Ahhh, here we are—the slowest music week of the year, and it falls at that time when many of us most need to get out of the house to escape those pesky relatives. (Uncle Jerry holds those hugs a bit too long, am I right?)

While there may not be as many options to escape as there are on, well, any other week of the year, there are some. Here are a few suggestions.


Just like most sane people, most touring acts stay at home with the family for the holidays. But not The Commodores, those '70s and '80s hit-makers who are still hitting up the casinos on a regular basis—including this week, when they'll be performing at the Diamond Center at the Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road.

Yes, there are only three veteran members remaining (and, no, Lionel Richie is not one of them). But where else are you going to hear live performances of ballads like "Easy," "Still" and "Three Times a Lady," or pop-funk workouts like "Brick House," "Too Hot ta Trot" and "Lady (You Bring Me Up)?"

The Commodores will perform at Desert Diamond Casino next Thursday, Dec. 29. The all-ages show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 to $65, available through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or For more information, head to


In the more-bang-for-your-buck department, you really can't do much better than Club Congress' Xmas Eve EVE Holiday Hootenanny, which gathers up a slew of local acts who, unlike the Commodores, actually did stay home for the holidays. The show is open only to those 21 and older, which means you can escape the screaming little munchkins who won't shut up about what they hope Santa is bringing them this year.

The lineup for the night is Howe Gelb, whose output with Giant Sand has enjoyed a rediscovery this year with reissues of their earliest albums via Fire Records; Brian Lopez, the frontman for Mostly Bears whose solo debut has been getting rave reviews in Europe, where he's been spending much of his time touring as of late; Acorn Bcorn, the sister duo that embarked upon their first massive U.S. tour over the summer, and whose Marina Cornelius has been booking shows

recently at La Cocina under the banner RR Nites as an homage to the sorely missed Red Room; Gabriel Sullivan, whose band Taraf de Tucson will be dropping its debut album early in 2012; and the lone Phoenicians of the bunch, Make My Baby, whose frontwoman, Lonna Kelley, has collaborated with Giant Sand and the Sand Rubies in the past, and whose voice will positively make you melt.

Doors open at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 23. Club Congress is at 311 E. Congress St. Oh, and if you get there a little late, no worries: The show will proceed in round-robin fashion, meaning each act will perform twice. Admission is a paltry $6. If you need more info, head to, or call 622-8848.


As we all know, not everybody is cheery during the holidays, and Club Congress has a fantastic local showcase for those people, too.

Every year around this time, the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame holds court at the club for a very special fundraiser, bringing in some of the finest blues talent in the state. This year's lineup includes the Bad News Blues Band, Tony Uribe, Ed DeLucia, Bryan Dean, Grams and Krieger, Tom Walbank, Stefan George and others. Yes, it's an absolutely killer lineup. But the real fun at these shows happens when musicians start sitting in with each other for impromptu collaborations.

The Arizona Blues Hall of Fame Show starts at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 28, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is a suggested donation of $5. For more info, hit up, or call 622-8848.

Speaking of Bryan Dean, it's worth mentioning that the hot-shit blues guitarist appears with his band, the Bryan Dean Trio—last year's winners of the Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation's Blues Challenge—for free every Monday night at Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave., and, yes, that includes Monday, Dec. 26, the day after Santa has made his rounds. They play each week from 6 to 8 p.m., and those 18 and older are welcome. (After 9 p.m., you must be 21 or older to stick around.) For more info, check out, or call 690-0991.


And, hey, since we're on the topic of great free shows that happen every week, why not steer you in the direction of some excellent jazz?

Every Tuesday night at the solar-power-run Sky Bar, 536 N. Fourth Ave., you can catch a revolving roster of local jazz acts without paying a dime. Most weeks, you'll catch Jazz Telephone, a band led by veteran saxophonist Jeff Grubic (aka Mr. Tidypaws) that usually also includes Ryen Eggleston and Dimitri Manos of Golden Boots, as well as Naim Amor and a series of guests; but a month or so ago, we caught what I believe was an ad-hoc group of UA music students who absolutely slayed, and Bossa Rhythm Project performs there regularly, too.

Jazz Telephone will hold court at the venue on Tuesday, Dec. 27. Music begins at 7 p.m. Head to, or call 622-4300 for more info.

Meanwhile, over at La Cocina, 201 N. Court Ave., the duo of Shawn Kebler on guitar and Collin Shook on bass, who perform under the name Elephant Head, perform for free each Wednesday starting at 6 p.m., including on Wednesday, Dec. 28. I haven't managed to catch them yet, but La Cocina's website describes their music as "low volume, but intense and fresh jazz originals, grooves and standards," which sounds like the perfect accompaniment for dinner at "The Kitchen." For further details, check out, or call 622-0351.


Finally, if you haven't been tuning in to the Tucson Weekly's blog, The Range, which you can find at, you're really missing out—and right now, local music fans have even more of a reason to head over there.

Local instrumental-rock outfit Sleep Driver has been kind enough to allow us to post a new track each Monday from their upcoming EP, Signals, which will be released on Jan. 2, and will be feted with a release party at Club Congress on Friday, Jan. 6. Three of the four tracks are streaming-only, but the first one, "319," is available for free download. Check 'em out—it don't cost nothin'.

Here's wishing you and yours a safe, happy holiday.

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