It saddens us to report that Gerry Glombecki, local singer, songwriter, musician, poet and actor, passed away on May 25, at the age of 63.
Glombecki, one of the founders of the annual Tucson Folk Festival, was well-known as a country and folk performer, but he was also inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame, a testament to his musical diversity. Perhaps his most famous song, "The Ballad of George Hayduke," based on Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang, was awarded first place in the Arizona Anthem Poetry Contest.
Glombecki will be missed, and we offer his family and friends our sincere condolences.
FROM VOCALS TO GUITAR AND BACK
According to his press kit, Michael Friedmann got his start in music by fronting a bluesy power trio in New England before he moved to Tucson in the late-'90s; that's when he began studying under Jeff Haskell at the UA and taking gigs as a jazz guitarist. He did this for 15 years, earning a degree in guitar performance and jazz studies along the way.
But this week, with the self-released Stuck in Samsara, he returns to his first love, as a singer-songwriter.
Lest you get the idea that Stuck in Samsara is standard folky singer-songwriter fare, the fingerprints of Friedmann's jazz background are all over the album, right from the get-go: The opening "Intro" is a straight-up jazz-guitar instrumental, both wistful and uplifting. In the next song, "Lizard Man," against jazz-keyboard chords, Friedmann's phrasing splits the difference between Steely Dan's Donald Fagen and a less-swinging Mose Allison, telling a tale about the tricks we play on each other, and on ourselves, in the realm of love. And there is, of course, a gorgeously fluid, if too-brief, jazz-guitar solo tucked within, too.
The arrangements are mostly barebones, usually just a guitar and/or keys and drums, though there are moments of deception: On "The Sun," the layered vocal harmonies can trick you into thinking there's more going on musically than there actually is. A lot of the songs are lyrically bleak: "Van Buren, 3 a.m." is an ode to the loneliness sprung from the infamous Phoenix street, and the title "Love Is Suicide" should speak for itself. Even in "Supergirl," one of the closest things to straightforward pop here—which relies on an extended metaphor ("I know she can't live in my world / There's too much kryptonite there")—the hero doesn't get the girl.
Michael Friedmann celebrates the release of Stuck in Samsara with a 7 p.m. performance on Saturday, June 5, at Borders at Park Place Mall, 5870 E. Broadway Blvd. Admission is free. Call 584-0111 for more information.
Even in the world of hip-hop, where one's background counts for almost as much as his rhyming skills, Nas' story is a pretty complicated one.
The Long Islander made an instant name for himself in 1994, when his debut album, Illmatic (Columbia), was released. A defiant slab of deft street poetry, the album became an instant classic and is widely regarded as one of the best rap albums ever released.
Slowly, album by album, he progressed—and changed. The street reporter became enamored with his own legend (I Am ... , Nastradamus), learned how to navigate beefs (with Jay-Z, no less, though the pair later famously reconciled) and the death of his mother (God's Son), declared his own art form dead even as he vowed to resurrect it (Hip Hop Is Dead), and explored race relations on an album he wanted to release with a very controversial word as the title. (In the end, it was released simply as Nas.)
In 2005, Nas made a guest appearance on Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley's (son of Bob) fantastically successful Welcome to Jamrock album, and last week, the pair released a full-length collaboration, Distant Relatives (Universal Republic), that debuted on the Billboard album chart at No. 5. Alas, Marley is not scheduled to appear alongside Nas this week, but the latter certainly has no shortage of his own material to perform.
Nas performs at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Sunday, June 6. Locals CCS Crew opens the all-ages show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $27 in advance, or $31 on the day of the show. Call 740-1000 with questions.
After learning to play pedal-steel guitar in his New Jersey Pentecostal church, Robert Randolph later integrated the instrument, known mostly as a tool for country music, into his own unique blend of blues, soul, gospel and funk. The jam-band circuit quickly adopted him as their own, and he scored opening slots on tours for the likes of the Derek Trucks Band and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe.
Earlier this year, he embarked on the Experience Hendrix Tour, an homage to the Strat genius, along with other notable guitarists, including Joe Satriani, Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. On June 22, Robert Randolph and the Family Band will release We Walk This Road, a collection of covers and originals inspired by the American canon of the 20th century, helmed by genius producer T-Bone Burnett.
Robert Randolph and the Family Band perform an all-ages show at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, June 9. Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $23 to $27. Call 740-1000 for more info.
Over the last five or so years, Houston's Indian Jewelry have been at the forefront of the creation of a different type of psychedelic music—utterly modern and at once claustrophobic and melodic. They'll be at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Saturday, June 5. Locals RCougar open the 21-and-over show at 7:30 p.m. Cover is $8. Call 622-8848 for further details.
Using more sonic tools than we have space to list here (though it's notable that many, if not most, of them are homemade), for the past 30-plus years, experimental composer Robert Rich has been releasing albums and conducting performances that integrate elements of ambient music, trance and tribal music, influencing generations of sound experimenters along the way. At 9 p.m., Sunday, June 6, he'll take over Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., for one of those performances. The show is all-ages, and $10 gets you in. Call 884-0874 for more info.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Somewhat oddly, this is one of the busiest weeks in recent months for live music, so be sure to check out our club listings. In the meantime, here's as much stuff as we can fit in this space:
Tony Bennett at AVA at Casino del Sol on Saturday, June 5; Cage the Elephant, the 22-20s and AutoVaughn at the Rialto Theatre next Thursday, June 10; Thao and Mirah With the Most of All at Club Congress on Tuesday, June 8; Josiah Wolf (drummer for WHY?), Cars and Trains and Madame Zero at Solar Culture Gallery on Saturday, June 5; The Bobs at Plaza Palomino on Saturday, June 5; the Goo Goo Dolls at AVA at Casino del Sol on Monday, June 7; Unity Fest with Sammy Dread and The Ashanti Band at The Hut on Sunday, June 6; Greg Laswell at Club Congress on Monday, June 7; Sugar and Gold as part of the Optimist Club at Club Congress next Thursday, June 10; The Eastern Seaboard and Beatnik Dream Vacation at Solar Culture Gallery on Friday, June 4; Enrique Bunbury at the Rialto Theatre on Tuesday, June 8; Eyes Set to Kill at The Rock next Thursday, June 10; The Porter Draw and Cadillac Mountain at The Hut on Saturday, June 5; Sabertooth Snatch and Bryan Minus and the Disconnect at Skrappy's next Thursday, June 10; The Itinerant Locals and Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout at The HangArt on Wednesday, June 9; Primal Fear at The Rock on Wednesday, June 9; The Shopping List and Army of Garbage at Vaudeville on Wednesday, June 9; Taller Than Trees, Canon Canyon and more at Skrappy's tonight, Thursday, June 3; American Android, Atlantic Line and Race You There at Plush on Saturday, June 5; Sweet Leaf, Misled, 7000 Strong and Legion at Vaudeville on Saturday, June 5.