OUT OF NOWHERE; ON TO L.A.: Last Saturday at Chicago Bar, Tucson blues, jazz and reggae fans howled for encores, clapped, and finally waved good-bye to one of the Old Pueblo's longest-standing and most versatile resident guitar players, Xavier Marquez.

The eminently likable Marquez has been a mainstay in nightclubs and on other stages, from the far-flung resorts to regular appearances at Terry and Zeke's, Café Sweetwater, Chicago Bar, at friend Sam Taylor's short-lived House of Blues, and a variety of local festivals.

He and singer Liz Fletcher (a guitar/bass duo called The Connection) were the premiere band to bring live music to Café Sweetwater some 14 years ago -- a venue that became synonymous with serious jazz, not only from the local pool but among celebrity guests including the Wynton Marsalis band and Ed Olmos. If only Marquez had time to tell all the stories--.

In a town where many complain about a lack of support for local musicians, Marquez has nothing but good things to say. He moved out here from his hometown of Los Angeles with a Top-40 band, sitting in with and also starting several bands of his own (including X and the Marble Tones, Barbara Bird and the Fellas, and The Blue Tigers). In recent years he's been the steady ax man for the rockin' jazz-fusion quartet Out of Nowhere, and also for reggae innovators Neon Prophet (his bandmates since '88).

In addition to playing locally, opening for acts like Gatemouth Brown, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins and Willie Dixon, Marquez also threw himself into commercial work at Tucson-based Sound Element (writing and recording music for video games); and teaching guitar and bass at Rainbow Guitars. He gives special thanks to Rainbow owner Harvey Moltz, whom he calls "a star in my universe."

"He helped me in so many ways," Marquez says by phone, the sounds of boxes being packed echoing in the background. "He's given me all the work and all the equipment I've ever needed."

Though sad to leave, family ties are calling him home.

"I've grown so much musically and spiritually," he says. "(Nineteen eighty-five) was the perfect time to come, and now it's the perfect time to go back. I love Tucson so much. I've met a lot of different people, great musicians that I wouldn't have met any other way. I'm so proud of being connected to them."

Right back attcha, X! It won't be the same without you. -- Mari Wadsworth

GOIN' TUBIN': When I was but a wee music fan -- before I'd even hit the double digits -- on the occasional special Saturday my father would take me to the AM rock station where he worked (back when there was such a thing). It was always very cool to hang out at "the station" -- spending time in the DJ booth, the veritable Valhalla whence the blissful din of '70s soundwaves emanated -- but the best thing by far was when my dad let me scarf records from the reject pile.

Back in those days, the record companies would send out every release they had to radio stations, no matter how slim its chances at airplay; the ones deemed instantly unusable got tossed into the reject pile, which I always imagined meant they would be thrown out in the dumpster if no one claimed them. My father would let me take three, maybe four of the rejects every time I hung out at the station.

Of course, most of them were crap, but occasionally there was a nice little nugget in the bunch. I still have most, if not all, of them, and it's interesting to look at the albums today and try and figure out what compelled me to pick the ones I did (keeping in mind that my choices were based on aesthetics alone). Some, like Dwight Twilley's power-pop gem Twilley Don't Mind, would become oft-played later in life, though I have no idea why I picked it based on the lifeless color cover photo of Dwight himself. The Thor record, on the other hand, by a guy who actually called himself Thor and wore the medieval garb -- iron codpiece 'n' all -- to prove he was who he said he was, was an obvious attempt to play A&R guy on my part by finding the "next Kiss." And finally, there was The Tubes.

The album was What Do You Want From Live, a double live set that caught my attention immediately based on the giant black block letters wrapping the entire cover, front and back, with the name of the band, the album title, and all of the song titles, which included "White Punks on Dope," "Mondo Bondage" and "Don't Touch Me There." Add to that the white sticker which read: Certain vulgarities are uttered on the track "What Do You Want From Life" and between songs on sides 3 and 4, and I was more than intrigued. And then I opened up the gatefold jacket and found a collage of photos the likes of which my 9-year-old eyes had never seen: photo after photo of women dressed in nothing but g-strings and pasties (or the alternative black duct tape), men and women in black leather bondage gear, TV sets onstage, a virtual D.I.Y. theatrical presentation rivaling my heroes, Kiss, in sheer debauchery, if not firepower.

It was the first record of the bunch that I listened to when I got home, and I was, naturally, disappointed. How could the music live up to that record sleeve, after all? But for some reason, as the years went by I would repeatedly pull the album from my ever-growing stack and give it a second, and third, chance. And through the years I came to like The Tubes more and more, once I realized that they weren't just about scantily clad silliness; this was true parody, and there were deeper issues under the surface.

A few years later, I had grown to like them enough that after seeing them perform a song called "Sushi Girl" on SCTV, I went out the next day and bought the album that featured it, The Completion Backwards Principle (which also included the semi-hit "Talk To Ya Later"). I was hooked until their big "sell-out" moment (which to a budding teenager like myself at the time translated as "played on the radio"): "She's A Beauty" was inescapable, played incessantly by MTV, until I simply couldn't bear the fact that this band that I had discovered years earlier, dammit was suddenly all the rage. Of course in retrospect I realize that's just silly, that it doesn't matter if a song is played on the radio or not, that what matters is whether or not the song's any good to begin with. (Fee Waybill, all is forgiven.)

I never got to witness the full-on spectacle of a live Tubes show back then, so I was rather excited to hear they were coming to town this week, full band intact, with the exception of keyboardist Vince Welnick, who was, oddly enough, a member of the final incarnation of the Grateful Dead. And while I was somewhat saddened to learn that their current stage show hardly resembles the band's naughty heyday, I stopped and realized that in the end it's the songs that matter.

I will, indeed, be in attendance when the Tubes take the stage of the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. Thursday, January 20. Tickets will be $17 at the door, and you can call 798-3333 for additional information.

In a related aside, I'd like to wish my father, who worked at "the station" -- now actually two FM stations along with the original AM -- for 40 years, a very happy retirement. The reason I began listening to the radio in the first place was to hear his voice being broadcast over the airwaves, and for better or worse, I credit him with sparking my avid interest in music. Thanks, dad.

UNDERSTATED ARTISTRY: From its Tom Petty-inspired opener, "Red River Saloon," to the experimental instrumental wackiness of "Intergalactic Space-Shitting Dinosaurs," and the lo-fi guitar pop opus of the nine minute-plus "Tender Mercies" (wherein we are treated to a firsthand account of why Rich Hopkins is the king of Southwest desert guitar rock), Rich Hopkins & Luminarios' new disc, Devolver, released on the German imprint Blue Rose Records in conjunction with Hopkins' own San Jacinto label (you can find it in most local record shops), is a somewhat subdued affair compared to the rip-roaring guitar freakery we've come to expect from Hopkins and company.

Acoustic guitars outnumber electric ones on this album, and even the band's take on Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane" -- included on the five-song bonus disc that accompanies the limited-edition first batch -- torturously (and I mean that in the best way possible) only explodes during its final minute. It's as though they're intentionally fucking with our expectations: we know full well that Hopkins won't let the opportunity to raise hell on a Neil tune pass him by, but after five minutes of a lovely acoustic version of the song, he's somehow convinced us otherwise. But what a final minute it is.

Indeed, the bonus disc is where the boys stretch out and jam like the desert rock days of yore, and as such, it also approximates the band's live shows more accurately than the actual album. Two sides of the same coin, as it were. Not so different from Neil himself, in that respect.

In addition to opening for Lee Rocker on Friday (see article this section), Rich Hopkins & Luminarios will be performing on Saturday, January 22, at Plaza Pub, 20 E. Pennington St., along with Tucson supergroup The Fraidy Cats and Caliche Con Carne. Cover charge is three bucks, and things should get cookin' around 9 p.m. Call 882-0400 for details.

'GRASS ROOTS: Those with a hankerin' to hear some traditional bluegrass would do themselves a favor by checking out The Perfect Strangers, a five-piece pickin' and grinnin' combo which features the talents of Peter McLaughlin, the 1998 National Flatpicking Guitar Champion; his fellow Arizonan, Chris Brashear; Bob Black, who was a member of Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys from 1972-74; the Grammy Award-nominated Jody Stetcher; and bassist Forrest Rose, who also played with Bill Monroe for a spell.

The Perfect Strangers perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 22, at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Advance tickets are $14 ($12 for In Concert!, DBA, TKMA and TFTM members) and are available at Hear's Music and Antigone Books. They'll be $16 at the door. Call 327-4809 for more information.

DOUBLE HAPPINESS: And finally, we are graced this week with a double bill to die for: Alejandro Escovedo and Richard Buckner are two of the finest Americana singer/songwriters to currently grace the planet, and this week they'll be appearing together at one of Tucson's most intimate clubs. If these two men don't move you to your foundation, then you have no soul.

DO NOT MISS Alejandro Escovedo and Richard Buckner when they take the stage of 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St., at 9 p.m. Wednesday, January 26. Cover charge is an embarrassingly low five bucks, and you can call the club at 670-9202 with any further questions. -- Stephen Seigel

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