Hitting the Trifecta

A singer-songwriter festival brings in a talented trio.

Normally, to get an earful of country-rock singer-songwriters Randy Weeks, Tony Gilkyson and Mike Stinson, you'd have to travel about 500 miles west to catch one of their bi-weekly showcases at the Cinema Bar in Culver City, Calif.

But these acclaimed musical journeymen, longtime collaborators and solid players will bring their music across the desert to Tucson this weekend. Weeks, Gilkyson and Stinson are slated to perform Friday night, Nov. 21, at Plush.

Weeks, as you may or may not know, was born and raised in Southern Minnesota before washing up in Los Angeles in the 1980s. As one of the founding members of The Lonesome Strangers, he helped kick-start L.A.'s country-rock/Americana/cowpunk movement during the late '80s and early '90s. His band recorded three memorable albums and toured the world, opening for the likes of Dwight Yoakam.

Since The Lonesome Strangers disbanded, Weeks has focused his taut songwriting on a series of gritty, back to basics bands and a pair of exemplary solo albums.

Weeks' highest-profile claim to fame probably is as the author of the sultry tune "Can't Let Go," which Lucinda Williams performed on her platinum, Grammy Award-winning album, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Weeks' music also has appeared in such movies as Jack Frost and Shallow Hal.

But equally worthy of attention was Weeks' solo debut, Madeline (2000, Hightone Records), which attracted the songwriting and roots-rock cognoscenti for its able blending of roadhouse-bred rock 'n' roll, blues, country and soul. It also included his version of "Can't Let Go."

In May of this year, Weeks released his acclaimed second solo CD, Sold Out at the Cinema, independent of any record labels. Despite its Live at Budokan-style title, it's a studio album and an homage to the free Saturday night gigs at Weeks' favorite watering hole.

Sold Out at the Cinema was recorded in L.A. and at Tucson's Wavelab Studios. Tucson-based troubadour Teddy Morgan, by the way, produced the Tucson tracks, completing the local connection.

On the album is longtime pal Gilkyson, a veteran who has worked with such artists as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, T-Bone Burnett and Tucson's Mark Insley.

Among the record's team of drummers (which includes Tucson's Tom Larkins) is Mike Stinson--himself a fine singer-songwriter who has done stints working with Vic Chesnutt, Liz Phair and the aforementioned Yoakam.

Stinson last year saw the release of his first album, Jack of All Heartache, on which both Weeks and Gilkyson appear.

Gilkyson, who released a solo album, Sparko, in 1998, is the son of Terry Gilkyson, a composer for Walt Disney and a prominent folk singer in his own right. Tony also has performed with such artists Sam Phillips, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Dave Alvin. He has produced recordings for Exene Cervenka, Chuck E. Weiss, sister Eliza Gilkyson and Dances With Wolves author and poet Michael Blake.

Weeks, Gilkyson and Stinson all were named recently in Billboard as integral talents among the contemporary roots-rock scene in Los Angeles.

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