THE BEAT GOES ON
So you're thinking you might get a breather after all of the live music that's overtaken this fair city in the last couple of weeks?
As reported in this space last week, the West by Southwest festival inhabited Tucson with a generous number of excellent shows; WXSW is designed to bookend the famous South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, which many lucky Tucsonans attended and performed at. (We're likely to hear more about that bash once music editor Stephen Seigel returns to his post from his annual Texas gallivanting.)
In the meantime, though, live music in the Old Pueblo continues unabated. No rest for the weary.
IN WITH THE 'IN' CROWD
One of the week's most promising events is the concert by legendary jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis and his trio, along with silken-voiced R&B singer Patti Austin, at 8 p.m., Friday, March 26, at UA Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd.
The pairing is especially apt, considering the Ramsey Lewis Trio has long been known for injecting bop and funky jazz into the pop arena (witness his trademark hit "The 'In' Crowd"), while Austin comes in the other direction, shaping the soul and pop music of her hits such as "Baby Come to Me" and "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" into velvety jazz. Here's hoping the concert lives up to these artists' estimable reputations.
Tickets range from $39 to $79 for adults, with considerable discounts for children, students, faculty, military members and senior citizens. Call 621-3341 for more information.
GROOVY MUSIC OF ALL PERSUASIONS
The Rhythm and Roots concert series is going strong this spring, and the good music continues with an intimate performance by American blues and folk guitar virtuoso Walter Strauss and Malian musician Mamadou Sidibe, who plays the West African hunter's harp called a kamal'ngoni. The musicians from distant cultural origins and heritages will find a common ground through music at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 27, in the leafy environs of the courtyard at Old Town Artisans, 201 N. Court Ave. Advance tickets cost $18; they're $20 at the door. For more info, call 319-9966.
Meanwhile, the enlightened and nurturing rumble of kirtan singer Krishna Das (aka Jeffrey Kagel), founder of Triloka Records, will reverberate through the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, March 31. The 7 p.m. concert also will include Deva Premal and Miten, who have been dubbed the Johnny Cash and June Carter of chant.
Das updates traditional Sanskrit call-and-response chanting with modern electronic touches. He has been called "an example of someone whose heartsongs open the channels to God" by none other than spiritual guru Ram Dass. He, as well as Premal and Miten, are among the best-selling artists in the realm of chant music, and their works are staples in yoga and meditation practices.
Das is touring to support his new album, Heart as Wide as the World, his first studio album in 10 years. Premal and Miten also have a new recording available, In Concert, while Premal's individual latest, Mantras for Precarious Times, just hit stores last month.
Tickets are $35. Call 740-1000 to buy them or inquire further.
HEAVY METAL THUNDER
Vintage thrash metal rules on Tuesday, March 30, at the Rialto Theatre, where Megadeth will reprise their immortal Rust in Peace album live onstage. Also on the bill will be fellow metal veterans Testament and Exodus. (See Page 43 for more information.) But if you don't already have your tickets, don't bother; the show is sold out.
If you got left out of the Megadeth show, and you're in need of a brutal metal assault, there are other options—mostly at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave.
For instance, on Thursday, March 25, the bands Kreator, Kataklysm, Evile, Lazarus A.D. and Lightning of Swords of Death will take the stage ($20), while Every Time I Die, Four Year Strong, Polar Bear Club and Trapped Under Ice will hold forth on Wednesday, March 31 ($16 in advance; $17 day of). Granted, the former show might be a little more thrash, while the latter will include a bit more hardcore and punk, but both should be ideal for young fans of extreme music.
Both shows start about 7 p.m. Call 629-9211 for more details.
CONGRESS IS DEFINITELY IN SESSION
A favorite among Tucson audiences is Washington, D.C., singer-songwriter Ted Leo, who leads his group the Pharmacists through a cornucopia of energetic, progressive and highly literate folk, rock, pop and soul, equally fed by the traditional of protest music, punk rock, ska and mod sounds. Leo and the band, sporting a fresh new album, The Brutalist Bricks (see Page 50 for a review), will return to Tucson for an 18-and over concert at 8 p.m., Sunday, March 28, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Tickets cost $14 in advance, or $16 the day of the show.
Also at Congress in the next few days are a flurry of promising musical events. Call 622-8848 for deeper intel.
Case in point: the reappearance in Tucson of the bratty and adorable all-female remedial punk band The Coathangers (who delivered a terrific performance at Plush last year). The Coathangers will play Tuesday, March 30, with hot local act hairsprayfireandgirls opening at 7 p.m. Cover is just $5.
If you support independent journalism, you won't want to miss the launch party for the online publication TucsonSentinel.com. They're calling it a Press Box Bash, and it gets under way at 7 p.m., Friday, March 26, with a cherry-picked lineup featuring Howe Gelb, Cadillac Steakhouse, Tom Walbank and the Ambassadors, Jazz Telephone and Bajo Turbato. $7 at the door, and you're in.
LOCAL RECORDINGS CONTINUE TO BLOOM
Local musicians will celebrate the releases of three excellent albums, all on Saturday, March 27.
Singer-songwriter Leila Lopez and her band will play a free concert to fete her second CD, Fault Lines, at 7 p.m. at the Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave. Read more about that on Page 50. For more, call 884-0874.
Arty and experimental, the rock band American Android has unleashed its own second CD, Reconciliation, and that band plays at Club Congress to celebrate. Also on the bill will be Race You There, which will open at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets cost $10, or $12 the day of the show; call 622-8848.
The jazz-funk outfit Vampyros Bonobos also have a new album out. Groovin' the Rut is a smokin' collection of fierce instrumentals that will remind listeners of James Brown; Galactic; Medeski, Martin and Wood; and John Scofield. Vampyros Bonobos will play at 10:30 p.m. at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., between fellow local acts The Wyatts (country rock glory) and The Hounds (hip-hop- and reggae-infused blues). A mere $5 will grant you entry; 798-1298.
ACT FAST, OR YOU'LL MISS OUT
If you're reading this on the official publication date of Thursday, March 25, and you've got the time, head on down to Caffe Luce, 943 W. University Blvd., No. 191, near the corner of Park Avenue, for a show by a pair of Tucson legends: Van Christian and Billy Sedlmayr. Guest L.S. Hunt will join them, and the free show is from 6 to 10 p.m.
Christian and Sedlmayr both grew up in Tucson, were involved in the beginnings of the local punk-rock scene in the late 1970s and early '80s, and went on to enjoy active, if sometimes challenging, musical careers in a variety of bands: Green on Red and Naked Prey for Christian; Giant Sandworms and Las Cruces for Sedlmayr. Each musician has wrestled with personal demons, but both are back to making music. It's being billed as a "really big show in a small coffee shop."
If you're still game later this evening, head over to the Red Room at Grill, 100 E. Congress St. (Who needs to work in the morning anyway?)
Starting at 9 p.m., Thursday, March 25, there'll be another free gig featuring the bands Shake It Like a Caveman (from Tennessee), Giant Cloud (New Orleans) and Tucson's Gabriel Sullivan (also one-half of Bajo Turbato), whose garrulous take on cabaret blues has constituted one of the most enjoyable sounds around town lately. His 2009 album, By the Dirt, is a killer.
Sullivan, who's trotting out his big ol' band complete with a horn section, also books the Red Room. He does a great job providing an alternative venue for an endless stream of diverse acts. Proper respect due.