizona Independence Day at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., starting at 5 p.m., Saturday, July 2. Attendees can expect a slate of great local acts including Gabriel Sullivan and Taraf de Tucson, Silverbell, Seashell Radio and Yardsale Heart, with more acts being recruited as we went to press.

The event also serves as a voter-registration drive, and information about the Start Our State movement will be plentiful. The evening will include various speakers, including SOS chairs Paul Eckerstrom and Peter Hormel; food and drinks will be available for purchase. Plus, SOS will be collecting signatures to get its initiative on the Pima County ballot in the November 2012 election. Admission is a suggested donation of $10, or $5 for new registrants and petition-signers. The event is open to all ages. For more information, head to rialtotheatre.com or startourstate.com, or call 740-1000.

Another big (if non-Independence-Day-related) show happening this weekend goes down at the Tucson Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. It's no secret that the Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation is strapped for cash, and on Sunday, July 3, they'll hold a fundraiser to try to remedy the situation.

The First Annual Rock the Fox Fundraiser, which runs from 7 to 11 p.m. on Sunday, will be hosted by Earl "Duke" Standberry and Catherine "Cat" Vigil, the team behind public access' comedy/variety The Duke and Cat Show. The night will include performances by two local cover bands—Steel Ribbon and Keeping the Peace—as well as comedians Tom Martin and Phil Gordon, and hypnotists/magicians Michael DeSchalit and Gary Husson. Tickets are $10 in advance, or $12 at the door, and VIP packages are also available. For more 411 or to purchase tickets, log onto foxtucsontheatre.org, or call 547-3040.

However you end up celebrating this Fourth of July weekend, please do it responsibly.


MOODY BUT PRETTY

Baltimore's Cass McCombs, who has toured with acts diverse as Palace, Blonde Redhead and Modest Mouse, has always injected a bit of humor into his increasingly dark folk-pop-rock songs. But on his latest release, Wit's End (2011, Domino), he largely drops the humor from his tunes, opting instead for moody arrangements that are by turns bleakly pastoral and bordering on pure chamber pop, albeit a largely stripped-down version of it. Not exactly uplifting stuff, but it sure is pretty.

Some listeners may find issue with his dramatic, lofty language—he's fond of using words like "hath" and "grievous" and arranging them in overly flowery ways ("My soul, though with wine I did douse / the song did arouse / I followed, a drunken louse / unto a cardboard house")—but in truth, it sounds better in the context of one of his lengthy, sometimes rootless songs. (Wit's End contains just eight songs, yet clocks in at more than 47 minutes.) For its flaws, Wit's End is a rather gorgeous album that will sound equally appealing on late, dark nights as it will nursing your hangover the next day.

Cass McCombs performs at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., next Thursday, July 7. Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl opens at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $8, and you can head to plushtucson.com, or call 798-1298 for more details.


MOORE GENRES MASTERED

Ian Moore has gone from hot-shit blues-guitar prodigy to thoughtful singer-songwriter with a knack for inventive pop-folk-country-rock arrangements. On his seventh album, El Sonido Nuevo (2011, Spark and Shine), Moore has teamed with Matt Harris (The Posies, Oranger) to form the Lossy Coils, which represents another new direction for Moore: The album is nonstop, slightly rootsy, rockin' power-pop tunes, and it only provides further evidence that this guy can do no wrong, regardless of genre.

Ian Moore and the Lossy Coils perform at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Sunday, July 3. Doors open at 7 p.m., and tickets are $10 in advance, or $12 on the day of the show. Go to hotelcongress.com, or call 622-8848 for more info.


ON THE BANDWAGON

WireTap Live featuring Jonathan Goldstein at Club Congress on Saturday, July 2; War at AVA at Casino del Sol on Saturday, July 2; True Widow and Raised on Rabbit (a new local band featuring members of Garboski, Blues, and Gentlemen of Monster Island) at Club Congress on Wednesday, July 6; Pan African Festival of Music and Dance featuring the Key Ingredients of African Soul and others at Solar Culture Gallery on Saturday, July 2; the Supervillains and 8 Minutes to Burn at The Hut on Saturday, July 2; Maren Parusel at Eclipse Sports Bar on Tuesday, July 5; What Laura Says, the Runaway Five and RCougar at Plush on Saturday, July 2; Warsaw Poland Bros. and John Wayne and the Pain at The Hut on Friday, July 1.

Be sure to check our listings for lots of other great shows we didn't have room to tell you about here.

Finally, it saddens us to report that veteran local bass player Gerry Ptak passed away on June 14. Our condolences go out to his family and friends. Rest in peace, Gerry.

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