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TAMHA 'CACTUS CATFIGHT'

PLUSH

Saturday, July 31

Drummer-about-town Winston Watson and his daughter, Marcella, didn't choose between Stevie Nicks and Linda Ronstadt, and instead performed their songs one after another. They may have given Phoenician Nicks an edge, though: The duo, augmented by four ukulele players and a guitarist, performed Nicks' "Leather and Lace" straight up—but their arrangement of "I Never Will Marry" borrowed more from the Carter Family's original version than from Tucsonan Ronstadt's collaboration with Dolly Parton.

The event's clever construct—nine acts executing a "Cactus Catfight" between the two legendary Arizona vocalists—drew a sizable crowd to Plush for a fundraiser benefiting the Tucson Artists and Musicians Healthcare Alliance. TAMHA works to educate Tucson's arts community about traditional and alternative health-care resources available to them—including emergency-relief programs—even if they don't have insurance.

Not all of the bands stuck to the premise, though. Perennial blues favorite Tom Walbank and avant-French cabaret rocker Naim Amor contributed music from their highly popular regular sets, as did Chris Black, whose gypsy influences give his original material an edge of dark mystery. Black's sets are unpredictable, though; the next song may feel as much like Cab Calloway as gypsy-guitar magician Django Reinhardt.

Songstress Emilie Marchand and drummer Tasha Bundy devoted their whole set to Ronstadt selections, a choice that underscored the confidence and control in Marchand's croon, especially on the demanding sustains of Roy Orbison's "Blue Bayou." She rocked out, though, on the Clint Ballard-penned "You're No Good."

Dan Hostetler introduced The Determined Luddites' Ronstadt selection, "Some of Shelly's Blues," with an amusing story about its composer, Monkee Mike Nesmith, who, according to Hostetler, was already a millionaire by virtue of his mother's having invented Liquid Paper. (The story checks out as true on Snopes; who knew?)

Despite the earlier, Ronstadt-stacked representations, The Tryst blew it out of the park for Nicks, thanks to the gorgeous girl harmonies on "Crystal" during the closing set. The Ronstadt and Nicks songs that still play in memory are, by and large, production-heavy, with fleshy instrumentation. The Tryst had that; the others didn't. End of story.

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