Casa Libre Benefit

Club Congress, Friday, Oct. 3

After spending the better part of 48 hours anticipating--and then trying to forget--Sarah Palin's debate "performance," and watching the economy go to hell in a handbasket, it seemed like the perfect time to shut off the tube and celebrate more human forms of information and entertainment: Books! Music! Conversation!

I found all three down at Club Congress last Friday during a live-music benefit for Casa Libre, a local writers'-residency/creative-community hub. Besides Casa Libre being a great cause, the suggested donation of $5 for five bands was hard to pass up.

Opening the benefit was the rootsy blues act the Fell City Shouts, which revolves around the core duo of Brittany Dawn and Dhusty Rhodes and features a rotating cast of musicians that includes singer-songwriter Andrew Collberg. Whether behind a twangy slide guitar or a funky cabaret stomp, the quirky combo of Dawn's forlorn vocals and Rhodes' Tom Waits-like gravelly replies clicks.

On this night, Naim Amor's ever-changing backup crew included a couple of Golden Boots, giving his French pop numbers an extra edge, especially on a new tune that was right out of a '60s Bond flick--so new, in fact, that Amor later apologized for forgetting the lyrics. The rest of Golden Boots followed with their own sneak previews (one sounded like Kid A vs. Physical Graffiti), plus tracks off the just-released EV/Coyote Deathbed 12", which was being sold in colored vinyl right across from a merch table full of books from local authors.

A new version of Tucson's original alt-country act, Fourkiller Flats (they was alt-country when alt-country wasn't cool, y'all), played a solid set with some fresh material, but a new disc from the Flats still seems as elusive as a president who can pronounce "nuclear." (Editor's note: They're currently working on a new album.)

Finally, local Delta-blues singer-guitarist Tom Walbank pulled the cool kids from the Tap Room and smoking patio and brought down the house with his roaring freight-train-like harp. Since Walbank's art has appeared in a few locally published books, it was fitting that he closed the night, forging the bridge between local musicians and writers.

Then it was back to reality, the sofa and more lies about bridges to nowhere.

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