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Weekend music

Singer Natalie Pohanic wants to make your day better

 "Songwriting is different every time," said Natalie Pohanic. "Sometimes I hear a melody I gotta play, sometimes there's a topic I wanna urgently articulate."

The Tucson-based singer/songwriter started writing and recording songs at the tender age of two and never lost the bug.

"I like to take my time and avoid forcing songs, because sometimes I'm happy with them after 10 minutes, and sometimes I'm happy with them after five years," she said. "I'm OK with letting stuff simmer until I understand what I'm looking for. The songs will change even after they are 'finished.'"

The point, Pohanic said, is to bring music to life, to feel something, and make others feel. "I love to play [both] originals and covers. There are times when singing someone else's song can feel as or more authentic than playing my own."

That drive to breathe life and feeling into her music was what led the young performer to put aside her classical cello training and pursue a career as an indie musician. As a relative unknown, Pohanic had a hard time getting booked at local venues and instead spent her days busking on Fourth Avenue. Her first major professional job as a musician was a recurring slot playing Thursday nights at the Marriott hotel, a gig she still holds down.

Since those early days, Pohanic has managed to make most of her living from playing music, an  achievement that can be pretty rare for emerging young musicians, especially in smaller cities like Tucson.

"It can be hard," she said, adding that she keeps her expenses small and her expectations realistic. "I'm not shooting for fame and a big home. My next goal is to buy an RV or bus and get off the hamster wheel that is rent." 

Pohanic is making a good start toward that goal, playing live several times a week, both as a solo artist and as part of the duo "Natty and Jamz" with frequent collaborator James Long. While she loves what she does, it is definitely still "work" and she approaches it as seriously as any other job.

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"There are definitely times I don't wanna play, but I love performing and never want to lose the chance. When I'm down, singing songs to people helps me feel connected again," she said. "So the balance happens in that I found a job I love enough that I almost never call out. I'm still working on that balance though — when you're self employed you can work constantly without realizing it. I want to get better at spacing out and thinking about other stuff than my own plans."

Pohanic has yet to do any professional recording, focusing first on paving her way as a live performer. But when the time comes, she has a definite vision.

"I think I will flesh out the songs for recording," she said. "Ideally I would like to bring in a drummer for recording, and add parts of my own with cello and bass.And of course keep all the colors and happy trees painted by James Long."

When not performing, Pohanic loves listening to music, including local acts like Little Cloud, Casey Golden, Half Broke Town, Naim Amor, and Things That Aren't Words. She loves seeing other musicians who share her love of being on stage.

"I want people to do what makes em happy and have the courage to do whichever 'job' they don't wanna call out of. I feel like life can be simpler for us all if we take the leap of faith to pursue whatever makes us happy. We all have a place, and we all get a piece of the pie. For me I just hope when I play a gig that I make someone's day better- my own day and theirs."

Natalie Pohanic and James Long aka "Natalie and Jamz" open for Smith and Casey Golden at Bar Passe, 417 N. 4th Ave, 10 p.m. Saturday.

(Put Your)West Foot Forward

The West Foot Forward anthology series by Tucson indie label Baby Gas Mask Records is a "love letter to Tucson music, 2013-2017," according to label co-founder Seth Mauzy, who added that the collection is not "a comprehensive look at the Tucson scene."

"There are a lot of great bands we were not able to include," said Mauzy. "If money and time were no object we could easily see doing another 10 records or more."

Mauzy hopes that this series can help bring awareness of Tucson's creative community to the vinyl-collecting community at large

The full anthology, available at Saturday's show, includes a set of 10 split 7” vinyl records featuring 20 local bands, all recorded at Baby Gas Mask's East Tucson recording studio in 2013-16. To celebrate the release, the label is hosting a one-night festival featuring a ton of live local talent and artwork from some of the most diverse and creative visual artists in town. 

The festival will mark the release of the last six split 7" records in the series featuring Wight Lhite, Human Behavior, Naim Amor, Hermanitos, Acorn Bcorn, Lando Chill, Golden Boots, and Laura and the Killed Men. Previous releases included artists Best Dog Award, Sun Bones, Ghostal, Garbowski, Katterwaul, Head Over Heart, Mik and Scott, and Gamma Like Very Ultra.

Visual artists included in the event include Danny Martin, Donovan White, Adela Navarrette, Jacob Breckenridge, Alexsey Kashtelyan, Marina Cornelius, Lana Rebel, Bridgitte Thum, Addie Beechwood, and Rusty Boulet-Stephenson. 

West Foot Forward Festival, 6 p.m. Saturday, 191 E. Toole Ave. (Downtown)

A festive weekend

West Foot Forward is not the only festival happening in Tucson this weekend. If you are a live music lover in the Old Pueblo, you just might be in luck.

First, on Friday, Tucson Noise Fest explores electronic, experimental and "indefinable" local music. Bands include Lana del Rabies, Wayward Sun, Lav Andula, Igloo Martian, Skullfolk and more starting at 9 p.m. at The Flycatcher, 340 E. 6th St. (Downtown)

On Saturday, check out the Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Victims, also at Flycatcher. Lonesome Desert Records is hosting a benefit concert featuring some of Tucson's best musicians in an effort help those affected by the storm along the Texas coast. The event will include performances by Austin Counts & Tom Walbank, The Muffulettas, Miss Olivia & the Interlopers, Chris Hall, and Christopher T. Stevens.

If you want to get your glam on this weekend,  join the recurring Tucson institution that is Glitter Ball at The Rialto Theatre. This year's edition, set for Saturday night, of the Rock and Roll Dance and No Rules Costume party features dancing and live music by the Pork Torta. It will be co-hosted by Elias and "Kitty Quasar."

And if you just want to get away from it all Saturday, check out the Glow! Nighttime art experience at Triangle L Ranch in Oracle, north of Tucson

Check your local listings

Friday, September 8

  • Tucson Noise Fest: 9 p.m. The Flycatcher, 340 E. 6th St. (Downtown)
  • Whitecrow 7 p.m. Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market, 11 S. 6th Ave. (Downtown)
  • Throw Logic,Co-op,Fire By Rank,Conversation Suicide 8 p.m.  The Loudhouse, 915 W. Prince Rd. (N Tucson)
  • Miss Olivia & The Interlopers 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern, 1632 S. 4th Ave. (S of Downtown)
  • Black Sabbitch w/ Rich Hopkins and the Luminarios 8 p.m. Club Congress, 311 E. Congress (Downtown)
  • The Unday and Hell Follows 9 p.m. Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. 4th Ave. (Downtown)
  • La Cerca at Owl’s Club 9 p.m. Owl’s Club, 236 S Scott Ave (Downtown)
  • Chris Black, "Lullabies & Nightmares" CD release, 8 p.m., 191 E Toole (Downtown)

Saturday, September 9

  • West Foot Forward Festival 6 p.m. 191 E Toole (Downtown)
  • Benefit For Hurricane Harvey 7:30 p.m. The Flycatcher (Downtown)
  • Glitter Ball 9 p.m. The Rialto Theater, 318 E Congress (Downtown)
  • The Demons 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern (S of Downtown)
  • Rival Shapes 8 p.m. Independent Distillery (Downtown)
  • The Jons 10 p.m. Che’s Lounge (Downtown)
  • Casey Golden//Dwight Smith(Austin)//Natalie and Jamz 10 p.m. Bar Passe 9
  • GLOW! A Nighttime Art Experience 7 p.m. Triangle L Ranch, 2805 N. Triangle L Ranch Rd. (Oracle, AZ)

Monday, September 11

  • Black Metal Night 9 p.m. The Flycatcher (Downtown)
  • So Pitted w/ Hikikomori and Rough Nite 7 p.m. Club Congress (Downtown)

Tuesday, September 12

  • The Colton House Trio 7 p.m. Club Congress (Downtown)
  • Howe Gelb 8 p.m. Club Congress (Downtown)

Wednesday, September 13

  • Beth Hart 7 p.m. The Rialto Theater, 318 E Congress (Downtown)
  • Lucky Devils 7 p.m. Club Congress (Downtown)
  • Los Hijos de La Montana p.m. Club Congress (Downtown)

Thursday, September 14

  • Chris Hall & Friends 10 p.m. Bar Passe 417 N, 4th Ave, (Downtown)
  • Toad The Wet Sprocket 8 p.m. The Rialto Theatre, 318 E, Congress (Downtown)
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