WANNA GET AWAY? The economy is tanking; the price of gas--and just about everything else--is through the roof; we're still engaged in two wars with no end in sight; global warming is threatening future generations, even though some people still believe it's imaginary; the stock market is plunging; and our president is a smug asshole who achieved, well, pretty much absolutely nothing positive during his seemingly never-ending reign.

So, hey, what better time to celebrate the birth of our fine country with some all-American music? At least it'll get your mind off reality for a while, right? Read on for a sampling of your options this week.

HELP FROM OUR (WOMEN) FRIENDS What's more American than giving back to your community? Not much that I can think of. In that spirit, Boondocks Lounge will play host to Goddess Gumbo: Generations of Women Helping, a night of five generations of female singer-songwriters performing to benefit New Beginnings for Women and Children, a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization founded in Tucson in 1987 to help homeless women and children become financially independent.

The event will feature performances from a who's-who of locals including Namoli Brennet, Marnie Chastain, Amber Norgaard, Mitzi Cowell, Sabra Faulk, Heather Hardy, Nancy McCallion, Melanie Morrison, Kathleen Williamson, Jo Wilkinson, Bonnie Flint and 95-year-old special guest Mother Canara Price, of Tucson Mass Choir.

Things get rolling at 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 6. Boondocks Lounge is located at 3306 N. First Ave. Admission is a suggested donation of $10, but, as a press release for the event states, "We are grateful for whatever you can spare." Food will be served as well, and $1 from each food ticket will be donated. Call 690-0991 for more details.

TWO STAGES OF FIREWORKS AND REVELRY Hotel Congress will hold its annual Fourth of July shindig, this year with the added benefit of it actually taking place on the Fourth proper. Freedompalooza: Downtown's Official Fireworks and Fourth of July Party, as they're billing it, starts at 6 p.m. and will feature two stages and a big ol' barbecue pit for your gustatory pleasure. As for your auditory pleasure, those two stages will feature a diverse lineup of acts including Al Perry, Tracy Shedd, The Mission Creeps, Tom Walbank, The Jons, Wolfman and the Nards, Last Call Brawlers, The Dead Tones, Wolves Are Coming and Midriff Crisis.

And the best part? All of this is yours for a measly $5. Drop in to Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, July 4, for all the fun and festivities. Call 622-8848 with questions.

A SAFE GAMBLE America's favorite down 'n' dirty punk rock band, Austin's Riverboat Gamblers, return to town once again this week (are these guys ever not touring?) for a gig at downtown's Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., on Saturday, July 5. Also on the bill are two fine local bands, Last Call Brawlers and Wolfman and the Nards, who start things off around 10 p.m. Tickets should be reasonably priced, but if you're worried about those types of things, give 'em a call at 622-3535 for the skinny.

LOCAL KIDS MAKE GOOD RECORDS A trio of local, enterprising young'uns, two of whom are still students at the UA, are launching their own record label, Worry Doll Records, this week via a CD-release show for their first release, a locals-only compilation called Everyone! Everyone! Everyone!

True to its title, the disc features tracks from a wide-ranging crew of local acts including ... music video?, The Tics, God of the Sea, Young Mothers, Boogie Nazis, Sex Vengeance Rampage, Mengeese, Feel Good Revolution, Logan and the Bricks, Walrus, The Shkanks, AIDS Free, Golden Alphabet, Shotgun Royale and The Runaway Five.

The CD-release party, meanwhile, will include performances from a handful of those bands. Starting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 9, the stage at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., will play host to The Runaway Five, Feel Good Revolution, Young Mothers, God of the Sea, The Shkanks, AIDS Free and Logan and the Bricks.

All ages are welcome; admission is free, and CDs will be sold at the introductory price of $5. Questions? That number is 622-8848.

INK, HEAT AND OTHER FUN THINGS The Fourth of July celebration will extend past the weekend for the tattooed and slicked-back hair set, as The Reverend Horton Heat passes through town once again, with his seemingly constant tourmates in tow: former Tucsonans and current Seattleites the Supersuckers and Nashville Pussy.

The three veteran bands will take the stage at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. on Monday, July 7. Tickets for the all-ages show are $25 in advance, or $27 on the day of the show. Call 740-1000 for further details.

BUT WILL KEN GET SPANKED? If you've ever been to a show at Club Congress (and if you haven't, why are you reading this column?), you've likely seen that baseball-capped dude running sound. Well, his name is Ken Andre, and he also happens to play bass in three local bands: the Sand Rubies, the Luminarios and Little Sisters of the Poor. His birthday is Sunday, July 6, so the folks at Congress decided to celebrate by making him play in all three of his bands as part of Hotel Congress' ongoing Summer Sunday BBQ Free Concert Series.

You know the drill by now: Things kick off at 6 p.m. on the outdoor patio; admission is free; and grub is cheap. Hotel Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St., and you can call 622-8848 for more info.

STEVE MAKES A FRIEND AT THE BAR Part of the fun of attending South by Southwest each year is the people you accidentally meet. This year, while waiting at some overcrowded bar for a set by the Howling Rain, I found myself standing next to a woman with whom I began commiserating about how hard it was to get a drink. We struck up a conversation, and I learned her name was Becky. She told me she was in a band called Von Iva, who had just played in Tucson as part of the West by Southwest festival, and gave me a copy of their CD, Our Own Island (Ruby Tower, 2007).

Once I was back in Tucson, I threw the disc in my CD player and was duly impressed. As found on Our Own Island, the group is a trio: singer Jillian Iva, percussionist Kelly Harris, and Becky, whose last name is Kupersmith, and who plays synths and organ. (They used to have a bassist, Elizabeth Davis, formerly of the riot grrrl band 7 Year Bitch, but she left to focus on motherhood.)

The synths-and-drums setup sounds just as you might expect--new wavey and retro. But Iva's vocals distinguish the band; she's a wailer, a graduate of the Beth Ditto school of soul, and she gives the somewhat antiseptic music its heart. It's a pretty sweet juxtaposition, and it works.

And it appears the band's star is rising, too. Becky wrote to tell me that not only do Von Iva have a new album coming out soon, but they're also appearing in a forthcoming Jim Carrey movie, "with Zooey Deschanel joining the band."

Catch Von Iva next Thursday, July 10, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. with opening sets from L.A.'s Astra Heights and locals The Monitors. Cover is a fiver, and you can call 798-1298 for more info.

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