If you're green, here's the dilly in a nutshell: Local bands that normally perform original music perform a 20-minute set of songs by a well-known artist of their choosing. Pretty simple, right?
Taken from an idea that originated in Champaign, Ill., the first Tucson edition was at Club Congress--its home ever since--in 1998. The first two were organized by Shoebomb frontwoman Melissa Manas and then-Congress booker Mia Proli; by 2000, Proli was no longer working at the club, and Manas was knocked-up (baby Joey's doing just fine these days--thanks for asking). In other words, the show wasn't going to go on. Sufficiently bummed out that my very favorite local musical event wasn't going to happen, I, along with a bevy of like-minded compadres (last year's crew was Curtis McCrary of Club Congress, Sesaly Stamps from The Brewster Center, Fletcher Chmara and Kini Wade) decided to take the reins. Over the years, the sucker's grown from one night to two, and from seven bands in its first year to 20 last year. Our aim is to make the fifth anniversary edition even bigger and better, so we can raise a heaping pile of dough for our beneficiary, The Brewster Center, a local domestic violence service organization that provides shelter, crisis intervention and advocacy.
Here's where you come in. We need bands to play the aforementioned 20-minute sets of covers and, as usual, you will not get paid. Yes, we know it's a lot to ask. Yes, we know it's hard work learning a set of songs that you'll probably never play again. But it's also likely the most fun you'll ever have doing volunteer work.
Before you start adding up those karmic brownie points, we need you to pick which band you want to cover. As always, any band or artist covered in previous years is off-limits. For your convenience, here's a (hopefully) complete list of everyone who's already been covered: Abba, Bauhaus, The Beach Boys, Beastie Boys, the Bee-Gees, Black Sabbath, David Bowie, The Cars, Cheap Trick, The Clash, Concrete Blonde, Elvis Costello, Cream, The Cure, Devo, The Doors, Foreigner, Funkadelic, Guns 'N Roses, Hall and Oates, Billie Holiday, Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson, Jane's Addiction, Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar, Billy Joel, The Kinks, L'Trimm, Led Zeppelin, N.W.A., New Order, Pink Floyd, The Pixies, PJ Harvey, The Police, Elvis Presley, The Pretenders, Primus, Prince, The Replacements, The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, The Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, Shoebomb, Sly and the Family Stone, The Smiths, the Steve Miller Band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Velvet Underground, songs from Walt Disney films, The Who, Stevie Wonder, X, XTC, Neil Young and Frank Zappa.
In an e-mail, please list your band name, what type of music you normally play, your top three picks for bands you'd like to cover, and a contact name and number and/or e-mail address. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org under the heading COVER-UP, no later than Friday, October 4. You're highly encouraged to get creative: delve outside your usual genre, pick a band that will allow you to dress up, etc. In the meantime, we'll be checking our e-mail, waiting to see what fabulous ideas you have in store for us this year. Good luck to all, and thank you in advance for your submissions.
DREAM WEAVERS: Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink, both of Athens, Ga., have been members of Bright Eyes, Now It's Overhead, Little Red Rocket, and Japancakes (just Fink), and have collaborated with Eminem's favorite bespectacled "techno" artist, Moby, on a track from his latest album, 18. But their full-time gig for the last couple years has been as a duo called Azure Ray.
The pair released a self-titled debut album last year, on Warm Recordings, and so far this year, has released an EP called November (Saddle Creek), and another LP, Burn and Shiver (also on Warm). The two full-lengths were produced by Eric Bachmann, formerly of Archers of Loaf, and currently of Crooked Fingers, and the EP was produced by Andy Lemaster, of Now It's Overhead, who will open Azure Ray's show this week, with assistance from Taylor and Fink.
Thank goodness we've got Solar Culture Gallery in town, because there's hardly another venue that could accommodate an Azure Ray show. The duo's music, played almost exclusively on acoustic guitars and keys, is so quiet that it would get lost in a sea of chatter and clinking beer bottles in most bars. With songs that are languid and moody, without sinking into depression, Azure Ray trade in a simple but stunningly beautiful brand of dream-pop that should appeal to fans of Low, Kate Bush, and Mazzy Star. Highly recommended.
Azure Ray performs on Tuesday, September 17, at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. Now It's Overhead and Broken Spindles start the show at 9 p.m. Cover is $7. For more information call 884-0874.
STARS OF TEXAS: A pair of distinctive and highly esteemed Texans hits town this week at the historic El Casino Ballroom.
Joe "King" Carrasco began his recording life in the late '70s, when his self-described "nuevo wavo"--an updated version of earlier Tex-Mex-meets-Farfisa bands, like the Sir Douglas Quintet, re-created in his own crown- and cape-wearing image--caught the ears of Elvis Costello (proclaiming him "better than The Police," strangely enough), who got Carrasco signed to then-burgeoning UK label Stiff Records. Since that time, Carrasco has flirted with reggae and Tejano, been produced by the legendary Jim Dickinson, and even got Michael Jackson to sing back-ups on a tune from his 1982 album Synapse Gap (MCA).
Much like his largest inspiration, Bob Dylan, singer/songwriter Jimmy LaFave marries folk elements with a rock spirit, drawing on all things Americana along the way. His sixth album, Texoma (2001, Bohemia Beat), features a track that sounds straight off Dylan's Love and Theft ("Bad Bad Girl"), some rollicking barrelhouse grooves, a batch of smoky ballads, and a cover of John Phillips' "San Francisco" that somehow doesn't sound hokey in 2002.
Jimmy LaFave and Joe "King" Carrasco perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 13, at the El Casino Ballroom, 437 E. 26th St. Advance tickets are available for $17 at Antigone Books, Brew & Vine, CD City, and Enchanted Earthworks. They'll be $20 at the door. For more info call 297-9133.
GRANTED: L.A.-based singer/songwriter Grant Langston writes songs that might be shucked off as mere novelty, were they not rooted in semi-earthy contexts. Booze, strippers, doomed relationships, and Cameron Diaz all find a place in Langston's sad-sack tales; lines like "Everyday I take a tab of ecstasy with my coffee/just so I can smile at you/'Cause baby what we got is so far gone/ I need the drugs just to get me through" are par for the course, and much of it works. Occasionally, though, Langston's earnest delivery renders the seamy underbelly not so unseemly, after all. We can only hope he keeps hitting the bottle and starts smoking (if he doesn't already) in order to acquire the grit in his voice that his lyrics demand.
Grant Langston and the Supermodels perform at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, September 13, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Greyhound Soul headlines the show. For further details call 798-1298.