It arrives next week—the greatest musical event since the Beatles played on Ed Sullivan. Since Hendrix lit his guitar on fire at Woodstock. Since Iggy Pop smeared peanut butter all over his body. Since Justin Bieber cut off those beautiful locks.

I'm speaking, of course, about The 14th Annual Great Cover-Up, which may or may not be all of those things, but is surely the most-consistently fun local music event of the year.

A brief history: The idea for the event was stolen wholesale from Champaign, Ill., where I attended a few Cover-Ups in the '90s. The idea was to gather a bunch of local bands, each of which would pick a well-known artist to cover in a 20-minute set—while keeping it secret who they were covering until they hit the stage, in order to maximize the element of surprise. The best part of all was that the money raised would go to charity.

It's a simple, ingenious idea, and when I told Shoebomb's Melissa Manas about it, we decided it would translate well to Tucson. She took the reins and organized the first Tucson Cover-Up back in 1998. When she had to bow out the following year due to pregnancy, an ever-shifting team over the years (this year, it's me; Tucson Weekly contributor Mel Mason; the Rialto Theatre's Curtis McCrary and Ryan Trayte; Club Congress' David Slutes; and local promoter Dan Hernandez) picked up where she left off. Since then, the Cover-Up has grown by leaps and bounds, first expanding to two nights, then three. And this year, for the first time ever, the event will be held at three different venues over three nights, and at two of those venues during the day (on Saturday only), making this, with more than 60 bands participating, the biggest Cover-Up yet.

All of the proceeds over the years have been donated to charity. This year's beneficiary, as it has been for the last four, will be the Tucson Artists and Musicians Healthcare Alliance (TAMHA), which provides informational and monetary health-care resources to local, uninsured artists.

The 2011 edition will be held at Plush on Thursday, Dec. 15; Club Congress on Friday, Dec. 16; and the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 17. Additionally, on Saturday the 17th, both Congress and the Rialto will feature acts during the day; more on that next week.

In previous years, we've published a schedule saying what times the local acts were playing, along with a general list of who was being covered that night. This year, we're flipping the script—letting you know which bands are being covered in each time slot, with a general list of the local bands performing.

And so, the schedule for the first night of The 14th Annual Great Cover-Up, held at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., next Thursday, Dec. 15, looks like this: Pavement (7:45 p.m.), the Everly Brothers (8:15 p.m.), John Lennon (8:45 p.m.), Steely Dan (9:15 p.m.), David Bowie (9:45 p.m.), Weezer (10:15 p.m.), Os Mutantes (10:45 p.m.), Mötley Crüe (11:15 p.m.), XTC (11:45 p.m.), Heaven at 27 (songs by musicians who died at age 27; 12:15 a.m.), Bauhaus (12:45 a.m.).

In no particular order, the local acts doing the covering that night are Young Mothers, Faster Than Light, Shaun Harris, The Distortionists, Still Life Telescope, The Swigs, Muddy Bug, Early Black, Genevieve and the LPs, Jeremy Michael Cashman and The Monitors.

Doors open at 7 p.m., and please note that unlike at most club shows, the bands will actually be performing at their scheduled times, so please be prompt—or risk missing stuff.

Admission is a suggested donation of $8 for one night, $12 for two nights, or $15 for all three, with every penny going to TAMHA.

For more information, including last-minute schedule updates (if necessary), head to For more info about TAMHA, go to You can call Plush at 798-1298, or check out its website at

See you there!


A quick reminder to all local promoters and venues: If you're putting on a music-oriented event on New Year's Eve, please send me your details if you'd like to be included in our annual New Year's Eve Guide. The deadline to get information to me is noon on Monday, Dec. 12, and you can send it to


Two local bands are holding a joint CD-release show this week.

Veteran heavy blooze rockers Love Mound will release the full-length The Noose, the Tree, and the Desert Sky (Hover Tank), which you can read about in this week's Rhythm & Views (Page 47). And the relatively new local trio Sugar Stains will release its debut EP, Sweet Revenge (self-released).

Sugar Stains, which includes songwriter Amy Mendoza (vocals, guitar), Erica Rios (bass) and Amy McDaniel (drums), clearly graduated with honors from the tuff-girl school of rock. But even within these five songs, there's enough variation to keep things interesting. "January 8th" comes charging out of the gate with a buzzsaw guitar riff in the time-honored poppy-punk tradition. It never really lets up, with Mendoza's post-riot-grrrl vocals veering from snotty punk to downright pretty. It's a fine tone-setter for the rest of the EP.

"Fingerprints" follows the "January 8th" template closely—minus the pretty parts—but not quite as successfully. "Blaze," whose opening bass line owes a debt to Fugazi's "Waiting Room," is a real treat, all midtempo, galloping, not-quite-bouncy guitar, with a fine vocal performance from Mendoza, plus a sultry bridge. It wouldn't be nearly as successful if the rhythm section weren't playing their hearts out. "Ignorance" tosses a little surf-guitar into the mix, while "Devolve" is the most straight-up punk-rock song on the EP.

While it's always great to see more women playing music on local stages, Sugar Stains aren't a fine new addition to Tucson music because of their gender; they're a fine new addition because they're a fine new band, period.

Sugar Stains celebrate the release of Sweet Revenge by headlining a show at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, Dec. 10. Snakes in Love kick off the night at 9:30 p.m., and Love Mound takes the middle slot. Cover is $5. For more info, head to, or call 798-1298.


With the impending departure from Tucson of the group's frontwoman, Jo Wilkinson and Grains of Sand will play a farewell concert at Suite 147 at Plaza Palomino, 2970 N. Swan Road, No. 147, at 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 11. Expect plenty of special guests including Mitzi Cowell, Sabra Faulk, Heather Hardy, Bobby Kimmel, Gary Mackender, Bill Ronstadt and Duncan Stitt. Tickets are $12 in advance, or $15 at the door;

Legendary L.A. roots-punk band X will arrive in Tucson this week as part of its Xmas Rock 'n' Roll Revival tour. The band, whose current lineup features all four original members, will be joined by the gospel duo of Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss, and the Black Tibetans at a 7 p.m. show on Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. Tickets are $22 to $38, available at the venue box office or by calling 547-3040;

Listen up, fans of Weezer, Fountains of Wayne and their ilk: Springfield, Mo.-based indie-poppers Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, whose name only gets better with every passing year, return to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., for a show in support of this year's sprawling odds 'n' sods collection Tape Club (Polyvinyl). Opening the all-ages show at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 12, will be The Electric Blankets and ... music video? Tix are $8 in advance, or $10 on the day of the show; 622-8848 or


Jeffrey Lewis and others at Skrappy's on Sunday, Dec. 11; Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot at the Rialto Theatre on Monday, Dec. 12; The Wailers and Lee "Scratch" Perry (the only date when they're performing together) at the Rialto Theatre tonight, Thursday, Dec. 8; Devil Doll, The El Camino Royales and Moonlight Howlers at Surly Wench Pub on Friday, Dec. 9; The Littlest Birds at Plush on Tuesday, Dec. 13; Toys for Tots II at The Rock on Saturday, Dec. 10; Bricktop, Slick 46, Texas Trash and the Hangovers and others at The Hut on Saturday, Dec. 10; Peach Kelli Pop and Lenguas Largas at La Cocina tonight, Thursday, Dec. 8; the Last Call Girls and The Maxwells at Boondocks Lounge on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Please note that the Cake show at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, Dec. 9, is sold out.

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