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Arts & Entertainment

Celebration of Tucson's desert rock dumps Holocaust denier who spreads Nazi memes

Website of founder of 'Chuck Wagon & the Wheels' features antisemitic & conspiracist screeds, Hitler propaganda

Update: After the publication of this report, organizer Rich Hopkins told the Tucson Sentinel that Maultsby has been dropped from the bill and will not be playing the concert Saturday.

A stable of local music legends will take the stage at Hotel Congress on Saturday night, but along with the River Roses, Sidewinders and Giant Sand there was to be one performer who's become more notorious for his posting of antisemitic screeds and pro-Nazi memes than any music he's recently made.

The website of Chuck Maultsby — the titular head of longtime Tucson group Chuck Wagon and the Wheels — is a torrent of anti-Jewish posts, Holocaust denial, appreciations of Adolf Hitler and excuses for the horrors of concentration camps.

After the Tucson Sentinel began asking questions about Maultsby's planned appearance at Saturday's "The Whole Enchilada" concert, he was "dropped," said one of the organizers, Rich Hopkins, guitarist for the Sidewinders.

There won't be a replacement act, Hopkins told the Sentinel. "The show will go on without his participation."

"It’s harder than you think to move quickly on something like this, even when it’s obviously the right thing to do," said David Slutes, the entertainment director for Hotel Congress and the frontman for the Sidewinders, after this report was first published. "Everyone feels embarrassed, guilty and bad about it. But learning about the depth of Chuck's insanity was rough."

"I have worked for this Jewish-run business for 25 years and they are like extended family. This was not going to work for any of us," Slutes said.

Many of the musicians involved in the show didn't respond to the Sentinel's requests for comment, but one performer called Maultsby a "hateful Nazi" and said he'll ask his partner to recite a Hebrew prayer on stage after his set.

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Maultsby's brazen online statements include his website of more than 250 separate, lengthy pages of hate claims, including that Jews were behind a COVID-19 "plandemic," that Jews planned the 9/11 attacks, and that "Hitler was a good guy."

Rather than being an infamous concentration camp torturer known as the "Angel of Death," SS physician Josef Mengele's "tireless efforts saved the lives of ten thousands of inmates (sic)," Maultsby's website says. "Jews Killed the Kennedys." "Jews Killed Gen. Patton." "Kamala Harris is a Communist."

A Nazi swastika banner, labeled "If this flag offends you, you need a history lesson," is among the many memes on the site.

His Facebook profile was apparently removed several years ago, but on it Maultsby would frequently post antisemitic rants and deny the facts of the systematic murder of millions of Jews and others by the Nazis during World War II.

"Is the Holocaust a Hoax? Short Answer: OF COURSE. Within five minutes, any intelligent, open-minded person can be convinced that the Holocaust gassings of World War II are a profitable hoax," began one such 2017 screed, which was (as the Sentinel reported at the time) re-posted by perennial fringe political candidate "Green Party Dave" Croteau.

"Even The Diary of Anne Frank is a hoax," that post claimed.

Passover performance

Included in the lineup due to his late-'70s minor hit with novelty tune "Disco Sucks," as well as the persistent gigging of the Wheels throughout the '70s and '80s, Maultsby's set is scheduled as the third-from-the-top performance at "The Whole Enchilada" on Sat., April 16 — which is coincidentally the second night of Passover.

The event is a tribute to the local "desert rock" scene, featuring a live lineup of bands from the heyday of that Tucson genre. A benefit for the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen — long supported by Sidewinders guitarist Rich Hopkins — the concert also marks the release of a documentary film, and an LP and book set about the bands.

Headlined by Giant Sand and the Sidewinders/Sand Rubies, the show will also include Naked Prey, River Roses, Caitlin von Schmidt, Gila Bend, Billy Sedlmayr, and more. The multimedia project includes some 27 bands who put Tucson on the musical map in the years 1978-1994, with The Pedestrians, Dusty Chaps, Green on Red, Black Sun Ensemble, Al Perry and the Cattle and others featured, as well as those performing Saturday.

One of them is eccentric songwriter Terry Owen — who under his stage name Fish Karma is scheduled to open the concert and act as the MC.

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"How do you think I feel about having to introduce a hateful Nazi?," Owen posted rhetorically on Facebook on Thursday morning.

"I will not introduce him, what with my late wife Jennifer and her family (whom I consider my family) being Jewish, and what with my own personal loathing and whatnot," Owen said. "After his set, I have induced my partner Kay Sather to come onstage and recite a brief prayer in Hebrew."

While many people with longstanding connections to the Downtown music scene had publicly indicated they planned to boycott the show if Maultsby played, others said they planned to picket outside Hotel Congress. More than one person privately told the Sentinel that they were likely to jump onstage and punch him in the nose.

Weeks ago, people at other media organizations had told the organizers of the show that they refused to include Chuck Wagon and the Wheels in any promotions for the concert, they later told the Sentinel.

Hopkins, the force behind the project celebrating the desert-rock years of Tucson's music scene, told the Sentinel on Thursday morning that "I had heard about him denying the Holocaust which is sad."

"My belief is that we all have some regrets in life, things we are ashamed of or admitting, or maybe not — but I am not the Judge. Jesus teaches me to love my enemy which admittedly is a hard thing to do but it is still his commandment," Hopkins said.

"I have been working on this project for a few years which is about our collective musical histories here in Tucson. It's a great project and I am grateful for everyone's participation," Hopkins told the Sentinel, prior to informing Maultsby that he would not be playing. "I can say this, we are not angels. Let God be the Judge. I hope you will check out the album and book."

The director of the film part of the "Enchilada" project, Maggie Rawling Smith, said it was "shocking" to learn of Maultby's opinions Thursday.

"I had no idea," said Smith, who is herself Jewish. "He is not one of the musicians in the film I made so I have had no contact with him."

Chris Holiman of the River Roses told the Sentinel that "it makes me sad how many people that I respected have fallen into these online conspiracies, but you can’t talk them down so I just avoid it."

While chuckmaultsby.net, with its compilation of years of anti-Jewish hate and pro-Hitler memes, along with links to infamous neo-Nazi tracts such as "The Turner Diaries" and "Behold A Pale Horse," became no longer available at that URL earlier this year, Maultsby's site is archived at several locations online. A full copy of it, with a more anonymous URL, appears to have been updated in the time since the site became inaccessible from the address including his name sometime after early February.

Still posted on the site, which we are choosing to not link to, are memes of photos of Hitler, including those labeled "They trained you to hate the only man with the balls to stand up to them" and "If you think I am evil, it means you have never did any research but you are fully brainwashed by the Jewish written History." (sic)

"If you are white you are targeted for extermination" reads the all-caps top of one meme posted on the site.

The site also promotes a self-published book by Maultsby, "Who Should Go Down In History: The Truth About 9/11" — which he claims was "banned by Amazon — so you know it's true."

Brian Smith, formerly of The Pills and who edited "The Whole Enchilada: The History of Desert Rock" book portion of the project, said Thursday that Maultby's opinions are "fucking pure filth. I had no idea the lengths to which his hatred spewed. Bummed out to learn this shit."

"Regardless of Chuck's political views, it gave me no pleasure to cancel him," Hopkins said later in Thursday afternoon. "I liked his music and that was the reason he was on the project."

Maultsby long ago blocked this reporter on Facebook for pointing out his sharing of Holocaust denial and hate propaganda. We did not waste our time attempting to contact him for comment for this report, as his actions speak for themselves.

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An undated publicity photo of Chuck Maultsby of Chuck Wagon and the Wheels.