Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tour Diaries! The Second Entry (Day Four) of the Marianne Dissard Euro Tour

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2017 at 8:20 PM

Dissard imbibing on her day off. - ANNE PRESTING.
  • Anne Presting.
  • Dissard imbibing on her day off.
Day 4—May 25, 10 a.m.: I drive Connor to the McDonald's parking lot on the outskirt of Chemnitz. On our first day off, he's catching a car share ride - in a white convertible - to Cologne, a seven hours drive to reunite with his/our old Tucson buddy - and my first Europe tour drummer back in 2008 - Andrew Collberg who now lives in Germany. It's men's day, also known as father's day in Germany. Me and the girls checked out from the Chemnitz hotel at noon. At the first roundabout, three grown men standing in a circle in the middle of the street, peeing, just peeing on the ground and grinning, their flies down, their dicks dripping. We drive past in slow motion, looking at the flow of urine, the shoes wet, their faces red with laughter, alcohol and maybe what constitutes manhood. Further, men in bizarre costumes. Strange rituals. The town itself seems so sedate ordinarily. Is this how you cope with ordinary, once or twice a year? Pressure valve off. Today, 25 May, is a holiday in Germany - father's day - and we drive from Chemnitz to Berlin, then through Berlin with no traffic jams. Berlin feels empty, easy, enjoyable. I drop off the girls in Prenzlauer Berg with an old friend and escape to a refuge in nearby Charlottensburg, a century-old mansion in the woods. I finish my day lakeside with white wine, talks of illicit lovers and open love, fried sardines and watching boats swing by as the sun descends on the water. A day off. They don't usually go down that easy with me but I make it my duty to enjoy every minute of it. Tonight, I sleep in a bed where Howe Gelb slept not long ago. This is getting funny.

Read the previous Marianne Dissard Tour Diaries entry here.

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Tour Diaries! Vol. 1 Finds Tucson Songster Marianne Dissard Galavanting Across Europe, With Old Pueblo Star-Shiners Brittany Katter, Annie Dolan and (Special Guest) Connor Gallaher in Tow

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2017 at 11:12 AM

The Tucson Weekly blog is today launching an ongoing Tour Diaries series that will see Tucson artists keeping daily, er semi-daily, track of their on-the-road shenanigans, the dirt, the grime, the glory, the hangovers, the warts, maybe even the schtupping. We'll be asking all artists to tell it like it is. For the inaugural Tour Diaries, we present Marianne Dissard ... this first installment features the first three days of the tour.

Day 1—Monday, May 22: A blur already and we haven't yet started. This morning, as I made breakfast —as close to huevos rancheros as I can manage here, baguette for corn tortillas, I thought of a good first story for the tour blog I'd write that evening. As I doubled-down on black coffee, checking live updates for flight arrivals at Charles de Gaulle from my laptop, I swear I had the whole thing figured out. 
The bleary-eyed Tucsonans.
  • The bleary-eyed Tucsonans.

Twelve hours later, it's all lost. I'm drained. Blame it on a full afternoon of rehearsals. Now I pop a melatonin and before crashing, conjure up this one story of today. Here it is. When guitarist Annie Dolan, bassist Brittany Katter and pedal steel player Connor Gallaher got off the plane this morning in Paris, I wasn't waiting for them - take a taxi, I had instructed. But someone was there, pacing the crowded hall. Someone from Tucson, a musician flying home from his own European tour as my band was flying in for our own. Howe Gelb himself, the man, had been waiting for them in the CDG arrival hall. He greeted the bleary-eyed Tucsonans with a handwritten sign that read 'punk'. Yes, welcome to Paris, punks. Let's start that tour. 
Howe Gelb at  Charles de Gaulle.
  • Howe Gelb at Charles de Gaulle.

Day 2—Tuesday, May 23: We're leaving Paris in the afternoon, direction Germany and our overnight Airbnb pit stop in some tiny village near Frankfurt. The Guardian, when I check it online, has an article here on the dark side of touring - Insomnia, anxiety, break-ups ... but the headline news screams Manchester. 
Street hassle.
  • Street hassle.

Ariana Grande, whose show the bomb blasted, tweets to her fans: 'broken'. Yes, broken. Two days after the Paris attacks in 2015, I left to tour. Today, as a little over a year ago, taking to the road and playing is the only fix I have to the breaking. I ask Connor if he would learn a new cover song, "Amsterdam," for our show's encore. Of course, he says, always the trooper, juggling a stir-fry and a bottle opener. Singing that song in the kitchen repairs me some.

Day 3—Wednesday, May 23: Our first show. I'm anxious. This lineup is fresh. How many shows have we got under our belts the four of us together? Two. Last tour, in October, Vicki Brown was with me, Annie and Brittany. Six months later, Connor Gallaher has replaced her. 'Replace' is not the right word. The balance is completely new, to be found anew. I don't want to over-rehearse us, don't want to second-guess myself. This is a fine, fine foursome. 
Photoshop by Connor Gallaher of his face onto that of Vicki on the venue's program.
  • Photoshop by Connor Gallaher of his face onto that of Vicki on the venue's program.

I know it, I've cast it and want to be surprised by us, by myself. And tonight on stage in Chemnitz, I am. Everyone rises to the occasion in a venue I've already played every couple of years for the past seven years—once with Sergio Mendoza, Brian Lopez, Gabriel Sullivan, then the Tucson Tour and Andrew Collberg, and with my French guitarist Yan Péchin. The show ends. We're thrilled. We've clicked. Didn't click with our nice AirBnB from last night, though, the one in the tiny, tidy village on the outskirt of Frankfurt. Their review of us...? "Hi Marianne, I gave you a good (public) rating - just because you have so many good reviews. it is unpleasant when you leave the roof window shutters open, soap and other trifles disappear and the apartment looks as if no one have cleaned there for months … It would be nice if you would not book us again".

Stay tuned ...

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Song of the Day: Billy Sedlmayr on Paul Weller's 'She Moves With the Fayre'

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 4:30 PM

Not Sir Paul Weller. - TOM BEARD
  • Tom Beard
  • Not Sir Paul Weller.

A Kind Revolution
just dropped and it wasn’t Trump's latest riddle on Twitter referencing Comey's fast track to the wood chipper.

No, it’s Weller's umpteenth album release. One in which he may still be committing treason to the angry young idealist who in his late teens and 20s led the mighty Jam, running with peers The Clash, The Damned, and others, destined to the piper’s call of identity, purpose with guitars and drums.

Chasing his career, the new album has guest spots from Robert Wyatt, old-school soul-shouter P.P. Arnold, and Boy George, who’s back from the slums of newspaper gossip and curiosity. It’s an album that’s less cosmetic then the last one.

I swore off the Modfather for playing it safe, and for the death of his own urgency. I mean, this songwriter at one time captured British life, and like a soldier fighting for ground beneath his feet, he had a real sense of homeland, community, if nothing else. He was a contender, a thinker, with vanity, ego, sure, but that made This is a Modern World, All Mod Cons, Setting Sons and The Gift incredibly tough albums with respites of odd calm in songs like "Life From a Window," "Don't Tell Them You're Sane," "English Rose," "Butterfly Collector," and "Ghosts.”

The Jam had worn suits, neat and tailored, a mix of Northern Soul and the London scene of the late ’60s—Who, Kinks, Small Faces. They broke singles like beer bottles. Mod revivalists sure, but they hit those who became loyal to a fault.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

You Need to Hear Lando Chill's Killer New Joint

Posted By on Wed, May 3, 2017 at 6:00 PM

Lando Chill talks to wind. - COURTESY JEFF WEBER
  • Courtesy Jeff Weber
  • Lando Chill talks to wind.

"Break Them Shackles,” the new single from Chicago-via-Tucson's Lando Chill, dropped Tuesday at all the usual digital outlets (Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, SoundCloud and Bandcamp). Say thank you.

The jam features an Asian vibe set by a beguiling Chinese stringed instrument (a kin) that kicks off the intro, and recurs as motif throughout. Groovester Chris Pierce locks in a wicked-yet-laidback bass groove over sampled sounds and voices, before Chill’s sweet street rhymes and effortless flow takes centerstage.

Then the socially conscious Chill takes us behind the music and stabs at the heart of the lyrics to "Break Them Shackles,” telling us what they’re about: Many, many shackles/Ones that bind limb to anxiety and depression/Shackles that cuff themselves to neck like noose for not being black enough for some/ And too black for others. The shackles of poverty/Of society's assumptions about me and mine ...

"The song was produced by Andy Catlin [Lasso] and Tom Johnson [TTop] of Headlock, with Pierce playing bass. B3nbi, Altrice and Laísa Laii are other artists who have featured sounds and production on the album,” Chill tells Tucson Weekly.

The tune is from Chill's forthcoming sophomore album, The Boy Who Spoke to the Wind (Mello Music Group), which was recorded in Tucson, in Lasso's apartment.

“I wrote the song and the entire album. It was produced and curated by Lasso and I,” Chill adds.

The gifted 25-year-old draws his inspiration from art, music and the world around him; but first and foremost the wind. “Imagine being able to harness the idea of the wind not only being able to speak to you, but through you, sharing the wisdom and pain of those who have no voice,” Chill says, describing, perhaps, some of the ambiance of his new record. And like the wind, ”I have no direction truly, only to make the music I want to make, and be able to do whatever I can to help the world be a better place for us all.”

Lando Chill’sThe Boy Who Spoke to the Wind drops June 23.

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Song of the Day: Sedlmayr on J. Geils and 'Give it to Me'

Posted By on Wed, May 3, 2017 at 5:02 PM

J. Geils Band, 1973 - WIKICOMMONS
  • wikicommons
  • J. Geils Band, 1973

I found out a few days back that John Geils Jr. had died. He was guitarist and namesake of the J.Geils Blues Band, Boston's unruly pack of mostly Jewish and all-white lovers of R&B, soul and blues.

The band dropped their first record in 1970, then began a crisscross of the U.S. and later the globe, building one of the hardest tour schedules of rock bands then or now. Then the slightly horrific '80s MTV onslaught cashed in the band's dues for big money, bigger fame and a wild change of musical direction.

Don't get me wrong, man. Sure, in those days when a song would repeat endlessly on radio and on the monolithic MTV i'd cuss, run to change stations or switch off the T.V. ... trying to juxtapose "First I Look at the Purse," "Whammer Jammer" or "Southside Shuffle" against the homogenized "Centerfold," "Love Stinks," and oh so many more.

But I understood that this band who shucked, jived, played every sweaty room that'd have them deserved to make that big payback that James Brown defines on so many levels.

I learned a long time back too that you're not handcuffed to a favorite group, singer or star as they define and redefine what music they make. Sometimes with bands I feel particularly loyal to, I buy their newest records out of respect—or a weakness for a nostalgia their sound brings me. Late at night I'll put that new record on and am disappointed in the majority of the songwriting, the interpretations I hear. But only a few people come to mind who constantly make music that still feeds the soul, and man everyone gets lost now and then, sells out, makes that live record that was tired the very night it was recorded.

Do you recall the first time you tagged along with an older sister to her friend's house and asked if you could look at the record collection, on you knees, thrumming through each disc? I remember the yellow cover with playing cards in the title, the J. Geils Band Fullhouse, recorded live in their second home Detroit rock city.

I remember my detached opinion of the first few songs; after all, this group was pointing back to a time I wasn't part of. Their first three albums were heavy on covers, say The Valentinos' "Lookin' for a Love" from 1962 featuring Bobby Womack, who'd record it again in a 1974 solo release. "Homework" by Otis Rush or Motown's "First I Look at the Purse" penned by Smokey Robinson.

Lead singer Peter Wolf (who was so rock star he married Faye Dunaway), flamboyant with near-evangelical speed rants, rapping long before it was the code of the ghetto. Magic Dick on harp donning a huge red afro, looking like a hip Bernie, from Room 222.  And J. Geils, peeling paint from his electric guitar.  

Back on my knees, I pulled out the band's Bloodshot album, with It's black-trimmed cover and ruby-red band pic. I slid the red-vinyl disc out and put the needle down on "Give it to Me," the single. A ska-like tempo with piano and harp trading time between the snare/hi-hat, which builds and builds until the chorus ("Why keep me cold, when it's so warm inside"), which kicks into a heavy organ solo. It comes up for air as Geils takes a funk riff straight off the J.B.'s; all chucku, chuckuas, the time changes with whistles and percussion as Magic Dick and Geils trade solos and the band slams this chartbuster home.

I salute John Geils, a black music fanatic who took fans—at least those listening close—back to doo-wop, dirty blues and soul through rock 'n' roll, and did it the hard way.

John Geils Jr. (RIP). - CARL LENDER
  • Carl Lender
  • John Geils Jr. (RIP).

In Memory of John W. Geils Jr.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Song of the Day: Billy Sedlmayr tackles 10cc's '70's Classic 'Rubber Bullets'

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 5:35 PM

10cc circa '74. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia commons
  • 10cc circa '74.

As a young kid with a burning drive to consume all things Rock 'n’ Roll, be it every last word written in Creem, Crawdaddy, or Rolling Stone, building my record collection at all cost, every image, lyric or liner note till they were secured by genre in my head (I don’t recommend this path, but I think, much like a mole or birthmark, dear reader, you may scoff at my faculties, but I know I am not alone). So, in summer of '73, I took note of a new of a new British band called 10cc. As it turns out, they were hardly naive or new or to the game. Between the four members, they’d penned hits for The Yardbirds, The Hollies, another charted in '66 with "A Groovy Kind of Love” and was in Wayne Fontana’s Mindbenders, minus Wayne, playing in the band in the film To Sir With Love. Another member built his own studio and one spent two nostalgic years with teen idol Neil Sedaka.

The four even sent a finished project to The Beatles’ Apple label, to no avail; just the misadventures of four skilled songwriter/producers who were tripping the same wire for better or worse. Yet, their self-titled debut album came out held the enigmatic homage to The King’s Presley’s "Jailhouse Rock," with a Beach Boys-influence, and a nod to the ongoing troubles in Northern Ireland. “Rubber Bullets” went to number one in the U.K. and scratched the surface of the U.S., where the Attica Prison rebellion and other big house catastrophes were still a-smolder.

So, I bought the record and was both engaged and confused by the album as a whole, which was clearly clever and skilled, but somehow missing a certain conviction and depth that I was drawn to. They were sardonic but self-conscious, perhaps too smart for their own good; but, this single, with its lead guitar part, tweaked to sound like mice, could not ruin this gem. The sweet bridge soars, it’s where the prison padre is called in to talk to his boys in falsetto on the act of faith to set them free. It then springs back to the rocking (and glamish) shuffle and reports to the coming glory, a sham, the same ol’ story—Well, we don’t understand why they called in the National Guard/When Uncle Sam is the one who belongs in the exercise yard/We all got balls and brains/But some got balls and chains/At the local dance/At the local county jail. This homoerotic thrust one-upped The King and, even though comical, done with a bridge this beautiful … well, you’ll listen again and again. A subject, now, in most every hip-hop commentary, “Rubber Bullets” leaves a stamp unlicked on a letter long since sent. 

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Tell Us About Your Favorite Local Musicians

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 10:09 AM


The Best of Tucson ballot has been up for a week now, offering up its annual chance for you to tell the community about your local favorites. This year's ballot looks a lot like last year's ballot, with a few new categories sprinkled in. The most notable additions can be seen in the Spirits & Nightlife categories: Best Jazz, Best Folk, Best Reggae, Best Cover Band, Best Punk, Best Rock, Best Hip-Hop Act, Best Country Act and Best R&B.

Don't care about music? Don't worry. You only have to fill out  a minimum of 30 (out of 202) of the categories for your ballot to count.

Having trouble logging in? Send me an email:

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Win Tickets to See Rhiannon Giddens

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 5:19 PM

Rhiannon Giddens is playing Saturday, April 29 at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress Street at 7 p.m. Tickets to this all ages show are $26-$28—unless you're lucky enough to win a pair from us!

You can read about the show in this week's Weekly. Here's a snippet: 
"This was an album that came into being as we were doing it. You can't think too hard about it." Giddens would much rather do the prep work, build the team, and then watch what happens. "I can't work any other way. I really believe in holistic, organic music making. You craft these relationships and collaborations, and then you let it happen."

So far, the response has been enthusiastically positive, even on the other side of the world. The new album's debt to U.S. history wasn't a barrier to audiences on Giddens' recent Australian tour. "If people from outside of the States are into this music, then they have an understanding and an interest in the history," she observes. "I always find that very interesting. People are willing to dig into the slavery and civil rights aspects in a way that not everybody at home is."

Not that Giddens is only interested in preaching to the choir. Her natural instinct for collaboration has led to her working with everyone from cellist Yo-Yo Ma to Iron & Wine and New Orleans icon Allen Toussaint. Last year, she wound up on mainstream country radio, when an edited version of Eric Church's "Kill A Word" with Giddens' featured vocals became a Top Ten single.

"I don't ask 'what am I getting paid?' I'm always like, 'does that sound like a cool thing to do?' I don't worry about anything else, and that's served me well," she says apropos of the pairing. But what about performing on The Tonight Show and at the CMA Awards? "I take it all with a grain of salt. If doing something like ["Kill A Word"] will help more people learn about what I do, that's great, but I really don't care about the glitz and the glamour."
Interested in attending? Enter here and we'll pick a winner on Friday, April 28:

Fill out my online form.

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Tucson Botanical Gardens and Etherton Gallery are collaborating to bring the photography show Frida: Portraits by Nickolas… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Oct. 10-May 31, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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