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SO LONG, PLATO

Here are a few news tidbits to get us started this week.

After an extended battle with cancer, Neon Prophet percussionist Plato T. Jones passed away on Feb. 5. After stints playing around the country—and the world—with acts like Baby Huey and the Babysitters, the Black Pearl Band, Mr. Clean, Redbone, Curtis Mayfield and Bobby Womack, Jones moved to Phoenix and joined Walt Richardson and the Morning Star Band. In 1986, he joined Neon Prophet, Tucson's longest-running reggae band, and had been a member ever since.

Rest in peace, Plato. We'll miss you.

On a much happier note: As a co-sponsor of the South by Southwest Music Conference, taking place in Austin March 16-20, the Tucson Weekly is allowed to pick a SXSW-approved band or musician to perform an official showcase at the festival. We're proud to announce that this year's sponsored band is Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta, your pick for our Tucson Area Music Awards Band of the Year.

Additionally, Marianne Dissard has been invited to perform at an official showcase this year as well. Congrats to both.

More good news: After winning the Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation's Blues Battle at Club Congress in December, the Bryan Dean Trio recently went to Memphis to compete in the International Blues Challenge. And just as Tom Walbank and Arthur Migliazza did last year, the trio made it to the competition's semifinals—one of 44 semifinalists among the 110 competitors from around the country.

Congratulations, lady and gentlemen.


NEW MUSIC!

It's another late-winter/early-spring week in Tucson, and that can only mean one thing: more local releases.

Faster Than Light, a trio with singer-guitarist Nate Jasensky, bassist-keyboardist Chris Pierce and drummer-singer Jim Borquez, will celebrate the release of a CD with at performance at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., at 9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 19. The band combines elements of straightforward rock, jazz, Southern rock, indie-rock and even folk and blues. They can sound like a combination of The Smiths and Bright Eyes one minute, and Rush or Lynyrd Skynyrd the next. One Big Happy Sound and the Runaway Five open the all-ages show at 9 p.m. Admission is $5. Call 884-0874 for more information.

A concert at the still-under-renovation Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. on Saturday, Feb. 19, will serve as a release show for two local bands. Three Point Turn, a ska-punk septet that stirs in elements of pop, reggae, jazz and swing, will release a full-length CD, while show openers The Foleys—who have expanded from a duo to a quartet and perform a brand of folk-rock that gets burly when it needs to—will release a CD EP. In between the two, Congregation will perform. The show starts at 9:30 p.m., and cover is $5. Head to plushtucson.com, or call 798-1298 for further details.

And on Tuesday, Feb. 22, Fort Lowell Records, the 7-inch vinyl label owned and operated by Tracy Shedd guitarist James Tritten, will branch outside of Tucson for its fifth release, whose A-side features "Devadasi," a new track by Los Angeles electro-poppers Death Kit. The B-side of the peach-colored single features a ... music video? remix of an earlier Death Kit song, "I Can Make You Love Me." The single comes with a digital download of both songs, plus two Tracy Shedd bonus tracks: her cover of "I Can Make You Love Me" and Death Kit's remix of her "Tear It Up." No release show is presently scheduled, but you can get more info and buy the single directly at fortlowell.blogspot.com.


PUT ON YOUR DANCING SHOES

Batucaxé, the local percussion and dance ensemble spearheaded by Cliff Berrien, and the winner of the Tucson Area Music Award in the World Music category for the last two years, performs at a large number of events throughout the year—but in many ways, it all leads up to the group's biggest event of the year: this week's Tucson Carnaval.

Similar to Brazil's Carnaval, the festival, whose theme this year is "Dancing in the Streets," is a celebration of the rebirth brought by spring. From its humble beginnings in Himmel Park three years ago, the Tucson event has grown by leaps and bounds; last year, thousands of revelers converged on Armory Park, which is where the event will be held again this year, for the all-day festivities.

In addition to the annual parade, which begins at 2 p.m., and the finale, at 7:30 p.m.—featuring fire performance artist troupe Flam Chen—the festival will feature a plethora of other events including live performances, interactive workshops, children's activities, and food and craft vendors.

Tucson Carnival runs from 1 to 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 19, at Armory Park, 220 S. Sixth Ave. Admission is free to all ages. For more information, head to tucsoncarnaval.wordpress.com (and don't miss our TQ&A with Berrien this week).


SHORT TAKES

Seminal indie-rock trio Sebadoh, led by Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr., the Folk Implosion) and Jason Loewenstein, recently released remastered and expanded versions of two of its best known albums, 1994's Bakesale and 1996's Harmacy. They have embarked on a tour to perform songs from those albums that will bring them to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Monday, Feb. 21. The fabulous Quasi opens at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $13 in advance, or $14 on the day of the show. Call 622-8848 with questions.

There are at least five shows headed our way this week that feature veteran masters of their respective genres: On Friday, Feb. 18, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will perform at 8 p.m. at UA Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. $15 to $74. Call 621-3341 for more information. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band leader John McEuen will perform the same night at the Javarita Coffeehouse at the Good Shepherd United Church of Christ, 17750 S. La Cañada Drive, in Sahuarita. $20. Call 625-1375 for further details. Also on Friday, Feb. 18, soul, blues and gospel performer Johnny Rawls will take the stage of Suite 147 in Plaza Palomino, at the southeast corner of Swan and Fort Lowell roads, at 7:30 p.m. $15 advance; $18 door. Call 319-9966 for more info. Blues master James Harman will headline a show with his James Harman Band at Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave., on Saturday, Feb. 19. The show starts at 7 p.m. with opening sets by the Nathan James Trio and Grams and Krieger. $12 advance; $15 day of the show. Call 690-0991 for further details. And, on Monday, Feb. 21, reggae legend Pato Banton will perform at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Spirit Familia opens at 8 p.m. $20 advance; $22 day of the show. Call 740-1000 for more info.


ON THE BANDWAGON

The Octopus Project, Stareater and Treasure Mammal at Plush on Friday, Feb. 18; The White Buffalo at Club Congress on Sunday, Feb. 20; the Gabriel Ayala Trio at La Cocina in Old Town Artisans on Friday, Feb. 18; Amy Rude, Acorn Bcorn and The Lemon Drop Gang at Plush tonight, Thursday, Feb. 17; The Great Guinness Toast with the Keltic Cowboys and the Dusty Buskers at Club Congress on Friday, Feb. 18; the 2011 Arizona Daily Star Battle of the Bands at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, Feb. 18; Caliche Con Carne, Bradford Trojan, Al Perry and Lana Rebel at the Red Room at Grill on Saturday, Feb. 19; Death Angel, Lazarus A.D. and others at Club DV8 on Friday, Feb. 18; Serene Dominic at Plush on Wednesday, Feb. 23; Imagination Movers at the Tucson Convention Center Music Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 23; The Necronauts at the Red Room at Grill on Friday, Feb. 18; Tribal Seeds at The Rock on Wednesday, Feb. 23; the Father Figures (featuring Michael Cornelius of JFA) at The Hut on Friday, Feb. 18; The Tangelos, Rich Hopkins and the Luminarios and Tammy West and the Culprits at Plush next Thursday, Feb. 24; Al Foul and Texas Trash and the Trainwrecks at The Hut on Saturday, Feb. 19; Michael P. and Combo Combo at Sky Bar on Saturday, Feb. 19; and the Saturnalia wine tasting by Kenny Stewart featuring (Weekly contributor) DJ Carl Hanni at Club Congress on Wednesday, Feb. 23.

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