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COMPELLING CAUSES

To start off, let's take a quick look at a pair of very different benefits, shall we?

Plush, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last week, will feature a benefit for a very worthwhile cause this weekend. The Children's Tumor Foundation, according to its mission statement, is "a nonprofit medical foundation, dedicated to improving the health and well being of individuals and families affected by the neurofibromatoses (NF). NF includes three tumor-causing disorders. Usually diagnosed in childhood, NF is a lifelong disorder. It affects both sexes and all ethnic groups equally, and is more prevalent than cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and Huntington's disease combined."

Acts donating their time to the cause by performing are headliners Mostly Bears (11:30 p.m.), Sergio Mendoza with Salvador Duran and Friends (10:30 p.m.), Tom Walbank (9:30 p.m.) and The Ghost of 505 (8:30 p.m.). Doors open at 8 p.m.

It all goes down at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, Nov. 12. Admission is a suggested donation of $8. For more information, head to plushtucson.com, or call 798-1298.

Inspired by the writings of Edward Abbey, the radical environmental advocacy organization Earth First! began life in the Southwest in 1979, which was followed in the next year by the publication of its first companion piece of literature, the Earth First! Journal. The journal was headquartered in Tucson for a stint beginning in 1984 before moving to the Northeast and Missoula, Mont. ("It is the nature of the Journal to move around the country and stay in the hands of the movement," reads part of a press release we received.) In 2001, EF!J moved back to Tucson, where it has remained ... until this month. Following the publication of a special 30th anniversary edition at the end of November (copies will be unveiled at this week's event), the Earth First! Journal crew will once again be relocating, this time to Florida. To celebrate, the journal, with the help of the Parasol Project, is throwing itself a farewell celebration.

You may remember that two years ago, in November 2008, Hotel Congress hosted a benefit for EF!J called the Time Traveling Vaudevillians Desert Decadence Cabaret, a collaboration of Tucson performance artists. While this week's benefit will be held at The Hut, it's being touted as something of a thematic sequel to the Congress event. The Return of the Time Traveling Vaudevillians, aka The Earth First! Journal 30th Anniversary Release Party and Farewell to Tucson Celebration, will indeed feature the return of the Time Traveling Vaudevillians, who will bring with them, according to the press release, "jugglers and jesters, sideshow shenanigans, singing and dancing from sexy ladies and gents, a splash of comedy and a little bit of a gypsy village while traveling through time to bring you the best in underground cabaret." Additionally, there will be live music from Will Elliott and the Heretics and the Awkward Moments, as well as Anarchestra—a set of stationary, welded instruments all set to the same key for collaboration among musicians, audience members and a guy named Andy, who created them.

The Return of the Time Traveling Vaudevillians begins at 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 14. The Hut is located at 305 N. Fourth Ave. Admission is a donation of $5 in vaudevillian costume, or $7 with no costume. A limited number of VIP seatings ($10) and an anniversary package which includes a copy of the EF!J anniversary issue and other gifts ($20) are also available. Call The Hut at 623-3200, or Earth First! Journal at 620-6900.


THIS WEEKEND'S BIG DOWNTOWN FESTIVAL

Several weeks ago, it was the Fall Club Crawl®; last week, it was the All Souls Procession and its attendant after-parties; this week, it's the monthly Second Saturdays Downtown that will bring throngs of people downtown to celebrate Tucson's diversity and uniqueness. Here's a quick look at some of this week's performers:

The Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., will feature the only non-free concert as part of Second Saturdays Downtown: Journeyman guitarist Nils Lofgren will perform an acoustic show. He started his career in the band Grin, which was the vehicle that introduced him to Neil Young. Lofgren has split his time since playing in Young's band, releasing solo albums and, perhaps most notably, playing guitar for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. His most recent album is 2008's The Loner: Nils Sings Neil, a collection of Neil Young covers.

Tom Walbank will open the show at 7:30 p.m., and tickets range from $15 to $75, with a VIP meet-and-greet package available.

Free highlights among the rest of the schedule include the lineup at the Scott Avenue Main Stage at Broadway, featuring Silverbell (6 p.m.), The Railbirdz (7:15 p.m.) and the Michael P Big Band (8:45 p.m.); and the lineup at the Red Room at Grill, which will include (in ascending order) performances by George Rosenberg, the Bindle Stiffs, Ultra Maroon Jr. and Run-On Sunshine starting at 7 p.m.

It all goes down all over downtown on Saturday, Nov. 13. For a full schedule, head to 2ndsaturdaysdowntown.com.


WE PREFER TO KEEP OUR WHALES ON STAFF

Club Congress will play host to a triple bill of up-and-coming indie-pop acts this week.

Freelance Whales was started by obscure-instrument collector and frontman Judah Dadone in the Bronx two years ago. After rounding up four additional members, the band began gigging and busking around the city, and cementing its DIY indie-folk-pop sound, which sounds something like a collaboration between Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens, with a touch of electronic sounds tossed in. In early 2009, the band self-released its debut album, Weathervanes. After the disc garnered positive reviews, the album was re-released on Frenchkiss earlier this year.

Miniature Tigers began about five years ago in the Phoenix bedroom of Charlie Brand, a gifted songwriter, guitarist and singer. After recruiting a full band—drummer Rick Schaier, guitarist Algernon Quashie and bassist Alex Gerber—Brand and the group recorded and released a debut album, Tell It to the Volcano, in 2008, on Phoenix-based Modern Art Records. Combining acoustic guitars, propulsive pop rhythms, witty lyrics and hooks aplenty, the album was one of 2008's overlooked gems.

Two years later, the band now resides in Brooklyn, which certainly can't hurt exposure-wise, though the group's follow-up album, Fortress (released on Modern Art in July), loses the giddy pop hooks of Volcano in the name of trying to sound relevant. In case you haven't been paying attention, sonic experimentation is very "in" now, and that's exactly the trap Miniature Tigers largely fall into on Fortress. Let's hope it's just a typical sophomore slump and that the band returns to its hook-filled tackle box next time.

Bear Hands features bandleader Dylan Rau and Ted Feldman, two alumni of Wesleyan University (which famously spawned MGMT), and, in Val Loper and TJ Orscher, two punk vets. The group's debut album, Burning Bush Supper Club, was released earlier this month, and with its falsetto vocals, sonic trickery and combination of organic and electronic instruments, it sounds as if MGMT was indeed an influence.

Freelance Whales, Miniature Tigers and Bear Hands perform an early all-ages show at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Sunday, Nov. 14. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and music begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $12. Head to hotelcongress.com, or call 622-8848 for more info.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Hard-bitten troubadour Tom Russell will perform a pair of area shows next week, next Thursday, Nov. 18, at the Starlight Lounge (capacity 80) at Bisbee's Café Roka (a buffet dinner is also available), and the following night, next Friday, Nov. 19, at Sahuarita's Javarita Coffeehouse.

Todd Snider and Tracy Shedd at the Rialto Theatre on Wednesday, Nov. 17; Supervillains and Ballyhoo! at Club Congress on Friday, Nov. 12; GWAR, The Casualties and more at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 13; Loft Film Fest After-Party with Fourkiller Flats, Greta Gaines and Silverbell at Plush on Saturday, Nov. 13; Nile and others at The Rock next Thursday, Nov. 18; Maybe, Baby and Leopold and His Fiction at Vaudeville on Wednesday, Nov. 17; Jenni Rivera at AVA at Casino del Sol on Friday, Nov. 12; Steel Ribbon's Tribute to Santana at Plaza Palomino on Sunday, Nov. 13; All Time Low, A Rocket to the Moon and City (Comma) State at The Rock on Saturday, Nov. 13; Ernest Troost at Abounding Grace Sanctuary on Saturday, Nov. 13; Steve Aoki and others at the Rialto Theatre next Thursday, Nov. 18; Mark Mallman at Plush on Tuesday, Nov. 16; Last Call Brawlers and Bricktop at The Hut on Saturday, Nov. 13; Hank Topless at Winsett Park on Saturday, Nov. 13, and at Plush on Sunday, Nov. 14.

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