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WHAT HAPPENED TO LUTHER CAMPBELL, ANYWAY?

Here at Soundbites, we do our best to give you a full week's notice when shows fall on a Thursday night, since that's the day our paper officially hits the racks. But sometimes, we must make exceptions to that rule. For example, we didn't receive a press kit on this next band 'til a few days ago, but we'd be remiss if we didn't do what we could in an attempt to steer you to them, so that you, dear reader, can treat yourself to some fine entertainment.

I like words, lyrics, vocal melodies, all that. Always have. And maybe that explains why I've got a certain amount of trepidation about checking out some "great new instrumental band" that everyone seems to love. Hell, I love tons of jazz and lots of other music in any number of genres where singing isn't present. But, for some reason, when I merely hear music in which there are no vocals described to me, I just get a bit skeptical about how much I'm going to like it.

And, thank goodness, I'm proven wrong by this prejudice time and time again.

The latest example to prove me wrong is Toubab Krewe, who take the stage at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., tonight, Thursday, June 8. If you're reading this, and the show hasn't happened yet, do yourself a favor: Head over there, hand 'em five bucks and tell all your jealous friends later what you saw and heard.

Don't even bother Googling them. You'll just be subjected to their links to the jam-band world, which would probably steer me away, too. And don't be scared away, either, by the fact that Toubab Krewe comprise five young white dudes from North Carolina playing music rooted in Africa--apparently, they spent time living there, learning this stuff from the masters. And, to their credit, they don't just regurgitate what they learned. They use the rhythms and grooves native to West Africa as a jumping-off point for their own brand of sonic exploration, which also incorporates other global elements that include everything from Brazilian pop to the loping sound of the Caribbean, as well North American-originated traces of American Indian tribal drumming, psychedelic and surf guitar, jazzy detours and way more. It's become something of a music crit cliché to say that a band sounds like they've put all the music of the world into a blender and mixed it up to arrive at their own frothy concoction, but possibly no other band I've ever heard warrants that simile like Toubab Krewe.

I have a feeling that once the band's self-titled debut album, released on June 6, on Upstream, catches the ear of David Byrne, Luaka Bop is going to have a new signing.

Plush's number is 798-1298.


SSSH! SINGER-SONGWRITERS!

When one thinks of the Olympia, Wash., label Kill Rock Stars, the first things that usually come to mind are riot grrrl movement bands like Bikini Kill, Heavens to Betsy and Bratmobile; eclectic, challenging bands like Unwound and Huggy Bear; and lesbian-friendly acts like Phranc and Team Dretch. Oh, and the label's series of compilation albums that mix established acts with unknown ones, who later become to be quite well-known (Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Deerhoof, to name but two). But let's not forget that the label was also home to quieter types like Mary Lou Lord and Elliott Smith.

This week, the label releases The Sound the Hare Heard, a compilation boasting 21 songs by some of those quieter singer-songwriter types, and keeping with the label's M.O., again, it places tracks by already widely beloved artists (Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists' Colin Meloy, Laura Veirs) alongside folks most of us have never heard of. In a press kit accompanying the CD, KRS owner Slim Moon explains his motivation for its release: "When I'm sifting through demos or following up on tips people give me, I always pay special attention to the singer-songwriter types. I've always had a soft spot for them, from Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell to Elliott Smith and Joanna Newsom. This compilation is a distillation of the songwriters--well-established, just starting out or somewhere in between--who have turned me on in the new millennium."

To celebrate the CD's release and to give exposure to some of the lesser-knowns that appear on it, a rotating crew of the album's contributors is heading out on a tour that arrives in Tucson this week. Starting at 9 p.m. on Monday, June 12, Lovers, Thao Nguyen, Simone White and Southerly--all of whose tracks on the disc are excellent, especially Lovers' gorgeous "Honea," which is one of the CD's highlights--will perform an all-ages show at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave. Admission is $6. Call 884-0874 for more information.


THEY'RE SCREWED IF IT'S A HUMID EVENING

Lord knows Tucson loves its musical traditions, and this weekend, the fine folks at Vaudeville Cabaret hope to start a new one. The first annual Dry Heat Fest will feature six bands, and the lineup, in descending order of appearance, looks a little something like this: the speedy but melodic quirk-punk of Tucson's Swing Ding Amigos; Ohio's Kill the Hippies, who veer between old-school blazing-quick punk and something a bit more arty; Montreal's Demon's Claws, a '60s garage-rock-inspired combo, whose next album will be released on In the Red; fellow Montrealean (is that a word?) one-man band BBQ, whose upcoming platter will appear on the legendary Bomp! imprint; Pine Hill Haints, whose MySpace page describes them as "Alabama ghost country music"; and the Can Kickers, a trio from Connecticut who describe themselves as "old-timey riot music for dancing."

How do you fit six bands into one evening? Well, you get things started a bit early. Doors open at 6 p.m., and music begins at 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 11. Oh, and we almost forgot: Not only is there gonna be BBQ (not just the dude from Montreal, but actual tasty meat for your gustatory pleasure), but the food's included in the cost of admission. Hells to the yeah!

Vaudeville is located at 110 E. Congress St., and you can call 622-3535 for the cover charge and additional info.


ON THE BANDWAGON

There's nothing better than seeing a band you've dug for a while finally get the attention they deserve, and that's what seems to be happening lately to The Riverboat Gamblers. For about five years now, the Denton, Texas, band have been putting on energetic, hella-fun live shows chock full of sing-along punk anthems, but it wasn't until their appearance at March's South By Southwest music conference that anyone beyond their circle of loyal fans started taking notice.

See why next Thursday, June 15, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Phoenix's The Necronauts open at 9:45 p.m., and cover will set you back six bucks. Need more details? Call 798-1298.

Last week, it was Sol Star; this week, it's Jordan Catalano. The actually decent actor/hottie/Lothario-turned-musician Jared Leto brings his band 30 Seconds to Mars to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, June 14. I can honestly say I've never heard a lick of the band's music, but I can tell you they get pretty crappy reviews almost universally. But then, it's not really the quality of their music that's gonna fill the club with screaming girls, is it? Details about ticket prices, opening acts and starting times were sketchy at press time, so you might want to call 622-8848 to get the 411.

Produced by J Robbins, Bloomington, Ind.'s Murder by Death's second album, In Bocca al Lupo (Tent Show, 2006), is chock full of cello-heavy weirdness that would come off as far more interesting if Tom Waits, Nick Cave and sea chanteys didn't exist. Not bad, just highly derivative. They'll be at Skrappy's, 201 E. Broadway Blvd., on Sunday, June 11. Call 358-4287 for full details.

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