Los Guapos' multi-styled rhythms fill Tucson dance floors
With sonic influences ranging from surf to swing to bossa nova, Latin to lounge, jazz to rock to blues to Earth Wind & Fire, all with an undercurrent of Sergio Leone soundtrack score, Los Guapos is a band that can be hard to describe, but one that is almost guaranteed to make you dance.
This is music created by music nerds and it shows, a band with such universal appeal that you can have a good time at a show with your date or your most cynical rock-snob friend, but maybe also with your kids or your parents.
A case in point was a show a couple years back at late, great local all-ages venue Gary's Place. Los Guapos ended up the unlikely opening act for a slate of hardcore bands. A handful of teenage skate punks lined the walls with folded arms and steady gazes. The band was a bit nervous, sure they were the wrong fit for the crowd, until the set ended and the teens broke out into grins and applause, crowding around the band to ask about their instruments and certain chords they'd played. At another gig, last May at Club Congress, Los Guapos faced a particularly tough crowd. The band was opening for "heavy metal mariachi band" Metalachi whose fan base were skeptical and impatient, waiting desperately for the headliners to arrive. By the end of their set, not only had Los Guapos made converts of the Metalachi fans, but were asked for an encore.
Originally founded as an outlet for the orphan songs of Last Call Brawlers co-founder Justin Valdez, Los Guapos has matured into a true ensemble since their 2014 debut. The latest incarnation of the group features Valdez on guitar, percussionist/vocalist Engel Indo, John Read on stand up bass, Morgan Schlaline on drums, and the "triple threat" that is Richard Verdugo on keyboard, sax and vocals.
Their live shows are cross-genre jams full of energy and improvisation, with rock, surf and garage melodies often colliding and merging over Latin and jazz beats and inevitably resulting in bodies on the dance floor.
Los Guapos' recorded sound has also evolved over time into a rhythmic, multi-layered, cross-genre tapestry. The band's latest release, the full length album, "Guapeando," features a diverse mix of songs, starting with the leisurely country blues, surf-rock jam turned crazed keyboard freakout that is "Kentucky Colonel" and culminating in a spirited, Santana-esque cover of "I Can See Clearly (Now, The Rain Has Gone.)" In the grand tradition of Queen or the White Album, each member contributed roughly an equal number of tracks to the project, trusting the others to flesh out and and texture to the music.
Like Los Guapos' previous full length release, "Sin Temor," "Guapeando" was recorded at Tucson's Waterworks West Recording Studio just south of Downtown Tucson. Read, Verdugo and Valdez light up when talking about how much they love working with studio proprietor Jim Waters, whom they describe as deeply funny, incredibly supportive but "not afraid to be blunt when he needs to be." While the group is excited about the new release, they are already planning to head back into the studio within the year to record even more of their prolific output.
In the meantime, Tucson audiences can catch the newly developing songs live, along with tracks from "Guapeando" and the Los Guapos' previous releases at Saturday's album release party at Skybar. Take your beau, your buddies, or even your mom. Just make sure to wear your dancing shoes.
Los Guapos album release show with Sucker For The Sour, Saturday at Sky Bar, 536 N. 4th Ave. Show starts at 9:30 p.m. Free.
Lowlife, Karima Walker and Kolezanka
Chill out in a dreamy summer haze this Friday night at Club Congress with the swirling psychedelic neo-folk of Tucson songstress Karima Walker, the subliminally catchy indie rock waltzes of local "concept band" Lowlife and the dreamy electronic noisepop of Phoenix band Kolezanka.
Kolezanka, Karima Walker and Lowlife play Club Congress, 311 E Congress on Friday July 14. Show starts at 8 p.m. Free.
Billing themselves as "The world's only Nedal band," Phoenix's Okilly Dokilly is this week's exercise in delightful weirdness.Five Ned Flanders impersonators decked out in green sweaters and spouting angsty Alt-Rock anthems to "the neighborinos" and confessing such outrageous vices as tossing back a white wine spritzer or two. Check them out Saturday night at 191 Toole.
Okilly Dokilly play 191 E. Toole on Saturday at 9 p.m. $12 at the door.
Last week we had Freezing Hands; this week we've got Burning Palms
Steeped in mythic mystery and lovely, distorted fuzz, literate post-punk garage rockers Burning Palms share a dark neo-psych aesthetic with early incarnations of bands like The Chameleons, The Teardrop Explodes, or Echo & The Bunnymen (with a healthy dose of Siouxsie and the Banshees proto-goth thrown in for good measure.) After several months hiatus, the band has returned to Tucson's live music scene with gusto, starting with a handful of live shows including this Sunday's "stripped down" version at Bar Passe.
Burning Palms (stripped back) with Brainstory and Osis play Bar Passe 417 N. 4th Ave on Sunday at 10 p.m. Free.
Also happening this weekend
Friday, July 14
- Wallpaper Prison 9 p.m. at Flycatcher Lounge, 340 E. 6th St. (Downtown)
- !Spank! 9 p.m. The Screening Room 127 E. Congress (Downtown)
- The Focke-Wolves, White Demon 8 p.m. The Loudhouse Rock & Roll Bar 915 W. Prince Rd. (NW Tucson)
- Government Cheese, 8 p.m. Fini's Landing 5689 N. Swan Rd. (NE Tucson)
- Gigi & The Glow (80s), 8:30 p.m. Five Palms Steak and Seafood 3500 E. Sunrise Dr. (NE Tucson)
- Natalie Pohanic with Jamez Long, 7 p.m. Johnny Gibson's Market 11 S. 6th Ave. (Downtown)
- Last Crime, Evasion, Blacklidge, 9 p.m. Surly Wench Pub 424 N. 4th Ave. (Downtown)
- R5, Hailey Knox, New Beat Fund, 7 p.m. Rialto Theater (Downtown)
- Giant Blue, 7 p.m. Monterey Court 505 W. Miracle Mile (North Central Tucson)
- John Clark, 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern, 1632 S. 4th Ave. (South of Downtown)
Saturday July 15
- Old Paint Animal Party & Record Swap, 9:30 p.m. Old Paint Records/La Cocina, 201 N. Court Ave. (Downtown)
- Maynard's Late Night Soul Party with DJ Buttafly, Maynard's Market 400 N. Toole Ave. (Downtown)
- The Sinners, 10 p.m. Bar Passe 417 N. 4th Ave. (Downtown)
- Club Asylum w/ DJ Black Flagg & DJ Cain, Surly Wench Pub
- Sounds Like Summer Festival (Hardcore/Metal), 5 p.m. Club XS 5851 E. Speedway (Central Tucson)
- Little House of Funk!, 7 p.m. Monterey Court
- French Quarter 8 p.m. House Of Bards 4915 E Speedway (Central Tucson)
- Bright & Childers Quartet, 7:30 p.m. Borderlands Brewing 119 E. Toole Ave. (Downtown)
- Chuck's Band Wagon, 8 p.m. Fini's Landing
- Fixed Idea, Dirty Magic, 8 p.m. The Loudhouse Rock & Roll Bar
- The Amosphere 10 p.m. The Hut 305 N. 4th Ave. (Downtown)