PLAY CHESS, THEN DEVOUR 'DIGI SNAX'It's not every day that you get to prepare for a big rap show at the Rialto Theatre by playing the headliner in chess across the street beforehand. But on Tuesday, June 17, that just may happen.
Best known as the production mastermind behind legendary sprawling hip-hop ensemble the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA will reprise his alter ego Bobby Digital--first heard on the 1998 disc RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo--on his upcoming album, Digi Snax, which will be released June 24.
Last week, RZA also started the Web site WuChess.com, the first online community to combine chess and hip-hop. If those two things seem a bit incongruous, consider this: The martial arts-themed Wu Tang Clan has rapped about chess; RZA has long been a proponent of the game, which, he wrote in The Wu-Tang Manual, is "a game of war--it's about battle. And Wu-Tang was formed in battles, from challenging each other"; and RZA is the current holder of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation belt, which he won in the fall at a tournament in San Francisco.
Along with the WuChess site, RZA is a big proponent of teaching chess to young people. Last week, The New York Times quoted him as saying, "The way you have to think in chess is good for everyday thinking, really, especially for brothers in the urban community who never take that second look, never take that second thought." To that end, WuChess.com, which costs $48 for a one-year membership (with hundreds of free memberships being given to school children), will donate 10 to 20 percent of its profits to the Hip-Hop Federation, which will use the money to finance academic scholarships.
Meanwhile, here in Tucson, a nonprofit organization, 9 Queens, has been working to promote chess for similar reasons, hosting free family-friendly chess events, providing free chess instruction in low-income public schools and hosting free chess workshops for women and girls. 9 Queens teamed up previously with Hotel Congress for a chess festival, so it seemed a natural fit to get RZA involved in the second one.
Running from 4 to 7 p.m. at the hotel, the 9 Queens WuChess Fest will feature a speed-chess tournament, free chess lessons and puzzles, face-painting, prizes, exhibitions and games.
Across the street at the Rialto, doors will open at 8 p.m. for an all-ages show featuring RZA as Bobby Digital, with opening act Stone Mecca. Tickets are $23 in advance, $24 on the day of the show.
Hotel Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St., and you can call them at 622-8848 for more info about the chess festival--or head to 9queens.org.
The Rialto Theatre is located at 318 E. Congress St. For further details, ring 'em up at 740-1000.
THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR SPINNIN'Tucson's lo-fi psychedelic pop-country outfit Golden Boots have never really done things in a traditional manner, so why should they start now?
The band will be releasing a new album on Philadelphia's Park the Van Records this summer, their proper follow-up to last year's Burning Brain--but before they do, they'll be putting out a limited edition, colored vinyl-only 12" comprising two EPs: a previously sold-out tour-only EP called Coyote DeathBed Surprise, and a new four-song EP, EV.
The double EP is being released by People in a Position to Know, an Olympia, Wash.-based vinyl-only label run by high school teacher Mike Dixon. PIAPTK has previously released records by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Centro-Matic's Will Johnson, Jad Fair, Wooden Wand, Norfolk and Western, and Saturday Looks Good to Me, among others. The Boots met Dixon at a basement show in Olympia when they were touring with Jason Anderson, and according to the band, "on a later tour, he cooked us noodles, and we recorded a few songs in his living room." Hence, the provenance of the four songs on the EV EP.
Only 500 copies of the 12" are being made--half in green/white/orange swirl vinyl, the other half in translucent blue/black swirl vinyl--and 100 of those have already been sold through pre-order online at PeopleInAPositionToKnow.com. All you vinyl dorks (and I consider myself part of those ranks), take note: Side A, which houses the Coyote DeathBed Surprise EP, plays from the inside out, while Side B, which contains the EV EP, has double grooves that run parallel. Which means that when you put the needle down on the record, you could be playing either the odd groove or the even one, and each contains a different set of songs. My inner vinyl nerd has a total hard-on just thinking about it.
The 12" will run you a flat $10--quite a bargain--and you can pick one up, assuming they've arrived in time (at press time, they hadn't), at the record-release party on Tuesday, June 17.
In keeping with Golden Boots' unorthodox MO, the band won't be performing at the party. Instead, they'll join DJ Carl Hanni (a Weekly contributor) at his weekly Scratchy Records gig, at The Red Room at Grill, 100 E. Congress St., starting at 9 p.m., to spin some of their favorite records. As always, admission is free, and all ages are welcome. Questions? Call 623-7621 for answers.
DON'T JUST DRIVE BY AND TAKE FOR GRANTEDIf Athens, Ga.'s Drive-By Truckers have ever released a bad album, I sure as hell haven't heard it. Over the last 11 years, the band have put out such consistently great discs that it's easy to take them for granted. Don't. One listen to their latest album, January's Brighter Than Creation's Dark (New West), reveals it is as good as anything they've ever released--19 tracks of scorching, sensitive Southern rock and country.
Drive-By Truckers perform next Thursday, June 19, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Opening at 8 p.m. are fellow Athenians Dead Confederate, who at this year's South by Southwest opened for yet another Athens band you may have heard of called R.E.M. Advance tickets are available for $17 at the venue's box office, online at rialtotheatre.com, or by calling 740-1000, the same number to call for more info. Tickets will be $19 on the day of the show.
OF HEARTH AND HOMEGIRLContrary to popular belief, Faun Fables is not a woman, but a band. The current incarnation is, as always, fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist Dawn McCarthy and features her longtime collaborator, Nils Frykdahl (guitar, flute, bass, percussion, vocals), as well as new members Meredith Yayanos on violin and Kirana Peyton on harmonium, vocals and bodhrán, an Irish drum.
On July 22, the group will release its first disc since 2006's The Transit Rider (Drag City), a four-song EP called A Table Forgotten (also Drag City). A new full-length is planned for release in a few months.
Much of the previous music of the ever-theatrical Faun Fables has been a bit too ethereally esoteric for my tastes, so I find myself pleasantly surprised by how much I like the upcoming EP, especially given the fact that I read this in the group's press kit prior to listening to it: "A Table Forgotten is the first taste in an ongoing series of projects by Dawn McCarthy on a theme that's been largely unexplored in recent times: the age-old practices of tending a home and its immediate impact upon our day to day lives. It's an invitation to return to our kitchens and homes with reverence, to enjoy a largely overlooked sanctuary in the modern age." In other words, it's a far cry from sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll--but the percussive opening track may just be the best song I've ever heard about baking cakes.
Faun Fables perform an early all-ages show at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Saturday, June 14. Phoenix's W.O.M.B. open at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $6; they'll be $8 on the day of show. Call 622-8848 for further details.