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Tucson sounds: Help Me Wanda! The cosmic, mellow weirdness of the Wanda Junes

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Weekend music

Tucson sounds: Help Me Wanda! The cosmic, mellow weirdness of the Wanda Junes

  • The Wanda Junes at Tap and Bottle, circa 2017
    Mel MasonThe Wanda Junes at Tap and Bottle, circa 2017
  • Eric Schaffer and the Other Troublemakers at Monterey Court
    Chris StamosEric Schaffer and the Other Troublemakers at Monterey Court
  • Clinton Wyatt Smith playing with Wrought Iron
    Courtesy of the bandClinton Wyatt Smith playing with Wrought Iron

Alright, I'll admit it. I like both kinds of music, country and western.

Okay, well, maybe not the kind of country you hear blasting from the car radio of other people's giant shiny pickup trucks during rush hour traffic. But this reporter is a sucker for bands like Uncle Tupelo, the Geraldine Fibbers and the Old 97s, the late great Townes Van Zandt and, of course, good old Gram Parson's "Cosmic American" music.

While Tucson has always kind of had a cowtown vibe to it, bands who dabble in that sort of cowpunk noir style like that are getting harder to find these days, save for a few local folks, like Hank Topless and Lana Rebel. And then, there's the gorgeous weirdness that is the Wanda Junes. "It sucks to pin a band down to one genre, but how might you describe yourselves for folks who don't know the band? Cowpunk? Alt country? Americana?

Bobby Carlson (Wanda Junes): "Cosmic Americana. I think these days we're more rock n roll than folk, which is where we started, but it's still there." 

TS: I've always assumed that the band name is a Kurt Vonnegut reference and that makes me really happy. Am I right? And how did you wind up deciding on the name in the first place?

BC: "It is. It's also a mash up of Wanda Jackson and June Carter, which also works well. I sent Steve Soloway a few names over email when he agreed to do the band with me."  

TS: Current lineup? 

BC: "I play bass. Thom Plasse and Tony BallZ play guitar. Michael Huerta (Ex-Cowboy) plays drums and Kevin Mayfield is playing the Casio. Kevin also plays with Lana Rebel every Wednesday at La Cocina, which I would recommend to anyone." 

TS: What's the band's origin story?

BC: "I decided to move to Tucson from Flagstaff in 2012 after I asked Steve Soloway to be in a country band with me. He'd been playing in Monster Pussy, and I'd been playing in a band called Feel Free with Tony. Steve and I had been in a band together called Invisible City in 2003."

"The first drummer we tried, Jesus Robles, was perfect. And we recorded our first album, 'Factory Plaza,' with that lineup in Tempe with Catherine Vericoli at 513. Jesus quit, because he's an adult with a real career, as an architect ( and Steve bailed to Maine with his new family.We played a last show and everything. But by then we'd picked up Thom Plasse, and Jeff Henderson. And we decided to get the band back together. This would have been around 2013." 

TS: You and Tony BallZ, as well as Kenny from the Exbats (who you also currently play with) were all part of the Flagstaff music scene for a long time, right? What's it been like playing with the same dudes for so many years? 

BC: "Well, Kenny was in Flagstaff when I was just a skateboarder growing up in Phoenix. I moved to Flagstaff in 1999, graduated college, and moved back to Flagstaff in 2004. So I know very few of the people that Kenny knows from Flagstaff. It's really just a coincidence that we both lived there. I met Kenny at a show at La Cocina." 

TS: It's a small world after all!

BC: "I started playing music with Tony in 2008. And it was a lot of rad house shows and things like that. People move out of Flagstaff a lot more than Tucson, and they don't really come back like they seem to here. And Flagstaff is just completely unaffordable now. Tucson, beware!"

TS: Yeah, Tucson does tend to draw people back. We refer to it as "that giant sucking sound." On that note, care to give us a quick microhistory of Flagstaff DIY as you know/knew it? 

BC: "When I moved to Flagstaff, I was a fan of Primitive Tribes, who had broken up by then, and I was aware of a band called Shitbastard, who had become a band called Ruinacre. But I was really excited to see a band called Shitbastard. I ended up meeting all those guys of course."

"I started doing house shows with a fellow named Ray Walker, and Hesper Petersen, who would soon be my wife, and later, ex-wife, and probably has no interest seeing her name in print. We were part of a very supportive scene, which we helped create, and we did house shows and all ages club shows for about three years." 

"I moved to Tucson after college, but my Flagstaff band, Ponies, stayed together and by that point, Ray was doing an all ages club as a non-profit. There were also a couple other houses doing shows. Some great bands from that time were Stab City Slit Wrists, IHYWYP, and the Skags/Anomic Suicide. Jarrod Mingus would be a great person to interview about this. Him and Dirty Steve had a great house venue as well."

TS: Jarrod from Carbon Canyon? The "Tucson Garage Mafia" really is everywhere! What bands and places you do miss the most in the musical sphere both in Flagstaff and Tucson? And frankly, the world? 

BC: "I miss my friend Ash Rickli. He was in quite a few fantastic bands in Flagstaff and Athens, Ga., and we were in a band called Baby Gecko together. He was a genius. But I don't miss Flagstaff very much, to be honest. And, I'd like to play with Christina Antipa again. I hope she finishes her album."

"Also, in the past, I've kept it real close to the vest because his influence is so damn obvious, but the late David Berman." 

TS: What are your current favorite local bands and venues? What about not local stuff?

BC: "I'll just plug Midtown Island here. And Golden Boots. I moved to town as a big fan."

"Compact Disc Records.Wooden Tooth Records.Old Paint Records. I think for the first time in my life, there's a lot of stuff I'm not aware of, locally, that rules hard. I also just love the Exbats. I joined the band as a huge fan. They're the best."

TS: That they are.

BC: "I've been listening to the Michael Kiwanuka album Love & Hate a lot. And getting really stoked for the Oblivians coming to town. Desperation is a great album. It's all new to me."  

TS: "There's a lot of debate locally about creating/playing music for money vs. for love, as well as whether the two can be reconciled. Care to share your thoughts on this?

BC: "The world is on fire, and people performing non-essential services are asking for more compensation? Newsflash, the entire American working class is bleeding. There are people that want more money to entertain the dinner crowd while the servers and cooks can't pay their rents. Did you really think Rio Nuevo had you in their budget?"

"The lack of imagination is stifling. If you're a musician, you create the very stuff that changes culture, that changes the world. If your act is a draw, you can charge at the door, you can sell merch, and you can make money. How much you want to gouge people is up to you and your people. I don't have a draw, so I don't worry about it."

"All that said, I've worked in the nonprofit sector my entire adult life. I don't know what making money is. I've never felt like doing music as my job seemed realistic, or even ideal. Maybe when I was in my early 20s.

"There's that John Waters quote that artists, if they're serious, intern for themselves for 40 years. That seems realistic. If you want to make money, hire a mariachi band and tour Germany."

TS: Back to the subject at hand, though. What's the writing/musical process in the Wanda Junes?

BC: "Steal, steal, steal."  

TS: Ha! Seriously, though, how has the band changed over time? And what would you say are the constant factors?

BC: "I guess white men playing guitars is the constant in this band. Can you think of anything more exciting? I can't say whether we're growing or shrinking or mutating."

"We just began recording what will hopefully be our fifth album, The Basement Apes, at Midtown Island with Matt Rendon. I am very excited about that."

TS: Favorite gigs of all time with the Wandas? 

BC: "We got to open for Angel Olsen. She bought an album. I had the opportunity to pledge my undying love, but I got scared." 

TS: Weirdest or worst gigs?

BC: "I don't think they liked us at Public Brewhouse. Hopefully all of our shows are the weirdest."

TS: Details about the upcoming gig?

BC: "It's at Exo. Tonight. With Golden Boots.Who I might have mentioned that I love. It's free.And there's this lil' band out of Bisbee that takes up a good chunk of my time, so who knows when we'll be playing out again."

The Wanda Junes join Golden Boots (whom they love) at Exo on Friday night, September 6. Show starts at 8 p.m. 

The business of music episode three: Clinton Smith, Eric Schaffer

Why make art? Or music? Do you do it for love or for money? Is there a way to reconcile the two? Are you selling out your fellow performers by asking too little? Shutting out your peers by asking too much? Are you paving the way for your fellow artists or stealing their spotlight? Is there a way to make the music game pay the bills or is it all a pipe dream? 

For the last few weeks, we've been asking local musicians some kind of tough questions along those lines, as well as getting to know some folks in local music beyond the Downtown live rock and roll bubble.

This week, we continue our discussion of  the business side of local music with a couple of hometown troubadours, one new to the live music game and one who's been at it for half a lifetime. Meet Clinton Wyatt Smith of the band Wrought Iron and Eric Schaffer, frontman of the Other Troublemakers.

Clinton Wyatt Smith (Wrought Iron)

"I'm Tucson born and raised. I started messin' around on guitar just before Christmas of 2014 and it's been my passion ever since. I've been playin' my songs around the Old Pueblo since the Spring of 2015, when I did my first open mic ever at the Hut on Fourth Avenue hosted by the fine gentlemen of local bluegrass band, Cadillac Mountain. I was a regular throughout most of that year at Delectables and Amped Up! at Hotel Congress and eventually made my way to a lot of the open mics around town to cut my teeth in my early couple years of playing."

"In early 2016, I went into a local studio to begin work on my first solo album, 'Die In Tombstone,' which was eventually released on vinyl and CD in 2017. My follow up was an EP entitled 'Never Forget' dedicated to our veterans."

"After the albums came out, I had a bit of a falling out with the label. The albums came at a huge financial cost and my solo 'career' was generating little to no income, but I kept pickin' away and writing songs, relying on my day job to support my family. Playing music became the missing piece of the puzzle I had been searching for my whole life. I decided pretty early on that if it never made me a dime, I would continue to try to get my songs out and play anywhere and anytime I could."

"I've had a couple gigs in the last few years that tossed a few hundred dollars in my direction, including a really nice residency that lasted for six months at the Elk's lodge. It brought in several hundred dollars but it paled in comparison to my expenditures for equipment acquisition, building the capability to set up a full PA with sound, upkeep, travel expenses etc."

"I never really soured on the experience, because I wasn't sure that I had so much to offer that I deserved to be paid more. Instead, I really tried to focus on diving into the craft of songwriting, building tracks for my one man band set up and learning better techniques for soloing. Learning a bit of bass and keys, and trying to grow as a vocalist."

"As I gained confidence, I began to jam with other players to expand my skill set as much as possible and boost my creativity. Being a solo act became pretty lonely after a while, and what I really wanted was to start a band."

"After a year or so of jammin' with a good friend, Jeff Bryant, we recruited a bass player and eventually a drummer and started the band Wrought Iron in late July of 2018. We found a lead guitarist and started to play gigs around town at House of Bards, The Edge, Riley's Irish Tavern, and Chicago Bar. Within about six months we lost half of our original lineup due mainly to their work schedules and inability or unwillingness to keep up with the weekly practice schedule and upcoming gigs."

"We recruited new players, revamped and came back stronger than ever and picked up more gigs at Chicago Bar, House of Bards, The Runway Bar, The Frozen Cactus, Chuckleheads in Bisbee and a veterans' benefit show at Irene's Holy Donuts, which was the first show I ever produced and organized with help from a great friend, Phil Harvey."

 "I'm sure you'll find us playin' somewhere around town but the books are relatively open at the moment. To me Wrought Iron was an experiment, and I never thought we'd make it as far as we have. In all honesty,  every time we play, I consider it a blessing and something to be met with tremendous amounts of gratitude."

"I've been writing and arranging more and more original songs, a few of which the band hasn't even played together yet! I hope to get us into a studio soon to record our first album, but only time will tell if we can pull it off schedule-wise, funding-wise, etc. Since I fund most of the bands activities out of my own pocket, there are definitely limitations and the stark harshness of reality to be faced on a daily basis."

"I'll summarize by experience as a musician by adding the following items - it's difficult to get paid enough money to spread out to a 4-5 piece band playing gigs in this town. Some of my friends that can actually go out and command $400 - $500 a night have to split that 4 - 5 ways, play for a few hours, often by setting up their own sound, maybe even lighting, promoting the shows, build a following and on and so forth. We've been lucky to play for a couple hundred bucks a couple times, but more often we've played for either far less or literally nothing. Zero pay."

"I'm still willing to do it and compensate my guys what I can on my own, tossin' them a few bucks, maybe grabbin their food and a couple drinks but that's about where we land. There is no glory and its not going to provide a livable wage, no way.  I'm fortunate to do well at my day job and live in a two-income household.  We do well enough to exist in the reality that producing music costs money, it doesn't generate income."

"I've often been met with criticism for accepting this circumstance. Many professional, upper mid-range to high-level musicians locally feel that playing for low compensation 'hurts the scene' and sets a low standard that venues then are able to adhere to and pay less and less moving forward. I am not sure that this is true. There are levels of musicianship, so shouldn't different talent levels require different levels of pay?"

"Why are we comparing apples to oranges, duos to trios, orchestras to open mics, showcases to 6-piece bands, reggae bands to country acts and metal acts? There are so many different acts, styles, ability levels and most certainly there is room for all of them to express their own unique creativity. So, I'll say this. You do you, let me do me."

"Sometimes the criticisms and harshnesses that arise from putting yourself out there up on that stage can be overwhelming.  But on the same tip, that is not the majority of the noise that surrounds my experience. I've had to make up a lot of what I do as I go, having not become a musician until my late 30s and having virtually no prior experience in the music business."

"My promotion is limited to our Facebook page for the most part and some amount of word of mouth. Most of our gigs have been arranged by getting phone calls from friends or owners of bars that we've played successful showcases at. I don't spend much time trying to book gigs, and I certainly don't put a lot of financial resources into that game."

"I'm sure I could probably do a better job on the promotion side, but the reality is that I simply don't have time. I work 50 hours a week, play a few gigs a month, take care of my 8 year old daughter and teach private guitar lessons. Buddy, I'm at my max output. So if you want to know if I do it for the 'love,' the answer is a resounding yes."

"There are a lot of full time musicians in Tucson, many of them good friends of mine, that rely solely on their art to survive and to them I say this. You're my freakin' heros. Someday I'll retire and do nothing but write songs & rock out. Until then, I'll support them anyway I can and continue to do the only thing I know how to do. Get up there and scream and play my guitar and keep my band going as long as I possibly can."

"The most important things to me are family, friendships, being a good steward of original art, kindness, lifting each other up and trying to be a positive source in our Tucson music community. Competition is not important to me. Being the best band is not important to me. Being the best I can be, well that would be nice."

"Venues need to work to bring in a crowd and help us out. Bands need to give tremendous effort to put on a great show and also support one another. Fans need to get out to shows and support the venues and buy drinks and food and merch."

"Everyone is responsible for being a cog in wheel of this great music machine. We need to respect the great and vast amount of work it takes to pull off original art and music. Anyone that thinks it is easy is out of their respective gourds.There is often no hard fast rule for how anything absolutely must be done. Openness and willingness to consider one another's ideas and support each other will win out above anything else."

"If you're in that game, hit me up. Wrought Iron likes to play live music and see and hear live music.  Its our freakin' favorite. Yes it is."

TS: Is Tucson still an "old boys" club when it comes to professional music? Are things getting more fair for women and people of color in local music? Does it depend on genre and venue?

CS: "As far as Tucson having an 'old boys club' mentality, there is probably some merit to that. I'm certainly not a member of that club if there is one and I cant weigh in with a great answer because it's not been my experience. I do support women and people of different ethnic groups in our community and when I see them rise up and take their place on the stage I feel the same thing I feel every time someone sings their face off, pride, joy and immense happiness."

"Music is the universal language of love and healing.  Anything that doesn't fit into that model well, it's missing the truest form of the art. Bringing people together, not polarizing them."

"The politics side of the game surrounding Tucson's music community as of late has pushed a lot of opinions into the forefront. Whether it be on social media or in the discussions at our many venues, there is a feeling that is thick in the air. Is it the breakdown of the old rules? What are those rules? Is it the forming of a new dawn in local music?"

"Tucson  has always been a mecca for music, stuffed with talent, overflowing with amazing players like the toppings spilling out of a Sonoran dog. When those delicious morsels fall out of the bun, will we scoop them up and celebrate every crumb or just try to get at the ever-sought after wrapping of bacon goodness down the middle? I like my Sonoran dogs 'con todo,' so I'm not leaving anyone out or counting anyone down. I still believe that the good guys and girls know we are all in this together."   

TS: Now a chance to shamelessly self promote! Any upcoming gigs or recordings?

CS: "Wrought Iron has our one year anniversary Party upcoming on September 7 at Chambaco Studios, my home studio. It will also be the seventh annual backyard music festival I've hosted on my birthday. I will be hosting an open mic at House of Bards the second Thursday of each month starting Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. Then we have a gig at the Dive Bar opening up for Method to The Madness on Sept. 14 at 9 p.m. We are headlining Monterey Court on September 19th and one of my guitar students is playing that same night in the first showcase singer songwriter round-robins produced by Virginia Cannon.  We are trying to make it to a benefit for Cancer research in October down in Douglas. And after's anyone's guess."

TS: Thanks, Clint...and happy "almost" birthday.

Eric Schaffer (Eric Schaffer and the Other Troublemakers)

"I’m a guitarist/singer/songwriter and have been fronting my band, the Other Troublemakers, for five years. I am a part time musician, but the rest of the guys in my band are all full timers."

"I play 60-70 shows per year, most of which are in the Tucson area, but I do travel and play in other parts of the country. About two-thirds of my shows are with the band, and the remainder are solo or duo shows. I don’t rely on my music income, but I do refuse to be taken advantage of. I also need to make sure my bandmates are kept working and paid well, since that’s how I get to keep them."

"I think I have a fairly unique perspective on the whole musician compensation issue - as a musician, as a band leader, as someone who was in the business when the money was good, and currently as a business owner."

"I started playing and working (house sound and road-managing) in New Jersey in the mid-1970s. It was the heyday of the New Jersey club scene and on any given Friday or Saturday night there would be 30 or 40 clubs between North Jersey and the shore that each had 1,000 people or more in them. The clubs all charged a cover, and everyone was making money. The bands I worked with played five nights a week and got paid $700-800 per night on weekdays and $1200-1500 per night on weekends. That was in 1975 dollars. In 2019 dollars, it would be three times that amount."

"No local band anywhere is making that kind of money these days. Not even close. Unfortunately those days aren’t coming back."

"Back when the drinking age was 18, and your TV got four channels or five if you were lucky, there were no videotapes, no video games. DUI checkpoints did not exist. If you wanted entertainment, you HAD to go out and interact with real humans, so people went to the clubs. Music had value then.We spent money to see bands and we spent money on records."   

"For better or for worse, the value of music has now become the race to zero. The democratization of music recording has allowed us all to record and release albums into a market where people don’t buy albums - they stream on Spotify. I had 4,000 streams last month. By no means a big number, but probably higher than most. It earned me about $8. Thank God for all the fine folks who buy CDs at shows - they account for well over 90 percent of our CD sales. I think to them it’s as much a souvenir as a music purchase and I’m grateful for it."   

"The venue owners in Tucson are not exactly printing money either. I can only speak to the ‘scene’ to which I belong - the guys (and women!) playing country, blues, folk, Americana and the like to patrons who are typically in their 50s and up, and the bars/restaurants who cater to them. With a few exceptions, if you have 100 people in the crowd, that’s a pretty good night. And most of the time the bands and the venue owners busted ass to get them there.   

"Many of us play at bars that are primarily restaurants. How many times per week will 50 or 60 somethings go out for dinner? Not very many."

"Venue owners are reluctant to charge a cover, and for good reason. The public is not conditioned to pay for music. It’s weird, because people would not hesitate to drop five dollars on any one of a myriad of things, but to get into a bar is not generally one of them. Trying to squeeze the venues is not the answer. There’s no blood to be had there."   

"However, I do believe that most people, when given the opportunity, will pay for good music voluntarily.We just need something better than the tip jar."   

"I have seen venues in other parts of the country include a 'musician tip' line on their credit card slips. This is a big missed opportunity here in Tucson. While a lot of people do contribute to tip jars (thank you!), a lot of others don’t. Some people don’t even think about it. Others don’t carry cash anymore. Still others feel self-conscious about walking up in front of the band to put money in the jar. I’ll bet that most musicians will agree that whenever folks ‘pass the hat’ around the audience, there’s always more in the hat than there would be in the tip jar."

"Venue owners may get a little blowback at first from waitstaff who are concerned that these musicians’ tips will cut into their tips. That’s understandable. Anecdotally, I’m told that’s not the case, but it’s real easy to find out.The computerized POS systems in almost every venue can generate reports that show how much tip money was collected over any given period of time as a percentage of total revenue. Do the program for a while, then check the numbers.They will not lie."

"There are a few things that would need to happen to make this work. Venue owners would need to be totally transparent. Show the bands the reports at the end of the night. Even if you are being totally straight up about giving the bands all the musician tip money, there will be some who will claim the contrary regardless. If owners get out in front of that, it will be a non-issue."

"Also to venue owners, do not let the additional revenue from musician tips drive down the base pay. Musicians really are not getting paid what they’re worth.This is an opportunity to help fix that without extracting more money from you. Don’t mess it up."

"To the bands, keep playing your hearts out. The reality is that none of us is entitled to anything. We need to earn it every day.We are in this weird and unique position where other people will do what we do for free, just for the fun of it. We just need to do it better."

"As for how musicians can better support each other, I'd say collaboration. I’ve done some co-writing/recording with other bands that has opened me up to some entirely new audiences."

"I don’t like expression “paying one’s dues’ because the inference is that you owe something to someone else. Unless you're some kind of prodigy with all the right connections, you need to work at your craft. Practice your instrument. Learn how to talk to and engage an audience from the stage (that’s hard!) Don’t suck and don’t write shitty songs and don’t listen to your family and friends - they are pre-disposed to like you."

 "In response to the question of whether local music is an 'old boy's club,' well, that’s a pretty loaded question for an old white guy. One thing I’ve really enjoyed in Tucson is how it’s so normal to see white folks and people of color playing together. It’s not as common in other places."

"I do think the women within my 'genre' deserve and get a tremendous amount of respect - although I will readily admit they they may experience obstacles that I would not see. That would be shame, because there’s a lot of really talented women playing here."

TS: Thanks for such thoughtful answers! Now, if you like, you can shamelessly self promote a bit. What's next up for you and the band?

ES: "We've got our ongoing third Wednesdays at Monterey Court, in its fourth year and counting, plus dates at La Cocina, Catalina Craft Pizza and more. Next year we’ll start recording our third CD and we also hope to get back out on the road and play Texas again soon. You can keep up with us at

Clinton Smith and Wrought Iron host the "Backyard Music Festival" this Saturday afternoon, September 7, at 3:30 p.m. at Chambaco Studios. Eric Schaffer and the Other Troublemakers play Monterey Court on Wednesday September 18 at 6:30 p.m.

Also happening this week...

The Tucson Garage Mafia are Everywhere Part II: Big In Japan

September begins with good news for fans of locals Lenguas Largas as the band teams up with Japanese garage power pop band Your Pest Band for a limited edition split vinyl release on Midtown Island Records. The record is currently available for preorder, shipping later this month, but for now you can check out the digital equivalent at

Rumor has it that the new Lenguas tracks mark a new direction for the band, though former band member Mark Beef has assured this reporter that they will sound nothing like the MC5. Touche, Beef, touche.

On a semi related note, the so called “Tucson Garage Mafia” (aka the friends and fans of Lenguas, the Resonars and Midtown Island Studio itself) will be sure to be out in force this Saturday night as Anchorbaby and the Gem Show play Che’s Lounge. Grab a navy t-shirt and join them out on the patio where the cool kids hang. If by cool kids you mean a bunch of regular folks swigging cheap beers and confessing their secret love of Rush.

Saturday Night Live

HoCo, shmoco! This Saturday night in Tucson Musiclandia is an unintentional music fest all its own.

Among the highlights? Well, first of all, there’s Clint Smith’s annual “Backyard Music Fest” at Chambaco Studios, as well as the aforementioned Che’s show.

Around the corner at Wooden Tooth Records, “Doom inspired” art show Into Ruin will be featuring rock and roll works of art from the likes of Ben Ervin, Matthew Mutterperl, Em Gowan and Alexsey Kashtely as well as live music by Kryge and Ugly - Doom inspired band names if ever there were.

Meanwhile, on the other end of 4th Avenue, M. Crane, the Rifle and the Copper Queens make some noise at Sky Bar, while on South Fourth Avenue, at Saint Charles Tavern, Gabi Montoya and her bands Juju Fontaine and Taco Sauce (along with friend Seanloui) throw a birthday party for the ages on behalf of band “momager” Kelly Cordova (Gabi’s mom.)

Across town at Blacklidge Community Collective, Pigmy Death Ray, BYOM and Sauced Up! rule the roost at a DIY show worth staying up for. 

Beyond all of the above, there are a few noteworthy touring bands at large this Saturday, which including a twisted look at the “magic kingdom” courtesy of Dirty Disney at Club Congress and a visit from Los Lobos with support from Tucson’s own Greyhound Soul.

Is Saturday the only good night in local music this week? By no means. It is, in fact, just the beginning. But it’s a damn good start.

If you want more details on the rest of this week’s offerings, you’re just gonna have to do a little scrolling to get to the good stuff.

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 Or message me on Facebook (juliejenningspatterson) or Instagram (@spitegeist).

*DIY/House Show - contact bands for details

Friday, Sept. 6

  • Leila Lopez w/ Brian Green - 6 p.m. Sand-Reckoner
  • Liver Down the River - 6 p.m. Monterey Court
  • Broken Romeo 30th Anniversary w/ the Early Black - 8 p.m. Club Congress
  • The Bennu, Legion of Mario -  8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Never say Never, the Ruin, Mopar Bentley, Headrust, the Pioneer, Fire By Rank, Sigils of Summoning - 6:30 p.m. Rialto Theatre
  •  Natty & The Sunset - 6 p.m. Saint Charles
  • M. Crane, the Rifle,  Copper Queens - 9 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Absinthe Beat Cats - 6 p.m. Dusty Monk
  • Oscar Fuentes - 9 p.m. La Cocina
  • Flying Half Full - 7 p.m. Thunder Canyon
  • Tribal Nations Tour: Hezron Clarke, Artson Brave Star, Yaiva Orion, Tonight's Sunshine - 8:30 p.m. Thunder Canyon
  • The Wanda Junes with Golden Boots - 8 p.m. Exo
  • Santa Pachita - 8 p.m. Boxyard
  • Hank Topless - 8 p.m. Hotel McCoy
  • Al Foul Two Man Band - 8 p.m. Westbound
  • LoveHateSexPain, Sideshow, Endless Pursuit - 8 p.m. House of Bards

Saturday, Sept. 7

  • Backyard Music Festival w/ Wrought Iron, Chris Graeber Band, Garret William Moore- 3:30 p.m. Chambaco Studios*
  • Spent Saints Series Launch w/ Dan Stuart, Chick Cashman and Kid Congo Powers - 7 p.m. Moca Tucson
  • Wendy and the Boys - 6 p.m. Monterey Court
  • Into Ruin II Art Show w/ Kryge, Ugly - 7 p.m. Wooden Tooth Records
  • Hatpin Duo - 6 p.m. Sand-Reckoner
  • Anchorbaby, Gem Show - 10 p.m. Che’s Lounge
  • CW Tubbs Band - 6 p.m. Hops Sports Grill
  • Dirty Disney - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Jerry Paper w/James World and Carnival - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Los Lobos w/ Greyhound Soul - 8 p.m. Rialto Theatre
  • Seanloui, Taco Sauce, Juju Fontaine - 8 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Hey Bucko - 8 p.m. Exo
  • Drop D - 7 p.m. Encore
  • Deacon and the Hired Guns - 8 p.m. Rockabilly Grill
  • Pigmy Death Ray, BYOM, Sauced Up! - 7:30 p.m. Blacklidge Community Collective*

Sunday, Sept. 8

  • Mik and the Funky Brunch - 12 p.m. La Cocina
  • Torche, Pinkish Black, SRSQ - 7:30 p.m. 191 Toole 
  • Natalie Pohanic - 7 p.m. Che’s Lounge Patio
  • Danika Holmes & Jeb Hart - 6 p.m. Monterey Court

Monday Sept. 9

  • Funky Bones - 9 p.m. Elliot’s on Congress

Tuesday, Sept. 10

  • Jess Wayne - 6:30 p.m. Monterey Court
  • Swim, Xochitl, F3Y, Water Signs - 7 p.m. The Ervice

Wednesday, Sept. 11

  • Louis Prima Jr and the Witnesses  - 7:30 p.m. Hotel Congress Plaza
  • Anna P.S. and Laura Joy - 6 p.m. Monterey Court
  • Befoulment, Putrid Temple, Shadows of Algol, Abhorrent Contagion, Despair - 7 p.m. Blacklidge Community Collective*

Thursday, Sept. 12

  • Joe Pena - 7:30 p.m. Hotel Congress Plaza
  • Method to the Madness, Open Mic Showcase - 6 p.m. House of Bards
  • The Artisanals - 7 p.m. Club Congress 
  • JP Sears, Shaun Murphy - 8 p.m. Rialto Theatre
  • Birds and Arrows -  8:30 p.m Tap & Bottle
  • Jeff Robb - 8 p.m. Arizona Beer House

Friday, Sept. 13

  • Big Grin - 6 p.m. Sand-Reckoner
  • Demonyms and Stripes - 8 p.m. Boxyard
  • El Tambó: La Misa Negra with Sonido Tambó - 10 p.m. Hotel Congress Plaza
  • Moontrax, Yip Deceiver, Future Scars, Jillian Bessett - 8 p.m. Club Congress 
  • Tucson Libertine League Presents Superstition! - 9 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Jenny and the Mexicats w/ Bang Data - 8 p.m. Rialto Theatre
  • Brian Lopez Vinyl Re-release show - 8 p.m. Exo
  • The Distortionists, Creeper Van, Drizzle - 8 p.m. Irene’s Holy Donuts


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