Sacred Machine and Topaz say goodbye


To start off this week, there are a few changes to tell you about, and they're not good ones.

Paula Catherine Valencia and Daniel Martin Diaz, the duo who own and operate Sacred Machine Museum and Curiosity Shop, the art gallery at 245 E. Congress St. STE 123, as well as perform in the bands Blind Divine and Crystal Radio, have decided to pull up stakes and relocate to Los Angeles. They'll remain open at the current location through May.

In an email they sent out titled "Farewell Tucson!," they wrote, in part: "Thank you Tucson! We have enjoyed being in the heart of Downtown for four years and are proud to have been one of the first new venues on the East Congress block, opening our doors on May 10, 2010. We have met amazing people and have taken part in many great events. We are fortunate to have been able to share our little brand of culture and creativity with you all, thank you for sharing in the moment! ... It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye, but we are excited to see what the future holds for Sacred Machine!"

While this is a big blow to Tucson, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise, I suppose. Diaz, who left his imprint on a number of public spaces, including the metal work on the stage at Club Congress, is a rising star in the lowbrow art movement, so it makes sense that he'd want to be in a place more accessible to people in that scene. To be honest, it always seemed like a bit of a fever dream that Sacred Machine existed here at all. I remember being at one of the many art openings they had there over the years and thinking to myself, "I can't believe I'm seeing this stuff in Tucson."

They're not gone yet, so I'll save my goodbyes for later. In the meantime, you can catch a performance by one of their bands, the desert-noir Crystal Radio, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., this week. They'll open a show at 9:30 p.m. tonight, Thursday, March 20, that also features Queen Caveat and Sad Robot. For more info call 798-1298 or head to plushtucson.com.

Nothing against bars or clubs that feature live music, but there's something to be said for the communal feeling that all-ages performance spaces lend to a night out seeing a bunch of great bands. And that's exactly how shows at Topaz, the combination performance space and art gallery run by Joel and Krysta Leshefka, feel. Additionally, the Leshefkas have impeccable taste in the bands they book, both local and touring, which means that even if you've never heard of the bands playing at one of their shows, chances are pretty darn good that if you show up, you'll be glad you did.

On Monday, March 17, the pair announced on their website, templeofcairo.com, that once the run of shows currently scheduled at the space (three by the time you read this, all in April) are over, Topaz will no longer be hosting live music.

The message on the website read, in part: "When we opened, Tucson didn't really have a space dedicated to the types of music we were really inspired by, nor did it have a space that supported and cultivated local music as a true priority. We were consistently BLOWN AWAY after going to bars and seeing four band bills FULL of amazing touring bands, and ZERO local acts. SACRILEGE. Today there are many spaces, a thriving local scene, and we are happy to have played a role in that...and to have inspired others to use our model."

The Leshefkas will still be involved in local music, albeit in a more behind-the-scenes way. The website mentions they'll be coordinating touring plans and the release of the new Prom Body album, scheduled for late July, for example.

Topaz is one of my favorite places in town to see live music, so I'm really sad to see it go. But mega thanks go out to Joel and Krysta for their contributions to Tucson music.


There are two album release parties to tell you about this week.

Fresh off the road from an official showcase at South by Southwest, Tesoro will celebrate its self-titled new album with a release show at Club Congress this week. Following a pair of live albums, Tesoro, recorded by producer/engineer extraordinaire Jim Waters, is the first studio release by the masterful local quintet, who use flamenco as a jumping off point to include pop, cumbia, rock, etc.

Tesoro performs at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, March 21. The show starts at 8 p.m. and will also feature performances by Foxtail Brigade and DJ Dirtyverbs. Admission is $5. Call 622-8848 or head to hotelcongress.com for more info.

The same night, over at Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave., Phoenix's Scorpion vs. Tarantula, who are releasing a new album of their trademark kickass rawk 'n' roll, will be sharing a bill with Tucson's The Mission Creeps, who haven't stepped onto a local stage in quite a while. Doors open at 9 p.m., with Psygoat opening the show. Cover is five bucks. Questions? Ring 'em up at 882-0009 or head to surlywenchpub.com.


Local punk stalwarts Feast Upon Cactus Thorns (FUCT) reunited last year to play a benefit show, and have since played occasionally here and there. But it looks like once they perform two shows schedule for this week, that's the end of it.

On Friday, March 21, they'll be on a bill at The District Tavern, 260 E. Congress St., that also includes Discos, Kid Puto, and Columbus, Ohio's Nervosas. That one should get started around 9 p.m. and admission is free. Call 792-0081 for details.

Then, the following night, Saturday, March 22, they'll be playing as part of the annual Spasmfest at Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave. In addition to FUCT, the night will feature performances by Blood Spasm, The Besmirchers, and Inoculara. As the always-entertaining Bob Spasm put it in an email to me, "That's more years of hardcore punk-plus than you can shake a greasy mohawk at! SPASMFEST is an acoustic guitar-free zone!" Music starts at 10 p.m. and cover is $5. For more info, that number again is 882-0009 and the website is surlywenchpub.com.


Speaking of things we haven't seen in Tucson in a while, Kitty Quasar has been making the rounds again recently, which only happens when he's got something to promote – and he does.

Quasar is the alter ego of Jared McKinley, the associate publisher of Edible Baja Arizona magazine. But before all of that, he threw massive themed dance parties, mostly at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. He must have been getting itchy because this week, along with his partner Andromeda Katz (aka Katy Gierlach), he's bringing back one of the most fun and successful parties during his run.

Glitterball, a rock 'n' roll dance party, will return to the Rialto at 9 p.m. on Saturday, March 22. In addition to records spun by the 5, 6, 7s, the party will also feature short live sets from The Hustler and The Warm Jets. The more over-the-top you dress, the better. Or, as McKinley puts it, "Don't let reality define how you dress for this party." Warning: If you attend, you will be finding glitter all over your house for the next several months. But it will be totally worth it. (Read more about Quasar and the event in David Mendez's story in Currents.)

Glitterball is open to those 18 and over, and admission is $5. For more info head to rialtotheatre.com or call 740-1000.


A few notable shows we didn't have room to cover above: Katterwaul, Acorn Bcorn, The Lemon Drop Gang, and Bradford Trojan at Plush on Saturday, March 22; Hot Club of San Francisco at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Saturday, March 22; Metalachi at Club Congress on Saturday, March 22; Truckfighters, Crobot and more at The Rock on Saturday, March 22; Hermanitos, Tacos!, and Miss Massive Snowflake at The District Tavern on Monday, March 24; The Love Me Nots, The Burning of Rome, and Fairy Bones at Plush on Friday, March 21; Greyhound Soul and the Sundowners at Sky Bar on Saturday, March 22; Free Machines, The Bad Machine, and Liila at The District Tavern on Wednesday, March 26; Lily Tomlin at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Sunday, March 23; Tucson Rock Alliance Presents: Rialto Showcase at the Rialto Theatre on Sunday, March 23.

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