For Those About To Rock: Celebrating the return of live music—safely!

Gogol Bordello brings their signature blend of punk to the Rialto on Saturday, Sept. 4 with NuFolk Rebel Alliance.

With trepidation and a childlike sense of awe that is felt viscerally—say, like when an exotic Eastern dish of fried scorpions is placed upon an American dinner table—we take our first hopeful steps forward through the darkness and uncertainty of pandemia. As such, a statewide group of independent venues (including Fox Tucson Theatre, Hotel Congress, The Rialto Theater, and 191 Toole in Tucson) banded together—with a sense of shared responsibility and following CDC as well as local health guidelines to provide safe environments “for those about to rock”—to sign an accord requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination (or negative test results) and a mask to attend an indoor concert event. Masks may not be required for outdoor events. It is advised to contact the venue as public health guidelines, specific artist requests, and events unfold. In the spirit of hedonism (tempered with proper prophylactic use), XOXO returns with a curated list of musical happenings around town. Read on...


Mark your calendars… 

Friday, Sept. 3

Chaka Khan has had a turbulent past—recruited by the Black Panthers at 14, landing a record deal at 17, marrying thereafter (and feigning pregnancy when her mother refused to sign the contract on her behalf), earning her first Grammy with Rufus’ 1974 platinum-selling album, Rags to Rufus, sowing the early seeds of a lengthy addiction, withstanding “rip-off artist” managers and shady record deals, persevering through the death of her confidante and collaborator Prince. Having tread “Through the Fire,” the now teetotaling vegan superstar blurs the borders between R&B, jazz, pop, and funk. At AVA Amphitheater. With special guest Sheila E. ... This 19-year-old rapper’s academic background—studying classical music, theory and performance at Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts—is equally as rich as having blossomed in East L.A., raised on a diet of vintage reggae and old school funk, secretly writing and rapping in her bathroom mirror at age 12. A few years later, at 19, she was opening for Tyga and received a game-changing co-sign from Cardi B, who reposted her standout “Money” remix (swapping in empowering lyrics about the importance of intelligence) on social media, making it go viral. “That Bitch” Malaynah brings her latest release, Evolution, to 191 Toole... “Wading through the jaded surrender of nihilism and the painful vulnerability of hope,” Moonblind chronicles recent years of reflection and creation by this Tucson-based indie-pop duo. When nighttime comes, haunted by the moon’s light, Night Weather celebrates the release of their new album. At Club Congress. Dirt Friends join in the festivities... As their latest single, “Rodeo Girls,” tops the charts on Radio Texas LIVE, surpassing Aaron Watson’s smash “Boots,” Micky and The Motorcars bring their plainspoken, alt-country grit to The Rock. With the red dirt country of Drew Cooper… 

Saturday, Sept. 4

For the uninitiated, this musical street riot led by frenetic frontman Eugene Hütz (a Chernobyl nuclear disaster survivor) formed in New York in 1999, by musicians hailing from Ukraine, Ecuador, Russia and Ethiopia. Imbued with acts of musical theater, chaos and sorcery, the musical alchemy of these “superpowered immigrant vampires” coalesced when they injected a strong dose of punk rock into traditional Gypsy music, setting out to confront the death of irony. Their seventh studio album, Seekers and Finders, issues a decree. “People think you explore the world with the latest phone in your hand,” says Hütz. “That’s the antithesis of living for us. My focus is always on staying experiential. Go for first-hand information, transmute it into wisdom, and share it with the people in a communal celebration.” Gogol Bordello works their Trans-Continental Hustle at The Rialto Theater. Border-crossing, folk/dub/punk duo, NuFolk Rebel Alliance opens... These SoCal garage rockers’ latest single, “Nervous,” was recently tapped by Rolling Stone Australia as a “song you need to know.” Set to appear on their forthcoming fifth album DYE, which is described as “an upbeat, undeniable collection of hooks, anthems, and power-pop garage-rock catchiness.” Known for their brash, booze-addled shows, like cocksure Bulls and Roosters, Together Pangea strut onto the stage. At 191 Toole. Locals Sad Park and Stripes rev things up... 


Sunday, Sept. 5 

Small wonder. This raconteur remembers growing up in a little ranch house crammed with 10,000 books. Weaned on a steady diet of Johnny Cash and Roy Acuff records, he received his first guitar at age 7 from his novelist father Larry McMurtry. “My mother taught me three chords and the rest I just stole as I went along,” he remembers. Much like his old man, he’s grown to be a fiction writer, of sorts, who employs music as a vehicle for his character-based storytelling: “Moving tales of downtrodden fishermen, lusty late middle-age loners, and stubborn ‘equestrian women.’” In an interview with Rolling Stone, the Texan scoffs, “I don’t do autobiography. My songs are made up.” Of his latest album, The Horses and The Hounds, he says, “There’s a definite Los Angeles vibe to this record.” He quips, “The ghost of Warren Zevon seems to be stomping around among the guitar tracks. Don’t know how he got in there. He never signed on for work for hire.” Acclaimed singer-songwriter James McMurtry performs on the plaza at Hotel Congress...


Tuesday, Sept. 7 

During the 1980s, guitarist/songwriter Rich Hopkins’ work with the Sidewinders (RCA/Mammoth), progenitors of the desert rock sound, and with the Sand Rubies (Polydor/Atlas) is at once a success story that lives on in Tucson lore and a cautionary tale. In 1989, “Witch Doctor” climbed the rock charts to #18 followed by a second radio hit, “We Don’t Do That Anymore,” before legal entanglements and record industry cuacha exacerbated a break-up. Today, Rich Hopkins & the Luminarios, like Mexican jumping cactus, will attach themselves to your skin. On the plaza at Hotel Congress. Genre hopping, Mexi-Americana singer-songwriters FebboFuentes get the evening underway... 

Until next week, XOXO...

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