It all starts now, people.

In all my 20-something years of living in Tucson, I've never seen as many shows on the books than there are headed our way this spring.

Take a gander at just the Rialto Theatre's upcoming schedule and it's like a music lover's wet dream. And that's merely one venue. Club Congress, The District Tavern, Plush, La Cocina, Tucson Live Music Venue, Topaz Tundra, the Rhythm and Roots series – all have lots of great touring acts headed our way. The Fox Tucson Theatre is booking more great acts now than it has since it reopened. And there are plenty other venues booking great stuff that I haven't even mentioned here. Hell, even the lineup for KFMA Day 2013 is the best the radio station has booked in recent memory. (Discounted tickets are on sale Saturday only. See our music blog, We Got Cactus, for more on that.)

We've been benefiting from having bands pass through town on their way to and from SXSW in Austin for years, and starting last year, with Coachella expanding to two consecutive weekends, with performing acts being forced to agree not to perform within a certain radius of the festival for a certain period surrounding the festival, Tucson is now an embarrassment of riches. When you've got over 100 bands stranded out in the desert for a week, they're going to want to play some nearby shows, and Tucson fits that bill perfectly. So, we're being treated to basically our own music festival, albeit one that's scattered over a few months and without the all-inclusive ticket price. But wouldn't you rather see these bands in intimate venues than deal with the heat and tens of thousands of fellow concertgoers? Me, too.

Yep, our friendly little burg is growing up fast, but don't shed any tears – unless they're tears of joy, that is.


Last week we told you that it was going to be a good week for fans of roots music; likewise, this week is a damn fine one if you're a fan of world music. Here's a quick look at three great shows that fall into that category.

Like a lot of people, I suspect, I still remember the first time I saw Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform. During the making of Paul Simon's Graceland album, on which the South African a cappella choral group performed, Simon appeared as the musical guest on an episode of Saturday Night Live and he brought Ladysmith with him. Decked out in their traditional garb, the group sang and danced behind Simon on the future album highlight "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes." It was the first time the song had been performed live (and in front of millions of people, mind), the first exposure most people had to Ladysmith and their music. And it was just plain incredible.

Several months later I had the good fortune to see Simon – along with Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, and yes, Ladysmith Black Mambazo – on the Graceland tour at a beautiful old theater in St. Louis. It was one of the best shows I've ever seen and Ladysmith were a big reason why. The pure joy they exude when they perform is completely infectious; you can't help but smile.

Though group members have come and gone, Ladysmith is still led by Joseph Shabalala, who founded the group over 50 years ago. Stop and think about the politics in South Africa over the years (i.e., apartheid), and it's staggering to think that this group has traveled the world several times over, including a trip to Norway to accompany Nelson Mandela when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and won several Grammys. Their story is inspiring, yes, but not as inspiring as their music.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo performs an all-ages show at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 3, at the Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. Advance tickets range from $22 to $62 and are available at or by calling 547-3040. Use the same info for further details.

Less than a week after Bob Weir's acoustic performance at the Fox, a fellow former Grateful Dead member, Mickey Hart, will be performing at the Rialto Theatre this week.

Although the percussionist still performs with the Grateful Dead splinter band The Dead on occasion, since the death of Jerry Garcia (and before, too) he has devoted his time to the study of ethnomusicology and world music, written books on those subjects, and yes, performed lots of "solo" shows in varying incarnations.

This week he's performing with the Mickey Hart Band, with seven backing members, performing a sprinkling of Dead tunes but focusing on newer cosmic material – "eerie spectral soundscapes," as one reviewer recently put it -- that incorporates the use of electronics.

You've gotta hand it to Hart. While other former Dead member have largely based their post-Dead careers on rehashing that band's old tunes, Hart has never stopped exploring and experimenting with new sounds.

The Mickey Hart Band performs at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, March 5. African Showboyz open the all-ages show at 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $25. Head to or call 740-1000 for more info.

Ever since college students discovered the Bob Marley greatest hits collection Legend, reggae has been the most popular form of world music in America. Although details are sketchy at press time (an e-mail sent to the promoter wasn't immediately returned, and the venue's voice mailbox was full), this weekend the Tucson Rock Alliance is teaming up with The Hut to present Marley Fest, a three-day reggae festival taking place Friday, March 1, through Sunday, March 3.

Performing at the fest are, on Friday, March 1: Hawaii's Natural Vibrations and two local acts, Planet Jam and Rockers Uptown; Saturday, March 2: two Southern California-based bands, Beyond I Sight and Brewfish; Sunday, March 3: two more Tucson bands, Salacious and 115 Down.

The Hut is located at 305 N. Fourth Ave. Unfortunately, we can't give you start times or cover charges for Marley Fest, but you can try giving the venue a call at 623-3200 for more information. The venue's website is, but there's not much info there at press time.


Local tasteful noisemongers Algae and Tentacles will be releasing a new cassette at a free show (donations welcome) at La Cocina, 201 N. Court Ave., on Friday, March 1. Mellow Bellow opens at 10 p.m. and Dream Sick headlines. Call 622-0351 for more info.

For many years in the 80s and 90s, the legendary Western group Sons of the Pioneers spent winters in Tucson, performing at the Triple C Chuckwagon. This weekend the originators of such Western classics as "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and "Cool Water" will return to Tucson for a special matinee show at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 3, at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Tickets for the all-ages show are $32 and $36, and you can get more information at or by calling 319-9966.

Forty years to the day of its release, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon will be performed in its entirety by local Floyd tribute band Atom Heart Mother. The show, a benefit for community radio station KXCI 91.3 FM, begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 1, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Admission is a donation of $5. Check out or call 798-1298 for more details.


Burger Records Showcase and Human Behavior Tour Kickoff featuring Gap Dream, The Memories, White Fang, and Colleen Green at Club Congress on Wednesday, March 6; Tesoro's SXSW Going Away Party at Armitage on Sunday, March 3; The Devil Wears Prada and As I Lay Dying at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, March 2; Martin Sexton at Plush on Saturday, March 2; Spindrift, Gram Rabbit, and Chicha Dust at Club Congress next Thursday, March 7; Whirr, Nothing, Ocean Void, and Womb Tomb at brewd coffee lounge next Thursday, March 7; Pauly Shore at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, March 1; "Too Jewish" Radio Live featuring Robert Klein at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Saturday, March 2; Myshkin and Michelle McAfee at Plush on Wednesday, March 6; Tom Walbank and the Ambassadors and Justin Valdez y los Tortilla Makers at Surly Wench Pub on Saturday, March 2; Aaron Lewis at the Fox Tucson Theatre next Thursday, March 7; Chicano Brown, Straight Jacket, and Radiation Suitz at The District Tavern on Sunday, March 3; Skip Heller and Friends perform the songs of Floyd Tillman as part of the Tucson Fringe Festival at Club Congress on Saturday, March 2; Andrew Collberg and The Preservation at La Cocina on Tuesday, March 5; Farewell My Love and Late Night Reading at The Rock on Sunday, March 3; The Jons at Che's Lounge on Saturday, March 2; and lots, lots more.

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