'Tis the season of giving and all, but let's face it: While it feels really good to give someone something, it's even better when you get something in return. In that spirit, there are a few benefit shows this week; you give them money, they give you a great show.

It may take a while for Tim and Eric's Chrimbus to catch on, but Seinfeld's Festivus (for the rest of us) is celebrated in gatherings all across the land these days. This year Tucson gets in on the anti-holiday holiday action with a Festivus Celebration and Dance Party at the famed El Casino Ballroom.

The event is a joint benefit for community radio station KXCI FM 91.3 and the 28th Annual Tucson Folk Festival, which is put on for free each spring by the Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association (TKMA). The 2013 edition will be held on Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5, and will feature national headliner the David Bromberg Quartet and local headliners Stefan George and Lavinia White (and Friends).

But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

The Festivus Celebration will run from 6 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Dec. 22, and will feature one heck of a roots-oriented lineup. While we can't vouch for the order of appearance, the show's bill includes performances by the John Coinman Band, whose titular frontman is currently on break from touring with Kevin Costner's Modern West. His band comprises ringers such as flat-picking guitar master Peter McLaughlin and pedal steel player Neil Harry; blues violin player Heather Hardy and the Li'l Mama Blues Band, whose set will include a guest appearance by Sabra Faulk; Coyote Supper Club, a new band featuring singer-songwriter Kevin Pakulis and vocalist Amy Langley; Stefan George and the Ditchriders, another new band featuring big-name players including Gary Mackender on accordion, Harry on pedal steel, bassist Jay Trapp, and singer Lavinia White; world beat dance band Baba Marimba; and the String Bean Folk Orchestra, which is exactly what its name suggests—15 to 25 players on acoustic instruments including mandolins, guitars, violins, and acoustic basses.

El Casino Ballroom is located at 437 E. 26th St. Admission to the Festivus Celebration and Dance Party is a $10 donation, and there will be a "traditional Festivus dinner" (in Tucson, that means Mexican food) available for $7 a plate. For more information head to or

On the following night, Sunday, Dec. 23, Club Congress will play host to For the Love 5, an annual hip-hop benefit for a toy fund for the children of Casa de los Niños, a local non-profit that seeks to prevent child abuse and neglect and provides shelter and family service programs. Hosted by Grey Matter (aka Black One and Table Manners – Black One will also be performing), the show will feature sets by People From the Sun, Marley B, Big Meridox, CB Project, ZeeDubb, Lord Kash, Grimey L, The Other Guy, Johnny Redd, theACES, ONEway, The Terrifix and more.

For the Love 5—so named because it's the fifth annual iteration of the event—gets rolling at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 23. Admission is a $5 donation, and Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. For further details, check out or call 622-8848.

Not everyone is all cheery this time of year, and for those people Club Congress has got another show up its sleeve this week.

A few days after the hip-hop benefit, the club will be the site of the annual Blues Hall of Fame Show, a "benefit jam concert" stacked with some of Tucson's finest blues acts. The proceeds go to the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame, "a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the musicians in the state of Arizona who have demonstrated great skills and commitment to keeping the blues alive and well in our region and promoting the awareness of blues music and culture here, nationally, and abroad."

The show will feature performances by the Bad News Blues Band, Grams and Krieger, the Bryan Dean Band, Juke Joint Johnny, Stefan George and many more. But the real fun comes when the musicians start sitting in on each others' sets and, inevitably, the jam sessions that ensue.

The annual Blues Hall of Fame show kicks off at Club Congress at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 26. Admission is a suggested donation of $5. If you've got questions, use the same info as above to contact the folks at Club Congress.


As a member of the team that put it together, I'd like to offer sincere, heartfelt thanks on behalf of all of us to all those who contributed to the success of this year's Great Cover-Up, which took place last weekend at Plush, Club Congress, and the Rialto Theatre. While figures from ticket sales are still being tallied at press time, thanks to your efforts we'll be donating somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000 to the event's beneficiary, the nonprofit SAAMHA, the Southern Arizona Artists and Musicians Healthcare Alliance.

As much as any event in Tucson, the Cover-Up is a community-wide joint effort, so let me take a moment to single out those who helped the most in putting the event together. Major props to the following: the tireless, intrepid Mel Mason, without whose efforts the whole thing couldn't happen; our amazing emcees, Cathy Rivers and, especially, Matt Milner, who hosted all three nights and helped plan the event; Curtis McCrary, Kris Kerry, and everyone else at the Rialto Theatre; David Slutes and all the folks at Club Congress; Randy Lopez and the rest of the Plush staff; the incredible sound engineers Tom Beach, Dana Fehr, Bruce Momich, and Zach Matheson, who each year have their work cut out for them, but especially so this year; stage managers Ian Carstensen and J Lugo Miller; our generous sponsors KXCI FM 91.3 (thanks to Randy Peterson, Duncan Hudson, and Gene Armstrong), Tucson Weekly (thanks, Jill A'Hearn), Rainbow Guitars, and Sticks N' Strings; poster designer Ryan Trayte of Saywells Design and Katie Haverly for flyering; and all of the performers who donated their time and energy to a great cause and treated us to some fantastic performances: Saint Maybe, Boreas, the Black Jackalope Ensemble, Michael P. and the Gullywashers, Silver Fox, The Monitors, Serene Dominic, Copper and Congress, Slant 6, Genevieve and the LPs, Kaia Chesney, The Cordials, Spacefish, The Modeens, Texas Trash and the Trainwrecks, Chicha Dust, Leila Lopez, the Wayback Machine, 8 Minutes to Burn, American Android, Bulls on Parade, Acoustic Metal, Sunday Drivers, Cheepness, Roll Acosta, Sinphonics, Roman Barten-Sherman, Smallvox, Kyle Brondson, Jumper, The Tangelos, Jeremy Michael Cashman, the Electric Blankets, LeeAnne Savage, ... music video?, The Tryst, Some of Them Are Old, Holy Rolling Empire, Wolf Larsen, The Gallery, The Distortionists, Hank Topless, the David Clark Band, Skinkfinger, The Gunrunners, and The Gallery.

Of course, thanks to all who attended, too. Our appreciation is boundless. We'll see you again next year.


As usual, there are lots more fine shows happening around town this week that we didn't get to tell you about in detail. Starting with a roundup of—in case the Mayans were right—options for how to spend your last night on earth: American Android, The Jons, and Jumpstylin' Ari Grabb at Plush on Friday, Dec. 21; Black Cherry Raw burlesque with a live band at Surly Wench Pub on Friday, Dec. 21; End of Days Party at Cowtown Keeylocko featuring Al Foul and Hans Hutchison on Friday, Dec. 21; Neon Prophet at Boondocks Lounge on Friday, Dec. 21; Valence album-release show featuring The Gallery, Sinphonics, Shattered Systems, Psygoat and more at The Rock on Friday, Dec. 21; Starting Over: The John Lennon Experience at the Berger Performing Arts Center on Friday, Dec. 21; Cosmic Dance Party featuring DJs Elektra Tek, Fix, Resinate, and Seth Myles at After Dark at Delectables on Friday, Dec. 21; Attunement at the Galactic Center on Friday, Dec. 21; Acoustic Silverbell at La Cocina on Friday, Dec. 21.

In case the Mayans were wrong, options for the rest of the week: Cumbia Christmas with Chicha Dust at Club Congress on Saturday, Dec. 22; Calle Debauche Reunion Holiday Party with instrumental sets from Steakhäus and Satellite Freakout at The HangArt on Sunday, Dec. 23; Alaska, Rise Like Lions, A Perception, and Spider Cider at Tucson Live Music Space on Sunday, Dec. 23; Hans Hutchison and Friends and Naim Amor at Club Congress next Thursday, Dec. 27; Sidepony Music Presents: A Post-Apocalyptic Social at Plush on Saturday, Dec. 22; an evening of songs inspired by It's a Wonderful Life with Alex Whelan at Tucson Live Music Space on Saturday, Dec. 22; Al Perry at Plush next Thursday, Dec. 27; Songwriter Thursdays with Billy Sedlmayr at Café Passe tonight, Thursday, Dec. 20, and next Thursday, Dec. 27.