Club Crawl®: California Invasion

These three acts are collectively bringing out-of-state indie rock, blues and theatrics to Club Crawl®

While most of Club Crawl® is dedicated to the best talent that Tucson has to offer, we always sprinkle in some worthy regional acts—and Spring Club Crawl® will be showcasing three bands from California that are as diverse as the state itself.

Our 92.9 The Mountain Stage headliner, Dusty Rhodes and the River Band, were recently voted both Best Rock Band and Best Country/Americana Band at the 2009 Orange County Music Awards. Their penchant for combining rock, soul, gospel and folk music has critics comparing their sound to Exile on Main St.-era Rolling Stones.

Guitarist Kyle Divine definitely likes the comparison. "We are shying away from the Americana label for our band," he says. "We definitely feel we are more of an indie-rock band, if you need to put a label on us. Folk music in general is getting integrated into rock, so I guess in some way, we are at the forefront of that sound."

It's a sound deliciously accented by the violin-playing of Andrea Babinski. Four members of the band are both vocalists and multi-instrumentalists; this versatility gives them an extra edge and has earned them high praise for their live shows. It also helped warrant their third 2009 Orange County Music Award for Best Live Band. It's a wonder that their 2009 release, Palace and Stage, didn't win them Album of the Year accolades.

Racking up accolades of their own are the Fremonts featuring Mighty Joe Milsap, out of San Diego, who will play at the Bud Select Music Stage. In 2006, their Mighty Crazy won the San Diego Music Award for Best Blues album, and in 2003, the San Diego Reader named them Best Blues Band. Their sound is of the raw swamp variety that was honed by the likes of Slim Harpo and Lazy Lester in the '50's and '60s on Excello Records. The Fremonts seemingly live in a bygone era—they're four cats in vintage cars who could pass as rockabilly greasers, yet they're firmly entrenched in music from the other side of the tracks.

The Fremonts found a kindred soul in blues shouter Mighty Joe Milsap, who migrated to California from his home state of Kansas. The Fremonts immediately fell in love with Mighty Joe's singing and, soon after meeting him, persuaded him to front their band.

"We were all big fans of swamp pop, and in general, Joe is such a big fan of all kinds of music. He is willing to sing the material that we present him," says Tony Tomlinson, the band's main songwriter and guitarist. "The toughest thing in a blues band is to get a singer who can really deliver, and in Mighty Joe, we got that, and more."

The Fremonts have a lot of individual talent, with three musicians who switch instruments from song to song.

"Three of us share all the duties between guitar, harmonica and bass, depending on what song we are playing. We've been together for seven years, and it creates a tight, cohesive groove that is the trademark of our band," says Tomlinson.

It's fitting that Triple Cobra is gracing the Rialto stage during Club Crawl®, for they are quite the theatrical sextet. They're a glam-rock band from the Bay Area, and they seem extra determined to really go for it during their live shows. Let's just say they are not shy about portraying themselves in a flamboyant light. As their bio states: "The sexiest band in San Francisco sends epic melodies soaring. ... Dancers adorned in furs, feathers and fishnets shake and grind. ... This sensual mix of drama and power, lust and longing, create an event erupting with radiant glamour and raw spectacle."

That said, they also have the musical chops to back up their theatrics. They offer a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners approach to rock 'n' roll that would have Iggy, Ziggy and David Johansen shaking their hips in approval.

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