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Tucson sounds: October fests, Silver Clouds and Sapphocracy

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Weekend music

Tucson sounds: October fests, Silver Clouds and Sapphocracy

  • Samantha Bounkea and Jeffrey Anderson of Sapphocracy work on the band's debut recording
    courtesy of the bandSamantha Bounkea and Jeffrey Anderson of Sapphocracy work on the band's debut recording
  • Sapphocracy's Erin Henderson
    courtesy of the bandSapphocracy's Erin Henderson

October fests

While the old-school record industry may not the profitable enterprise it once was, there are a few areas where it's still possibly for music industry execs to make a few bucks off a stable of artists. The most notable of these being the modern music festival, featuring a mix of established, name-brand artists, up-and-coming acts, and maybe some art installations, food trucks and other non-musical fare.

While many of the more commercialized "fests" leave a lot to be desired in terms of things like crowd size, affordability and variety of bands, much less inclusion of local acts, like it or loathe it, the trend seems to be here to stay: one of the rare facets of post-millenial-aimed marketing that seems to see value in live music as opposed to the ever-present DJ nights that cater to the upper-class college crowd. 

There is a silver lining in this all-or-nothing approach to live music events, however, as it opens up an opportunity for local music scenes such as our own to build our own fests and multi-band events. 

Cue the good old-fashioned tradition of the homegrown local benefit show.

Tucson Benefest

The newest such local fest, Tucson Benefest, takes place this Saturday at the Whistle Stop Depot on West 5th Street in Tucson's historic Dunbar Springs neighborhood.

Put together by Cirque Roots and Southwest Love Fest alum Joanna Lynne Smith, Tucson Benefest's maiden voyage benefits Planned Parenthood Arizona and will feature over two dozen live performances by solo artists and bands, all of whom include women, femme-identified or non-binary musicians in their lineups.

The event includes performances from Tucson's own Tonight's Sunshine, Mudpuppy, Moontrax, Rogue Violin/Sapphocracy, Little Cloud, Black Medicine, Weekend Lovers and Taco Sauce as well as solo performers Katie Haverly, Shelby Athouguia and Just Najima. Phoenix basd Jane N the Jungle and Fairy Bones are also part of the lineup, as well as Phoenix based DJ Michelle Sparks. 

Smith hopes to see the event grow into an annual tradition, partnering with local businesses and homegrown bands and artists to raise funds and awareness for a new beneficiary each year. 

Tucson Benefest 2019 takes place this Sunday, October 13, at Whistle Stop Depot, 127 W. 5th St.

Black Renaissance

When local musician and event organizer Louis Dumas, better known as Seanloui, first came to Tucson, he was struck by the creativity and vibrancy of our local music scene, but also by its relative whiteness. Thus began a quest to shine a spotlight on Tucson's most talented African American musicians, performers and artists, an effort that resulted in the recurring series of events known as Black Renaissance. This weekend, Dumas hosts what may be most interesting and interactive such showcase yet, Black Renaissance: Sounds of Melanin, a virtual reality presentation incorporating VR headsets, multimedia content and live music performances to tell the story of the black experience in Southern Arizona. Part of TENWEST Impact Festival, the ambitious event takes over the Hotel Congress Plaza this Friday night, and includes live music by Cash Lansky, Tere Fowler and Shekinah. 

Black Renaissance: Sounds of Melanin takes place this Friday night, October 11, at 7 p.m. on the Hotel Congress Plaza. The event is part of TENWEST Impact Festival, a conference on the future of cities and urban challenges held annually in Tucson. 

Tucson Meet Yourself

Tucson's oldest folk life and culture festival, Tucson Meet Yourself, is now in its 45th year. Begun by UA folklorist and anthropologist Big Jim Griffith, what began as a small local celebration of Tucson's ethnic diversity has evolved over the years into the three-day event known by locals as "Tucson Eat Yourself." In addition to countless food and craft booths representing a wide array of nationalities and cultural identities, the festival features multiple stages hosting back to back performances and presentations by traditional dancers and musicians representing a myriad of cultures that are part of Tucson's rich and complex urban heritage.

Tucson Meet Yourself takes place in and around Jacome Plaza in Downtown Tucson from 11 a.m. Friday, October 11, through 6 p.m. Sunday, October 13. 

Call of the Faeries

A faerie-themed world takes over Downtown's "Beach" this weekend. Live music and dance performances, games, vendors and crafts and visits from the fae folk are all part and parcel of the second annual Call to the Faeries, brought to you by the crew behind Return of the Mermaids. Rumor has it that a "real" unicorn will be standing by, eager for petting and attention by faerie children from all over Tucson. Faerie-themed costumes are highly encouraged at this family friendly event.

Call of the Faeries takes over "the Beach" at 55 N. 5th St. in Downtown Tucson on Saturday, October 12, beginning at 3 p.m. Hatpin Duo plays live music at the event, starting at 8 p.m.

Second Saturdays

October's edition of Second Saturdays is the cherry on the Downtown fest sundae this Saturday night with a lineup including the desert blues/alt rock of  Craig Green Band at 6 p.m. followed by Tucson psych rockers Silver Cloud Express at 7:30 p.m. and the soulful sounds of Miss Olivia and the Interlopers at 9 p.m.

Second Saturdays Downtown begins at 6 p.m. at the Scott Avenue main stage in Downtown Tucson.


Featuring an enviable transnational roster of bands from Mexico and the American Southwest, the first annual Razafest takes place this Sunday evening on the Hotel Congress Plaza.

Orkesta Mendoza, Mexican Institute of Sound, Vetusta Morla, Chetes (Mexrissey), Joey Burns (Calexico), Mesquite, Quetzal Guerrero, Marco Carrion and DJ Buttafly perform with an afterparty scheduled at R Bar.

Razafest 2019 begins at Hotel Congress Plaza on Sunday, October 13 at Hotel Congress.

Sapphocracy's Glass Bottle Heart

Local violinist Samantha Bounkeua aka "Rogue Violin" has always been a bit of a genre-hopper, contributing to rock bands, classical performances and folk/blues based rock with equal skill and finesse, but the Tucson string player's latest project may be their most interesting to date. Featuring Bounkea's former Half-Broketown bandmate Erin Henderson (Black Medicine) on vocals and Jeffrey Anthony on drums and synths, Sapphocracy combines folk, classical and rock elements with a modern, electronic pop sensibility, all centered around Bounkea's warm, organic string-based looping melodies and Henderson's strong, jazz soul vocals. 

Samantha Bounkea (Sapphocracy): "I'm pretty excited about this project, specifically because I just won the Arts Foundation grant to complete our forthcoming album which focuses on queer subculture. Our first track to be released, 'Glass Bottle Heart,' features a sample from a queer/trans poet in the local community and we used a queer female mastering engineer, San Francisco-based Piper Payne to finish the track. 

Sapphocracy and Rogue Violin perform this Sunday afternoon, October 13 at Whistle Stop Depot as part of Tucson Benefest.  Glass Bottle Heart was released this week and is available for streaming or purchase on Spotify, Panadora, Apple Music, Deezer, iTunes, and YouTube. 

Silver Cloud Express 

Also joining the new music release bandwagon this week, Silver Cloud Express just announced the release of the band's newest EP Postcards from Outer Space, available on bandcamp. Check out a taste of the new tracks in the sidebar of this week's column. You can also check out the band live this Saturday night as part of Second Saturdays Downtown. 

Silver Cloud Express plays the Scott Avenue main stage at Second Saturdays Downtown on Saturday, October 12, at 7:30 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

Friday, October 11

  • TENWEST Happy  Hour w/ PD Ronstadt - 4:30 p.m. Hotel Congress Plaza
  • TENWEST Black Renaissance w/ Cash Lansky, Tere Fowler, Shekinah - 7 p.m. Hotel Congress Plaza
  • Hatebreed - 7 p.m. Encore
  • Febbo Fuentes - 7 p.m. The Courtyard (Bisbee)
  • Truth - 7 p.m. Thunder Canyon
  • Hatebreed - 7 p.m. Encore
  • Febbo Fuentes - 7 p.m. The Courtyard (Bisbee)
  • Super Gay Party Machine - 8 p.m. Club Congress
  • Natalie Pohanic & the Sunset - 8 p.m. Crooked Tooth
  • Aaron Watson - 8 p.m. Rialto
  • Too Many Zooz, Thumpasaurus - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • The 44s, Black Cat Bones - 8 p.m. House of Bards
  • Big Grin - 8 p.m. Westbound
  • The Unday w/ Heroes Reunion - 9 p.m. Surly Wench
  • Still Life Telescope, Saint Augustine, Peppermint Hippo - 9 p.m. Irene's Holy Donuts
  • Sandy Delozier - 9 p.m. Sky Bar
  • El Tambo - 10 p.m. Club Congress

Saturday,  October 12

  • Call of the Faeries - 3 p.m. The Beach (55 N. 5th Ave) Downtown
  • Shinin' the Law - 4:30 p.m.House of Bards
  • Al Foul Trio - 6 p.m. Mercado San Agustin
  • Night Weather, Boygirlboy, Bogan Via - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Sonoran Dogs - 7 p.m. Hotel Congress Plaza
  • October Intuition - 7 p.m. 
  • Iron John's Brewing
  • Cass McCombs Band - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Tig Nataro - 8 p.m. Rialto
  • Lano EP Release w/ Olli Pop - 8 p.m. Exo
  • Miss Olivia and The Interlopers - 9 p.m. Second Saturday Main Stage
  • Exbats - 10 p.m. Che's Lounge
  • Con Sal y Limón - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern

Sunday, October 13

  • Mik and the Funky Brunch - 12 p.m. La Cocina
  • Tucson Benefest - 2:30 p.m. The Whistle Stop Depot
  • Raza Fest 2019 - 5 p.m. Hotel Congress
  • 2Lazy2 Ranch Band - 5 p.m. House of Bards
  • Hey, Bucko - 6:30 p.m. The Coronet
  • Sutton James - 6:30 p.m. Che’s Lounge
  • Billy Strings - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Tablao Flamenco - 8 p.m. Exo
  • Sofi Tukker - 8 p.m. Rialto

Monday, October 14

  • The Happy Fits - 7 p.m. Rialto
  • Sheer Terror, Thug Riot, Get A Grip, War Prison - 6 p.m. Club Congress
  • Mik and the Funky Brunch - 12 p.m. La Cocina
  • Tucson Benefest - 2:30 p.m. The Whistle Stop Depot
  • Raza Fest 2019 - 5 p.m. Hotel Congress
  • Hey, Bucko - 6:30 p.m. The Coronet
  • Sutton James - 6:30 p.m. Che’s Lounge

Tuesday, October 15

  • Theory of a Deadman - 8 p.m. Rialto
  • Tucson Votes For Sanctuary - 6 p.m. Exo
  • La Cerca,Bear Call,Tropical Beach - 9 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Man Man - 8 p.m. 191 Toole

Wednesday, October 16

  • Joseph - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Dusk Battle of the Bands:Sophia Rankin, Junk James, Nocturnal Theory, Stripes, & Zco - 7:30 p.m. Club Congress

Thursday, October 17

  • Violin Duos - 6 p.m. Agustin Kitchen
  • Jinx w/ Carnival, Evergreen, & Shutter Vision - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Open Tables - 8 p.m. Illegal Pete's
  • Noche De Víboras - 10 p.m. Surly Wench
  • Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Creature Canyon, Moontrax - 9 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Mesquite w/ Crab Birthday - 8:30 p.m. Tap and Bottle

Friday, October 18

  • The Peep Show - 6:30 p.m. Rialto
  • Desert Dweller Hardcore Fest (Multiple Bands) - 4 p.m. Global Justice Center
  • Oliver Ray w/ Whiskerman - 7 p.m Hotel Congress Plaza
  • Taco Sauce w/ Sur Block - 8 p.m. Club Congress
  • Woodenstock w/ Oblivians, DBUK, Lenguas Largas - 6 p.m. Wooden Tooth Records
  • Hip-Hop and Metal Memorial to Lil Peep - 6:30 p.m. Rialto
  • Roll Acosta and Jacob Acosta Band  - 8 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Belinda Esquer Duo - 8 p.m. Westbound
  • REVEAL:Tucson Libertine League - 9 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Ghostbusters Dance Party- 9 p.m. Surly Wench
  • Dry & Dusty w/ Freddy Parish - 8 p.m. Exo
  • Method to the Madness - 7 p.m. Thunder Canyon
  • Gilabyte, In Lessons, the Ohmlauts - 8 p.m. Irene's Holy Donuts


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