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NEW YEAR'S GUIDE

Is your club, restaurant or other type of venue hosting a New Year's Eve or New Year's Day celebration that will feature live music? If so, I bet you're trying to get the word out about that event, since you've spent so much time and hard work planning it. I mean, it would be a shame if you jumped through all those hoops, and nobody showed up, right?

Man, have I got a deal for you!

The Weekly will be publishing a special New Year's Guide--which will be included in our Dec. 27 issue--and I need information about any and all music-oriented events. Send complete details--that's performers, location, address, phone number, Web site, time, cost and a description of the event--to the music editor no later than Monday, Dec. 10 (of course, the earlier the better), and I'll give your shindig some free publicity, no strings attached. Talk about a win-win!

I will be patiently waiting at my computer for details to arrive.


TIME TO TAKE COVER

You know it; you love it; you look forward to it every year: Next week brings the first installment of the three-night musical extravaganza we like to call 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. 6. (Nights Two and Three will follow on Friday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 8.) In case you've slept through the first nine years, here's a little history of the event and its origins from a previous column:

"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 1998, 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." (Club Congress' David Slutes and, especially, Dan Hernandez have made massive contributions to the organization of this year's event.)

"A brief explanation, then, of what The Great Cover-Up actually is: Local bands--somewhere in the neighborhood of 28 this year, each of which normally performs original material--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."

It should be noted that this year's event will see a couple of changes. In the past, there has been a rule in place that no artist can be covered twice in the event's history. But in honor of the Cover-Up's 10th anniversary, we decided to cut the participants a break and let them do whatever the hell they want.

The other notable change is that, after nine years of donating all of the proceeds from the event to The Brewster Center (an amount we estimate to be somewhere between $40,000 and $45,000), which was Manas' charity of choice, we've decided to spread the wealth. All proceeds from this year's Great Cover-Up will be donated to the Tucson Artists and Musicians Health Alliance, an organization in its infancy whose mission statement reads, in part: "TAMHA is an alliance of artists, musicians, medical professionals, politicians and arts advocates who are dedicated to finding and advocating for health-care resources in our community. Chief among our goals is to be an information resource as well as a funding mechanism for artists and musicians who would otherwise not know about or have access to proper health care."

As always, we'd like to give thanks in advance to our primary sponsors: Rainbow Guitars, Sticks N' Strings, KLPX FM 96.1 FM and our own Tucson Weekly. Not to mention newly appointed KLPX program director DJ Chita and Don Jennings, host of KXCI FM 91.3's Locals Only program--both of whom we're counting on to help emcee. (Also, keep your ears tuned to KLPX FM 96.1 starting this weekend and throughout the week for lots of Cover-Up info and giveaways.)

Here, then, is the subject-to-change schedule of acts for Night One of this year's Great Cover-Up (please note that Thursday's portion of the event 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): Alachua County All Stars at 8 p.m.; Kevin Pakulis at 8:30 p.m.; The Distortionists at 9 p.m.; Nowhere Pago and the Center Men at 9:30 p.m.; Cathy Rivers with Love Mound at 10 p.m.; Andrew Collberg at 10:30 p.m.; and The Deludes at 11 p.m.

Artists being covered on Thursday, in no particular order ('cause we wouldn't want to ruin the surprise of who's covering whom), are: Bob Dylan, T. Rex, Men at Work, Dead Kennedys, Green Day, Hot Water Music and Judas Priest.

Tickets to the event are $8 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. See you there.


THE LANGUAGE OF AMOUR AMOR

It must be rough being a French singer/songwriter/musician in the United States. Since very few people speak the language, it's very difficult to surpass cult status, no matter how good the music is. (For proof, see Serge Gainsbourg or Edith Piaf.) Which goes a long way in explaining why Tucson-based French native Naim Amor has had such trouble finding an American label to release his music. (Unsurprisingly, he's had far better luck in Europe and Canada.)

Why else wouldn't an upstart indie take a chance on Amor's latest album, Sanguine, which is currently out on the French label Atmospheriques? The album, co-produced by Amor and Calexico's Joey Burns (who also performs on the album along with a slew of guests, including Burns' bandmate John Convertino, Marie Frank, Dan Coleman, Vicki Brown and Emilie Marchand), was recorded in Amor's home studio, The Basement, and mixed by Amor and Jim Waters. Anyone who's seen Amor perform live can attest that he's a ridiculously talented multi-instrumentalist (he's credited here with vocals, guitars, lap steel, melodica, violin and Wurlitzer organ) who can veer from pretty ballads to cascading cacophony in an instant. On Sanguine, though, he paints his pithy tunes with a single, mellow palette.

There are lots of acoustic guitars and not a distortion pedal in sight, though the arrangements are not lacking interesting sounds. Most of the songs are sung in a near-whisper; it's almost jarring when track five, "Son Grand Sourire," a French cabaret number by way of the Southwest, finds Amor finally opening up his throat a bit. And while the album doesn't showcase Amor's full array of talents (there's not a single rocker here), it also benefits by sounding very much like an album instead of mere collection of songs. More importantly, it's gorgeous almost from start to finish.

"Precious Second" and "Lychee Girl," the two English-sung songs on the album, sound an awful lot like Elliott Smith; "Son Petit Sourire," an instrumental waltz companion to "Son Grand Sourire," is awash in atmosphere and accordion; and, in the best possible way; "Aigre Martini" sounds as if it could have come straight from a '70s French art film. (Is there any other kind?) All in all, it's a near-perfect Sunday-morning album.

Celebrate the release of Sanguine when Naim Amor performs at Club Congress' ongoing Sunday BBBQ series (that's bands, burgers and beer) at 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2. Admission is free, and Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. For more info, call 622-8848.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Gee whiz, we're almost out of room, and we haven't even told you about these fine shows yet: RRIICCEE (featuring actor/director/screenwriter/musician Vincent Gallo and Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson) at Solar Culture Gallery on Saturday, Dec. 1; The Kate Becker Project, Little Black Cloud, Loveland and Marianne Dissard at The Hut on Friday, Nov. 30; Agent Orange at O'Malley's on Wednesday, Dec. 5; Melt-Banana at Club Congress on Tuesday, Dec. 4; Del Castillo and Ryan Bingham at Solar Culture Gallery on Friday, Nov. 30; Avenged Sevenfold at the Rialto Theatre next Thursday, Dec. 6; and Straylight Run, The Color Fred, Dear and the Headlights and Cassino at Club Congress on Friday, Nov. 30.

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