R.I.P., Michael Begala


Tucson lost a beloved local musician last week. Michael Begala, a Tucson resident since the late '70s, played mandolin for The Desert Drifters and sometimes played guitar with the Wayback Machine and the West River Band; but he was perhaps best known as a singer and guitarist for Grateful Dead cover band Top Dead Center.

On Friday, Aug. 1, the band was scheduled to play at the Rialto Theatre as part of the Local Love Tribute Fest. When bandmate Randy Clamons went to pick him up for the show, Begala was found in his bed. He apparently died of natural causes. He was 59 years old.

Somehow, the band soldiered on and played the show "in missing man formation," according to Clamons. Begala and Clamons had a weekly standing gig at The Hut each Saturday — the Mike and Randy 420 Show — and Clamons reports that there was "a little celebration in his memory at The Hut this last Saturday."

According to Clamons, Begala was "the biggest Deadhead" in Top Dead Center: "Michael had told me of a dream or a vision he'd had a couple months ago. In his vision he was asked what day he wanted to die. He answered he didn't want to die, but if he had to pick a day, it would be Jerry's birthday. Then he told me if he died on Jerry's birthday, I was the only one who would know what happened—the angels came and took him away—then he laughed like only Michael can. I just wasn't expecting it to be his year."

Begala's death comes just 14 months after the band lost its keyboardist, John Gatty, to pancreatic cancer.

A celebration of Begala's life is being planned for sometime in September. We'll keep you posted about that.

We'd like to offer our sincere condolences to Begala's family and friends.


As we mentioned last week, there will be a memorial show and fundraiser this week "to celebrate the epic life and legacy" of Ric Evarian, vocalist for the American Deathtrip and a pillar of the Southern Arizona punk community since 1989, when the band was formed. Evarian passed away on Wednesday, July 24.

Memorial and Benefit for Ric Evarian – A Gathering of the Tribe will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Evarian will be memorialized by friends, family, and fans at the all-ages show, which will also feature performances by Dead Chiefs, Wrong Idea, and Feast Upon Cactus Thorns (FUCT), who are reuniting for the event.

Admission is a suggested donation of $5 to $10, and there will be raffles as well as memorial T-shirts, CDs, prints, and photos for sale. All proceeds will be donated to a memorial fund established for his son Miles.

Immediately after the Rialto event, four bands — Saphead, Hooker Cops, Vanish Twin, and Flying Donkey Punch — will perform a free show at The District Tavern, 260 E. Congress St., in Evarian's honor.

For more information about the Rialto event, head to or call 740-1000. Further details about the show at The District are available at 792-0081.


The Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association (TKMA), the organization that presents the Tucson Folk Festival each May, will hold a fundraising concert this weekend to benefit the next year's 29th annual event.

The TKMA's summer fundraiser always carries with it a whimsical theme and this year is no exception. A Musical Tribute: Drinking and Other Mind-Altering Songs will run from 5 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 11, at Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave.

As usual with these events, the only thing being taken seriously is the music itself. An excerpt from a press release: "This is your chance to explore your inner-self, the meaning of life, and alter your consciousness through a spiritual quest with yoga and meditation ... oh wait ... wrong gig! THIS event is all about exploring altered states, stumbling through life, numbing the pain and dropping bothersome inhibitions through the wonder of music as local artists celebrate the (sometimes unsavory, yet all-too-enjoyable) human habits of alcohol consumption and achieving nirvana through artificial means!"

Scheduled to perform at this year's event are the Wayback Machine, Lost Hombres, Determined Luddites, Don and Victoria Armstrong, Stefan George, Duncan Stitt, Ron Pandy, Kyle Bronsdon, Kevin McConnell, Neil McCallion, Wally Lawder, Robert Oser, Chet Gardiner, Steve Parker, and special guests.

Admission to the 21-and-older show is a suggested donation of $10. For more info, head to or call 690-0991.


It's the second week in August, which, of course, means that Second Saturdays Downtown is happening this weekend.

You know the drill by now: food, crafts, performers scattered throughout downtown, centered around Congress Street from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10. A few highlights:

The Scott Ave. Main Stage will feature performances by Michael P. and the Gully Washers (6:30 p.m.), Belly Dance Tucson (7:30 p.m.), The Hot Action Healers (7:45 p.m.), Belly Dance Tucson (8:45 p.m.), and The Vexmen (9 p.m.).

Blues singer-songwriter and keyboardist Bob Malone, who in recent years has recorded and toured as part of John Fogerty's band, will perform a free show at the Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the folks at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St., are going all-in with the Hotel Congress Summer Art and Music Fest, which runs from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday. (All ages are welcome until 10 p.m.) The event will feature an art show at a pop-up gallery, live art, a vinyl swap (from 5 to 8 p.m.), and performances by two local instrumental bands: the post-rock outfit Sleeps Like Trees and Shit Ton (Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout, minus Mr. Free).

Second Saturdays Downtown is a free, family-friendly event. For more information, head to,, and


Willie Nelson, one of the greatest singer-songwriters in music history, in any genre, turned 80 years old earlier this year, but one would never know it by looking at his touring and recording schedule. For the last few decades, the road warrior has found time to release at least one album per year (and, often, as many as three).

Unfortunately, in recent years his live performances have become increasingly unpredictable (not unlike the similarly legendary Bob Dylan). Sometimes he's on, and puts on a terrific show; but when he's not, Nelson can seem like he's racing through his set, sing-speaking the lyrics to songs instead of fully investing himself.

Let's all hope for the best when Willie Nelson takes to the stage at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, on Wednesday, Aug. 14. The Wild Feathers open the show at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $30 to $85 and are available at or by calling (800) 344-9435.


We've barely scratched the surface of all the musical awesomeness headed our way this week, so be sure to check out our listings sections for lots more. In the meantime, a few highlights: Jägermeister Tour featuring Molotov, Sangre, and The Jons at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, Aug. 9; Los Tigres del Norte and Voz de Mando at AVA at Casino del Sol on Saturday, Aug. 10; Charlie Daniels Band at the Diamond Center at Desert Diamond Casino on Saturday, Aug. 10; Bobby Long and Michael Bernard Fitzgerald at Club Congress on Monday, Aug. 12; Kid Puto tour kickoff show with Rumspringer and Free Machines at The District Tavern next Thursday, Aug. 15; Human Behavior tour kickoff show with Mellow Bellow and more at Tiny Town Gallery on Tuesday, Aug. 13; Mike Stud at Club Congress on Friday, Aug. 9; The Jigglewatts burlesque revue at Surly Wench Pub tonight, Thursday, Aug. 8; The Motel Life at Tucson Live Music Space on Sunday, Aug. 11; I Hear Voices! (featuring Bobby Kimmel) and Coyote Supper Club at Water of Life Metropolitan Community Church on Saturday, Aug. 10; Grum at Opti Club at Club Congress next Thursday, Aug. 15; Bob Log III, Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout, and God of the Sea at The HangArt tonight, Thursday, Aug. 8; Sam Barrett, Kid Little, Pine Hill Haints, Pop Gestapo, and Shovel at Tiny Town Gallery on Friday, Aug. 9; Hadji Banjovi and the Infinite Mercies and Legend City at the Hotel Congress Plaza on Friday, Aug. 9; The Mission Creeps and Snake Island! at The District Tavern tonight, Thursday, Aug. 8; Burning Palms, Acorn Bcorn, and Numb Bats at Sky Bar on Sunday, Aug. 11; Hank Topless at Country Saturdays at Café Passe on Saturday, Aug. 10.