XOXO: Mark Your Calendars

Thursday, Jan. 27 

A hit single can change your life. Citing American poetry (the works of Walt Whitman in particular) as inspiration for her songwriting, Joan Osborne was a well-regarded figure on New York’s blues club scene, but practically unknown elsewhere at the beginning of 1995. But that had changed by March, when the release of Relish (1995), her debut studio album, ascended the Billboard Hot 100. Propelled by hit single “One of Us,” the album peaked at No. 4, garnering seven Grammy nominations and forever changing everything. It was a blessing and a curse. “When I had that big song,” Osborne admits, “I was grateful, but I froze up inside. I was afraid. I didn’t want to make a misstep. I got tied up in knots trying to please everyone, even myself. I became the poster child for the sophomore slump.” She never had another single on the pop charts. Twenty-seven years after her breakthrough, she follows her restless musical heart on her latest release, Trouble and Strife (2020), exploring a diverse range of genres. “We were going for a ’70s AM radio vibe,” says Osborne. Taking a hard look at transgender rights, climate change, immigration and disinformation, she adds: “These songs are the most political I’ve ever written.” Joan Osborne & The Weepies continue to break new ground. At Fox Tucson Theatre…

In 1988, after moving to Boston, blue-eyed soul/folk-rock singer-songwriter Martin Sexton launched his musical career busking on street corners around the city. As his following grew, his collection of self-produced demo recordings, In The Journey (1991), released on an 8-track cassette, sold an impressive 15,000 copies to fans. Shifting his voice effortlessly in-and-out of falsetto, on “Women and Wine” Sexton toes the line. “Like the mist of morning, my dream remains. Hanging in the burnt fields. The flames hiss a chorus of your disdain. Picking up the past I left behind.” Taking to the high road, with what Rolling Stone calls his “soul-marinated voice,” an acoustic guitar, and a suitcase full of heartfelt songs, Martin Sexton presents 2020 Vision (2021). At 191 Toole…

click to enlarge Miss Olivia and The Interlopers
Miss Olivia and The Interlopers
Traveling through the forgotten landscapes of Nogrod, one of two Dwarven cities in the Blue Mountains, slumber drunk, inspired by grunge, dripping with sheets of sopping guitars and ’90s angst, these 20-something Tucson alternative rockers are making quite a racket. Droll live up to their moniker. At Club Congress. With Class and Deep Stay

Recently voted Best Musical Act of 2021 (by TW’s Best of Tucson® readers poll), Miss Olivia & the Interlopers radiate their signature soulful, funky grooves and tell Tiny Tales. At Tap & Bottle (downtown)…

Friday, Jan. 28 

click to enlarge Los Lobos guitarist Cesar Rosas - EMILY DIECKMAN
Emily Dieckman
Los Lobos guitarist Cesar Rosas

It’s been 44 years since the release of Los Lobos del Este de Los Ángeles Despite their humble suggestion that they are “just another band from East L.A.,” Los Lobos have repeatedly proven that they are much, much more. The band was a 2021 recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Their latest album, Native Sons (2021), is a tribute to their hometown via cover songs. From the opening track, “Love Special Delivery” (1966) by Chicano rock & rollers Thee Midniters to The Jaguars’ “Where Lovers Go” (1965), they profess an undying love to The City of Angels. While the repercussions from the pandemic are likely to embed themselves in future works, for now the band’s focus is on touring. A century ago, the end of the 1918 flu pandemic—followed by a period of social change when Americans cast aside old conventions in favor of new ideas—ushered in the Jazz Age. In an interview with PopMatters, saxophonist Steve Berlin philosophized that the desolation arising from the COVID-19 pandemic could set the scene for a renaissance of music and art. “Let’s cross our fingers and hope that happens now.” Los Lobos strew their signature cross-cultural mezcla, By the Light of the Moon. At Rialto Theater. With Lisa Morales

On Too Close To The Riptide (2021) local musician Sophia Rankin explores themes of love, mourning, new beginnings and acceptance. Up-and-comers Sophia Rankin & The Sound reach far beyond their folk roots. At 191 Toole. With Nocturnal Theory and Imogen Rose

As a Dallas skate punk, Joey Verrando (aka He$h) stumbled upon dubstep as a teenager. Zack Bommer started his career spinning in local bars before dubstep blew up into a phenom.
He$h & Bommer. At Gentle Ben’s…

DJ Humblelianess leads Tucson’s hottest Latin dance party. El Tambó. At Hotel Congress (plaza stage)…

Led by guitarist Steve Shell, veteran rockers Shell Shock guarantee a good time. At House of Bards…

Descend into the underground world where the River Styx crosses with EDM. Wook N Jam. Runs through Jan. 31. Location TBA (45 minutes from Tucson)…

Mamma Coal & Grant Bloom
entertain on the plaza. At Hotel Congress… 

Saturday, Jan. 29 

Sneaky devils and identical twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears have been thumbing their snotty noses at convention since forming The Garden, based out of their parent’s house in The O.C., back in 2011. In their salad days, when they wandered the halls at Villa Park High School, punk aggression comprised the soundtrack to their lives. “It’s not all we listen to. But if we had to pick one style of music that’s in your soul, it’s that,” Fletcher says. Known for fast, punky jungle, drum ’n’ bass, and trickster antics, they just don’t give a fuck. “If other people like it, cool. If not, then they don’t have to listen to it.” In an interview with Spin, the brothers see their latest album, Kiss My Super Bowl Ring (2020)—their most “balls out” record since 2013’s The Life and Times of a Paperclip—as just another way to say “kiss my ass.” As Wyatt explains, “We just want to do what we want to do. We’ve experimented a lot musically, we’ve never had just one sound. On the lyrics front, I think this is our most candid and honest record, and there are less hidden messages.” The Garden “French Kiss the Abyss.” At Rialto Theater. With The Runts

Folk singer Jim Croce’s short-lived recording career spawned three No.1 songs and 10 Top 10 hits, earning posthumous acclaim as one of the greatest songwriters to ever put pen to paper. In a special night of music, A.J. Croce performs a complete set of timeless classics by his late father—including “Operator,” “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” and “Time in a Bottle” (a song written for A.J.)—along some of his own material.
Croce Plays Croce. At Fox Tucson Theatre…

Fat Tony returns for his monthly DJ residency. At Hotel Congress (plaza stage)…

Wholly Cats Swing Club
do just that. At Hotel Congress (plaza stage)…

After a long hiatus,
The Surfbroads—still rakish and irreverent with a slight S&M bent—wash up on the desert sand to turn heads, once again. At MotoSonora Brewing Company…

Sunday, Jan. 30 

Putting her unique spin on pop classics—from Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” to Judy Garland’s “Over The Rainbow”—Kristin Chenoweth’s album, For the Girls (2019), pays tribute to the female icons that helped shape her as a performer. Assembling a collection of voices that span generations, Chenowith duets with Ariana Grande, Reba McEntire, Jennifer Hudson and Dolly Parton, although in an interview with NPR, she asserts that she didn’t set out to make a duets album. “It just started evolving,” Chenowith says. In a conversation with record producer Steve Tyrell she reasoned, “If it’s going to be for the girls, I’ve got to have some of my favorite singers on there.” The Emmy and Tony Award winner counts her duet with Dolly Parton on “I Will Always Love You” as one of her proudest accomplishments. “I still get goose bumps and start to cry.” An Evening with Kristin Chenowith. At Fox Tucson Theatre…

Best known for his role as long-time guitarist of Britain’s Jethro Tull, Martin Barre played on every Tull album except for their 1968 debut album This Was. With album sales in excess of 60 million units, his contributions in shaping the band’s distinct prog-rock sound were instrumental to their success until the band’s dissolution in 2011. Although uncredited for much, Barre has claimed that a large body of work from the Jethro Tull catalog was co-written by himself and Ian Anderson. Barre has said two albums,
Songs from the Wood (1977) and Heavy Horses (1978), demonstrate his best playing; he’s credited with having contributed “additional material” both. As a solo artist Barre has recorded nine albums. Prog had this to say of 2013’s Away With Words. “Barre has taken an imaginative approach to his own past by readdressing many of his favorite, often more obscure, nuggets from lull’s [sic] vast cache, chiefly on acoustic guitar.” On the heels of the 50th Anniversary of the release of Aqualung (1971), Martin Barre has assembled a band—including original Tull drummer Clive Bunker—to observe the occasion. At Rialto Theater…

Two-time Grammy nominee, Native American Music Award winner, Tucson Hall Of Famer, and multiple TAMMIE Award winner
Amo Chip Dabney stokes the fire with some friends. Congress Cookout. At Hotel Congress (plaza stage)…

Later in the evening,
Freddy Parish’s Country Club. At Hotel Congress (plaza stage)…

A longtime fixture on the Tucson music scene—perhaps best known as bandleader of Latin jazz ensemble Descarga—
Rafael Moreno Quartet returns. At St. Philip’s Plaza…

Wednesday, Feb. 2 

Having spent her teens sharpening her incisors playing Sunset Strip clubs as a disciple of Guns N’ Roses and Pink, Diamante grew obsessed, devoting every waking moment fleshing out her signature “hard rock sound with a modern alternative edge.” After extensive touring with Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace and Shinedown to promote Coming in Hot, her 2018 debut, Diamante returns with her sophomore release, American Dream (2021). Released independently, reveling in artistic freedom that comes with being untethered to a record label, she credits the album’s producers (Howard Benson and Neil Sanderson) with “bringing my stories to life and pushing me to embrace my vulnerabilities.” Diamante stands “Bulletproof.” At 191 Toole. With Eyes Set To Kill

Jason Boland & The Stragglers track in Texas Red Dirt. At The Rock. With special guests Kaitlin Butts and Cole Trains

In a solo acoustic performance, modern-day singing cowboy
Hank Topless bangs out sets of honky-tonk and country blues. At Crooked Tooth Brewing Company…

Thursday, Feb. 3

Born to photographer/filmmaker John Cook and television director/producer Heather Cook, guitarist Jesse Cook grew up between France, Barcelona, and Canada. His music merges worlds. “I love flamenco, but I also love world music, jazz, pop, Brazilian samba, and Persian music.” His style is unique, a reflection of his many travels. Cook expands, “If you go to Spain and play my music, they’ll say, ‘What is this?’ They don’t recognize it as flamenco. Because it’s not. It’s a hybrid.” He composed his first album, Tempest, in 1995. Part of the album’s initial buzz built up after the title track was looped for many monthsas background music for an Ontario cable TV channel listing, prompting viewers to call in and inquire. Recorded during the pandemic, Libre (2021), his latest release, was born of yearning for freedom. A Roland TR808 drum machine—whose diverse sounds have come to define hip hop, reggaeton, pop, and trap—reinvigorated his imagination. “If you’d asked me at 22, I’d have said that I would never, never make music for the public.” After a career spanning 25 years, Cook reflects, “Well, it turns out I did the thing I said I’d never do, and somehow it all worked out.” Jesse Cook travels Beyond Borders. At Fox Tucson Theatre…

Hailing from Queens, New York, Damien Escobar, along with his brother Tourie, both Julliard-trained violinists, first gained recognition performing in the NYC subway. Their duo Nuttin’ But Stringz was catapulted into stardom after placing third on season 3 of America’s Got Talent. The duo’s ascent was rapid. Soon thereafter their music was featured in a montage for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. They basked in the glory of being highly sought-after musicians, albeit short-lived, and their fall from grace came with a hard landing. Egos crushed, in a haste the brothers set aside their violins and the duo disbanded. What came next was a struggle, not only with identity, but with depression and homelessness. Once thought of strictly as a passion project, in 2013 Damien Escobar released Sensual Melodies, his first album as a solo artist. A mix of classical, hip-hop, jazz, and R&B, this compelling crossover sound soon garnered over 200K downloads, landing on iTunes Top 100 chart. Doors that were once closed, opened. Escobar penned his first children’s book,
The Sound of Strings (2014) and has gone on to release three more albums: Boundless (2017), Songs from a Breakthrough (2020) and a Christmas album, 25 Days of Christmas (2020). “Who’s to say that if Bach were alive right now he wouldn’t be playing hip-hop and blending everything?” Damien Escobar. At Rialto Theater…

In a tribute to the leading ladies of country music—Loretta Lynn, Shania Twain, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, and more—
Mamma Coal tells the stories of love, life, drinkin’, and hard-lessons-learned by these Queens of Country. At The Gaslight Music Hall (Oro Valley)...

On the horizon: Regarded by some as the unofficial after-party of the annual Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. STS9, Liquid Stranger, Claude VonStroke, Shpongle, Lotus, and Lab Group are the sparkling diamonds in a field of resplendent gemstones that cool and solidify to form a trippy and diverse lineup. Gem & Jam 2022. Runs Feb. 4–6. At Pima County Fairgrounds…

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