REBIRTH OF A SALESMAN: His goal isn't to make an album. He's done that. He aspires to more than playing the headline slot at clubs in his hometown. He's been here. Chris Holiman is ready to pack his guitar, hit the road and sell the music of 35 Summers to America.
The lead singer and main songwriter of the band looks forward to packing his '91 Voyager van with the rest of his group and touring in support of their brand new Biblioteca album released on San Jacinto Records.
"We'll be living with this album for a year. We're going to work this just like real people," he says with a laugh. "Like real musicians."
Holiman says San Jacinto (a local label owned by Rich Hopkins of The Luminarios) is going to send the album to radio stations across the country and is working on a national distribution deal that will get it in record stores outside Tucson city limits.
"Hopefully, with the combination of national radio and national distribution and touring, we'll at least get the name out there to enough parts of the country that when we make the second record (of their three-album deal) people will actually be receptive to hearing it."
Holiman and vocalist/rhythm guitarist/songwriter Tammy Allen, lead guitarist Randy McReynolds, bassist Trixy Crowder and drummer Rick Moe will start their touring in spurts, beginning with a two-week trip to Texas this summer. When the album is mailed to radio stations this fall, the band plans to hit clubs in other parts of the country.
Holiman has been on the road in the past as part of the River Roses. He knows it's neither as glamorous nor gloomy as non-musicians, or musicians who've never toured, might believe.
"The funny thing about being on the road that's so cool in a way is that you'll show up to one gig and you'll be playing all night at a bar and grill with one microphone, and you'll show up at the next gig and you're playing with a big band at a huge club with a lot of people there," he says. "That's why it's such an adventure. Every city is different. Sometimes the shows when you play to 10 people are the best shows you play on the whole tour, because they've never heard you before and they're totally into it. As opposed to playing to 200 people in some town that's just run of the mill. Touring is weird, you never know what you're going to get."
What you get on Biblioteca is, unfortunately, a little predictable. 35 Summers leans heavily on Holiman's melancholy love songs built upon his too-often monotonic voice and unremarkable melodies fashioned on his acoustic guitar.
When guitarist McReynolds is let loose, however, the songs are whetted to a sharper edge by the swipes of his Clapton-style electric blues. Good examples can be found on "The One" and "Empty Gin," both stationary ballads until McReynolds hones them and lifts them with his guitar.
Allen's "Shine" glows like its title suggests. (She wrote four of the album's 12 tracks, Holiman penned the others.) Backed by strumming acoustic guitars and the clear chime of McReynolds' electric guitar (sounding more like Ray Davies here), Allen sings the bare-hearted song about the sublimation of ego of a person in love. That may sound like being pussy- or dick-whipped to some, but when she sings "I'll shine my shoes for you," with such obvious pride and determination, it becomes clear she's saying she's willing to make the everyday compromises necessary to make love work.
All in all, Biblioteca is a solid effort the band can shape--in live settings--into a more distinctive sound. Part of the reason groups go on tour is to improve (and, of course, get away from local critics).
35 Summers is the headlining band at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, May 12 (the same day the album is released). Rich Hopkins and Luminarios and Dishwalla open the concert. Admission is $3.
LAST NOTES: One of Scotland's most renowned singer-songwriters, Dougie MacLean, is in town with his band on Saturday, May 13, at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway.
MacLean's songs are anchored in the soil of Scotland. Not only are his lyrics unpretentious, but they're down to earth in a more literal sense, too. Images of land, decorated with tall trees and bending grass and giving birth to crops that feed the people, surface repeatedly in his songs.
This Celtic folk revivalist also reinterprets traditional songs of his homeland with confidence and sincerity.
Concert tickets are priced from $12 to $15.
Tragically Hip is back in Tucson with a new album, Day For Night. They're at the Wild, Wild West, 4385 W. Ina Rd., on Thursday, May 11. Tickets are $16 each on the day of the show.
One of the most appropriate bookings of the year must be the Downtown Performance Center's scheduling of the Lunachicks on Mother's Day. Fill Mom's ears with an onslaught of guitar-deranged garage rock at the DPC, 530-B N. Stone Ave. Admission is $5.
Queensryche hits the Tucson Convention Center Arena, 260 S. Church, on Tuesday, May 16, with Type O Negative. Tickets are $25 a pop.
Widespread Panic is back at Buena Vista Theater, 251 S. Wilmot Road, with Mother Hips on Wednesday night. Call 747-1886 for ticket prices.
Rocking and rolling blues, swampy boogies, swing and rockabilly by Teddy Morgan and The Sevilles fills the Neon Moon, 5150 E. Speedway, on Wednesday, May 17. Admission is $5. --BY MICHAEL METZGER
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