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To the Dedicated DJs

Dedicated community radio stations and gracious musicians are hard to find. This Saturday, however, Tucsonans will be treated to both at the KXCI FM 91.3 benefit concert, featuring the Kevin Pakulis Band and Greyhound Soul. The Rialto Theatre is hosting the show, and the proceeds--tickets are $10--will benefit KXCI Tucson's very own community station.

Pakulis, a 2008 Tucson Area Music Awards finalist in the Country/Western category, has a good reason to thank the station: He was the most played artist of 2007 on KXCI. Being KXCI's most played artist is quite the honor, due to how the station itself is run, said Jill Nunes, Pakulis' manager and a former KXCI DJ. The station has 90 DJs, all of whom are volunteers, and all of whom choose their own playlists.

"The DJs are completely free to play whatever they want to," Nunes said. "For Kevin to be the most played artist is pretty phenomenal, because it's such an individual choice. He was very honored."

Pakulis was so honored, in fact, that he began working with Nunes to figure out how to jointly "help and thank" the station for playing his music, Nunes said.

"We were asking, 'What can we do to help?'" Nunes said. "We also wanted to show our appreciation to the DJs."

The Rialto Theatre quickly jumped on board--and the benefit concert was born.

Pakulis will not be alone on stage; his longtime musical partner, Larry Lee Lerma, will join him on bass, along with drummer Ralph Gilmore and keyboardist Duncan Stitt. An interesting tidbit: Lerma also serves as the bass player for the Blues Brothers Band with Dan Aykroyd, and Sacred Hearts, the house band for the House of Blues, according to the concert press release.

The addition of the full band will add a "rock edge" to Pakulis' "Americana" sound, Nunes said.

"I think the term Americana is misleading; (Pakulis) sounds different than the normal folk sound," Nunes said. "This is the kind of show where you will be dancing, or at least up out of your seat."

A 2007 East Valley Tribune article by Chris Hansen Orf described Pakulis' work on Mockingbird Radio, a recent album, as "veering from bluesy-Mark Knopfler- and Stevie Ray Vaughn-esque guitar workouts to acoustic folk to Tejano-influenced country to Springsteen-styled rock, with Pakulis peeling off a smattering of tasty hooks, riffs and solos."

Pakulis will be playing primarily from Mockingbird Radio and his Yeah, Yeah, Yeah album, but the band will also take a stab at music from Pakulis and Lerma's recently released self-titled acoustic CD. (See Page 53 for a review.)

Joining the Kevin Pakulis Band will be fellow Tucson band Greyhound Soul, Pakulis' own "personal favorite band." Greyhound Soul features Joe Pena, Duane Hollis (who works for the Weekly as a graphic designer), Jason DeCorse, Robin Johnson, Glen Corey, Alan Anderson and Winston Watson; their sound was described by Orf as "bluesy folk rock," and he mentioned Pena's skilled songwriting as a reason to listen.

In the fall, Greyhound Soul will be touring Europe to promote their album Tonight and Every Night, the 2008 TAMMIES runner-up for Best New Release.

If these two bands aren't enough to get you out to the Rialto, consider the opportunity to help out KXCI, a self-proclaimed "endangered species" due to recent funding cutbacks and the struggling economy.

"This is a tough time for everyone," Nunes said. "The station is definitely feeling the effects of the economy."

KXCI is one of approximately 20 community radio stations left in the country, Nunes said. The station is funded entirely by private donations, small businesses and events like the benefit concert.

Aside from providing quality music, KXCI offers an invaluable resource to the Tucson community, Nunes said. Because the station is commercial-free, it has the space to provide "community information, local news and public affairs," and the space for other nonprofits to be seen and heard, Nunes said.

"It's amazing when right after a public-service announcement, the phone lines will light up with people asking for more information," Nunes said.

The DJs themselves are also worth supporting; all volunteers, some have worked upwards of 20 years for the station, Nunes said.

"It's a labor of love," she said. "These people are dedicated."

The KXCI Community Radio Benefit Concert will be held Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the all-ages show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10; all seats are general admission. For information about tickets, contact the Rialto at 740-1000. For more information about Pakulis, visit his Web site.

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