BLYND AMBITIONNot even the holiday season can slow the tide of local CD releases and the parties that accompany them. This week brings the debut EP from Flyin Blynd, the self-released 5ive From ... .
The band's leader is singer/songwriter/guitarist JR Dennis, who relocated to Tucson from Nashville, Tenn. According to the band's press kit, he had written this batch of songs on his own, and they sat dormant until he met his future bandmates--guitarist/singer John Leinberger, drummer Jimmy Payne and bassist Jeff Davis--while working at the Guitar Center. The quartet then enrolled in Rock School, where they scored especially high grades in Band Names 101: Spelling Incorrectly. (Chapter 7: Why use an "i" when you can use a "y"?)
The five songs (hence the title) on the EP, recorded at The Cavern Recording Studios with engineer Bill Cashman, are a pretty straightforward combination of heartland and Southern rock. "Wake Up Dreamin'" is a mid-tempo ballad about a small-town kid who plays his guitar while dreaming of a better life in a bigger city. Yes, it's rife with clichés, but it's also kinda charming for that very reason. And it turns out that the kid can play a pretty mean guitar, too, which helps the song's cause.
"Whiskey," a song about, er, drinking whiskey, also benefits from some fine fretwork, but this time, the clichés in the lyrics bog it down a bit. And that's pretty much the case with the EP as a whole: The music, especially the guitar playing, is steeped in the Southern rock tradition, and is rather impressive, but the songs' lyrics make Ronnie Van Zant sound like Walt Whitman. And the EP's fourth track demonstrates another lesson Flyin Blynd learned in Band Names 101: Don't forget to name a song after your band.
Flyin Blynd celebrates the release of 5ive From ... at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 23, at Berky's Bar, 5769 E. Speedway Blvd. For more information, call 296-1981.
ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE?The holiday season comes loaded with greeting-card sentiments of love for your fellow man--but someone forgot to tell that to the folks at Club Congress, who this week host a yuletide smackdown they're calling The Congress Christmas Cockfight.
Here's the deal: There are three divisions: heavyweight, middleweight and lightweight, with two local bands competing in each division. The first band plays one song, then gets off stage so the other band can play a song. The audience then decides who won that round. Each bout goes several rounds, and whoever wins the most rounds wins their division.
Bands competing in the heavyweight division are Chango Malo and The Jons; The Pork Torta and The Beta Sweat square off in the middleweight division; and Gary Bear and No Bunny will go head-to-head in the lightweight bout. Pity the poor sap charged with the task of cleaning up all the blood and sweat.
The Congress Christmas Cockfight commences promptly at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 22. Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. Cover is $5. For further details, call 622-8848.
ON THE BANDWAGONClub Congress has a full slate of fine shows lined up this week, starting with an early show on Thursday, Dec. 21, when Phoenix roots veteran Dave Insley (Trophy Husbands, The Nitpickers), who currently resides in Austin, Texas, brings his new outfit, the cleverly monikered Dave Insley's Careless Smokers, to the club. The show begins with openers The Vaquetones, from Los Angeles. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and cover is $5.
On Saturday, Dec. 23, Congress hosts two fine shows: The Howe Gelb Winter Cabaret takes the early slot at 7 p.m., followed at 9 p.m. by Late Night With Tom Walbank. Admission to the Gelb show is $7, and $5 gets you into the Walbank one.
On hiatus from recording their new album in Los Angeles, Ryanhood will once again grace the stage at Congress for their annual holiday show on Tuesday, Dec. 26. Also on the bill are American Android and Dan Zacharias. Doors for this all-ages show open at 7:30 p.m., and admission is $7, though you may want to buy tickets in advance at www.hotelcongress.com, just to make sure you get in. For more information on any of these shows, call 622-8848.
A trio of edgy local bands that can be filed under "young upstarts" hits the stage at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, Dec. 23. Headlining the showcase is Saint Rorschach, with Early Black and Mostly Bears taking the opening slots. The night begins at 9:45 p.m., and cover is $4. Call 798-1298 for further details.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORTFinally, a heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed in any way to this year's edition of The Great Cover-Up, held earlier this month. Because of you, we will be making a donation to our beneficiary, The Brewster Center, in the amount of $6,302--a bit short of our goal, but an impressive sum nonetheless.
Please indulge us while we single out some folks for their tremendous efforts in making the event the success it was. Massive respect to the following: Curtis McCrary; David Slutes, Nicole Schwartz, Richard and Shana Oseran, Ken Andree, Jake Workman and the entire staff at Club Congress; Mike Sydloski and all at Rainbow Guitars; Justin Bernard and everyone at Sticks N' Strings; Jill A'Hearn and all at the Tucson Weekly; Don Jennings and everyone at KXCI FM 91.3; The Brewster Center; and last, but foremost, all of the bands and artists who participated in the event: 5ft2, Feed, The Sound Guys, the Distortionists, Infernal Racket, The Swim, Latino Solido, The Provocative Whites, Al Perry, Music Video, the Splitters, Ernie and the Hotrods, Luca, Lagoon, Love Mound, Found Dead on the Phone, Saint Rorschach, Redlands, Ghost Lodge, The Therapists, Bombs for the Bored, Spacefish, Great American Tragedy and Los Sombis. And, of course, thanks to all who attended.
Our appreciation is boundless. We'll see you again next year. Here's wishing all of you a very happy--and safe--holiday season.