BACK IN THE SWING OF THINGS: Remember a couple of years back when the neo-swing phenomenon was in, um, full swing? The stuff was completely inescapable for a little while there (lest we forget the khaki-clad twentysomethings lindy-hopping to "Jump Jive and Wail" on Gap ads). But before you could say "sharkskin suit," the modern swing renaissance pretty much dropped off the radar screen. Or did it?

Much like the ska movement that preceded it, it seems swing merely went back underground--where it originated--and the die-hards kept the torch burning. Which brings us to pianist Brenden Kearney, bassist Steve Grams and drummer Kyle Bronsdon, collectively known as local swing jazz trio Kearney, Grams and Bronsdon. Veterans of Tucson swingsters Kings of Pleasure, the threesome left that unit a year ago to form their trio, which recently issued its self-released debut CD, Nine Waters, No Tip. It's a somewhat bare-bones but winning combination of originals and canonized classics like Louis Jordan's "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't" and Duke Ellington's "I've Got To Be A Rug Cutter."

In a somewhat refreshing bucking of trends, the KGB trio is celebrating its mere paper anniversary (read: one year) this week with a performance on Thursday, August 3, at Boondocks, 3306 N. First Ave. The evening begins with a potluck dinner at 7:30 p.m., and $4 will get you through the door. Call 690-0991 with questions.

HOMECOMING KINGS: Local desert noir duo Calexico is back in town for a brief between-tours stint. It's fresh off a European tour playing those giant outdoor festivals the British are so fond of, followed by a string of West Coast U.S. dates, which included a San Francisco show with Al Perry sitting in. Between promoting its newest release, Hot Rail, and touring as two-thirds of Giant Sand (which played its best local show in years opening for Grandaddy last month--if you missed it, you really missed out), Tucson shows, at least for a while, have become somewhat rare.

For the first time, the duo took the four-piece Mariachi Luz de Luna on tour to fill out the sound and more closely replicate the mariachi-fueled numbers on its records. The experiment seems to have been a success ("Those guys are a real kick in the pants," says Calexico singer/guitarist Joey Burns), enough so that they're invited to participate in the duo's homecoming gig this weekend.

See Calexico team up with Mariachi Luz de Luna, along with DJ Manuelito, at 9 p.m. on Saturday, August 5, at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. Admission to this all-ages show is $7, and I'd advise you to get there early. Call 884-0874 with those itching, burning questions.

INDEPENDENT WOMEN: Common sense would tell you that a band called The Rondelles would be some now-forgotten '60s girl group, and common sense would be on the right track, but in the end, wrong. The Rondelles are instead a very '90s female punk-pop band that merely refers to '60s girl groups for inspiration. Mixing infectious girly-pop hooks with garage punk guitars and peppy organ (think "96 Tears"), the group has recorded platters for esteemed indies K Records and Teenbeat. If you're fans of either of those labels' output, don't miss The Rondelles when they appear at 9 p.m. on Monday, August 7, along with Estrus recording artists The Mooney Suzuki, at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. Cover is five bucks, and that number again is 884-0874.

HARD TO GET: A quick heads-up: one of reggae's living legends, Jimmy Cliff, has rescheduled last year's Tucson cancellation for next Thursday, August 10. The word comes along with a good news/bad news caveat. The good news is that the show will take place at Bob's, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road, about as intimate a setting as you'll ever get to catch the artist known for classics like "You Can Get It If You Really Want," "The Harder They Come" and "Many Rivers To Cross." The bad news is that the show will take place at Bob's, a venue so intimate that the show will, no doubt, sell out in a heartbeat. If you plan on attending, I'd highly recommend getting your tickets as soon as possible to avoid being shut out of the festivities.

Jimmy Cliff appears on Thursday, August 10, at Bob's. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and Papa Ranger will occupy the opening slot. Advance tickets are available for $20 at CD Depot; Hear's Music; Guitars, Etc.; Zip's University; and Bob's. You can also purchase tickets on the Web at or by phone at 1-800-965-4827. They'll be $25 at the door. For more information call 733-6262.

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