Since 1955, people who enjoy looking at rocks and stones have converged on Tucson this time of year to share their love of nature's creations and buy stuff. I'm guessing a whole lot fewer people attended the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in its inaugural year than do now; and I can tell you firsthand that attendees' entertainment options have multiplied, not just since then, but in the last several years.
The gem show has always been a big deal in Tucson, but it wasn't until recent years that seemingly every entertainment venue in town holds an event—sometimes over multiple nights—geared toward the rock crowd. And by rock, I'm not talking music. If the rock crowd's choice of music, which would appear to be rather diverse, has one thing in common, it's that it largely doesn't rock—it grooves. Dance music, it seems, in all its many forms, is what the rock crowd digs. Here's a quick look at a few of their many options this week.
The big daddy of the gem show-related musical events is the Gem and Jam Festival, which, true to its name, has grown from somewhat informal dance party to full-blown festival. Currently in its eighth year, Gem and Jam runs from 5 p.m. till 2 a.m. (after parties run from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.) Friday, Feb. 7, through Sunday, Feb. 9, at a venue called Green on Grant, at 1102 W. Grant Road. The entertainment lineup—which will take place on two stages, one indoors and one outdoors—focuses mostly on various genres of electronic dance music, with a few live bands tossed into the mix (when the rock people do listen to rock music, it's mostly of the danceable jam-band variety). In addition to music, the venue will feature art, workshops, and vendors; but it's the music we're concerned with here, so here's what you can expect at the Gem and Jam Festival:
Friday, Feb. 7: Outside: Buddha Base (5 p.m.), Endoplasmic (5:40 p.m.), Marvel Years (6:40 p.m.), Desert Dwellers (7:50 p.m.), Supervision (9 p.m.), Paul Basic (10:10 p.m.), Purity Ring (DJ set) (11:20 p.m.), The Motet (12:30 a.m.).
Friday, Feb. 7: Inside: Johnny Swoope (5 p.m.), Bogl (6 p.m.), Macrodot (7:10 p.m.), Krooked Drivers (6:10 p.m.), Alex Grey (entheogen talk) (9:20 p.m.), Treavor Moontribe (10:10 p.m.), Amani (11 p.m.), Digital Connection (midnight), Unlimited Aspect (1 a.m.).
Saturday, Feb. 8: Outside: The Bennu (5 p.m.), Electric Feel (5:50 p.m.), Lost Optical (6:50 p.m.), Bluetech (8 p.m.), Russ Liquid (9:10 p.m.), Thriftworks (10:20 p.m.), Eliot Lipp (11:30 p.m.), Mimosa (12:40 a.m.).
Saturday, Feb. 8: Inside: Psy Dell (5 p.m.), Adem Joel (6 p.m.), Kruza Kid (7 p.m.), Nico Luminous (6 p.m.), Smash & Grab (9:10 p.m.), NVO (10:30 p.m.), Insightful (11:50 p.m.), Flying Skulls with Abstract Rude (1 a.m.).
Sunday, Feb. 9: Outside: Buddha Bass (5 p.m.), Spafford (6 p.m.), Lynx (7 p.m.), Govinda (7:50 p.m.), Love & Light (8:50 p.m.), Random Rab (10 p.m.), Kalya Scintilla (11:15 p.m.), Boombox (12:30 a.m.).
Sunday, Feb. 9: Inside: Joshua Pocalypse (5 p.m.), Templo (6 p.m.), Sporeganic (7:10 p.m.), Mesca (8:20 p.m.), Matt Haze (9:30 p.m.), Soulular (10:40 p.m.), VNDMG (11:50 p.m.), Smokovich (1 a.m.).
As mentioned above, after parties at the venue run from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. on each of those nights. Advance tickets are $45 for a single day, $120 for a weekend pass. Tickets for after hours parties only are $15 each day, $40 for a weekend pass. Lots more information is available at gemandjamfestival.com.
Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., never lets an opportunity for a themed party to pass it by, so on Friday, Feb. 7, it will host a Cumbia Dance Party featuring Chicha Dust, the local all-star psychedelic cumbia band that comprises Brian Lopez, Gabriel Sullivan, Winston Watson, Geoff Hidalgo, Jason Urman, and Efren Cruz Chavez. The night gets started at 8 p.m. with a set by Salvador Duran y los Mijitos. Admission is $5, and you can call 622-8848 or point your browser to hotelcongress.com/club for more info.
The following night, the folks who put on the Local Love series of shows at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., are getting in on the gem show action with a lineup of Arizona bands that is decidedly groove-centric. Local Love Gem Fest Groove Fest (no punctuation needed, apparently) starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, and will feature performances by Fayuca, 8 Minutes to Burn, Funky Bonz, Desert Fish, and Santa Pachita. Five bucks gets you entry into this all-ages show. For further details call 740-1000 or head to rialtotheatre.com.
As we mentioned last week, Galactic Center, located next door to Solar Culture Gallery at 35 E. Toole Ave., is hosting gem show-related events all week long, including a number of musical performances, mostly of the post-dance-party chill-out variety. But its most noteworthy of the week comes at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, when Flagstaff native R. Carlos Nakai, who is not only the nation's most beloved Native American flute player, but arguably the best-known flute player in the country, period, will perform an intimate show at the venue. Nakai will perform with percussionist William Clipman and cellist Valerie Franzese. While audiences are likely familiar with Clipman, a Tucson resident who has been a regular collaborator of Nakai's over the years – the pair's most recent album, Awakening the Fire, was up for a Grammy last month – they may be less familiar with Franzese, from Telluride, Colo., who Clipman, in a recent email, says, "plays everything from classical music to the blues, and has performed with artists as diverse as Otis Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma and Paul Simon." Admission to this all-ages show is $20. For more information call 884-0874 or check out solarculture.org.
THE CIRCLE IS SMALL
As we also mentioned last week, local releases are coming at us in droves these days and this week is no exception, as two shows this week are new release-related.
Laser Dad, whose album Shit Ton is reviewed in this week's issue, are not only releasing their debut album this week, they're also breaking up. The instrumental trio – guitarist Miles Bartlett, bassist Nick Letson, and drummer Ben Schneider -- which is essentially Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout sans Mr. Free, is calling it quits because virtuosic guitarist Bartlett is moving to New York City (his first cousin, Dmitri Bartlett, aka Mr. Free, moved there about a year and a half ago).
The band's final show – for now, anyway – takes place at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, Feb. 7. The Pork Torta and Discos start things off at 9:30 p.m. Ten dollars grants you entry and a CD copy of the album. More info is available at 798-1298 or plushtucson.com. Thanks for all the music, Miles, and best of luck in NYC!
Over at La Cocina the same night, local label Baby Gas Mask Records will hold a pre-release event for its third release, a split 7-inch EP featuring two songs each from Black Medicine and Demonyms, both of which feature past and/or present members of Vine St. The label is anticipating a March release for the EP and will be taking pre-orders at Friday's show. Fellow Baby Gas Maskers Deschtuco will open the show at 9:30 p.m., and tracks from the upcoming EP will be previewed between bands. La Cocina is located in Old Town Artisans at 201 N. Court Ave., and admission is free (though donations are welcome). For more info call 365-3053 or head to lacocinatucson.com.
IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND
A gander at some other noteworthy shows happening in town this week: Gordon Lightfoot at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Friday, Feb. 7; Bahia Orchestra Project at UA Centennial Hall on Friday, Feb. 7; Lonestar at the Fox Tucson Theatre next Thursday, Feb. 13; Gabriel Ayala Quintet at The Sea of Glass Center for the Arts on Saturday, Feb. 8; Cosmonauts, Connor & the Blue Lagoon, and Hermanitos at Plush on Tuesday, Feb. 11; Crooks on Tape (ex-Braniac, Enon, Skeleton Key), El Hanko Dinero, and Mellow Bellow at the Hotel Congress Plaza on Friday, Feb. 7; Ether Island, Sleep Like Trees, Sutcliffe Catering Co., and AZ77 at Topaz on Friday, Feb. 7; Engelbert Humperdinck at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 11; the Kingston Trio at the Temple of Music and Art on Wednesday, Feb. 12; Frankie Rose and Dream Sick at Club Congress on Monday, Feb. 10; Igor and the Red Elvises at Plush on Saturday, Feb. 8; Oh, Be Clever, Sic Parvis, Magna and more at The Rock on Saturday, Feb. 8; Black Cherry Burlesque's 8th Anniversary at Surly Wench Pub on Friday, Feb. 8.
Please note that the Bring Me Horizon show at the Rialto Theatre on Feb. 10, and the Chris Thile show at UA Centennial Hall on Feb. 8, are both sold out.