TRANSPORT TROUBLES: "Is this where the rock and roll show is?" Frank Black joked as he passed me in the crowd en route to the stage. I guess that depends on how you choose to look at it. Two shows, or rather no-shows, in one week at the Club Congress have left some fans rankled and cranky. First, Frank Black, scheduled to appear last Friday, April 26, was forced to play solo, albeit plugged in, much to the chagrin of the majority of the audience, citing a screw-up in plane reservations as the reason his back-up bailed.

Unfortunately, many in the audience were unable or unwilling to appreciate the opportunity to witness such a singular event, complaining that "the songs don't sound the same," (my advice--go home and listen to the record) leaving the warm reception to the rest of us admiring diehards. Disappointment prevailed and refunds were requested, but not given, for the simple reason, according to Club management, that Black was never billed as having a band--no promises made, therefore none broken. (According to informed sources, it was unclear until the night of the show that Black would be backed by a band at all.) In spite of the obvious consternation of some of my peers, I thought the show was great.

Accidents will happen, and happen one did to Matthew Sweet's tour bus outside of Salt Lake, leaving Austin's Fastball and Canada's Sloan to carry the free evening Wednesday, April 30. The accident, as it turns out, was a broken mirror and more than likely a shortage of time. Given the smallish crowd and the initially tepid interest, you might think the bands would have been tempted to merely get through, but nothing could be further from the truth. Fastball not only rose to, but soared above, the occasion; a bright, charismatic power-pop trio, terrifically tight, extremely talented and highly entertaining. You'll want to keep your eye on them.

Sloan was up second, and more interesting than their performance was the devotion of their fans, one of whom--a Canadian transplant--was clearly amazed at the opportunity to see them for free (!) in "such a small venue." Apparently Sloan is to Canadians what R.E.M. is in popularity and Pavement is in innovation to us rubes here stateside. Certainly both Sloan and Fastball were obvious picks to open for Matthew Sweet, and would have made a great triple bill. But, all's well that ends well, and there was more Matthew to go around. Sweet's 90-plus-minute performance on Sunday, May 4, with all the rock and roll hype and 15 guitar changes, was a serious tutorial for any pop music aficionado. Sweet and company put on a first-rate show, layin' on the real thing with a winning encore cover of David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream." Bravo!

JUST PLAIN BEAT: Every so often there's an event or a release that piques my interest enough to share here in Soundbites. If ever more evidence were needed to confirm that Michael Jackson is truly washed up, this is it. Later this month, Epic will release Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix, a long-form video--essentially revamped bits and pieces of dated material with a dash of new footage--and an album featuring, count them, eight remixes from a previous compilation, as well as five new tracks, among them, "It Is Scary." Yes, sir. Yes it is.

LAST NOTES: You're probably more familiar with Alieksey Vianna as the guitarist and singer for Sounds of Brasil, but there is certainly much more to know of his incredible talent. Vianna is an award-winning classical and jazz guitarist studying guitar performance at the University of Arizona. He arrived in Tucson two years ago from his home in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Vianna appears in concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at Grace St. Paul's Church, 2331 E. Adams St. The Old Pueblo Guitar Company presents this performance, which features Vianna presenting the works of Bach, Aguado, Henze, Assad, Gismonti and Jobim, both solo and as an ensemble with other local jazz musicians. Tickets are $10, with a $3 discount for students and seniors.

KFMA's own Kathy Rivers, next year's shoe-in for a Tammy for Best and Most Unusual Tattoos and Piercings, crosses over from DJ to performer on Saturday, May 10, at the Airport Lounge, 20 E. Pennington St. She'll be opening, along with Troy Olsen, for The Champs and Re-Graped. The cover is $4, just a meager dollar more than you're used to paying at the Lounge, so no whining, please. Call 882-0400 for more information.

If you didn't see them at one of their performances at the Airport Lounge, you can catch the Suicide Kings, on furlough from Phoenix, on Friday, May 9, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The Suicide Kings, along with Van Christian, open for the legend, The Man, Mr. Al Perry. This show is a guaranteed great time and only $4 at the door. Call 622-8848 for more information.

If Fourth Avenue is more your fare, stop in at The 3rd Stone Bar & Grill, 500 N. Fourth Ave., on Saturday, May 10, for the Sand Rubies with guests James Dead. Relatively new to town, James Dead, a straight-forward roots-rockabilly outfit with a big sound and some mean stage presence, is doubtless soon to be seen all over town. This show is definitely worth the $4 cover, and the 3rd Stone fills up quick, so shake a leg for a good seat. Call 628-8844 for more information. TW

--Lisa Weeks
City Week
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