SEASON'S GREETINGS: Like it or not, the holiday season is officially upon us and you can either let the crowds and traffic jams annoy the hell out of you or enter the fray knowing it will soon be over, so you might as well make the best of it. There is a lot going on music-wise to help relieve the stress, so get dressed up (or not), go out and have a good time with your friends. Those moments will be treasured a lot longer than the contents of those wrapped packages.
James McMurtry will be at the Southwest Center for Music, 2175 N. 6th Ave., on Thursday, November 30. McMurtry, son of novelist Larry McMurtry, began his musical career at the old Saw Mill Cafe on University Boulevard while taking English and Spanish courses at the University of Arizona back in the early '80s. After several years of moving around and supporting himself with a series of odd jobs, McMurtry landed in San Antonio, where a friend encouraged him to enter the New Folk songwriting contest run by Rod Kennedy in Kerrville. He was one of six winners in 1987 and his first album, Too Long In The Wasteland, soon followed.
McMurtry and his band are currently on tour to support his most recent release for Columbia, Where'd You Hide The Body, produced by Don Dixon, who has worked with The Smithereens, REM, Let's Active and Marti Jones. This album showcases McMurtry's talents both as a storyteller and a musician.
The show begins at 7:30 p.m., with Tucson's own Stefan George performing an opening set. Advance tickets are $10, $9 for members of KXCI, TFTM and TKMA. Tickets are available at Loco, Zip's, Hear's Music or charge by phone at 881-3947 ($1 fee per ticket).
FOREIGN EXCHANGE: In the true spirit of the holiday season, Guardabarranco will be appearing at the Universalist Church, 4831 E. 22nd St., at 8 p.m. on Saturday, December 2. This sister-brother duo will be flying in from Managua, Nicaragua, to present an evening of original songs composed over the last year. Their performance will benefit TECLA, a refugee project of the Tucson Ecumenical Council.
Salvador Cardenal and Katia Cardenal Barquero are fifth-generation Nicaraguans who, influenced by the folk traditions of their family, and by North American and British pop music, began their musical collaboration in 1979, coinciding with the growing popularity of the Sandinista movement in Nicaragua. The Sandinistas called upon students to assist in literacy campaigns, so Salvador and Katia moved to the countryside to teach reading and writing to the campesinos. They continued to sing and were afforded the opportunity to record and tour under the newly established Ministry of Culture.
They are known for their breathtaking harmonies and poetic lyrics dealing with love, human values and the environment. North American artists Jackson Browne and Holly Near took note of their extraordinary talent, and the first Guardabarranco album was recorded in Browne's home studio in L.A. and released in the early '80s on Near's label, Redwood. Their relationship with Browne continues to inspire musical collaboration; last month they were in the studio with Browne to record tracks for his upcoming album.
Their Tucson audience has proven to be the most receptive in the country, with a couple of their performances being SRO. This concert will be their sixth here and will mark a return to the site of their first appearance in 1984. The Universalist Church is donating space for the evening and TECLA will offer refreshments, crafts, music and free childcare. Advance tickets are $10 and are on sale at Antigone's Books, Bentley's House of Coffee, Hear's Music and TECLA. All tickets are general admission and will cost $2 more at the door.
LAST NOTES: Café Luna Loca, 546 N. Stone Ave., presents Thomas Anderson at 9 p.m. Friday, December 1. Anderson has enjoyed rave reviews from Rolling Stone for his two previous albums and his most recent, Moon Going Down, should garner him another. His style has been compared to a diverse range of other more well-known icons, such as Leonard Cohen, John Cale, Neil Young and Howe Gelb. He charmed a Tucson crowd several months back with his storytelling and wit, so make sure you're there on time, since he will be the opening act for Starhunch. Call 882-4488 for ticket information.
Alejandro Escavedo's Buick McCain will be at Club Congress on Sunday, December 3. Alejandro has been making some pretty awesome records and he definitely has a loyal following here. His last show at Congress had people talking for weeks afterward. Pork and Tenderloin are also on the bill. Show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are only $4--you can't afford to miss it.
Then on Wednesday, December 6, get ready to swing when Chick Cashman presents the Royal Crown Review at Club Congress. I can only imagine what Chick is going to wear for this show.... Call 622-8848 for showtime and ticket info.
Black Moon Graffiti will headline at Club Congress on Friday, December 1, with Skunk Anacie and Long Rain opening. Once again, the show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are only $4, leaving you plenty to go out and buy that Secret Santa gift for someone in your office.
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