EVEN MORE BLUES: Just when you thought Tucson couldn't get any blue-er, the Rialto Cabaret hosts a Blues Bash Weekend, with shows both Friday and Saturday nights. Friday, January 24, the incomparable singer/songwriter Miss Lavelle White takes the stage. Miss Lavelle tours 150 cities worldwide each year, and has been singing the blues for more than three decades; she's now touring to support a new release on Austin-based Antone's Records.

A sharecropper's daughter, Louisiana born and Mississippi raised, Miss Lavelle began her career as a gospel singe. But by age 21 she was singing the blues in Houston with the likes of guitarists Clarence Holliman and Johnny Copeland. With Copeland's help she signed to Duke Records, cutting a dozen or so singles and touring with other Duke artists, notably Bobby Bland and Junior Parker. The list of artists she shared the stage with throughout the '60s and early '70s reads like a who's who of rhythm and blues. Miss Lavelle relocated to Chicago in 1978, performing as the house vocalist at the Kingston Mines until her eventual return to Texas eight years later. Her long overdue debut, It Haven't Been Easy, was released on Antone's in 1994, and two years and several W.C. Handy award nominations later, Miss Lavelle is finally getting the recognition she deserves.

On Saturday, January 25, California quartet Little Charlie and the Nightcats celebrate their 20th anniversary and their sixth Alligator release, Straight Up! Original swing and jump blues, in combination with rock-a-billy, rhythm and blues, jazz, and even surf inspirations, are the mainstay of harmonicist/vocalist/songwriter Rick Estrin, guitarist Little Charlie Baty, drummer Dobie Strange and bassist Ronnie James Weber's barn-burning live performances.

The seeds of Little Charlie and the Nightcats were planted when Baty and Estrin met at Berkeley in the early '70s, and germinated after a move to Sacramento and the addition of a bassist and a drummer. The swing/jump blues revival was then underway, and Little Charlie and the Nightcats have been swinging full-tilt ever since, playing more than 200 shows annually. Baty's famed virtuosity on the guitar, perfectly matched with Estrin's traditional blues harp, savvy, humorous lyrics and what critics claim to be one of the tightest rhythm sections in the biz, make for what Robert Cray has called "a hard combination to beat."

Both shows start at 9 p.m. at the Rialto Cabaret, 201 E. Broadway. Tickets are $5 at the door, free for Friends of the Rialto. Call 740-0126 for more information.

HOT TICKET: The Weird Lovemakers give it to you harder, upside-down and sideways on Friday, January 24, at the Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., in celebration of the release of Electric Chump on Gouramie Records. The 28 tracks, co-produced by Jim Waters and the Weird(os) themselves, are quick as coupling rabbits, delivering the goods as hot and fast as you'd expect from the best punk outfit in town. Joining the Lovemakers are those swell lads from Sweden, Sludge Nation, and Suicide Lane. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. and tickets are $4. CDs and other paraphernalia will be available for your perusal and purchase. Call 622-8848 for more information.

LAST NOTES: First things first. This is your official reminder, in case all that holiday stuffing got to your brain, that persecuted hero of local music, Luna Loca owner Bruce Momich, has his day in court at 2:30 today, January 23. Show your support by attending the hearing in Courtroom No. 401 of the Tucson City Court Building, 103 E. Alameda St. Details on the outcome will be printed in next week's Soundbites.

There's a new label in town, as of the first of the year: Slimstyle Recording Corporation, focusing on ska and swing music. Brainchild of Jack Vaughn--whose previous label, Third World Underground, featured such artists as The Fells, Dave's Big Deluxe, Beyond Seven, and national act Jonathan Fire*Eater--Slimstyle is currently signing bands with a mind to releasing albums as soon as March.

Featured entertainment this Saturday, January 25, at the Airport Lounge, 20 E. Pennington St., is Caliche Con Carne and suave, sophisticated Splendida. Cover is $2 at the door. Call 882-0400 for more information.

The Empire is under siege by The Simpletons at 10 p.m. Tuesday, January 28. The Simpletons contributed tracks to the compilation CD Brine Storm on Gouramie Records, and await Trans Atlantic Management's international release, Pie in the Sky, due out in March. Call the Empire Café and Lounge, 61 E. Congress St., at 884-9779 for more information.

For those thinking of participating in the Independent Label Festival, an annual event showcasing indie music in the Midwest, there's something you ought to know: This year the event will be called the Chicago New Music Festival, scheduled to take place in Chicago on July 25 and 26, 1997. In addition to the name change, the festival will include major labels and indie-affiliated labels, as well as a greater variety of bands and showcase venues. We'll keep you posted on registration and submission information, which should be available soon. TW

--Lisa Weeks
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