TUCSON ROCKS! A few weeks back in this very column, we ran an editorial by Tucson music legend Al Perry in which he bemoaned the fact that the local club scene is glutted with bands that simply aren't worth their salt. While the article provided lots of belly laughs, it also was rather thought-provoking: Is the scene really as lame as Perry claims? Are there "too many bands," and do most of them, indeed, "blow dog"?

Sound Bites As if it existed to answer these questions, the TAMMIES Fall Crawl that went down this past weekend was an enormous success by all accounts. Almost all of the dozen participating venues were packed, many to capacity. The event's festive atmosphere was pervasive. And most important of all, the music kicked ass. Throughout the evening, I heard comments like, "This is the best band I've heard in a while," and "These guys are local?" Not once did I hear anyone say, "Dude, they suck!"

As testimony to our burg's diversity, virtually every genre was represented: Chicago blues, Delta blues, alternarock, alt-country, rockabilly, desert rock, punk rock, acoustic pop, Celtic folk, vocal jazz, smooth jazz, not to mention the dozens of bands that defy such simple categorization.

When you've got as many great bands in so many genres as it seems we do here in Tucson, supporting your local music scene is hardly giving charity to the local scene. If you liked the bands you saw this weekend, go see them again--more than once or twice a year. Hell, cover charge at a local watering hole is almost always less than a ticket to see what kind of crap Hollywood is putting out these days. That's all I'm saying.

Which isn't to say there aren't some local bands that blow the aforementioned dog. But once a cover-paying clubgoer gets burned by a shitty band, they're surely not going to plunk down the cash to see 'em again. At some point, musical Darwinism is going to intercede, and bad bands won't be able to get any more gigs. No club is stupid enough or so financially secure as to book a band no one is going to pay to see. By the same token, there are some pretty lame bands that consistently draw big crowds, which only goes to show that in the big scheme of things, there's no accounting for taste.

So get your ass out to the clubs, figure out which bands you like, give new bands a fighting chance, and yes, support your local music scene.

HOT PICK: Alt.country, no depression, insurgent country, cowpunk, psychobilly, Americana, Y'alternative, blah, blah, blah. Call it what you want, but lately there's a burgeoning brouhaha of bands combining the twang of country and/or bluegrass with elements of traditional rock and roll and/or punk, or so the music press would have you believe.

While Illinois' Uncle Tupelo are often credited with starting the whole thing back in 1990, the facts show that the roots of the movement run far deeper than the '90s. The '60s version was the Gram Parsons-era Byrds; the '70s gave us the "California rock" of the Eagles; and the punk influence came into its own in the '80s with Jason and the Scorchers, Rank and File, and the Beat Farmers. While most of the neo-country bands of that era are either no longer around or have splintered off into different incarnations, one of the most durable bands is also one of the most overlooked and underappreciated.

New Orleans' Dash Rip Rock have been spreading their gin-soaked gospel for almost 15 years now, and they'll be pulling into town this week to celebrate the release of Pay Dirt (on San Diego label PC Music), their eighth album, on almost as many labels. Perhaps somewhat rejuvenated and inspired by their minor radio hit from last year "Let's Go Smoke Some Pot" (their first-ever commercial radio exposure), the new release is more pop-inspired than most of (if not all of) their previous releases. Reportedly, though, their live shows--legendary for their unadulterated chaos and humor--haven't gotten any tamer, thank God.

Come see the band that both Hootie and the Blowfish and the Gin Blossoms have called "the best band in the world" on Monday, October 12, as part of the Multimedia Monday extravaganza at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. See this week's Club Listings for opening bands, or call 622-8848 for more information.

LAST NOTES: It's never easy being a second banana, and perhaps no one knows this more than Dave Davies. As co-founder of The Kinks, one of the greatest pop/rock bands of the '60s and '70s, he has always been in the shadow of brother Ray.

Ray the singer, Ray the songwriter, Ray the frontman. But along the way, Dave has always been able to sneak a few of his own songs on Kinks albums, too. And it's Dave's distorted guitar sound that has become a defining element of the band. When the brothers decided a few years ago to put The Kinks on hiatus, Ray acted first, publishing an autobiography, X-Ray, in 1995, and conducting a solo spoken word/music tour. Last year it was Dave's turn, as he also put out an autobiography, Kink, and is now embarking on a tour of his own. Unlike his brother, though, he's put together a four-piece band, and simply lets the music do the talking.

The show is comprised of his older Kinks songs, newer solo songs, and even a few of his favorite tunes of Ray's. And lest you be apprehensive that there's no point in going to see Kinks songs performed without the presence of Ray, rest assured that Dave's solo shows have garnered rave reviews across the country, even from notorious tough-cookies at The New York Times, who lauded that he had "finally seized his moment."

Dave Davies takes over the limelight at 9 p.m. Saturday, October 10, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Tickets are $10 in advance, available at Hear's Music, Yikes Toy Store, Zip's University, and Guitars, Etc. They'll be $12 at the door. Call 740-0126 for further details.

In the you-either-love-her-or-you-don't department, Ani DiFranco will be coming back to Tucson this week in support of her 11th album, Little Plastic Castle, released (of course) on her own Righteous Babe Records. She's expanded her line-up from a trio to a quartet for this tour, adding Julie Wolf on keyboards and backing vocals to her previous roster with bassist Jason Mercer and drummer Andy Stochansky.

While DiFranco deserves props for her refusal to sell out to The Man (a.k.a. the corporate-owned label), it also proves what a shrewd businesswoman she is. By putting out her own records, she's successfully skirted the profit-devouring middleman, and has been keeping the lion's share of cash herself. And while her indier-than-thou aesthetics have been compared to groundbreakers Fugazi, who also release their own records, no ticket to see Fugazi live has ever cost more than $5. By contrast, it'll cost you upwards of $20 to see DiFranco on Sunday, October 11, at Centennial Hall on the UA campus. Tucson's own Bob Log III opens the show. Call 621-3341 for tickets and information. TW

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