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:
Englishman Tom Walbank, a potent harpist and guitarist, was born in the town of Wells, Somerset in 1969, moved to Tucson in 2000 and has been a fixture on the local music scene ever since.
Becoming enraptured with blues as a teen, Walbank began studying the harp style of American blues and folk musician Sonny Terry in earnest. Relocating to Edinburgh, Scotland, in the early 1990s, he joined blues trio 32-20 and then acoustic blues duo Hot Tamales, with guitarist Steve O'Connor, performing often.
In 1997, after moving to California, Walbank started picking up the guitar. Influenced by John Lee Hooker, Son House, Muddy Waters and Big Joe Williams, Walbank woodshedded to develop his rhythmic playing style. "I play guitar like a drum. I play harmonica like a drum as well, very rhythmically. If I get too far from the rhythm, I know I am doing something wrong," said Walbank in an interview with Tucson Weekly back in April 2011.
Walbank has numerous album credits, usually adding harmonica, and scored the 2009 film Good Boy. His latest solo album, Dust + Stone, just dropped on Tunecore.
Walbank will be accompanied by drummer Tasha Bundy for the Burlesque Battle of the Bands. It is rumored the multi-talented Lola Torch will join Walbank to sing a number.
Debuting in 2010, Sugar Stains play a caustic mix of originals and audience-pleaser covers. No strangers to the stage—possessing the musical chops to match if not surpass their devil-may-care ’tude and wicked style—The Stains deliver a sonically brash and visually alluring performance every time. It’s earned them a legion of fans.
Frontwoman Amy Mendoza tells it like it is, “I'm kinda OK with enjoying this time being a rock band that just doesn't give a shit."
Loud and painfully unapologetic, with two albums to their credit, Sweet Revenge (Boy Problems Productions, 2011) and 2014’s Bitch Slap (Desideratum Records), on the rock ‘n’ roll genealogical line of descent, Sugar Stains’ closest blood relatives are The Donnas and older soul sibs The Runaways.
Forged from some of Tucson’s most talented musicians. Sugar Stains are guitarist Berenice Lomeli, drummer Velvet Hammer, bassist Serena Rose and Mendoza on vocals and guitar.
Mendoza enthuses, "Sugar Stains supports the Tucson Libertine League and the artists that keep Tucson provocative and creative. We're excited to share the stage with many of the powerful women of burlesque and Tom Walbank. It's such a cool thing ...”
Tucson Libertine League’s Burlesque Battle of the Bands featuring Lola Torch, Kitty Catatonic, Fiametta Mink, Ms. Midnight, Jaime J. Soto & Rambo Rose with special guests Hi Polish Floor Show & Les Femmes Marveilleuses will take place Saturday July 29 at 191 Toole (191 E Toole Avenue). Doors at 8pm, show starts at 9pm. Tickets are $10 in advance (available at rialtotheater.com), $12 at the door. This event is 21 +.