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TUCSON MUSIC CITY

Every once in a while, our humble little burg is graced with a week in which our musical options rival a city several times our size. This, my friends, is one of those weeks.

But with those options come some tough decisions. Take, for example, Wednesday, May 3, when both Art Brut and Islands (each the subject of a feature article in this issue) perform shows virtually down the street from each other. Tough call, eh? Or Friday, April 28: Will it be Subtle or Mark Olson and Gary Louris? Murs or Starlight Mints and Dios (Malos) on Tuesday, May 2? And next Thursday, May 4, there's Cheap Trick, The John Butler Trio or Acid Mother's Temple.

I hope you've been saving your pennies, people, 'cause they'll surely be gone by week's end. Let's get to it, shall we?


OPEN YOUR WALLETS

It's become somewhat of a yearly tradition for us to offer up our two cents regarding the lineup of acts scheduled to perform at KFMA Day, the annual day- and night-long endurance test thrown by the radio station that resides at both 92.1 and 101.3 on your FM dial, which takes place this year on Saturday, April 29. (A somewhat random aside: Why can't the UA's KAMP get a radio frequency, while some local stations get two?) The home of "Tucson's New Rock" has had some fine lineups, as well as some serious clunkers in the past, and we're pleased to report this year's schedule is, for the most part, looking pretty darn good.

Headlining the shindig are British rockers The Cult, one of the few bands in the '80s (along with Jane's Addiction) who were able to bridge the gap between fans of hard rock and punk, and who were still in fine form nearly six years ago when we caught them at the Rialto. When New York City's The Strokes dropped their debut album, Is This It (RCA), in 2001, they were touted as the leaders of a pack of bands that could save rock 'n' roll (not that it needed saving, but we'll save that for another time). Five years and two more albums later, their star and their album sales have diminished somewhat, but we're still stoked to finally see them live. Kudos to whoever is responsible for nabbing their first local appearance.

Touring in advance of the June release of Decemberunderground, their debut album for new label Interscope, arena-friendly goth-hardcore vets AFI make their second appearance at KFMA Day. Rounding out the bill are political punkers Rise Against, the pop-punk of Rock Kills Kid, 2 Cents and Arizonans Fivespeed.

It all goes down at Tucson Sports Park, 6901 Casa Grande Highway, just off of Interstate 10. Doors open at noon, with music starting at 1:15 p.m. Advance tickets are available at all Catalina Mart locations or online at kfma.com. Now here's the bad news: One of the nice things about KFMA Days past was the relatively cheap tickets, but that seems to be kaput this year. While last year's festival put you out a reasonable $30, this year's event will set you back $45. Ouch! For more info, head to KFMA's Web site, listed above.


BEST BAND EVER!

Almost exactly a year after their last local appearance, Cheap Trick returns to town this week. Even though it's at a less-than-desirable venue for a high-energy rock show, here are five reasons why you should attend anyway:

1. Cheap Trick is one of the greatest American rock 'n' roll bands ever. Period.

2. Unlike most bands whose heyday came in the '70s, Cheap Trick still retains all of its original members--singer-guitarist Robin Zander, guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson and drummer Bun E. Carlos.

3. Also unlike most bands whose heyday came in the '70s, Cheap Trick is still an incredible live band.

4. "Surrender," "I Want You to Want Me," "He's a Whore," "Southern Girls," "Mandocello," "Auf Wiedersehen," "Downed," "Hot Love," I could go on and on ...

5. See No. 1

Cheap Trick performs at the Diamond Center in the Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road, next Thursday, May 4. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts around 7 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $25 to $45 at the box office at either Desert Diamond location, by phone at 393-2799 or online at ticketmaster.com. They'll be $5 more on the day of show. For further details, call 393-2700.


LIVE AT THE FOX

It may have taken the newly renovated Fox Theatre four months to host a live musical performance following its grand opening on New Year's Eve, which featured Bruce Hornsby, but this week's show, in which two indisputable musical legends will grace the theater's stage, was well worth the wait.

Best known as lead singer for the soulful Staple Singers, Mavis Staples' voice has graced dozens of classic recordings, including "I'll Take You There," "Let's Do It Again," "Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)" and a cover of Talking Heads' "Slippery People."

Staples will serve as opener (or, more accurately, co-headliner) for Taj Mahal, who kept the tradition of acoustic country-blues alive at a time when it was anything but fashionable. Not content to play just one type of music, he eventually explored just about every type of roots music that exists--zydeco, West African, Caribbean, jazz and Hawaiian, among them--but he always came back to country-blues. It's hard to imagine the existence of such modern-day practitioners of the genre as Keb' Mo' and Ben Harper without him.

Taj Mahal and Mavis Staples perform at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 30, at the Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. Tickets are $25 and $50, available by calling UApresents at 621-3341. For more info, call 547-3040.


BLOG THIS!

On their third album, Drowaton ("Not a Word" backwards), released earlier this week on the ever-reliable Barsuk label, Oklahoma's Starlight Mints inhabit a world where Ray Davies is king, the pop hooks of '70s AM radio are omnipresent and everyone wears those glasses that turn all sources of light into rainbows. Pianos, horns and strings are as important as guitars; quirkiness is normal; and everyone owns world music albums.

What's remarkable, then, about Drowaton, is that it's a far more pleasurable and less challenging listening experience than the description would suggest. Hell, it's downright infectious. Starlight Mints are just waiting for the blogosphere to discover them.

Starlight Mints perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Tuesday, May 2. Also on the bill are the fabulous Dios (Malos) and The Octopus Project, who start things off at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $8. Call 798-1298 for more info.


ON THE BANDWAGON

We're starting to get a bit short on room, so here are some brief mentions of other noteworthy shows hitting town this week.

Just two short months after opening for Electric Six at Plush (on a bill that also included Rock Kills Kid, who are performing as part of this week's KFMA Day), She Wants Revenge catapult their derivative '80s gloom-rock to headlining status at an all-ages show at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Monday, May 1. (It's amazing what one ubiquitous hit song can do for a band's career.) Also on the bill are rock band/dance troupe OK Go, Be Your Own Pet and The Lashes, who begin at 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets are available at the venue's box office for a reasonable $13. They'll be $15 on the day of the show. For details call 740-1000.

Living Legends founder and onetime Tucsonan Murs brings a fresh batch of rhymes from his recent album, Murray's Revenge (Record Collection, 2006), back to his former stomping grounds this week. He'll be at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, May 2, along with L.A. Symphony, Supreme, Drunken Immortals and Pickster One, who gets the party started at 8:30 p.m. Advance tickets for this all-ages show are $13. They'll be $15 at the door. Call 622-8848 with questions.

Defying the notion that Australians can't play the blues, master slide guitarist and fingerpicker John Butler brings his acclaimed John Butler Trio to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., next Thursday, May 4. Jeff Lang opens this early show at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $12, available at the Rialto Theatre box office or hotelcongress.com. They'll be $14 at the door. For further details call 622-8848.

Terrifying Japanese psychedelic noiseniks Acid Mothers Temple return to town next Thursday, May 4, for a show at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Opening at 9:30 p.m. are The Antarcticans. Cover is $7. Call 798-1298 for more info.

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