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Weekend music

Up the punks! Stripped-down swagger from Tucson's TWGS

Like any local band scene, Tucson's music circles are full of acts that promote themselves loudly and seriously from the get-go. 

You can't escape noticing these bands. They share their event pages early (and often) and document their every musical move via Instagram. They are ambitious and serious, sending out press releases to local media, blanketing every small business in sight with flyers and gig posters, strategically accepting opening slots for better known bands to build up a following, and scouting out indie music blogs to submit their albums for review. All of these tactics are a fine way to get your music on lots of people's radar, but if you do this, you'd better bring the goods. There's nothing worse than showing up with high expectations at a much-hyped gig only to find that the band in question should really have spent less time flyering and more time practicing.

There's a flip side to this behavior, though, what I call the stealth bands. You see their names in the weekly music listings and wonder who the hell they are until one day you stumble into a show they're playing or snag a copy of their EP and are blown away. You wish you hadn't skipped the other three or four shows you'd ignored since you don't know who the hell this band is. You now begin to wonder who the hell this band is. You pick up a CD if they've got one and you're feeling flush. You're reminded that local music fandom doesn't always lead to disappointment. 

TWGS is one of those bands. A pure, stripped-down, old-school punk band that wouldn't sound out of place playing some Lower East Side dive in 1978 New York. This band is far, far better than their modest presence and easy going demeanor would imply and so your humble rock columnist decided to find out why.

TucsonSentinel.com:  Who are TWGS? Introduce us!

Bobby Carlson: “We are Arthur Greenland, Thom Plasse, James Carpenter, Tony BallZ, and me (Bobby Carlson.) I met Arthur and Thom through the Wanda Junes and when James moved to town we all started a band called Arthur Greenland.I've been playing with Tony BallZ for ten years now in various projects in Flagstaff and Tucson.”

TS: So…what does TWGS stand for? And where did the name come from?

BC: "TWGS either stands for The World's Greatest Show, Teenage White Ghost Suicides, Total World Global Superjammers or maybe it doesn't stand for anything. It did stand for something at one point. And then we realized that what it stood for, of course, was already a band. It came from Arthur Greenland."

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TS: There is a very definite classic punk and proto-punk vibe to your stuff. I hear a ton of Velvet Underground and Jonathan Richman, Dead Boys, a little Jello Biafra and more. Am I onto something here or just being an overly analytical rock critic? What music do you all love and how does it affect what you play?

BC: ”Tony is a straight up rock n roll historian. And like anyone you'd be interviewing in this position, we're all heavy explorers. I can't speak for anyone else, but I probably wouldn't be here if weren't for Fugazi. And Creedence.” 

TS: What's the songwriting process in the band? Lyrically? Musically? To rehash a cliche of sorts "what's your process, man?"

BC: ”Arthur Greenland brings in songs and we arrange them, painfully, as a band. Some of the songs are covers, and a couple are mine, arranged by the band.”. 

TS:  Your music may have some punk inspired simplicity of structure and rhythm but it's fun, catchy, and so damn smart! I am in love with the song "J.G. Ballard" in particular. Care to elaborate?

BC: ”Up the punks.”

TS:  Who are your favorite musicians and music-related folks in Tucson and vicinity. You play with The Exbats a lot, for one thing!

BC: “Well, I'm in the Exbats now. It is the best. Tucson fucking rules. Golden Boots, Lenguas Largas, Freezing Hands, Whispering Wires, Christina Antipa, Lana Rebel, Resonars, and tons of others past and present.”

“I also really love a lot of bands in Phoenix like Treasure Mammal, Roar, Sweaty Palm Trees, No Volcano, and coming from Flagstaff, I love Heebie Jeebies (RIP I think), and Vicious Chiller.”

TS: Tell us about The Ervice. What other favorite venues you have around town?

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BC: “The Ervice is a new-ish gallery run by Arthur Greenland that houses Spork Press, a screen printer called Yeah Right Designs, Future Perfect and monthly events. The shows we've had so far have had a really good house show vibe.”

“Speaking of which, with the Exbats, I recently played a new house venue called the Olive Garden that was really wonderful, super inclusive, and very and truly all ages. I'm loving Cans. There's a lot of places to play in Tucson. It's not a bad problem to have.” 

TS: What does the band have on the immediate horizon? Recording? Touring? Any especially exciting or fun gigs coming up?

BC: “Babies. James is having twins in November and the band is taking a break to regroup and write after these two shows at Owls and Ervice. Almost certainly your last chance to see us in 2018.” 

TS:  You’re not the first and not the last band to be sidelined for a bit by the spawning of new humans! On an unrelated note, if I recall correctly, there is some overlap between this band and The Gem Show. Care to talk a little about that band?

BC: “I'm the overlap. The other guys are both named John - John (Polle of Whispering Wires and Monsignor Wednesday’s Guitar Mass) and Johnny. We're releasing our first album, 'Meet Yourself' very soon, we hope.”

TS: Second side note, have you heard of the band the Minds yet? Because I recently heard them live and immediately thought two things. Thing one was "what a great, kinda Max's Kansas City sounding band" and thing two was "you know who they kind of sound like? TWGS!" I don't know whether or not you'll feel the same, but if you do, know that I mean this as a compliment to you both!

BC: ”I have not. Matt Rendon should record them.”. 

TS: Perhaps. But on to other matters at hand. Time machine time: what first inspired you to pick up an instrument and imagine being in a band as a wee youth or cocky teenager or whenever that might have happened? Tell us your "John and Paul form a skiffle band" musician origin story!

BC: “I heard "Brave Captain" by fIREHOSE in two skate videos when I was in fourth or fifth grade. When I was in eighth grade, I would watch three movies over and over-- 'Pump Up the Volume', 'Another State of Mind', and 'Disorderlies'. I also saw 'Strange Brew' for the first time that year. I bought a bass amp with my first financial aid check when I went to college and started a band. And then I learned how to play."

TS: Any favorite band anecdotes, gig stories or fascinating trivia we should know?

BC: “When I sent out a text asking if anyone had any anecdotes, all I got back was ‘What day is the show this week?’“

T.S. Tell them it's Saturday.

TWGS plays the Ervice on Saturday at 8 p.m. with support from Weekend Lovers and Elegant Rabies.


Why do so many Oktoberfests seem to take place in September? 'Tis a mystery, but one best not thought on for too long when there's beer sampling to be had.

This Saturday, East Tucson brewery and bar Arizona Beer House hosts a "Very Arizona Oktoberfest" boasting German-style Arizona beers, a food truck loaded with brats and an afternoon and evening full of stellar local music. The lineup includes blues soul rockers Juju Fontaine at 2 p.m., Tucson outlaw troubador Hank Topless at 9 p.m. and (in between) a fabulously unlikely accordion band called Bouncing Czechs. It sounds like a fine way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Leiderhosen NOT encouraged.

Restricted District

As you may recall from recent columns, District Eatz, the successor to Dowtown's late, great Disctrict Tavern, has been threatening to open for a couple of weeks now. A couple of postponed gigs and a handful of teasing jukebox pics later, it's been confirmed that the bar and venue finally has a legit liquor license (apparently the problem causing the delay) as well as a promising lineup of upcoming shows. Can they do right by the legacy of their formerly beloved Downtown institution? Check it out and decide that for yourself this Friday night when District Eatz hosts Fish Karma & The DeRailleurs, Jack Evan Johnson, Hank Topless. Show starts at 9 p.m.

Thanks to our donors and sponsors for their support of local independent reporting. Join Rick Unklesbay, Leslie Epperson, and Claire Wudowsky and contribute today!

What's so funny about Cool Funeral?

While Tucson's music scene has been undergoing stages of extreme flux in the past couple of years with its ever changing landscape of new bands, old bands, recently had their lineup changed bands and completely obsolete bands, another brand of local performance has been slowly and steadily rising. Local stand up comedians, and, increasingly, local women comedians are finally beginning to get their due and groups like the provocatively titled feminist showcase "C*nts being c*nts talking about c*nts" are spanning the chasm between live story telling and standup. It was only a matter of time until rock and roll figured into the picture, as this month's musical guest Cool Funeral proves.

C*nts being c*nts talking about c*nts - with musical guest Cool Funeral takes place at Cans Deli on Friday at 8 p.m. 

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 got a gig coming up and you'd like your event listed in this space (or if your local band has a major announcement or a new release) drop me a line at arts@tucsonsentinel.com.

Friday, Sept. 28

  • Reno del Mar, Beth Daunis - 6 p.m. Sand-Reckoner
  • Naim Amor "Moments Before" Record Release - 6:30 p.m. Wooden Tooth
  • Fuzion Reunion Show - 7 p.m. House of Bards
  • C*nts Being C*nts Talking About C*nts w/ Cool Funeral - 8 p.m.Cans Deli
  • Iron & Wine - 8 p.m. Rialto
  • Mark Anthony Febbo & Oscar Fuentes - 8 p.m. Westbound at MSA Annex
  • West Texas Intermediate and Ryan Warner - 8 p.m. Exo Roast
  • Still Life Telescope w/ Killing Sunday - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Brokedown Palace - 9 p.m. The Parish
  • Natty & The Sunset - 7 p.m. Johnny Gibsons
  • Loveland - 8 p.m. Mercado San Augustin
  • Fish Karma & The DeRailleurs, Jack Evan Johnson, Hank Topless - 9 p.m. District Eatz

Saturday, Sept. 29

  • Juju Fontaine - 2 p.m. Arizona Beer House
  • Hank Topless - 9 p.m. Arizona Beer House
  • Texas Trash, Bordertown Devils - 8 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Weekend Lovers, Elegant Rabies, TWGS - 8 p.m. The Ervice
  • Ancient River,Tropical Beach, Silver Cloud Express - 8 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Greyhound Soul, Brian Berggoetz Band, Royal Agaves - 10 p.m. The Hut

Sunday, Sept. 30

  • Sunday Sessions with Kevin Pakulis - 1:30 p.m. Borderlands
  • Dog Songs (and cat canciones) - 4:30 p.m. La Cocina
  • Last Sunday Revival - 5 p.m. Tap & Bottle
  • Paul Jenkins - 5 p.m. Public Brewhouse 
  • Miss Olivia and the Interlopers - 7 p.m. Che's 

Tuesday, Oct. 2

  • Milo Greene - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Origami Ghosts, Logan Greene Band, Glacier - 8 p.m. Cans Deli

Wednesday,  Oct. 3

  • The Essex Green, Trummors, The Gem Show - 8 p.m. Club Congress
  • Mystic Braves, The Creation Factory, The Desert Beats - 8 p.m. Cans Deli
  • Bahamas - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Kevin Pakulis - 7 p.m. Public Brewhouse
  • Spooky Mansion, Sun Dog, Tropical Beach, Liquid Summer - 8 p.m. Cans Deli
  • Dirty Heads - 8 p.m. Rialto 
  • Magic at the Mortuary w/ Magic Kenny - 6 p.m. Owls Club

Thursday, Oct. 4

  • Mystic Braves,The Creation Factory,The Desert Beats - 8 p.m. Cans Deli
  • AZstral Folk, Natalie Pohanic, and Max Mileage. - 8 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Bahamas - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
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Christopher B Riggs

TWGS on stage at Cans Deli

Youtube Video