Celebrating KXCI With Built to Spill


Thirty years ago this month, Tucson's community radio station, KXCI 91.3-FM, first went live on the air.

It was the result of years of groundwork, primarily by three individuals—Roger Greer, Frank Milan, and Paul Barrington, aka Paul Bear (who, along with Jeb Schoonover, who produced a series of fundraising concerts for the station, went on to reopen the Rialto Theatre as a modern concert venue) – who were lamenting the demise of the anything-goes Free Form Rock format that was once prevalent on the FM dial. Radio had become too safe, too formatted, and they were out to give Tucson an alternative.

The trio began doing research in the mid- to late-'70s (depending on your source), but it wasn't until November 1983—paperwork filed, FCC license granted, storefront at Congress and Sixth Ave. transformed into a makeshift studio—that the station broadcast its two-week Big Broadcast, a history of sound that ended in the present day, and culminated in a live performance by a couple of bands at the studio.

For years, KXCI wasn't exactly sure what its format was, or if there was one at all. While it tried to be all things to all people, during the 1980s the station had a decidedly Boomer-centric folkie vibe (and went off the air at night). Along the way there were incremental changes, some rather controversial, as longtime DJs (or, programmers, in the KXCI vernacular) were replaced to tweak the format and bring it into the modern day. With its current daytime Music Mix, in which almost anything goes, and nighttime specialty shows, the station's current incarnation seems closer to the goal of its founders than at any time during its history. Oh, and it now resides at a converted two-story house at 220 S. Fourth Ave.

So, it's been a long journey for KXCI, and for the next month, the station will honor its history and celebrate its 30th anniversary by presenting a slew of shows, some of which will double as fundraisers for the station, which is currently seeking to increase its broadcast reach to encompass all of Tucson (there are still areas of town in which you'll find static at 91.3 FM). The first two of those "KXCI Presents" shows happen this week.

The Bob Corritore and Dave Riley Juke Joint Blues Band, purveyors of funky, gritty electric blues, will celebrate the release of their new album Hush Your Fuss with a performance at The Courtyard Stage at Monterey Court, 505 W. Miracle Mile, at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 on the day of the show, and you can find a link to buy them at Call 207-2429 for more info.

The second "KXCI Presents" show this week couldn't be any more different genre-wise, as Idaho indie-rock royalty Built to Spill perform what I believe is their first show at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Monday, Nov. 25.

While the band hasn't released a new album in four years, they've been touring relentlessly, which probably suits bandleader Doug Martch just fine. He's one of the few bona fide guitar gods in the indie-rock world, and the band's live performances allow him to stretch songs into lengthy jams (though somehow without ever devolving into the jam-band realm). And although the band has seven killer albums from which to draw, they also regularly pull out cover songs and give them the ol' Built to Spill treatment. As recounted by my friend and fellow music writer Scott Faingold, at a recent show in Bloomington, Ill., Martch announced that the band's next song would be their last; it was a cover of The Smiths classic "How Soon Is Now?" that ended 40 minutes later.

Built to Spill's show at Congress will also feature sets by Slam Dunk, Genders, and Lenguas Largas, who will kick things off around 7 p.m. Tickets for the all-ages show are $22, and are available at Call 622-8848 for more info. You're highly advised to buy tickets in advance, as I imagine the show will sell out.


Thanksgiving, aka The Best Holiday of the Year, is right around the corner, which means those entities that feed the less needy are in need themselves right now of money and food to take care of those who can't afford the type of nice Thanksgiving meal that many of us take for granted. There's a couple of shows this week that will satisfy your earholes while allowing you to help out those who need it.

For over a decade, Rich Hopkins, guitarist for the Sand Rubies and singer-guitarist for Luminarios, has staged his annual Casa Maria Thanksgiving Benefit this time of year, with all proceeds being donated to the titular beneficiary.

As I've written in previous columns: "For more than 25 years, Casa Maria, a soup kitchen located at 401 E. 26th St., has provided free meals to the poor and homeless from 8 a.m. to noon, 365 days a year. No one in need is ever turned away, and remarkably, Casa Maria receives no funding from any government agency; every penny comes from private donations.

"Hopkins met Casa Maria founder Brian Flagg more than a decade ago when he was searching for a location to shoot a video for his song 'Tender Mercies,' about the plight of the homeless community. He was so impressed with the soup kitchen that he began volunteering there; he's also released a pair of compilation albums to benefit Casa Maria."

Though Hopkins has been spending the bulk of his time in Texas with his new bride, Lisa Novak, in recent years, he always returns to organize and perform at the benefit. This year, he'll be performing a rare show with legendary desert rockers the Sand Rubies, and the bill also includes an increasingly rare local appearance by Brian Lopez, as well as a set by Nogales, Sonora-based trio Tecnobanda la Picosa.

The Casa Maria Thanksgiving Benefit hits Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22. Admission is $7 and non-perishable food donations are encouraged. For tickets and more info, head to Call 622-8848 with questions.

Later in the week, on the day before Thanksgiving, Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist AmoChip Dabney brings his anything-goes-as-long-as-it's-funky combo the Amosphere to Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave., for the club's annual Community Food Bank Drive, which begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27. Cover is a donation of $5, or $2 with two non-perishable food items. For more info check out or call 690-0991.


Back in Tucson's truly "shitty" days, it was more common to see great shows at parties thrown at houses or in warehouses as it was in an actual music venue. Perhaps more than any other current performance space in Tucson, Topaz, located at 657 W. St. Mary's, unit C1A, recalls the friendly vibe of those heady days.

This week the venue celebrates its third annual Dune Drift festival, a two-day celebration of great art and music.

It kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, with a show featuring Seattle's Night Beats (see our Rhythm and Views this week), Dream Sick, Sutcliffe Catering Co. (who will also be debuting their new video), and AZ77. There will also be artwork by Nika Kaiser, Jake Sullivan, Carbon Therrien, and Krysta Jabczenski, as well as videos by Nadine Roselle, Jess Holzworth, and Nika Kaiser.

The action continues at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23, with a rare live performance by the incredible Freezing Hands, their Burger Records labelmates Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel, Union Pacific, and Katterwaul.

Additionally, the whole shebang also serves as a release party for Dune Drift 2, a CD/cassette compilation representing the current wave of local acts.

Cover charge for each night is $5, and the shows are all-ages with a donation bar for those 21-and-over. For more information hunt down the event's Facebook page.


We're almost out of space here, so be sure and check out our listings sections for more info on shows featuring Alkaline Trio, New Found Glory, and H2O at the Rialto Theatre on Monday, Nov. 25; Sera Cahoone and Ex-Cowboy at Solar Culture Gallery on Tuesday, Nov. 26; Groundation, Paula Fuga, and Mike Love (not that Mike Love) at the Rialto Theatre on Wednesday, Nov. 27; Capsula, Fairy Bones, and The Breakup Society at Plush on Monday, Nov. 25; Cleric, Goatroper, and Brass Tax at Surly Wench Pub on Saturday, Nov. 23; Nekrofilth, The Besmirchers, Napalm Strike, Battle Stag, and Casket Birth at The District Tavern on Sunday, Nov. 24; and much, much more, including "Lluvia Flamenco": Arizona's Flamenco Celebration at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, Nov. 22.