SCENIC: Stopping in Tucson en route to Austin and SXSW, the fascinating, instrumental Sedona-based Scenic brings their aural enchantment to the Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, March 12. Scenic was formed in 1992 by guitarist, artist, visionary Bruce Licher, rising from the ashes of the industrial pyropercussion of Savage Republic. Joining him are bassist James Brenner, formerly of Shiva Burlesque, drummer Brock Wurtz and keyboardist Robert Loveless. As Scenic, this foursome has released two full-length albums to date, most recent being last fall's Aquatica on World Domination Records, in conjunction with Licher's own Independent Project Records.

Begun in 1980 as Licher's independent-study art project, Independent Project Records releases are easily recognizable for the elegant, spare use of letterpress printing on simple brown cardboard. Licher's approach to the art of his packaging and presentation is mirrored in the conceptual detail of Scenic's ambient sound. Lush simplicity, spatial silence and rhythmic repetition create a musical atmosphere the mind can inhabit.

Scenic's music, and for that matter much of the music put out by Independent Project Records (Tone, Half String, Alisons Halo, For Against, Indian Bingo, Woo, Jeffrey Clark and many others), is thematic and cohesive, and in certain respects stylistically similar. Perhaps just equally uniquely inspired. Although they record in Los Angeles for practical reasons--everyone except Licher lives there--Scenic's desert inspiration lies hundreds of miles away, evident in Scenic's soundscapes, as desolate and poignant both in spirit and embodiment as the Mohave Desert.

Chances to witness Scenic live are few and far between, so you really don't want to miss this opportunity to see them. Scenic is joined by The Radar Brothers, of burgeoning fame for their own variety of moody, velvet eclecticism, and Mark Hostler (from Negativeland). Cover is only $3 at the door. Call 622-8848 for more information.

HOT PICK: Celtic troubadour Tommy Sands, world-renowned singer/songwriter all the way from County Down, plays an acoustic solo set at 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 9, at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway. Following Sands on the stage is "Turbo-trad" quartet Reeltime, hailing from Galway City. Members Maureen Fahy (fiddle and vocals), Ellis Egan (button box player extrordinaire), Chris Kelly (guitarist and vocal harmonies), and Benny Hayes (keyboards and vocals) combine various styles and influences, traditional and modern, in their arrangements of jigs, polkas, reels and originals. All seats are reserved. Advance tickets are $14, $12 for members of TFTM and KXCI, $2 more the day of the show.

LAST NOTES: Direct from Phoenix, The Loose Cannons Blues Band featuring Luther Jackson--brother to Joe, uncle to Michael--performs authentic Chicago-style blues from 9 p.m. to close on Saturday, March 8, at Jaime's Bar, 536 N. Fourth Ave. Call 624-0233 for more information.

Calling all fans of Southern and classic rock! L.A.'s Calico (a.k.a. The Hookers) will be turning tricks Tuesday, March 11, at the 3rd Stone Bar and Grill, 500 N. Fourth Ave. Covering the ground where the Black Crowes overlap the Rolling Stones, Calico's clean, blues-inflected rock has been favorably compared to the Gin Blossoms. No big frills, no new thrills, just straight-forward rock and roll--not that there's anything wrong with that.... Call 628-8844 for more information.

On tour supporting their most recent release, Ev'ry Which Way, French Canadian trio The Minstrels boasts a tight '60s-style mod pop that runs the gamut from surf and rockabilly to the British invasion and beyond. You can catch their set, which starts at 10 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, at the Empire Café & Lounge, 61 E. Congress St. Call 884-9779 for more information.

Raisin' some cash for to get to Austin, that would be Crawdaddy-O with Al Foul and the Shakes at the Airport Lounge, 20 E. Pennington St., on Friday, March 7. Although it's not a release party, brassmasters Crawdaddy-O will be peddling some wares, CDs actually, to help put gas in the van. So come early with some extra cash in your wallet; cover is only $3, drinks are cheap, and Al Foul and the Shakes will be giving it all they've got--which is always a great time. Call 882-0400 for more information. TW

--Lisa Weeks
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