THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE HERE FOR
You would think that the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve would be one of the slowest music weeks of the year ... and you'd be right. There are, of course, tons of options for ways to usher in the new year, but ignoring all that, here are some musical options for the rest of the week.
Most of the shows this week are local, with a few exceptions. So, here's to those brave enough to take to the road and come visit us when they could easily have just stayed home to celebrate the holidays with their families like most of the rest of us.
If you caught the Blasters opening for X at the Rialto Theatre late last month, you no doubt noticed that while Phil Alvin was on stage, his brother and Blasters cofounder Dave Alvin was not. Although he left the Blasters in 1986 to pursue a solo career (along with a short-lived stint with X and the occasional appearance with the Blasters), he still finds time to collaborate with other musicians from time to time. This week at Boondocks Lounge is one of those times.
Alvin will be playing guitar and acting as bandleader for an extremely rare performance by the Gene Taylor Blues Band.
Gene Taylor's name may not be familiar to you, but perhaps it should be. He grew up with the Alvin brothers in Downey, California, and was somewhat of a musical hero to them as well as an early Blasters member. Though he also plays drums and guitar, Taylor's stellar musical reputation comes from his work as a badass piano player. He got started early: When he was about 16 he began playing with blues legends like Big Joe Turner and T-Bone Walker, and later went on to play with Canned Heat, Doug Sahm, Ronnie Hawkins, Rick Nelson, Charlie Musselwhite, John Hammond, the James Harman Band, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds among others.
In a press release, Dave Alvin wrote, "When I first heard Gene Taylor play piano, back when we were teenagers, he was already a stunning boogie woogie/blues pianist and he's only gotten more powerful in the years since. Because Gene had been professionally playing boogie, blues and country music since he was a young boy, I considered him the hippest, wisest and most experienced musician from our neighborhood gang in Downey, California. I still do. ... Time and fate have sent all of us Downey guys down different paths (after living in Canada and Texas, Gene currently calls Europe home) so it is an extremely rare and special event for us to be able to get together and just play the music we love. It's always a big thrill for me to play with the tough rhythm section of John [Bazz] and Bill [Bateman] but it's a great (and intimidating) honor to share a stage with the best boogie woogie/blues pianist pounding the 88s today: Mister Gene Taylor."
Catch a rare appearance by the Gene Taylor Blues Band at Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave., on Saturday, Dec. 28. The show starts at 8 p.m. with Mike Hebert and the Kings of Pleasure featuring Ruth Wilson (Flathead) and Brian Fahey (the Paladins). Advance tickets are available at the venue for $12; they'll be $15 on the day of show. For more info check out boondockslounge.com or call 690-0991.
The other touring act hitting town this week isn't a musician, although he's certainly a music fan, especially of R. Kelly and Kanye West—both of whom he's got crazy funny bits about.
Comedian and actor Aziz Ansari is at the top of the comedic heap these days and he could probably fill a room even with only a couple weeks notice—which is exactly the case here, as Ansari booked a last-minute end-of-the-year gig at the Event Center at Casino del Sol. All of it seems rather odd, but you won't find me complaining that Aziz will be making his Tucson stand-up debut at the venue on Friday, Dec. 27. Tickets – ranging from $45 to $85 – aren't cheap, but hey, it's the holidays so treat yo' self. Casino del Sol is located at 5655 W. Valencia Road. For more information check out casinodelsol.com or call (800) 344-9435.
While most music venues have only an event or two planned for this week (aside from New Year's Eve, of course), you'd never know it was the holiday season by looking at the schedule of events happening at Club Congress. The downtown hotspot has a full slate of shows going down this week. In chronological order, here are a few of the highlights.
As part of an ongoing series of cumbia nights, the club's El Tambó! returns on Friday, Dec. 27, with a performance by Vox Urbana as well as sets by DJ Dirtyverbs and Phoenix's DJ Musa, who will be making her El Tambó! debut. The evening starts at 9 p.m. and cover is $5.
Tucson's own resident Led Zeppelin cover band, Whole Lotta Zep, will make a return appearance at Congress for an early show at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 28. Cover is $6.
Starting at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 29, Club Congress will once again host Salem the Bear's Annual Food Drive. The yearly show raises money and food for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. I've always loved the fact that this event takes place between Christmas and the new year; while there are always plenty of fundraisers for the food bank leading up to the holidays, I've always imagined that their shelves must look pretty bare in the days following Christmas. Sunday's event helps to alleviate that problem. Plus, this year's event boasts a nicely diverse lineup of acts donating their time to the cause: Chuck Wagon and the Wheels, the Leila Lopez Band, the Bryan Dean Trio, and Top Dead Center will all be performing at this year's iteration of the event, which also includes a VW Bus Show and a 50/50 raffle. Admission to the all-ages show is a donation of $5, or the equivalent in non-perishable food items.
Another Congress holiday tradition for those who didn't go overboard (or are just extremely resilient) on New Year's Eve is the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame Show, which takes place at the club each year on Jan. 1. The annual event always corrals some of Tucson's finest blues acts and this year is no exception. Scheduled to perform on Wednesday, Jan. 1, this year are the Bad News Blues Band, Grams & Krieger, Bryan Dean, Mike Hebert, Ed DeLucia, Stefan George & Friends and more. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. and cover is five ducats.
For more details about any of these shows check out hotelcongress.com/club or call 622-8848.
And, finally, a pair of special shows this week deserving a mention:
It's exceedingly rare for former frontman of the legendary Los Angeles via Tucson band Green on Red, Dan Stuart, to play shows these days, but this week he'll team up with unofficial mayor of Tucson Al Perry to do just that on Sunday, Dec. 29, at Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave. The Pinche Blues Band will play two sets starting at 6 p.m. before Stuart and Perry take over. Admission is free and you can check out boondockslounge.com or call 690-0991 for more information.
And, as mentioned in last week's feature article, Toxic Ranch Records will host one great last in-store show this week before locking its doors at 424 E. Sixth St. for good. Lenguas Largas, The Resonars, and Discos will all perform sets at the record store's final show, which starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31. Cover is $3, but the memories are priceless.
Here's wishing all of you a happy and healthy new year!