Two local, time-tested fundraising events head our way this week--offering chances for all of us to feel good about giving while getting some fine musical entertainment in return.

First up is the annual Calexico holiday show, which is marking a couple of changes this time around. For starters, this year's event is hitting the calendar a few weeks earlier than usual. The show is the kickoff date for a mini West Coast tour that will culminate in a pair of dates with Los Lobos in San Francisco. And for the first time in several years, the show will move locations. Usually performed before a sold-out audience at the Temple of Music and Art, this year the event will move to the considerably larger Rialto Theatre, which will not only allow for more people to attend, but will also enable more money to be raised for the show's monetary recipients--KXCI FM 91.3, Solar Culture Gallery and Humane Borders, which, as you may already know, offers assistance to those in need on and around the U.S.-Mexico border via emergency water stations.

Expect to hear lots of songs from the band's 2006 full-length release Garden Ruin (Quarterstick/Touch and Go)--which streamlined the group's sound into a more precise song-based structure, leaving behind most of the Southwestern influences for which they've become known--plus a surprise cover or two, if history is any sort of yardstick. There's no telling which (if any) surprise guests will perform with the band this time around, but traditionally, the event includes an appearance by Mariachi Luz de Luna.

Opening the show is Annuals, a North Carolina-based indie-rock sextet that's been celebrated by blogs from coast to coast in recent months. The group's debut album, Be He Me, was released on Ace Fu to nearly universal acclaim in October, and collects shards of folk, country, rock and space-age psychedelia, then reconfigures them into gorgeously uplifting tunes that are ambitious and immensely satisfying.

The annual holiday benefit featuring Calexico hits the Rialto, 318 W. Congress St., on Saturday, Dec. 2. Annuals begin the all-ages show at 8 p.m. Advance general admission tickets are available for $16 at KXCI and the venue's box office, and online at or For more information, call 740-1000.

Next week also sees the first night of the annual three-day event known 'round these parts as The Great Cover-Up. For the last month or two, local bands have been practicing songs by a band or artist of their choosing, all in the name of charity, for a one-time-only performance at the event, which this year is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Night One will barnstorm Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., next Thursday, Dec. 7. (Nights Two and Three will follow on Friday Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9)

In case you've missed out on the first nine (and shame on you, if you have), here's a brief history of the event and its origins: The idea for the event was stolen wholesale from our friends in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., where The Great Cover-Up was the most anticipated musical event of the year. I had attended a few of those while living in Illinois in the early '90s and thought it was just about the most purely fun musical event I'd ever attended.

When I moved back to Tucson in 1995 and told my friend, Shoebomb singer-guitarist Melissa Manas, about it, she decided to take action and organize one here. The first Tucson incarnation was held at Club Congress in 1996, where it has remained every autumn since. When Melissa became pregnant a couple of years later, I decided to make sure the Cover-Up stayed alive; with the help of numerous folks over the years--most notably current Rialto booker (and Weekly contributor) Curtis McCrary, who has co-organized for the past several--I've had a hand in the event for the last eight years.

A brief explanation, then, of what The Great Cover-Up actually is: Local bands--somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 this year, each of which usually performs original material at normal gigs--perform a 20-minute set of cover songs by an artist of their choosing. Some live out their rock-star fantasies and choose a band that's inspired them; some prefer the comical route and stage a piss-take; others fall somewhere in between those two. Part of the fun is that you never know who's performing what beforehand, or how they've chosen to approach it.

And perhaps the best part of all: Every penny raised by the event goes directly to the Brewster Center, a local service organization that provides shelter, crisis intervention and advocacy for victims of domestic violence. Each year, the goal remains to surpass the monetary tally of the previous year; this year, we've got our eyes set on $8,000, which would trump the roughly $7,600 donated last year.

As always, we'd like to give thanks in advance to our primary sponsors: Rainbow Guitars, Sticks N' Strings and our own Tucson Weekly. Not to mention KLPX DJ Chita and Don Jennings, host of KXCI's Locals Only program--both of whom we're counting on to help emcee, since lord knows we have no chops at that sort of thing. (Hopefully some guest emcees will make appearances, too.)

Here, then, is the subject-to-change schedule of acts for Night One of this year's Cover-Up (please note that Thursday's lineup closes earlier than usual, at midnight, in order to accommodate Congress' regularly scheduled dance party The Optimist Club, which will follow the live portion of the night): TBA at 8 p.m.; Feed at 8:30 p.m.; The Sound Guys at 9 p.m.; The Distortionists at 9:30 p.m.; Infernal Racket at 10 p.m.; The Swim at 10:30 p.m.; the Provocative Whites at 11 p.m.; The Crowd at 11:30 p.m.

Artists being covered on Thursday, in no particular order, are: Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Muppets, Modest Mouse, Wilco, The Time, Buzzcocks and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, plus one mystery band.

Tickets to the event are $7 for a single night, $12 for two nights or $15 for the whole shebang. Again, your entire cover charge goes directly to a tremendously worthwhile cause. You're also urged to arrive early, as you never know what you're gonna miss, and each band has put in a lot of time to prepare, whether they're performing first or last. For further details, call 622-8848 or point your browser to, where you'll find more info on The Great Cover-Up than you could ever hope for. See you there.


San Francisco-based Tucson expats Roma 79 bring their potent brand of indie-rock goodness to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, Dec. 1. Now expanded to a four-piece with the addition of Rob Smith (ex-Traindodge), the group will headline a show that will also feature locals Chango Malo, who start the night off at 9 p.m. Cover is $5, and the number to call with questions is 622-8848.

Co-ed Phoenix garage rockers The Love Me Nots will celebrate the release of their debut album, The Love Me Nots in Black and White (Atomic a Go Go) with a gig on the same night, Friday, Dec. 1, at the Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave. Tucson's The Mission Creeps open at 9 p.m. For more info call 882-0009.

Seattle's The Cops use punky guitar jabs lifted straight outta London circa '77 to take aim at the current American political climate at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, Dec. 1 (again!). The Beta Sweat and The Deludes open at 9:45 p.m. Cover is $5. For further details call 798-1298.

Finally, one other option for Friday, Dec. 1: Guitar alchemist and one-man band Keller Williams brings his rootsy dance party to the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., for an all-ages show that begins at 8 p.m. Advance tix are available for $21 at the venue's box office; they'll be $23 on the day of the show. Call 740-1000 for more information.

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