BENEFICIAL BLUES: Over the past few months, the blues has been visiting the Naked Pueblo in abundance, finding its way regularly to The Boondocks Lounge with the help of one Mr. Terry O. Among the many national talents that have rocked the giant Chianti bottle out in front of the club, one of the more popular draws has been James Armstrong, who's become something of a Boondocks regular. California born and raised, the 33-year-old Armstrong has developed an international reputation working with Big Joe Turner, Albert Collins, Coco Montoya, Rickie Lee Jones, and Tucson's own Sam Taylor. Armstrong's first release, Sleeping With A Stranger, on High Tone records (the same label that sent Robert Cray's career into orbit), received high marks from the blues community.

Unfortunately, Armstrong's future now hangs in the balance. Armstrong was recently stabbed several times by a neighbor in his Los Angeles apartment. His right arm was severely damaged, and his young son also suffered in the attack. Armstrong is now fighting to recover, and the extent to which the damage in his arm is permanent remains in question. With the medical bills continuing to pile up, and the pall of doubt cast on his future as a musician, his friends and supporters in the Tucson blues community have gathered to perform a benefit concert from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on the same night as Armstrong's originally scheduled appearance, Thursday, May 22.

The lineup at The Boondocks Lounge, 3360 E. First Ave., includes the best blues talent in town: Sam Taylor, Heather Hardy, George Howard and the Roadhouse Hounds, Tony & the Torpedoes with Anna Warr and Honey Boy, with more to be announced. Admission is a $5 donation, with proceeds directed to Armstrong's medical costs. Call 690-0991 for more information.

HOT PICK: Speaking of benefits and noble causes, the struggle to rejuvenate the Rialto Theater continues in grand fashion, with a concert showcasing an eclectic ensemble of talent reminiscent of a short and condensed club crawl. Held, where else, but at one of Tucson's favorite new venues, the Rialto Cabaret, 201 E. Broadway, the show will rock indoors and out. Featuring Al Perry and the (new and enhanced) Cattle, Al Foul & the Shakes, Feast Upon Cactus Thorns, Itsy Bitsy Spiders, Blues Crusher, Pork Torta, Los Federales and the Cortex Bomb Orchestra, this show is definitely one of the strongest collections of Tucson talent you're bound to see all summer. Support local music in a way that benefits us all. This 21-and-over show starts at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 17. Tickets are $5 at the door. Call the Rialto Hotline, 740-0126, for more information.

LAST NOTES: Thanks to Lethal Entertainment, Monsoon Madness is upon us for a second season of shows, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 15, on the Winsett Park Stage, located on Fourth Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets. The shows, alcohol free but full of spirit, are scheduled for every Thursday from 7 to 10:30 p.m. throughout the summer, and will highlight your favorite local talents, open to all ages, free of charge. This Thursday's initial break from reality is aided and abetted by Mateo, the Instant Martians, and Atomic Frog.

If you haven't seen Atomic Frog yet, this is one of a handful of opportunities left. In case you haven't heard, the band is soon to depart for the Great White East in search of fame, fortune and secret pleasures. Well, really, they're just taking it on the road for an indefinite period in support their new CD, Babat Duag (the Tohono O'Odham name for Mt. Lemmon, the band informs me, meaning "frog mountain"). They're planning a farewell show, so watch for more information in next week's Soundbites.

Feelin' a little cajun? Come dancing at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 18, at St. Philip's Plaza, 4300 N. Campbell Ave., with Queen Ida & the Bon Temps Zydeco Band. Arrive an hour early and enjoy the fixings al fresco by Café Terra Cotta, Daniel's and Oven's Restaurant, which will be dishing out some of the Queen's own Cajun cooking (the recipes they'll be using are from her cookbook Cookin' With The Queen). Then get set for a full evening of hot and spicy entertainment, starting with Crawdaddy-O (who, by the way, have tapes and merchandise available), followed by Dr. Mojo & the Zydeco Cannibals, and then the Queen herself. Advance tickets are $22, $17 for KXCI and Tucson Jazz Society Members, $3 more for everyone the day of the show. Call 623-1000 for more information.

RUMOR HAS IT: The Swede is coming. The Swede? No, not the tattooed, pierced Göthenburg fivesome Tucson has come to know and love, Sludge Nation, but something else altogether. Information is scant, but according to the grapevine, The Swede steps out from behind this veil of whispers and mystery sometime in June.... TW

--Lisa Weeks
City Week
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