Saturday, August 19, 2017

HOCO Fest 2017 Countdown: Willis Earl Beal (AKA Nobody)

Posted By on Sat, Aug 19, 2017 at 7:04 AM

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 drive-by previews like tequila shots of bands and artists performing the Hoco Fest, local and international. Here's Willis Earl Beal, or "Nobody" as he's called on the streets of Tucson. He's a must-see on Sunday Sept. 3.
Willis Earl Beal and The Thin White Duke  chillin' in some Tucson barrio. - ISAAC KIRKMAN
  • Isaac Kirkman
  • Willis Earl Beal and The Thin White Duke chillin' in some Tucson barrio.

Willis Earl Beal is the real deal, kids. A Chicago-born blues singer with the prowess of R.L. Burnside (“I’ve got nine inches like a pitchfork prong, so honey lift up your dress and help me sing this song”), the gutsy imagination of, yes, Tom Waits (“I cruise through the flesh in my hotrod hearse”) and that all-important connection between brain, heart and throat too-rarely heard in singers today (on a duet with Cat Power, he blows Chan Marshall’s usually-arresting vocals out of the water.) Beal claps hands and plays spoons. He’s a student of African-American roots music the way that Old Crowe is of bluegrass or Gillian is of Americana. So no, there’s no corporate backing here, thank Christ, so he ain’t answering to anyone. Yet, his new, modern take on the devil’s music is swagger-y sexy, authentic, steeped in old Robert Johnson and Willie Dixon. You might have seen him on Tucson streets busking by the telling moniker of “Nobody,” wearing a Zorro cape and mask, but that ain’t no gimmick. He’s been lauded in newspapers the world over, but for, he says, for all the wrong reasons. We assume it’s all about the music, man. Since 2012 he’s released more than a dozen albums, singles and EPs. He's the best musical thing stationed in Tucson at the moment. Hope he chooses to hang here.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

San Antonio's Pre-K Program

Posted By on Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 1:31 PM

  • Courtesy of Bigstock
Tucson will be voting on Strong Start, an initiative to fund a preschool program through a half cent sales tax. San Antonio, Texas, has created a similar system, with significant differences. A long Politico article has the details. Here's a brief summary.

San Antonio voted in a 1/8-cent tax to fund a pre-K program, with 54 percent voting yes. The size of the sales tax increase was the product of necessity; it was the most state law would allow. The city set up four pre-K centers, three of them built from scratch, to teach 2,000 children a year, a tenth of the city's 4-year olds (Strong Start Tucson's goal to place 8,000 three and four year olds).
The centers open at 7:15 a.m. for breakfast. The regular school day ends at 3 p.m., but about 40 percent of the kids stay for an extended day program for children of working parents, which goes to 6 p.m. Many parents say they couldn’t enroll their children in pre-school without the extended day, says Sculley. Pre-K 4 SA is free for 80 percent of the families, who qualify under the Texas law for disadvantaged or military households. The other 20 percent are middle-class families with an income of more than 185 percent of the poverty line—$44,000 for a family of four. They pay tuition based on a sliding scale.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

In the Flesh: Tucson's March Against White Supremacy

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 7:49 PM

Candlelight. - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Candlelight.

On Sunday, Aug. 14, approximately 2000 concerned citizens of Tucson took to the streets and sidewalks to demonstrate to the rest of the community that bigotry, hatred and violence on rise in America, enabled by the POTUS himself, is just not acceptable. Same thing happened around the country.

With 24 hours to organize, an assemblage united in solidarity for Tucson’s March Against White Supremacy in direct response the violence and deaths at Charlottesville, Virginia's Unite the Right (a white nationalist) rally.

Disconcertingly, the Alt-Right Movement has grown exponentially over the past eight years and comprises a portion of Trump’s voter base.

The Tucson streets overflowed with peaceful protesters—serpentining from Hotel Congress downtown north along 4th Avenue, past the rainbow crosswalks at 6th Street up University Boulevard, with stops at the Islamic and Hillel Centers—to send a resounding message that the Old Pueblo condemns acts of hate and white supremacy.

Many chants were heard throughout the march:  “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.”

“Whose streets? Our streets.”

Many marchers said they were met with jeers and pro-Trumpisms when the procession advanced on University Boulevard, through the historic neighborhood strewn with fraternity houses. I didn't hear that. I did, however, encounter a young woman standing with tears in her eyes, who’d stopped marching and was on the side of the road upset that someone in the multitude had castigated her that it was not okay to chant Black Lives Matter.

“I want my country back,” she lamented to her companions, trying to regain her composure.

Upon arrival at the Islamic Center, marchers were greeted by gracious Islamic sisters with smiles, water bottles and in some cases with hugs. Humanity everywhere. Over here, a greybeard in Birkenstocks said to a fellow marcher, perhaps with irony, “The absurdity of white privilege marching for democracy?” Then, over there, I heard a loud “White silence is violence” from a group of college-aged women in bold unison, as if responding to the greybeard.  

“Black lives matter.”

“Make love, not war.”

It echoed, like Ochs and Dylan protest songs, from the beginning of the march to the end, calling for a sea change, now.

After pausing in the parking lot adjacent to the HIllel Center, a megaphoned speaker addressed the crowd, expounding on the importance of solidarity. The procession resumed, working its way back to the starting point.

Once there, on the enclosed patio area at Hotel Congress, where marchers were too numerous and spilled over onto surrounding sidewalks, various community leaders gave impassioned speeches.

Joel Feinman, a march organizer, functioned as an enthusiastic host. He struck a chord with the assembled: “Today, is a moment for soul searching. This is what democracy looks like. No justice, no peace.”

Then the first speaker, joined by his young family, took to the podium: Rev. Owen Chandler (of Saguaro Christian Church). “This is not the time to stop. If anybody can embody community and what it means to love thy neighbor...Tucson can. So I want to encourage you. Tonight is going to give way to tomorrow. It is easy to ease back into our comfortable numb lives. Resist it,” the reverend said. “Because friends you are guardians of some of the greatest truths; of justice, of love, of hope. Let us claim those ways in which we are complicit in the systems of white supremacy, of racism. Let us always do better. And use it for redemption of the heart of our country." The audience cheered.

Organizer for LUPE Tucson, Zaira Livier spoke next. L.U.P.E. is a grassroots community organization dedicated to the active struggle for immigrant rights. She has first hand knowledge of what it means to be an immigrant. “I came over that wall myself.”

Livier called for a moment of silence "for our comrades who were injured yesterday in the horrific events in Charlottesville.” She then spoke of systematic oppression. “We are not only seeing a rise in state violence. We are seeing a pattern in which leftist activists, marches and rallies are being targeted across the country while fascist rallies are being protected and freely allowed to manifest their hate.”

Then she hammered strident points: “To address this issue, we must tell a full story. The system of violence has not only been uplifted by the right. It has also been created, normalized and excused by the liberal establishment. Let us remember that Clinton was the godfather of mass-incarceration. We have three-strikes and welfare reform ... that is killing the black and brown community.” Livier expands, “Then we also have Obama, who deported more people than any other president in history …”

“What is violence, if not poverty. Poverty is traumatic,” Livier specifies, “gutting of Social Security and health care is state violence.”

Livier offered a solution, “We need a people’s movement with an uncompromising progressive platform that places human needs over corporate profits at all levels.” She closed by stating, “It is up to us the people, to create change. ...”

Lynn Hourani, Treasurer and Secretary of the Islamic Center of Tucson, spoke next.

“It is not easy to stand up to hate. It is not easy to give a voice to the voiceless. And it is not easy to demand the rights of those whose rights have been infringed. What it is easy is to sit back ... I think that the time has come to stand up and address hate in all of its ugly form.” Hourani concludes, “If we don’t stand up for each others rights ... then there is nothing left.”

Activist, member of Black Lives Matter, Najima Rainey stepped next to the podium. Her commanding voice shook.
Najima Rainey. - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Najima Rainey.

“This is about white supremacy and the privileges that people refuse to give up. It is hard to be in the oppressed minority. It is grinding and you’re aware of it. And the weight of it. When we were marching, there were a bunch of kids sitting on a porch jeering at us, laughing. It broke me down for a bit …” Rainey becomes impassioned, “Because why am I standing here telling you that I am fucking human being?”

Rainey continues with command in her voice, “Our lives have not mattered here in a long fucking time. We have never been considered a part of this country. If your skin is brown, if you’re disabled, if you’re LGBTQAI, if you’re anything outside of the mainstream this country has said your life doesn’t matter.”

“I don’t give a shit what they do they do in DC…” Rainey elevated her voice to a scream, “I am going to fight for the soul of my town! But do not think that this enough. You have got to get in the streets and start fighting because they are bringing the fight to us and it is real. Naziism and fascism are rising. Are you going to stand up? Are going to fight? Are you going to say not in this town? We are fighting for its soul. And we are going to save its soul.” Rainey closes, “These streets and this town belong to us.”

Clearly moved, along with everyone gathered, Feinman returned to the stage, “Holy shit, goddamn,” before introducing the next speaker: Lena Rothman, from SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice). Feinman adds, “I don’t know what I could say after Najima.”

Rothman urged introspection; to peer into the mirror. And, for those with an entitlement mentality to have the courage to recognize that they may in fact be the problem.

The penultimate speaker Jenny Culver-Hill (founder and director of Angel’s Purse, an organization that provides practical assistance for the families of children with autism).
Jenny Culver-Hill. - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Jenny Culver-Hill.

Culver-Hill told of a valuable lesson learned at very young age when she challenged her mother’s racist stereotyping. “When I was 4 years old something happened. We were living in El Paso, on the air force base, and my mom told me to go play outside. I stood by a tree and I watched a crew of hispanic men roofing a house. When they took their break for lunch they all sat in a circle. The crew chief [motioned and] invited me over. And every man gave me a bite of his lunch.”

Culver-HIll never forgot this small act of sharing and kindness, despite her mother cautioning her that those brown-skinned men were inferior and not to be trusted.

The final speaker was, Jim Byrne, from Tucson Anti-War Coalition.

Byrne spoke of the evils of the Military Industrial Complex and rebuked Donald Trump’s isolationist, America first mentality. “People are clinging to nationalism. But it is a narrow white nationalism.” And made a strong point about priorities. “[We spend billions, trillions of dollars on defense. Elderly folks, people who need a lot of medical coverage...we can’t seem to find a dime [to fund] that? Yet, we [have enough to] buy those A-10 warthogs?”

Byrne’s indictment of the conservative right’s obsession with militarism brought the rally to a close.

The bigotry in Charlottesville is nothing new. It is heartening to see that tens of thousands of Americans came together at marches and vigils across the nation. In communities large and small, outraged citizens, who have had enough, rose up in protest. After all was said and done, I walked away from Tucson’s March Against White Supremacy with a clear message: That racist ideology, on the rise in America, by the perpetuation of biased beliefs often passed down from generation to generation, is at the root of white supremacy and must be held culpable. Infants are not born with racist DNA. They are taught it. And for Americans to continue to remain silent in the face of intolerance and injustice, to sit idle and refuse to call it out, only emboldens its perpetrators. What’s more, it is our responsibility to be like Gandhi; “To be the change that we wish to see in the world.” Our energies, in the days to come, must be put toward striving to abolish hatred. For the fight for equality and social justice must never cease.

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Education Poll: Support For Charter Schools Down (And Other Results)

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 4:15 PM

  • Courtesy of Bigstock
Education Next published the results of its latest poll on education issues. As with all polls and studies, these results should be taken with many grains of salt. But Education Next is a serious publication and it has been conducting these polls for awhile, so its numbers are worth a serious look. For me, the most surprising result is that the support for charter schools is down, significantly. More on that, and other findings.

When Education Next first asked the charter school question in 2013, 51 percent supported charters and 26 percent opposed them. In the most recent poll, the numbers converged: 39 percent supporting, 37 percent opposed. The results held pretty steady until this year, when both sides changed about 12 percent. Why has support weakened? I have no idea, but interestingly, it's not connected to political party. Republicans tend to like charters more than Democrats, but both groups' support slipped by nearly the same amount. If this is a real trend which continues over the next few years, the charter movement's growth could slow considerably.

Support for vouchers went up a bit this year, and opposition declined. Lumping together tuition tax credits and government-funded vouchers, support is about 50 percent and opposition is about 35 percent. But a funny thing happens when the question refers to the use of "government funds" to pay for the vouchers. Support drops to 37 percent, and opposition rises to 49 percent. The public likes the idea of helping people pay for private school until they realize they're the ones footing the bill.

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HOCO Fest 2017 Countdown: DJ Orange Julius

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 2:50 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're so down with it we'll be doing drive-by previews like tequila shots of bands and artists performing the Hoco Fest fest, local and international. Here's a shot of the smart, underrated
DJ Orange Julius, playing the fest on Saturday, Sept. 2.

DJ Orange Julius: It's fun deconstructing modern American consumerist culture! - COURTESY
  • courtesy
  • DJ Orange Julius: It's fun deconstructing modern American consumerist culture!

DJ Orange Julius deconstructs modern American consumerist culture: media, gaming, commodification of sex etc. In 2015’s “Gangs,” a montage of TV voices debating gangs as a threat vs. a racist construct is superimposed over the bleeps and boops of early video-game weapon fire. As he often does, Julius changes up the tempo midway through the track into a second movement, which opens up and then settles down into “187 on a fuckin’ cop.” Other times, Julius just revels in the joy of mindless repetition; “Bring It Back” sweetly recalls of Fatboy Slim’s classic “Funk Soul Brother.” This music has three major, recurrent components: sped up R&B, rap lyrics or sentiments (such as “Penetrate Dem Guts”), and complex, programmed dance beats, intentionally unsophisticated in tone, like an ’80s Yamaha keyboard. DJ Orange Julius’ cutting board manages to castrate all three usually sexy genres at once—irony is a hard groove to find and an astringent juice to swallow.

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Laughing Stock: Late Nite Laugh Lessons

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 12:33 PM

Be sure to play with your cell phone and tussle with your neighbor. Maybe snap some gum or just put on your best worst attitude. You could be part of the show as a nightmare of a nun stereotype becomes a figure of way too much fun in Late Nite Catechism. The one-loveable-badass-woman-show for all ages is at the Fox Theatre at 3 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 20.

Late Nite has won dozens of awards and made careers for more than a half-dozen actors. Although much of it is scripted, the most memorable parts usually happen when Sister interacts with unruly “students” in her theater classroom.

The Fox production features Patricia Hannon, who for 17 years has appeared regularly as Sister at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. As an actress and improviser in in Chicago, she had won that city’s legendary Jeff Awards for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and, with one of her two improv troupes, Best Ensemble. She also performed Sister for four years in Boston and New York.

Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan launched Late Night in 1992. Donovan originated the role, and as she took it to other major cities for long engagements, the company added Sisters to keep each production going. Hannon was the second sister added. As the production expanded nationally, it also added seven sequels. Hannon will perform the original. She’s crazy about it.

“I need to start interacting pretty quickly with the audience,” she says, “and there's a moment when you feel like 'I've got 'em’! Usually when they're stuck up and thinking 'Oh, why the hell did I come here?' those are the fun people.”

There was a time everyone needed a laugh. Hannon performed in New York City right after 9/11. “I was affected by that, as we all were. People had friends missing. How do I come back and … do comedy? I remembered those firemen walking into that building, doing their job. I thought ‘Do your job’. You know I had a lot of images when I walked in that room, but people were so ready to laugh again. They came out and thanked me and hugged me.

“Laughter is important for people.”

Tickets are $37 to $84 via Most performances end with a “collection” of voluntary donations; to date, the shows have raised more than $2 million for local charities that help retired nuns.

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The Weekly List: 20 Things To Do in Tucson In The Next 10 Days

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 9:03 AM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.


Kitty Quinceañera. Celebrate the senior kitty-zens of the Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter & Sanctuary, and maybe even take one home to love. Aside from food and fun, the event will be offering adoption fees of only $5 for cats over 7 years old. Show your support for a local shelter and try to process the fact that you could theoretically take home 20 of these lovable furballs for only $100. (I’m not saying you should, I’m just saying you could). If you’ve been wanting a calm, older cat, now’s the time to go for it. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter & Sanctuary 4501 E. 22nd St. Free.

Hiking with Dogs in the Desert. Have you sat down with your pup to have a chat about safety when hiking? What about trail etiquette? Do you know which trails in the area are dog-friendly? Sandy McPadden Animal Behavior Consulting is hosting this educational event about the best hiking practices when bringing along your best friend. This is a woman who worked as an animal trainer on the national tour of 101 Dalmatians, so she knows her dog stuff, and lots of it. 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17. REI, 160 W. Wetmore Road. Free.

(Shop) Local

August Indoor Rummage Sale. The WomanKraft Art Center, a nonprofit which works to validate and empower women artists and other under-represented groups, is hosting its biggest biannual fundraising bash. From toys to tools to tech gizmos, they’re practically guaranteed to have something that will strike your fancy. And since it’s held in an air-conditioned sanctuary and not in a driveway, you can browse to your heart’s content, without worrying about coming across a melting lamp, or having a heat stroke. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18 and Saturday, Aug. 19. 388 S. Stone Ave. Free.

Rescue Blooming Barrel Sale. If you’ve thought about getting a rescue dog, but weren’t quite ready to make the commitment, try starting with a rescue plant, which is an option, apparently. The nonprofit Tucson Cactus & Succulent Society is holding a sale of plants that would otherwise be plowed away by developers or AZDOT when new roads are built. Sales of specialty cacti and succulents will begin at 7 a.m., and the rescue mission begins at 8. There’s a limited number entry system (to keep things efficient). Native barrels are a’bloomin, so selection ranges from yellow to red. Stop by and brighten your home with a feel-good investment. Gates open from 7 to 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 20 Amphi Land Lab, 4342 N. 4th Ave. Free entry.

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Tucson’s 242nd Birthday Celebration! Ah, Tucson. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 242 years since our saguaro-y, monsoon-y foodie mecca started playing The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Loft every month. Okay, maybe the monthly screenings haven’t been around that whole time, but 242 years of the Old Pueblo is something to celebrate either way. Mariachi music, speeches and birthday cake will abound. Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. Historic AMTRAK Tucson Train Depot 400 N. Toole. Free.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Song of the Day: Billy Sedlmayr Weighs in on Old FM Staple 'Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo' and Johnny and Edgar Winter

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 4:12 PM

The brothers Winter: Two albino kids who grew up absolutely adoring music from the black American south. - COURTESY
  • courtesy
  • The brothers Winter: Two albino kids who grew up absolutely adoring music from the black American south.
Johnny Winter was born in Beaumont, Texas in the early '40s. He and little brother Edgar would often catch blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, Bobby Bland and B.B. King on the Chitlin Circuit's lower stops.

By the time the bros began gigging they knew firsthand what prejudice could do to those inflicted, and to those inflicting. And, while they embraced black music and black culture, they felt like freaks so they chose to flaunt their albinism, long white hair, hard pale eyes and pearl skin. There has been nothing like them before or since. The best argument ever in favor of white people playing the blues.

Those boys were meant to shine.

Johnny signed a big money deal with Columbia Records on the praise of blues axeman Mike Bloomfield and the ever growing rock 'n' roll community in Texas. He had was an original voice, a searing steel guitar sound, while fearless with a hand-me-down Fender, turning rock 'n' roll tricks to further his true love—the Blues.

Edgar had started White Trash, an R&B and jazz-inflected rock 'n' roll outfit while Johnny
hit full stride with remaining members of The McCoys, (yes, Hang on Sloopy). He
carved out a whole new sound, thumb picking on the guitar to free up his fingers.

In 1970 Johnny put out Johnny Winter And, which featured the Rick Derringer-penned "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo," a two-guitar barnburner and the consummate '70s rock song. This version is spotless, tight and avoids cliche.  Johnny's voice is weathered at a young age—he was already deep into the spoon—and his vocals and guitar work are almost pleas for deliverance. He had a relationship with Janis Joplin around this time. Things were moving very fast; his heart was in blues music but his label had a full-on marketing campaign to make him a pop star of sorts, and for awhile he bought in. The records from that time are very good. He would shepherd covers, like Dylan's "Highway 61" and The Stones' "Silver Train," turning them into electrical showstoppers. He was something to see playing rock star but it'd be a matter of time till he went back to pure blues. He produced his idol Muddy Waters and erned Grammys for his trouble.
Edgar would have huge success with the instrumental "Frankenstein" (someone had to) and the FM-radio mighty "Free Ride." The brothers would do live projects together, most of which are really quite good. Lastly, Johnny and Edgar are portrayed in DC Comics' Jonah Hex (a fave of mine), a half-dead Civil War soldier/bounty hunter who crosses paths with a Johnny and Edgar Autumn, a pair of albino bros who are Texas bounty hunters.

Johnny passed away on tour, summer 2014. A real Texas bluesman.

"Lawdy Mama, light my fuse ..."

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Staff Pick

Tucson's 242nd Birthday Celebration

Tucson's Birthday Celebration. This year the event continues to grow as a family-friendly informative and food tasting… More

@ Presidio San Agustín de Tucsón Mon., Aug. 21, 5:30 p.m. 196 N. Court Avenue

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Popular Content

  1. The Weekly List: 20 Things To Do in Tucson In The Next 10 Days (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  2. Song of the Day: Billy Sedlmayr Weighs in on Old FM Staple 'Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo' and Johnny and Edgar Winter (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  3. HOCO Fest 2017 Countdown: Willis Earl Beal (AKA Nobody) (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  4. Store to Stomach: Food Delivery Services Hit Tucson (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  5. Laughing Stock: Late Nite Laugh Lessons (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)

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