Arts and Culture

Sunday, August 20, 2017

HOCO Fest 2017 Countdown: Mexican Institute of Sound

Posted By on Sun, Aug 20, 2017 at 4:45 PM

Each Labor Day weekend, the fine folks at Club Congress host the city's biggest musical bash of the year. It runs Wed. Aug. 30-Sunday, Sept. 3. The Tucson Weekly is down with it.

We here at
TW HQ so down with it we'll be doing power previews like tequila shots of bands and artists performing the HOCO Fest, local and international. Here's the cliche-destroying Mexican Institute of Art, a must-see on Friday, September Sept. 1.
Camilo Lara is the mighty Mexican Institute of Art. - NACIONAL RECORDS
  • Nacional Records
  • Camilo Lara is the mighty Mexican Institute of Art.

Political, whip smart, ironic. Just one of these three adjectives is hard to pull off with musicality, but Mexico City’s Mexican Institute of Sound gano the triple crown. Whether directly addressing the problems in “Mexico,” where violence and corruption has citizens “saber que el tuyo no es tuyo,” (knowing what is yours is not yours) or playing against Latin-lover stereotypes, “Escribeme Pronto. Soy pasionante, pero yo no soy tanto” (Write me soon. I am passionate but I am not stupid), the singsong/rapped lyrics are always on point—witty and aware of US and Mexican cultural shortcomings. But it’s not just the lyrics in this post-Beck hip-hop outfit that succeed. On “Mexico,” traditional, heroic-sounding horns are slowed down to be clownish; turning a cultural touchstone on its head. In “Escribeme Pronto,” sped up mandates to “Dance!” are dropped in above ’50s Mexico-by-way-of-Hollywood orchestration. This is parody at its finest—razor sharp, danceable, fun. Like Ozomatli, this banda just gets better live. All hail group leader Camilo Lara! Not to be missed.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Know Your Product Online Bonus! Atlanta Georgia's The Head Pick Their Life-Changing Albums. They Play Tonight at The Flycatcher!

Posted By on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 2:12 PM

The Head: "Words can't describe the impact Rubber Soul has had on us ..." - COURTESY
  • courtesy
  • The Head: "Words can't describe the impact Rubber Soul has had on us ..."

Know Your Product: The Head

Straight outta Atlanta, Georgia, The Head formed a decade ago when twins Jack (drums) and Mike (vocals/bass) Shaw took their love for The Beatles, as well as The Stone Roses and the cynically witty Madchester scene, and created something rooted in garage nostalgia yet ultimately contemporary. Packed with big rock choruses and killer fret-work courtesy of guitarist Jacob Morrell, the band’s recent Millipedes EP shows just how much they’ve grown into themselves over the past 10 years. They hit Tucson tonight, so the trio told us their collective picks for the five albums that shaped The Head…

Monday, August 14 at The Flycatcher, 340 E. 6th St.

1. Echo & the BunnymenOcean Rain
The whole album feels like you're listening to a concert hall performance. It's such a big-sounding record that feels intimate. The overall record is sexy and spooky at the same time.

2. Scott WalkerScott IV
Because without this record, Ocean Rain wouldn't exist.

3. REM - Murmur
This record was a big statement. It came out at time when albums like Thriller (Michael Jackson) and She's So Unusual (Cyndi Lauper) were floating around the airwaves. Murmur was its own beast and defied everything else around it at the time. It taught us to embrace the lead vocal as an instrument.

4. The Stone RosesThe Stone Roses
Everything about this record just gives us chills — the textures, the guitars, the vocal melodies. It's a very layered, polished sounding record that still has edge and grit.

5. The BeatlesRubber Soul
Words can't describe the impact Rubber Soul has had on us. It's a powerhouse of a record that redefined how every subsequent band should make a record.

Tucson Peacefully Protested White Supremacy!

Posted By on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 12:32 PM

"All this organization in less than a day—no sirens, no helicopters." - CURTIS ENDICOTT
  • Curtis Endicott
  • "All this organization in less than a day—no sirens, no helicopters."

Sunday, Aug. 13: We were late. Ten minutes behind the hundreds of marchers, and a four-year-old in tow. The photographer offered us a shaded seat until they circled back. But this was no time to sit still. Hate and intolerance had once more surfaced on a national level at the Charlottesville, Virginia white nationalist march. We paused to remove a rock from my son's shoe, and that's when we met Faith. She is pregnant and tired. But it feels too isolating and helpless to stay at home today. We stop for water and a hug at one of three aid stations along the route. All this organization in less than a day—no sirens, no helicopters. Then we hear the chant, "Through love, not hate, let's make America great." Black and gay, Mexican and Muslim, all were walking in unison.
But this was no time to sit still. - CURTIS ENDICOTT
  • Curtis Endicott
  • But this was no time to sit still.

As we passed frat row, six white guys hung together jeering, "Blue Lives Matter." An angry student paused to take their picture. "So that's what privilege looks like," he yells back. Then the black man beside me lays a hand on the marcher's shoulder, "They've just never had something bad happen in their lives yet." A woman up front starts to sing, "And you will know that we are family by our love, by our love." When we hit the 4th Avenue tunnel, our collective voice resounds through the streets. "And you will know that we are family by our love."
A woman up front starts to sing, "And you will know that we are family by our love, by our love." - CURTIS ENDICOTT
  • Curtis Endicott
  • A woman up front starts to sing, "And you will know that we are family by our love, by our love."

Friday, August 11, 2017

RIP Blood Spasm Frontman and Underground Tucson Legend ('We Got Cactus'), Bob McKinley

Posted By on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 12:17 PM

Bob McKinley 1960-2017. - COURTESY
  • courtesy
  • Bob McKinley 1960-2017.

Inimitable punk rocker Bob Spasm, frontman for the riotous Blood Spasm—once hailed by the local press as Tucson’s biggest punk rock band—died on Aug. 9 after a struggle with multiple sclerosis.

Renowned for his on-stage histrionics, Bob “Spasm” McKinley formed Blood Spasm in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in 1983. A revised version of the band was a staple on Tucson’s punk scene, playing notorious shows mostly at house parties, warehouses and some local watering holes, from ‘85 until 1992. Even after disbanding, Blood Spasm continued to reunite and play semiannually at SpasmFest.

Blood Spasm released one album, which included the hardcore earworm, "We Got Cactus." McKinley told New Times in an interview (from Feb. 2012) that “he wrote the lyrics in about five minutes over a pitcher of beer at the Bay Horse Tavern.”

Spyder Rhodes (longtime Tucson DJ/musician) said, “For a local punk band, it was a hit.” Cowpunk legend Al Perry, who covered the song on his 2004 album Always a Pleasure, considers McKinley’s song to be the alpha and omega of songs that perfectly depicts life in Tucson.

Rhodes says, “Blood Spasm and my band [The Host] used to play together quite a bit. They were amazing to see live. Bob was a real nice guy, with an enormous personality and well-loved in the punk community.”

Outspoken, with punk ‘tude, McKinley stayed true to the playbook he embraced in his youth. “Playing punk rock in Tucson 20 years ago meant living the lifestyle, and sometimes paying the price for doing so. Today, punk rock is pretty much a safe thing. There's no penalty for being a punk rocker. You don't have to walk down the street and fear getting jumped and beat up all the time."

But behind the sneer and rapid-fire delivery in his performances, there was humor, gentleness and love of home. as evidenced in this excerpt from McKinley’s lyrics for “We Got Cactus”:

Spring without flowers is just as remorseful/
As an autumn denied the colored leaves fall/
Long is the winter when there's no snow/
And summer is painful when the wind won't blow/
Welcome to my home, no fear of pneumonia/
This is paradise, in Tucson, Arizona.
Bob “Spasm” McKinley was 57.

Al Perry's cover of Blood Spasm's "We Got Cactus":  

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In the Flesh: WTF AF Presented 'Not Just Another Pretty Face' Zine Launch with Cool Funeral, Chezale, Shovel, Fawn Bones, Julia Kinu and More!

Posted By on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 9:50 AM

Prior to its launch, WTF AF organizer Molly Ragan excitedly tells Tucson Weekly about her latest passion project, a new new zine called Not Just A Pretty Face.

“It's a collective project featuring numerous women and female-identifying people from the downtown community with the goal of elevating our voices, art and experiences," Ragan, who is also the mag's editor, says. "This first release revolves around sexual harassment and assault, personal experience and otherwise, largely in response to recent discoveries about abuse from certain male members of the community.”

The short-run zine—available at Wooden Tooth Records—is a work in progress with hopes of evolving into a quarterly.

WTF AF is, you'll note, a monthly series, staged at Hotel Congress, designed to create a platform for our women/trans/femme community’s voice to be heard.

Ragan adds, “While all are encouraged to attend these events, they are specifically open to queer, POC and handi-capable female-identifying folks.”

A party was held, this past Sunday, Aug 6, to mark the launch of Not Just A Pretty Face at Club Congress with live performances by:

Cool Funeral: Not too somber. - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Cool Funeral: Not too somber.

Cool Funeral

Funeral services are generally somber affairs. Yet Cool Funeral’s wistful shoegaze had enough light and punch to surpass boundaries of what's "normal" at a funeral. Besides, WTF AF’s audience were smitten, welcoming these newcomers to the Tucson music scene with cheers and yelps.

Chezale: "It Ain't a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Chezale: "It Ain't a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World”


A gemstone whose mutable facets reflect an underlying symmetry—singer, songwriter, emcee, model, actress, dance instructor—Chezale personified the spirit of the event.

With a message of self-love and empowerment, Chezale’s “Our World,” which borrows from James Brown’s '66 classic “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” (a ditty Rolling Stone called “biblically chauvinistic”) into a modern day call for respect and unity between sexes.

Chezale’s delivery and lyrics exude grace and strength inherent in the female universe, and she raps truth to power: “They say we’re living in a man’s world/But I guarantee one thing/That it’s nothing without a woman ... When your life is a mess/Like chess/The queen will protect.”

The message is simple: “Both worlds must unify in order to elevate.”

Chezale’s latest, Mavmuzik, is available on iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play and Spotify.

Julia Kinu: Thought-provoker armed with words and mandolin. - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Julia Kinu: Thought-provoker armed with words and mandolin.

Julia Kinu

A last-minute addition to the event, Julia Kinu (writer and head editor at Words on the Avenue) recited a poem, sang and performed a couple of numbers on mandolin.  

One of Kinu’s thought-provokers, “Day After/Days After,” appears in Not Just A Pretty Face: Vol 1.

Fawn Bones: Layers of beauty. - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Fawn Bones: Layers of beauty.

Fawn Bones

Sweet and gentle, singer-songwriter Fawn Bones has the voice of an angel. Her understated musical grace slowly weaved a sonic web that ensnared; a slide and violin-bowed guitar built up layer upon layer of sound on a loop, as she carefully plucked delicate melodic riffs from a Telecaster over the top. The bluesy folk artist delivered an impactful set of experimental songs that created vivid dreamscapes.

Dusty Rose of Shovel: We Will, We Will Rock You. - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Dusty Rose of Shovel: We Will, We Will Rock You.


Dusty Rose, Shovel’s vocalist-guitarist, greeted a stoked audience (who stood at the stage in anticipation of their set) with, “Were gonna rock ‘n’ roll a little bit,” before she and stickman Ward Reeder, also known as “Phoenix’s Keith Moon,” commenced to do just that.

Referencing Sub Pop grunge, this Vally of the Sun duo laid down thick slabs of garage/noise/punk with elements of heavy metal, without all of the H.P. Lovecraftian occult mysticism. In the tradition of great one-name bands, like Hole, their big sound belies smallness.

Head-banging and long hair flailing wildly, Shovel rocked Congress hard. At the climax of their set, Rose unstrapped her guitar, thrashed it about, bouncing it off the stage floor repeatedly before falling to her knees to coax unearthly sounds from it by hammering fists on the strings and tweaking knobs before leaving it to feedback in front of her amplifier, in force, bringing WTF AF to a raucous close.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

In The Flesh: Jimmy Carr and the Awkward Moments Create a Raucous Musical Celebration Aboard Sun Link

Posted By on Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 4:30 PM

Jimmy Carr and the Awkward Moments ripping it up aboard a Sun Link streetcar. - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Jimmy Carr and the Awkward Moments ripping it up aboard a Sun Link streetcar.

Eager passengers gathered under dark, threatening clouds at Mercado San Agustin station, early Saturday evening. It was a celebration—a moving one too thanks to Jimmy Carr and The Awkward Moments—to commemorate the third anniversary of Tucson’s modern streetcar (Sun Link). (Since its July, ’14 launch, the streetcar has provided approximately 2.93 million rides to passengers.)

Once everyone that could possibly fit onto the streetcar was loaded, the tram departed. The affable Jimmy Carr addressed the audience with a handheld megaphone, that he also used for singing, before he cued into action The Awkward Moments. (Violinist Samantha Bounkeua, brothers Tony and Dante Rosano on sousaphone and trumpet, Hillary Engle and Javier Garcia on drums and percussion, Erin Henderson on kazoo and vocals, guitarist Johnny O’Halloran, and Carr on accordion and vocals.) Mixing Carr’s gruff blues vocals with the sounds of gypsy jazz, americana, klezmer, classical and elements lifted straight from the high-school marching band of Anytown, USA, the sound landed somewhere between Gogol Bordello and Slavic Soul Party.

Beloved by Tucsonans, renowned for their improvisational dexterity, fans called requests, which Carr tried to accommodate—at least for a few bars—whether his heady combo band knew the song or not. According to Carr, “The band started on the streets of Tucson busking for beer money.” The group began with O'Halloran on saw and Carr (a Fat Possum Records session man) on accordion and vocals.

By the time the crammed, music-filled streetcar hit downtown, Tlaloc, the Aztecian god of rain, shook his rattle. By the time the tram reached UA’s Main Gate Square, where the band disembarked to continue the revelry inside Gentle Ben’s Brewing Company, the rain was pissing down in sheets.
Jimmy Carr and the Awkward Moments at Gentle Ben's. - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Jimmy Carr and the Awkward Moments at Gentle Ben's.

Bounkeua tells Tucson Weekly of the streetcar experience. “[It’s] one of my favorite gigs. There is an immediate, intimate and very direct relationship with the audience, practically zero separation between us and them, as we find a way to balance in this small, moving, crowded space. It's like surfing and jamming at the same time. It suits the improvisatory nature of our music well; we are, after all, called the ‘Awkward Moments.’ Super fun.” And their performance? Far from awkward. It was pulsating with life.

Jimmy Carr and The Awkward Moments have released five records to date, all available as downloads on bandcamp.

Burlesque Battle of the Bands This Weekend? Yep, You Read That Right.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 2:32 PM

Then fetchingly monikered Lola Torch explains the Tucson Libertine League’s second event with this tagline: “We guarantee we’ll make you sweat, but we promise you’ll love it."
Les Femmes Marveilleuses in rehearsal.
  • Les Femmes Marveilleuses in rehearsal.

It’s unlike anything else that you likely see in a Moldy Pueblo summer. 

Combining the raw power and tension of rock ‘n’ roll with the expressive movement of dance, Tucson Libertine League’s Burlesque Battle of the Bands promises to be a monumental clash of sorts. Think of it: Hellfire rockers the Sugar Stains will battle against blues titan Tom Walbank while providing raucous live music for acro-act Les Femmes Marveilleuses, a maverick half-time marching band Hi Polish Floor Show and Tucson Libertine League’s burlesque dancers.

Torch, aka Emilie Marchand, president and producer at Tucson Libertine League, fleshes out, “I wanted to bring something different to the Tucson stage. We haven't really seen burlesque done to these types of music live. Usually when live music is involved it's more traditional ’40s music. We're bringing the rock ‘n’ roll!”

Here’s the tale of the tape:

Continue reading »

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tour Diaries! XIXA on Their Ongoing Bloodline Tour (Part IV). Day 1: 'Put in a Sack and Thrown in the Back.'

Posted By on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 5:49 PM

The Tucson Weekly Range is continuing its Tour Diaries series. Check in daily to keep track of on-the-road shenanigans, dirt, grime, and glory, and all the hangovers and warts. All artists are asked to tell it like it is. This time it's the monolithic Tucson badasses XIXA, swinging through Germany, France, Italy, the Czech Republic and beyond.

July, 12. Day 1:

God laughs when you make plans. So do airlines. The weather had its way with Chicago and us. In typical fashion, we got it together, got to the airport early, got upgraded to first class only to be turned around by an alert notice on my AA app. "Flight cancelled due to storms, we have accommodated you on another flight, but your class of service will be changed." Translation: Put in a sack, and thrown in the back. 
"Flight cancelled due to storms, we have accommodated you on another flight, but your class of service will be changed." - XIXA
  • XIXA
  • "Flight cancelled due to storms, we have accommodated you on another flight, but your class of service will be changed."

Even the weather channel conspired against us with its scary radar reports. Three uneventful, non-bumpy hours later, here we are at the ORD Admirals Club, with an almost eight-hour layover. That's a lot of free hummus, soup and Bloody Mary's.  All of this was a blessing in disguise, because according to Chicago Admirals Club staff, yesterday was such a nightmare, half of the staff wanted to quit. They had been overrun by surly, entitled, angry passengers ... hundreds of them. So, in leaving a day late, we actually came out better for it. I think. One hour until we board our 787 Dreamliner.


You ready?

We are about to do it all over. Again.

Stay tuned.

-Winston Watson | Chicago, IL

Quick band refresher:

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Staff Pick

Carnival of Illusion: Magic, Mystery & Oooh La La!

This top-rated illusion show is "Revitalizing Magic" by blending an international travel theme with all the charms… More

@ Scottish Rite Grand Parlour Saturdays. Continues through April 14 160 South Scott Ave

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