To be honest, I've never heard of Mike Tatum, nor have I ever heard any of the many bands he's played with throughout the years. But judging from the e-mails I've received over the last several weeks regarding an upcoming benefit show for him, I've really been missing out.

With thanks to John Ankiewicz and Joe "Nelly" DeLauro, here's some background.

In the early 1950s, the Tatum family migrated from Texas to Tucson. Four of the family's five sons were musically gifted; the youngest, Mike, was a true child prodigy. By the '60s, he was fronting the family band, playing guitar and singing in Little Dynamite and the Fuses. In the '70s, Tatum led the Haze Express, which Ankiewicz calls "the premier Tucson soul band." Ankiewicz, who would join the band in 1974 after Tatum's older brother, "Doc," relinquished his bass duties, recalls that over the next 11 years, "the Haze Express provided exciting R&B sounds to the predominantly black air bases and Army bases of Southern Arizona, not to mention the juke joints, barbecue houses and card rooms of Tulsa, Dallas, Mobile and Jackson in what was then known as the 'Chitlin' Circuit.'"

As R&B gave way to funk and disco, Tatum followed suit, fronting Highrise, which toured extensively in the West from 1977 to 1998. These days, Tatum still gigs regularly with the Mike Tatum Band, who have a standing residency at Sakura. That venue will host this weekend's benefit show for Mike, who is currently dealing with what Nelly describes as "serious health issues."

The benefit begins at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 13, and will feature performances from (in order of appearance): Joe Nelly and Friends, Vicky Nelson, The Rowdies, The Equinox, The Smokin' Section, Bad News Blues Band, 22 Black, Neon Prophet, Highrise, The Nod Squad and The Mike Tatum "Tasty T" Band All Star Jam. Sakura is located at 6534 E. Tanque Verde Road. Call 298-7777 for more information.


While we're on the topic of benefit shows, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that Boston's Christine Baze will be performing a free show on the UA campus this week to raise awareness of cervical cancer and its prevention.

In 1998, the Boston Globe called Baze "the next best thing to come out of Boston," and in early 2000, she quit her job as an eating-disorders therapist to pursue her musical dreams. But later that year, she was diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer. After a battery of surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy, Baze celebrated her two-year remission by playing a sold-out benefit show for cervical-cancer prevention with her current band, Skills of Ortega.

Since then, she has toured the country performing her music, which she describes as "a mix between Feist and Tori Amos," and educating women and policy-makers about the prevention of cervical cancer. In 2003, she was named one of Ms. magazine's "50 Women Who Made a Difference," and in 2006, she was given a presidential leadership award at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Christine Baze will perform at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 11, in front of the Student Union Memorial Center on The University of Arizona mall. The event is free, but donations will be accepted.


In "we sure as hell didn't see this one coming" news, Brit-punks Subhumans--yes, that Subhumans--will be playing a local gig this week.

The band got its start in 1980 as a latecomer to the first wave of British punk bands, and merged the sound of bands like the Sex Pistols and the Damned with proggier stuff like Zappa and King Crimson. They were also one of the most politically outspoken acts of the era as part of the British anarcho-punk underground that also included Crass, Antisect and Conflict. The band's debut album, 1983's The Day the Country Died, sold 100,000 copies, which was pretty much unheard of for a self-released underground punk album at the time.

After splitting up in 1985, the band's remains spawned two highly regarded ska-punk bands, Culture Shock (1986 to 1989) and Citizen Fish, who formed in 1989 and are still active today. Also in 1989, all four original Subhumans members got back together, according to the band's bio "to see what it felt like." It must have felt pretty good, because they continue to tour occasionally these days and have made Tucson one of the stops on their current West Coast tour.

Catch a rare appearance by Subhumans next Thursday, April 17, at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave. Doors for the all-ages show open at 7 p.m., and The Besmirchers and Blues are also on the bill. Advance tickets are available for $12 at all Ticketmaster locations, Bookmans and at For more information, call 629-9211.


Speaking of rare shows, it's certainly not every day you get the opportunity to see Chinese rock bands, but this week brings just that. Beijing's Hedgehog and Rebuilding the Rights of Statues (aka Re-TROS) will take the stage at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, April 16. Opening the show at 9 p.m. are new locals Young Mothers. Admission is $5 in advance, $6 on the day of the show. Call 622-8848 for more details.


The most adorably named singer in music, Scout Niblett will return to town this week to perform songs from her latest album, This Fool Can Die Now (2007, Too Pure), which was produced by Steve Albini and includes four duets with Will Oldham. The British Niblett is regularly compared to PJ Harvey and Cat Power, as her folky musings often give way to noisy outbursts.

She'll perform on Monday, April 14, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., along with openers Golden Boots, who get things rocking at 9:45 p.m. Admission is $7. Call 798-1298 for additional info.


Keep an eye out for these other fine shows: David D'Alessio and Kelley Dolan at Club Congress on Friday, April 11; Ghost Cow, The Dead Tones and the Kevin Daly Band at The Hut on Friday, April 11; Dimmu Borgir at the Rialto Theatre next Thursday, April 17; Pelican and El Ten Eleven at Plush on Tuesday, April 15; and Caifanes founder Alejandro Marcovich backed by The Jons, with Bradford Trojan at Plush next Thursday, April 17.
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