THE BEAT BLASTS ON: Imagine Otis Campbell with a bottomless voice to go along with a bottomless bottle of Mayberry's finest 200-proof moonshine. If you can imagine that, you've pretty much got Country Dick Montana in your mind. A lovable drunk rumbling out songs about getting wasted every night on stages strung across America.
He's the image and sound that remains in the mind the longest after you've experienced The Beat Farmers, one of the most tenacious bar bands around. They've been playing their country roots rock for over a decade and show few signs of slowing down or sobering up. The Farmers have a new album, Manifold, out on Sector 2 Records. The highlight of the disc is when Montana swallows the microphone with his big bear voice on "Beer Ain't Drinkin."
Too much of the album is taken up by guitarist/vocalist Joey Harris' mostly maimed attempts to play '70s-style arena rock, however. Sometimes they sound like Bad Company jamming with Lynryd Skynyrd (after the plane crash).
My advice is to pass on the album and get yourself a ticket to their show on Wednesday, October 25, at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave., with The Blasters. Tickets are $10.
The Blasters are a perfect match for The Farmers. Both bands keep plugging away despite the obstacles that have been thrown in their twisting paths to glory (or reasonable facsimiles thereof). Country Dick has had a nasty bout with thyroid cancer and The Blasters were on the receiving end of a Dave Alvin pink slip some years ago. But everyone concerned has survived and found their niches in the music world.
Phil Alvin still fronts the band he and his brother brought to high cult status in early-'80s Los Angeles. Phil continues to sing with one of the greatest rock and roll voices you'll ever hear. His voice can break like eggs for a quiet breakfast after a late night fight with your lover or quake like a jumpy L.A. fault line. He's worth hearing anytime.
Maybe someday the wound that keeps the Alvin brothers from performing together will heal and we'll get to hear them as a team again. In a way, we still do: You can bet your butt The Blasters will crank out plenty of Dave's timeless rock and roll songs in addition to newer material penned by Phil.
OLD, NEW AND BORROWED BLUES: It's official, hizzoner da Mayor has proclaimed this "Blues Week." Obviously that means the Blues Festival happens this Sunday, October 22, at Reid Park's DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center. It begins at 11:30 a.m. with a set of fine acoustic blues by Denis Offret and continues with George Howard and The Roadhouse Hounds, Chick Rodgers, Steve James, Floyd Dixon, the Barbea Williams Dance Company, William Clarke, Coco Montoya and Sam Taylor's Blues Band featuring Heather Hardy.
It's another outstanding line-up from the Tucson Blues Society.
A few things to remember: The festival is free. Don't bring glass containers or alcohol to the park. No dogs (other than seeing-eye dogs) will be allowed into the fenced-off fest area. Shuttle buses will haul blues fans from Foley's at El Con, 3601 E. Broadway, directly to the bandshell. The shuttles will run continuously throughout the fest. There will also be free buses departing from (and returning to) El Pueblo Neighborhood Center, 101 W. Irvington Road. Those buses will leave the center at the top of each hour.
This Thursday, October 19, you can hear the blues of Stefan George at a Brown Bag concert at the Main Library, 101 N. Stone Ave., at noon. Friday's free lunchtime concert features Lisa Otey and Friends at the same place.
The Southwest Center for Music, 2175 N. Sixth Ave., hosts a music workshop featuring Steve James in its Acoustic Café on Saturday, October 21, from 1 to 3 p.m. That night there will be blues in the streets of downtown Tucson (as part of Downtown Saturday Night) with the Bad News Blues Band, Tony and The Torpedoes and Kirk James.
SWEETNESS: His name suggests a Bobby Sherman of the '90s, luckily Matthew Sweet is anything but. A musical manic-depressive, he mixes misery with pretty power-pop--and makes it work. Sweet broke through a few years back with Girlfriend and then got nearly suicidal on 1993's Altered Beast. This year's release, 100% Fun, is a snarly sizzle of guitar (provided by former Television member Richard Lloyd), bi-polar lyrics and an angelic voice flying above dark clouds of noise.
Lots of ooh-ahh harmonies, old hooks with a fresh layer of make-up and lovesick merriment add up to about 90 percent fun with Matthew. He plays The Paragon, 144 W. Lester St., on Monday, October 23. Advance tickets are $12.
LAST NOTES: The great Flamenco guitarist Paco De Lucia plays the University of Arizona's Centennial Hall on Thursday, October 19. Call 621-3341 for ticket information.
The one and only Julio Iglesias stops by the TCC Arena on Saturday, October 21. Typing the crooner's name made me swoon a little, so I've got to move on to other subjects. Call the TCC box office at 791-4266 for ticket inforamtion.
Experience Unsane's chaotic, self-described "sound that crushes the irony that hooks, melody and incredible songs can't be shrouded in a suffocating din of beautiful noise," at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Sunday, October 22, with Guzzard and a band that had yet to be announced at press time. Admission is five bucks.
The Candye Kane concerts scheduled for the Rialto Cabaret this Friday and Saturday have been canceled. The shows will be rescheduled in a future we hope isn't too far away.
Grammy-award winning guitarist Laurence Juber performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 24, at the Southwest Center for Music, 2175 N. Sixth Ave. Tickets are $7.50 at the door. --Michael Metzger
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