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Weekend music

Infinite Beauties sound even better with time

A theme your humble columnist oft returns to, because it's so damned true in so many cases, is that most enduring of rock and roll myths: the teenage rock band growing into its talents.

Right now in this town, thanks in part to great local resources like the Schoolhouse of Rock, we happen to be blessed by a plethora of really good bands all too young to patronize the venues they play. Bands like the Frecks, Rough Draft, and Hang the Bassist are some of the best new acts in town, and great youth bands beget more great youth bands, so with luck the trend will continue.

The real challenge, though, is whether a teenage band will stand the test of time and maturity. Within Tucson's recent musical history some of the best examples I can think of are Noah Gabbard's prodigiously brilliant project Bombs For The Bored and Andrew Gardener's Wise Folk Malcontent (which later morphed into indie powerhouse La Cerca.)

And then, there is Infinite Beauties. Formed at Cholla High School in 1987 (literally in the school parking lot, according to the band) and named after a line from an Islamic poem, Infinite Beauties' original lineup included teenage friends Joe Graves, Leo Graves, Adam Lopez and Phil Roberts. Drummer Jeremy Topp joined a year later.

Flash forward three decades and the Infinite Beauties are still crafting intricate, eclectic indie rock with just a hint of youthful weirdness still peeking through.

Jeremy Topp: "The current incarnation of this line up came about after I wrote a few songs in my garage in 2012 and needed a band to flush them out. We were excited to play again after a few years and quickly fell into our old groove. The current lineup is Marta from The Weekend Lovers on bass, Leo Graves, vocals, Adam Lopez, guitar and Jeremy Topp, drums."

TucsonSentinel.com: How would you describe the band's sound?

JT: "The Beauties have always been a very eclectic band with influences varying from the Stooges to avant-garde jazz (Matthew Shipp, Cecil Taylor). Adam Lopez likes to call our unique sound 'Unacceptable,' as well as 'Barrio Jazz.' Another factor that has helped in our journey is that we have all been influenced by the elements of visual artists, and the principles of design which have always been a guiding factor in our compositions."

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Leo Graves: "I view the music as keeping Art at the center with its plethora of trying to express the human condition, in melody and emotion, with tones both highlighted and organic. Music is such a powerful force that World/International music, classic jazz, ethereal, experimental, classical music, pop, rock n' roll, and other types of music dynamically and naturally shape and synthesize a 'sound' as with any other artistic medium."

TS: How did you all fall in love with rock and roll?

JT: "I began playing drums at age three and developed an obsession with music that has continued to the present day. British bands like the Beatles, the Stones and the Clash have always been favorites, as well as reggae music. There have also been many major American artists that have influenced this project from a variety of genres such as bebop (Bird!) as well as country, rhythm and blues, pop music, rap and electronica."

Adam Lopez: "I began my musical journey at age 12 immediately after the death of John Lennon in 1980."

LG: "Some of my favorites are the Cocteau Twins, Sigur Ros, Siouxsie and the Banshees, early U2, and of late, Beach House among many others."

TS: Any favorite band stories to share? Thoughts on the music scene then and now?

JT: "The Beauties were the first band to record at 7 n' 7 in the late '80s with Randy McReynolds and Craig Schumacher then immediately went on tour throughout the Southern United States. We were broke most of the time, but we had great learning experiences"

"Having watched the Tucson music scene for many years now, it is refreshing to see there are a lot more bands and musicians collaborating and creating music. The result is better and more varied music. The music industry in general is in a transition. This transition relates to musicians being paid. Although bands have the ability to put work out on their own, online music services pay little to nonexistent returns for an artists work."

TS: What are some of your favorite Tucson venues new and old?

JT: "The Beauties used to play at a very abstract bar on Congress Street called, Runes."

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TS: I remember Runes! We saw the Host there once or twice and sometimes the members of a certain now defunct local reggae band would buy beers for me and my underage friends there...but perhaps we shouldn't mention such things. Where else?

JT: "We have also played Club Congress, the Sky Bar, Plush, Flycatcher, the Hut, KXCI's Local's Only and most recently the Dusty Monk where we will be headlining this Saturday, Dec. 1."

TS: Favorite local bands?

JT: "We have enjoyed many Tucson bands past and present. In the early days we enjoyed listening to and supporting the River Roses, Al Perry, Phantom Limbs, the Host, Black Sun Ensemble and Opinion Zero. Today we love listening to bands like Terry Trash and the Train Wrecks, the Rifle, Mute Swan and the Weekend Lovers."

TS: Besides the upcoming gig, what is the band up to these days?

JT:"We're looking forward to releasing an ep very soon (available on Bandcamp) entitled 'Get Up Morning' and playing live shows this spring. The group has new material that is being developed and prepared to record for another release next year as well."

You can check out Infinite Beauties live on Saturday night at the Dusty Monk Pub in Downtown Tucson. The show starts at 9:30 p.m.

End of an 'elegant' era

Lots of musicians begin their careers in places Tucson before moving on to bigger cities and grander ambitions. It's pretty rare and special when someone ends their storied history in our humble little desert burg, but Michael Ely's a pretty special dude.

The lead singer of underground L.A. post punk bands Red Wedding and Hey Taxi has had a bit of whirlwind couple of weeks. First, he visited his old Southern California stomping grounds for a pair of "farewell shows" with his current, Tucson-based band the Elegant Rabies and "sister" band the Rifle over Thanksgiving weekend.

Then, the normally shy Ely geared up for a brief stint in the national spotlight - for reasons totally unreleated to music. News broke this week that Lambda Legal Fund had taken up Ely's fight against the Social Security Administration, which had denied Ely's claim for widower benefits following the death of Ely's partner Spider Taylor (also guitarist and co-founder of Red Wedding and Hey Taxi.) Though Taylor and Ely were together for over 43 years, under Arizona law at the time, they weren't able to legally marry until 2014, just months before Taylor's death from cancer. Since, under Social Security's current guidelines, couples must be wed for 9 months or more to qualify for benefits, Ely's claim was denied, though the couple was legally prevented from marrying in time to qualify.

Now, after fielding interviews ranging from local news to The Washington Post, not to mention returning triumphant from those final L.A. area gigs, Ely has one last "mission" before bowing out of the "rock and roll" life to focus on the lawsuit, his writing and a peaceful retirement. One more show.

Though the Southern Cal gigs were a farewell of sorts to the time and place where Michael and Spider reigned as post-punk pioneers, Tucson is Ely's real home now and it was only fitting that Tucson be the setting for his musical retirement. That show takes place on Friday night at a most unusual venue - the parking lot of a local garage in Downtown- literally a garage band show! This should be a special, joyful gig with lots of Tucson music notables (and friends of Ely) in attendance, though the band warns attendees to bundle up and wear a jacket. This reporter suggests donning your favorite leather jacket, complete with band buttons.

The Elegant Rabies farewell show takes place Saturday, Dec 1 at Alexander's Garage, 613 E. 6th Street at 8 p.m.

Mercury lives!

In honor of World AIDS Day (and just in time to give us all post "Bohemian Rhapsody" catharsis) Club Congress is hosting a tribute to Freddie Mercury and Eazy-E, both of whom died young as a result of the disease. Among the highlights, Paul Jenkins and the Jons team up as "The David Clarke Band"and Tucson Libertine League lends their burlesque talents to the affair. Other perfomers include: Therin, Ras Jahge, Steve Skiano, Lexxi Moncada, F2D, Tucson Acro Yoga Jam Crew, Tucson Capoeria, Najla, Dust Dance Collective, Jessica Gonzales, and DropOut Glass

The World AIDS Day Tribute takes place at Hotel Congress on Saturday at 5 p.m.

House Party Alert of the week: Playboy Manbaby, Frecks, Rough Draft

Some of the best shows in town are shows you never hear about because they aren't held at public venues. As a music writer, this is a recurring dilemma. Neglect to mention a great show and avid readers and local music lovers are left out of the loop. Announce a private party and risk sending hundreds of concert goers to overrun some poor homeowner's living room pop up gig.

Still, in the interest of better keeping local music fans in the know (and, in this case, at the behest of the bands in question) this column will begin announcing some of the better house shows going forward. It will be up to you folks, though to physically track them down - easily done by contacting the bands themselves, reaching out on social media and such.

This week's house show alert looks to be a fantastic lineup featuring Phoenix neo-punkers Playboy Manbaby and Tucson High's finest the Frecks and Rough Draft. The show takes place Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at a private house in Midtown - you can find out more and maybe score an invite by contacting the Frecks on Facebook or Instagram.

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, Nov. 30

  • The Rifle, Luau, Cool Funeral - 9 p.m. District Eatz
  • Natalie Pohanic - 9 p.m. Dusty Monk
  • Santa Pachita & The Bennu - 8 p.m. Cans
  • Tongs, Jacob Ransom, Alassane - 9:30 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Young MacDonald - 8 p.m. Exo
  • Super Gay Party Machine - 8 p.m.Club Congress

Saturday, Dec. 1

  • Infinite Beauties - 9 p.m. Dusty Monk
  • Loveland and Ladies - 6p.m. Cans
  • Vista Kicks - 10 p.m. Cans
  • The Resonars - 10 p.m. Che's Lounge
  • The Elegant Rabies Finale Show - 8 p.m. Alexander's Garage
  • The Frecks, Rough Draft, Playboy Manbaby - 7:30 p.m. (contact bands for details)
  • Khalid El Boujami - 8 p.m.
  • World Aids Day - 5 p.m. Hotel Congress
  • Armando Moreno & the Southern Revival - 7 p.m. Club Congress

Sunday, Dec. 2

  • Golden Boots - 6:30 p.m.
  • Thadeus Gonzalez - 8 p.m. Passe
  • Eyedress, The Trees, Oolalong - 8 p.m. Club Congress

Monday, Dec. 3

  • Mac Demarco - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Open Mic Comedy at The Wench - 7 p.m. Surly Wench

Tuesday, Dec. 4

  • The English Beat - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Toke, Hyst, Kryge - 8 p.m. Club Congress

Wednesday, Dec. 5

  • UADA, Suicide Forest, Shadows of Algol - 7 p.m. Cans
  • Stephen Steinbrink w/ Sean Bonnette - 8 p.m. Club Congress
  • Dave Alvin, JimmyDale Gilmore - 8 p.m. Rialto

Thursday, Dec 06

  • Daikaju vs. The Mission Creeps - 10 p.m. Sky Bar
  • J-Calvin and Mesquite - 8 p.m. Club Congress
  • Smashing Pumpkins - 7 p.m. Rialto
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courtesy of Jeremy Topp

Infinite Beauties. Per Jeremy Topp 'We don't have a pic with Marta yet, but she is already a star!'

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