Some folks may only know of bluegrass music from the movies, like the gristly banjo throwdown in "Deliverance," or T-Bone Burnett's almost scholarly compendium for "O Brother, Where Art Thou." Those folks probably aren't from around here. Tucson enjoys an Appalachian holler-full of bluegrass year 'round, including weekly jams and nationally-recognized semi-annual festivals hosted by the Desert Bluegrass Association (See for all of the things), performances throughout the Tucson Folk Festival and fairly frequent sets at places like the Boondocks, La Cocina, and Monterey Court. Chances are you may even know a banjo player.

So you'll want to arrive early before other fans fill up the Dailey and Vincent Concert tonight, Jan. 29, at 8 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre, all ages, $15 to $32. Protégés of living master Ricky Skaggs, the duo are three-time winners of the International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainer of the Year and Vocal Group of the Year awards, and winners of a Dove Award for their bluegrass gospel recordings. Both have been performing almost since their instruments were taller than they were. They'll be reprising the breadth of a career that spans the genre.


Let's not be sad. Let's kick out the jams and raise some hell in honor of young Mitch Barrigar, a guitarist who, when he died at age 16, already had made his mark in two bands with sizeable followings—Tucson's House Divided, a raging mess of colorful energy to unleash a matching crowd, and Verona, a somewhat more structured pop affair that recalls a bit of "The Tempe Sound" of the Refreshments and the Gin Blossoms. According to Matt's loving obituary, he also "had achieved one year sobriety and remained sober to the end of his life."

We can celebrate Mitch's passion for music, and reflect on kids like Mitch in our own lives, at a benefit, "A Night for Mitch," at the Rock, Saturday, Jan. 31, 6 p.m., $10. Supporting bands are the Getaway Mile, An Empty Step, Waysted Youth and Heroics. At the family's request, funds raised will go to HOPE, Inc.'s Young Adult Team, perhaps to "build a music program for youth recovering from addiction and mental illness."

"The Stars Look Very Different Today"

That line from Bowie's Space Oddity comes to mind whenever I'm pondering what the next music is like. Somebody's out there making it right now in a garage, on a street corner or an abandoned basketball court, in a cotton field, in a pedestrian tunnel. Where? On a computer, most likely.

Tucson's Gamma Like Very Ultra is one band that's onto something, I think, at least in the way of disrupting existing paradigms. They seem to break rules the minute it sounds like they're following them, deconstructing haggard notions of "instrument," messing with aesthetics. What's pretty? How can we fuck it up? It makes me want to hear more to see if I'm just missing the part where they explore loud-soft dynamics, or crossfire time signatures, or somehow make rhythm analog instead of digital. And I want to see them live in order to understand what role is played by improvisations.

Luckily, they're performing a free show at Club Congress on Tuesday, Feb. 3, with Thy Odd Birds, another Tucson band of radicals, but of the jazz persuasion. Doors are at 8 p.m. Your guess is as good as mine when the show will start.


Any winter visitors out there looking for a sound that feels like being in Tucson? What you want is Kevin Pakulis playing on the patio at Monterey Court from 7 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 31, $5. Pakulis' original songs could all be true, and there may be people sitting near you that have lived them, or something like them. Take a selfie for the folks back in ... Minnesota, I'm guessing. High of 75 degrees that day and clear, because, Tucson.


'Twas a privilege to fill in these few weeks at Soundbites. With the Weekly's Feb. 5 issue, music and food maven Heather Hoch musters a fresh look and feel for our music section, and I'll settle back into dropping by with the occasional feature. Enjoy! And send your music news to

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