PLAY THE BLUES, PUNK! It's been six long, dry months since Jon Spencer and the Blues Explosion's sensational, impromptu and completely appropriate guest appearance in Chick Cashman's burlesque review, and finally Spencer and the Explosion--guitarist Judah Bauer and drummer Russell Simins--return Monday, November 25, to Club Congress for a show that promises to steam the wall paper right off the walls.
No one rocks harder, sweatier or sexier than Jon Spencer, whose devotion to live performance as priority one makes his stage show as much an exorcism as an explosion. Blues Explosion shows are edgy, loud, powerfully urgent, completely captivating full-sensory experiences. He exudes the kind of hot promise that inspires otherwise rational, even-tempered women to declare they want Jon Spencer to father their children.
With a new record, Now I Got Worry (the Blues Explosion's fourth release on Matador), reams of press, U.S. and European tours, teeming fans and abundant side projects, the Explosion certainly has a full dance card these days. All of the hoopla has brought Jon Spencer and the Blues Explosion more to the center of alternative attention, a place that seems to suit them quite well.
One recent endeavor is a collaborative effort with Mississippi bluesman R. L. Burnside. After attending a New York performance, Spencer, Bauer and Simins sought their blues taproot, touring with Burnside as well as playing backing band and recording Ass Pocket of Whiskey with Burnside in February of this year. The collaboration is evidenced in the thick and gritty character of Worry, a more caustic punk brand of white-boy blues than you'll find on their '94 release, Orange. Lacking the faux-soul and funk frills of Orange, Worry is stylistically more akin to their second full-length release, Extra Width, and reminds us that once upon a time, there was Pussy Galore. After all, as Spencer recently told Rolling Stone, the Blues Explosion is "not a blues band."
In the interim you may have seen one or all of the Blues Explosion hanging out and blending in around town; connections between Tucson and the Blues Explosion are many and various. Thermos Malling, main man of Tucson duo Doo Rag, contributed drum tracks to the sessions for Worry while the Explosion was in town recording early this past summer. Much to the pleasure of skate punks, snow boarders, and fans of sports in extremis the world over, Doo Rag has been on the road with the Blues Explosion and will be first on the stage come Monday. You can't say you weren't warned, so don't miss Jon Spencer and the Blues Explosion with Doo Rag at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 d.o.s. For information call 622-8848.
Matador labelmates with Jon Spencer, Railroad Jerk is touring to support the band's fourth major label release, The Third Rail. The band, whose members are Marcellus Hall, Tony Lee, Alec Stephen, and Dave Veranca, was named the best NYC band by the Village Voice in 1995. Comparisons run the gamut from the Rolling Stones to Robert Johnson and Captain Beefheart.
Skeleton Key, dubbed industrial, although in an experimental, mechanical way (they have a drummer and a junk percussionist), is a four piece line-up comprised of Steve Calhoon, Rick Lee, Chris Maxwell and former Lounge Lizard Eric Sanko. Coincidentally, Blues Explosion drummer Russell Simins and Skeleton Key's Rick Lee are two members of another project, Butter 08. Perhaps you've heard of them.
Howe Gelb and Giant Sand open this early show, Saturday, November 23. Doors open at 7 p.m., tickets are $5.
END NOTES: The Fabulous Thunderbirds, in a small venue, up close and personal--what else is there to say? Two separate shows are scheduled, one for 8 p.m. and another starting at 11 p.m., in the Rialto Cabaret, 201 E. Broadway, on Friday, November 22. Support the Rialto Theater--tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, per show. Call 740-0216 for more info.
The Austin Lounge Lizards, with special guests Small Potatoes, play the Southwest Center for Music, 2175 N. Sixth Ave., at 8 p.m. Friday, November 22. Tickets are $14 in advance, $15 d.o.s. A $2 discount is available to TKMA members. Phone 887-6942 for more information.
CONGRATULATIONS! A few weeks back we wished James Cameron good luck in Nashville competing in the 1996 Jim Beam Country Music Talent Search. Well, Cameron returns to Tucson as the winner out of more than 1,000 entries, giving him the opportunity to perform privately before a host of country music big whigs. Great things are sure to follow. Continued good luck, James.
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