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Weekend music

Rough Draft polishes act, District gets down to business

High school kids find inspiration, gather up like-minded players and form a band.

It's a tale told so often that it's beyond cliche, but from the time John and Paul began their skiffle group the Quarrymen to today's kids with Garage Band loaded on their iPads, teenage bandhood remains one of the best ways to get one's musical feet wet. Learning to keep to a practice schedule, book gigs and learn and grow as players is as valid an apprenticeship as any other and the current climate of few all ages venues and less pop culture love for traditional rock and roll makes it just a little more of a challenge then it might of been in days past to get up the nerve and the drive to start a band.

So, hats off to teen bands like the Frecks and this week's interview subject, Rough Draft, for blazing a path that many have blazed before, but making it completely new. 

TucsonSentinel.com: What's the origin story of Rough Draft?

James Noriega: "Rough Draft is James Noriega: lead vocals and keyboard, Mahmood ('Mood) Gladney: guitar, Cole Kraft: drums, and Bryan Zamarripa on bass.

"Bryan, 'Mood, and I had often joked about starting a band together, and eventually we started jamming together just for fun. Soon after, we semi-accidentally nabbed ourselves a gig at (local music school) Schoolhouse of Rock, and we realized that we desperately needed a drummer, and fast. We thought about a considerable amount of people, but we had trouble deciding on anyone. Cole entered the picture when he stood up to someone picking on 'Mood in a music theory class, and took a fist to the face as a result. After that, it wasn't hard to pick a final member."

TS: How'd you come up with the name?

JN: "Over the course of a couple of months before we started working together, I had been dreaming about starting a band, and I would spend a considerate amount of time brainstorming band names."

"My favorite was Rough Draft. I mentioned it during our first rehearsal, and it stuck. We like to look at it as a play on the idea that all of us, as teenagers, are unrevised versions of the people who we will someday be."

TS: I realize you all are young, but that doesn't mean you can't have some serious influences! What inspired each of you to make music?

JN: "My involvement with the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus since a young age has really shaped me as a person and helped make music a large part of how I live my life and process emotion. Then I learned about Primus in middle school, and my passion expanded to punk/rock performance, on top of my classical upbringing.

Mahmood Gladney ('Mood): "I had been playing in orchestra since I was six and for the longest time it was just something I did. But that changed when I got a guitar and started listing to more music. For me, I'm inspired just by the amount of talent in this scene and I love expressing myself through music. Putting on a good show is an amazing feeling I'm always trying to chase."

Cole Kraft: "I initially got into music and playing music when I was in elementary school because all of my older cousins made music and I thought it was really cool. When I did start learning drums and guitar, I was hooked instantly because it felt natural to me and I always had fun playing. From then until now, and probably forever, I’ve just been having a lot of fun with it. Making music with a group of awesome musicians hugely amplifies how much fun it is."

Bryan Zamrripa: "My first iPod. My brother had put albums ranging from the Beatles to King Crimson, which blew my little mind. Since then, I’ve had an infatuation with music and the creative process that goes into all of it."

TS: Who are some of your favorite bands? 

JN: "Of all time, Neutral Milk Hotel, Weezer, Joyce Manor, the Microphones, American Football, Kanye West, Car Seat Headrest, The Beatles, and AJJ. Currently Guerilla Toss, Carly Rae Jepsen, Naked Giants, Beach House and Death Grips. Mood and Cole are also hugely into Remo Drive. On the local side, we always love playing with the Frecks and Yum as they've helped us out a lot. We also love Foxx Bodies, Logan Greene, Karima Walker, Pelt, and Decayer."

TS: Tucson has a lot fewer all-ages shows than we did long ago. Do you run into challenges booking gigs?

JN: "Not particularly. We usually don't try to target venues that have an older pull (bars, clubs, etc.), but adults that we work with are generally happy to see people our age putting themselves out there and doing what makes them happy for the enjoyment of others. As music lovers, we do run into a lot of 21-plus shows, which can be frustrating."

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TS: What are your thoughts on the local music scene? Has it been welcoming to you as younger players?

JN: "We think that anyone who wants to get up on a stage and perform music should be able to do it without catching crap for just being who they are. In our experience, the Tucson music scene is generally very welcoming of all people."

TS: What's on the horizon for the band?

JN: Our ultimate goal isn't very clear, but we know that by mid-2019 we'd like to have recorded a debut album and have performed a couple shows outside of Tucson.

TS: Any favorite band-related stories? 

JN: "After an interview/live set at KXCI, we went down to Shot in The Dark Cafe to get dinner. A guy there coaxed Bryan into playing a game of chess with him, and he went on and on about how he was an undefeated world champion at the game. Bryan then proceeded to beat him at chess."

"We pointed out to him that he had lost, so he ate a bunch of rolling papers and walked out. So we left the table to eat our food, and then he came back in and started making chicken noises at us. This is where we learned that if you never finish anything, you technically can't fail, a virtue that we all live by."

Rough Draft, like their peers the Frecks, are starting to build a following in the local live scene, playing house parties and local venues alike, but you can't find them on Facebook. In the words of 'Mood Gladney, "nobody's on Facebook anymore, all the bands are on Instagram now!" 

May it be duly noted that the above statement doesn't necessarily apply to most bands in Tucson. It did, however, cause your friendly neighborhood columnist to instantly feel about a million years old. 

You can, however, find Rough Draft online as roughdraftaz on Soundcloud  and Instagram and you can check them out live Sunday night opening for Sup Pop Records band Deaf Wish at Club Congress. Showtime's 7 p.m.

A green light for District Eatz!

At long last, it's here! The long awaited debut of District Eatz, the successor to beloved Congress St. dive bar the District Tavern, opens Saturday night with a kick-ass lineup of Tucson and AZ bands. 

The new District location at 1535 N. Stone Ave. is poised to be a great fit for the venue's traditional crowd of musicians, service industry folks and locals. It's just north of Downtown Tucson and a little bit west of the University of Arizona; close enough to be a post-shift hangout and a viable alternative to the Downtown live music scene.

Owner and manager Noel Chester, booker Mark Beef and crew have let it be known that District Eatz welcomes Tucson bands, especially "the weird ones, the ones that don't have a weekly gig somewhere, the ones that don't already have a home."

Bands looking for a slot should send an email to hvgsvndkisses@gmail.com and include info on who the band is, where their music can be heard online and what your expectations are for the gig. Beef, a longtime presence in Tucson's hardcore punk scene has some pretty strong opinions on the overuse of the term "punk" in modern music circles, so bands beware. If you describe your band as something trendy like "indie, math rock, garage punk" it's likely District Eatz is not the venue for you.

In the meantime, the lineup for the next few weeks looks pretty solid, as does the freshly stocked jukebox, with close to 100 albums on rotations from the Velvet Underground and X to Thelonious Monk, Kraftwerk, Mission of Burma and beyond, including a few local recordings in the mix.

District Eatz Grand Opening with Lenguas Largas, JJCnV and the Gem Show, Saturday Sept. 22 at 8 p.m.

All night, they want the Young Americans...

According to youth-focused voter advocacy group NexGen Arizona, young Americans ages 18-35 make up the largest potential voter block in America. Unfortunately, youthful voters are often the least active when it comes to local elections, midterms and other critical votes.

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NexGen and its supporters hope to change all that and this week's Rock to the Polls event  is one of many such events around the state offering food, speakers and on site voter registration along with a night full of live music. 

Locals Taco Sauce and Seanloui join Portland band Mimicking Birds for the free event Saturday at 7 p.m. at Club Congress.

This week in reader comments

Sometime last week, a regular reader of this column inquired as to a) why I don't always list all of the gigs from certain venues and b) why I typically publish my column on Fridays instead of Thursdays.

Since a lot of my readers are Tucson musicians, venue managers and the like, I figured my answers were worth sharing, so here goes:

The first part has to do with how I compile my event listings, which is manually, using mostly Facebook event listings because they're usually the most complete.

I tend to do a sweep of the major venues' pages for event listings plus a quick check of invites that have popped up in my feed. Unlike the golden days when certain publications had really good listings that every band and venue submitted to, everyone seems to do it DIY these days and the burden of compiling show listings is usually left to the writer.

Some venues are really great about posting their own event links and listing them with plenty of lead time, so to those who do, a tip of the hat for being extra awesome about this — it makes my job a ton easier.

Other venues tend to just share events as posts on their page a couple days before the show, or not at all — so while I try to remember to check each feed, I'm partially at the mercy of whether the bands in question remembered to share their event with me before Wednesday night, when I compile my show listings for the week.

Even worse, some venues don't list events at all and some bands just share poster images instead of event links, so the events don't come up in a search of the venue or anything. I'm trying to remember to do a second sweep right before publishing in case a show that wasn't listed on Wednesday pops up on Thursday, but sometimes I don't catch the stragglers.

Add to that the fact that corporate journalism pretty much doesn't pay these days and independent news sources like the TucsonSentinel.com operate on limited budgets with most of those funds earmarked for the kind of in-depth local news coverage that the corporate outlets don't bother with anymore. That folks like Dylan Smith are in this biz for love, not money, is beyond certain and an incredible gift to the rest of us.

What that means in terms of music writing, though is that folks like me (and my peers at larger publications) who write about local music are usually doing it as freelancers and don't have a fulltime staff on hand to help us fact-check and research listings and such.

While I can easily look up each major venue, it's not practical to go scouring the web and social media band by band in case someone has a gig I didn't see!

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So the moral of the story is: if you are a band (or venue) wanting to promote a gig, make an event post early, make sure the venue is made an event co-host, so it shows up on their event page and (most importantly) share it with your favorite local music journalists! Or do it old school and send an email to arts@tucsonsentinel.com. Or even message me directly if the spirit moves you.

On to question two: why Friday and not Thursday? Mostly it's logistics.

Part of why I wait until Thursday nights to submit is that everybody else publishes on Thursday. Rather than compete for your attention with at least two other publications, I can turn it into an advantage and grab some of the last-minute listings that others are missing (see above - if I published Thursdays I'd compile my listings on Tuesday and miss even more events!)

Friday publication also helps me stay relevant and non-redundant.

On at least one occasion, a local musician and interview subject — who shall remain nameless — managed to stealthily snag features in my column and two others the same week.

In my case, I had time to quick switch gears, change my main feature for the week and drop the interview to a subtopic, but if I'd published Thursday you all would have seen three nearly identical stories instead of something different and interesting.

Hope that makes sense. Now tell me about your upcoming gigs so I can tell everybody else about 'em!

Check your local listings...

Each week this column compiles a choice selection of live gigs in and around Tucson with the help of good venue and band event announcements and other resources.  If you've like your event listed in this space, or if your local band has major news or a new release, drop me a line at arts@tucsonsentinel.com.

Fri, Sept. 21

  • Dan Stokes - 6 p.m. Sand-Reckoner Vineyards
  • Walter Salas-Humara, Jeff Crosby - 7 p.m. Hotel Congress
  • Gat Rot w/ Lariats, The Gallery, & DJ Bonus - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Foster The People - 7 p.m. Rialto
  • Mike Krol, The Elegant Rabies, Double Deputy - 8 p.m. Cans Deli
  • The Bennu, Southbound Pilot - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Julian Neel - 8 p.m. Exo Roast
  • La Cerca, Belinda Esquer, Sean Fresh - 8 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Shooda Shook It - 8 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Still Life Telescope,Finite Fiction,The Time Being- 9 p.m. Brodie's Tavern
  • Speakeasy Live Burlesque w/ Band Big D & the Love Muscles - 9 p.m. Surly Wench
  • Respite: Thomas B & Blake Brady - 10 p.m. Bar Passe

Sat, Sept. 22

  • Parkway Drive - 7 p.m. Rialto
  • Rock to the Polls w/ Taco Sauce, Mimicking Birds, Seanloui - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Royal Agaves - 7 p.m. Crooked Tooth Brewing
  • Live and Let Die: The Music of Paul McCartney - 7:30 p.m. Fox Tucson
  • Bryan Thomas Parker, Bradley Palermo, Ghost In The Willow - 8 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Grand Opening w/ Lenguas Largas, JJCnV, The Gem Show - 8 p.m. District Tavern eatz
  • Shonen Knife - 8 p.m. 191 Toole

Sun, Sept. 23

  • Deaf Wish w/ Rough Draft - 7 p.m. Club Congress

Mon, Sept. 24

  • Macy Gray - 7:30 p.m. Fox Tucson
  • Lake Street Dive, Jillian and the Giants - 8 p.m. Rialto

Tues, Sept. 25

  • Hoodie Allen - 7:30 p.m. Club Congress
  • Hinds w/ Weekend Lovers - 8 p.m.191 Toole
  • Luz Pazos - 8 p.m. The Mint

Weds, Sept. 26

  • Geographer w/ Infinite Souls and Sur Block - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • 7pm Joan Jett: Bad Reputation - 7 p.m. Loft Cinema
  • 8pm Woe, Wvrm, Suicide Forest, Olden, KHVLT - 8 p.m. Cans Deli
  • 10pm Golden Boots and Natural Lite - 10 p.m. Owls Club

Thurs, Sept. 27

  • Creek Boyz,Ojalá Systems and Positive Satan - 7 p.m.  Club Congress
  • Gabrielle Pietrangelo Trio - 7 p.m. Coronet
  • Amos Lee - 8 p.m. Fox Tucson Theatre
  • Nothing But Thieves - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
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Rough Draft (via Instagram)

Rough Draft reps one of their favorite local bands, The Exbats

Youtube Video