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GIVE BACK, ENJOY MUSIC

With Thanksgiving upon us during this especially trying year, perhaps it's time to help those who are less fortunate. Two benefit shows this week make that fun and easy to do so.

Since 2002, local guitarist, singer, songwriter, label owner and volunteer Rich Hopkins has held a benefit show for the Casa Maria soup kitchen the day before Thanksgiving, and this year is no different. From a previous column, here's the lowdown:

"For (roughly) 25 years, the local soup kitchen, located at 401 E. 26th St., has provided free meals to the poor and homeless from 8 a.m. to noon, 365 days a year. In addition to doling out massive amounts of soup, juice and coffee to those in need of a hot meal, Casa Maria also hands out bulging sacks of groceries for families and roughly 500 brown-bag lunches for individuals every day. No one in need is ever turned away, and remarkably, Casa Maria receives no funding from any government agency; every penny comes from private donations.

"(Several) years ago, local musician and San Jacinto Records owner Rich Hopkins decided to make a video for the song 'Tender Mercies' by his band, the Luminarios (he's also guitarist for the Sand Rubies). The song is about the ongoing plight of the homeless community, and when Hopkins asked around to find a location to shoot, all paths led to Casa Maria and (founder Brian) Flagg, whom Hopkins quickly befriended. The video was eventually shown at every stop on the Luminarios' subsequent European tour, and Hopkins raised funds for Casa Maria from those stages.

"Additionally, Hopkins began donating his time to working at the soup kitchen about once a week; he's released a pair of compilation albums to raise money for Casa Maria; and he began staging the annual benefit concerts."

The lineup of acts scheduled for this year's benefit, in order of appearance, is: Luminarios (8:30 p.m.), Cathy Rivers (9:15 p.m.), Kevin Pakulis (10 p.m.), Sand Rubies (10:45 p.m.) and Triple Double Band (11:30 p.m.). In an e-mail sent to the Soundbites desk, Hopkins notes that many of the performers will also be silently protesting the war in Afghanistan by fasting on the day of the event.

For the first time, Rich Hopkins' annual Casa Maria Thanksgiving Benefit will take place at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Wednesday, Nov. 25. Admission is a suggested $5 donation, and canned-food donations are highly encouraged as well. For more information, call 798-1298.

Rather unusually, there's only one show going down at the Rialto Theatre this week, but it's a worthwhile one—a Benefit for the Tucson Alliance for Autism. From the Rialto's Web site, here's a bit of information:

"The Tucson Alliance for Autism (TAFA) (comprises) two not-for-profit charitable organizations, the Autism Society of America-Pima County Chapter (ASA-PCC) and the Tucson Autism Community Center (TACC), and an academic institution, the University of Arizona Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences (SLHS). ... During the past several years, each group has independently been setting the stage to build and maintain an Autism center in Tucson. In May 2005, these groups merged to focus their collective energies into meeting the needs of the local autism community."

The bands scheduled to perform are Shady Lane, The Opposables, 8 Minutes to Burn, I Promise You Revenge and I Bet It Was a Massacre.

The Benefit for the Tucson Alliance for Autism begins at 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21. Admission to the all-ages show is a suggested donation of $11. The Rialto Theatre is located at 318 E. Congress St., and you can ring 'em up at 740-1000.


ONE WEEK, THREE NEW CDS

Three local bands are releasing new CDs this week, and celebrating with the requisite release parties.

The hilariously named The El Camino Royales—just one of the 672 local acts including multi-instrumentalist/jack-of-all-trades Michael P. Nordberg—features Andrew See on upright bass and vocals, and The Mighty Joel Ford on drums and vocals. The group's self-released debut album, Ladies and Gentlemen ..., was recorded and produced by Nathan Sabatino at his Loveland Studio, with the exception of four tracks, which were recorded by Jeremy Michael Cashman. Over its 11 brief tunes (only two songs surpass the three-minute mark), the album showcases the trio's high-octane brand of good-time surf and rockabilly—with a bit of country and blues thrown in—and splits its time between tunes with vocals and instrumentals. It's an awful lot of fun and goes a long way toward capturing the energy the band brings to its live shows.

Celebrate the release of Ladies and Gentlemen ... when The El Camino Royales perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, Nov. 20. Their set will be sandwiched by those of headliners The Mission Creeps and openers Sunny Italy, who get things rolling at 9:30 p.m. Admission is five bucks, and you can call 798-1298 for more info.

The following night, also at Plush, another local trio drops The Deuce. No potty humor here: That's the name of The Hounds' new EP, their follow-up to last year's debut album, Bonafied. The EP features new tracks that spotlight the soulful hip-hop, blues and beach-reggae grooves we've come to expect from Yogi and the boys, and will be available for one night only. Everyone who attends the release show will get a free copy.

The Hounds celebrate the release of The Deuce on Saturday, Nov. 21, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Openers Tom Walbank and the Ambassadors and The Grand Royale start the night off at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $5, and that number, again, is 798-1298.

Just five months after forming, local quartet Rescue Lights will release its debut CD, Vol. 1. As demonstrated by a few tracks supplied to us for preview, the group's brand of tasteful pop-rock would sound right at home on KWMT FM 92.9, aka The Mountain.

They'll be at Cutters Point Coffee, 6435 N. Thornydale Road, at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20. The $10 cover charge includes a copy of the CD, a coffee drink and a pastry or dessert. For more info, head to rescuelightsmusic.com.


MIX-AND-MATCH DIVA

Lauded local jazz-blues diva Lisa Otey began a series of concerts last week that pairs her with a different performer for each show: Otey will perform a set, as will each guest performer; then the two will perform together.

Here's the schedule of remaining shows, along with Otey's comments: Monday, Nov. 23: Regina "The Queen" Willis ("one of our Desert Divas, this is her debut on her own"); Tuesday, Nov. 24: Damaris Drewry ("writes beautiful spiritual songs and helps people discover their true path"); Monday, Nov. 30: Grams and Krieger ("blues duo known around the world for their humor and sizzling vocals, guitar and bass"); Tuesday, Dec. 1: Ada Redd Austin ("local jazz legend"); Tuesday, Dec. 15: holiday concert with Diane Van Deurzen and Walter Belcher ("Diane is ... known for her beautiful ballads and sexual innuendo; Walter has an amazing five-octave range and returns to Tucson for this special performance").

All shows in the series take place at the Z Mansion, 288 N. Church Ave., and begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 per show, or $50 for any three, and may be purchased in advance at lisaotey.com. For further details, call 370-5912.


ON THE BANDWAGON

John Prine at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 21; B.B. King at UA Centennial Hall on Friday, Nov. 20; Darryl Worley and Gary Bonnett at Old Tucson Studios on Saturday, Nov. 21; Jeremih at DV8 Nightclub tonight, Thursday, Nov. 19; the Arizona R&B Revival Tour featuring Tori Sparks, the Kate Becker Project and the Sugar Thieves at Club Congress on Sunday, Nov. 22; Authority Zero, Skitn and Rasta Sauce at The Hut tonight, Thursday, Nov. 19; Days of the New at The Rock on Saturday, Nov. 21; Sleepy Cheeks at Plush tonight, Thursday, Nov. 19; Peace of Mind Orchestra at the Red Room at Grill on Saturday, Nov. 21; Jamie Anderson at the FOP "Lodge on Dodge" on Friday, Nov. 20; Snake Mountain, Sabertooth Snatch and Shark Pants at Vaudeville tonight, Thursday, Nov. 19.

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