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Weekend music: Axing nostalgic part deux

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Weekend music: Axing nostalgic part deux

  • Romo's drums speak for themselves...
    Steven Yanez RomoRomo's drums speak for themselves...
  • Marta De Leon laying down tracks with Weekend Lovers
    Matt RendonMarta De Leon laying down tracks with Weekend Lovers
  • Chris Callahan's favorite Fenders
    Chris CallahanChris Callahan's favorite Fenders

Last week, a decent-sized contingent of the best rock musicians in town weighed in on their favorite instruments, amps and accessories, but those answers were, believe it or not,  just the tip of the iceberg. 

Your humble music columnist's social media query about local musicians and their trusty gear netted dozens of well thought out (and highly opinionated) answers. 

Gear love from femme musicians once again dominated, but, in the interest of fairness, we threw in some rock and roll dudes since we hear that guys sometimes also play rock and roll.

Without further ado, I bring you "Axing Nostalgic, Part Deux." Musician friends, what's your favorite gear? What are the best instruments or amps or sound equipment and such that you have ever had the honor of owning or playing?

Marta DeLeon (Weekend Lovers, Hannah Yeun, Desert Beats): "Bass amps: Sunns, Ampegs, Orange, Ashdowns, GKs. A nice Traynor head which usually is meant for guitars gives a beaut of a growl on bass." 

Maggie Golston (solo musician and former music columnist): My late-70s Guild D40. It’s special, and maybe haunted. The engineer I worked with on my record told me to stop using it live and only pull it out for recording. Deep tones.

Christopher Pierce (Jivin Scientists,Steff and the Articles, Lando Chill): “Rhonda, my beloved 1978 Fender Precision Bass in Antigua is my favorite. Over the past decade, she’s been all over the place with me - from 300,000+ attendee festivals to the crustiest house shows. Never played, or heard, another bass like it. I could be biased,though.”

Steven Yanez Romo (Asian Fred, The Electric Blankets, Jivin Scientists) Rather than answer verbally, Romo simply posted a pic of his current drum kit on the Cans Deli stage. See the photos accompanying this article in order to behold its majesty.

James Clement Few (The Paris Accord): “I like drum sets the best.”

Ah, drummers, men of such few words…

Dane Velasquez (Emotion Sickness): “My favorite piece of gear, in fact the only piece of gear I get truly emotional about and will *never* sell, is my Danelectro DC59.”

“My girlfriend-at-the-time (and all these years later still best friend) got it for me for our first Christmas together; she knew I wanted one because I idolized Corin Tucker from Sleater-Kinney. I felt silly giving her a sterling silver keepsake ring from Tiffany’s - I gave her sentimentality, she gave me inspiration.”

“More practically, the platonic ideal of guitar tone for me is a single-coil Fender guitar (right now I love my Mustang) into a Boss DD-3 (still haven’t found a better sounding digital delay, and I’ve tried almost *all* of them) into a clean-ish Fender amp (I’m on my second Hot Rod Deluxe).

So, I guess my dream setup would be, like, an even more expensive Mustang, into a DD-3, into a Blackface Deluxe Reverb? Except I’ve already tried that exact setup, and it wasn’t that much better.”

Wendy Trakes (Jen X and The Boomers - Phoenix,AZ):

 “I love my Shure Beta mic. Singing rock music with loud drums and having a higher/quieter voice than the male vocs rock drummers are used to required that I get a mic that will ignore the surrounding sound and, for the most part, only pick me up. Now I know you've heard me sing and I'm not "quiet" but female vocals are of a different register and pitch and for some reason they just fade away when one has a zealous drummer. Also, because we don't have a designated sound person for the band, I have had to adapt to be heard.”

Chad White (Still Life Telescope): “1997 Rickenbacher 370-12, Vox AC30CC2 amp, 2012 Gibson Moderne, buncha old pedals.”

Mike Panico (The Distortionists, Spunk Dolls): “First round: Mesa Boogie, Les Paul standard, no fucking pedals. Or, for surf, strat with fender twin, reverb turned all the way up.”

Justin Hill (The Endless Pursuit):”My Musicman bass is a work horse. Wouldn't trade it for anything. Gets dropped and abused and always stays in tune. Tone comes from my 1978 Ampeg V9 cab. This thing has seen war and keeps on making the show happen for me. 9x10 cabinet of pure power. Can't forget about my Sansamp. Simply put no bass player should be without one. I never turn mine off.”

Samantha Bounkea (Half-Broke Town, Sam and Dante): “BlueSky pedals for violin stuff - classy AF. Ernie Ball Delay Expression Pedal. Fishman Acoustic Amp!”

Mariah McCammond (Loveland, Hatpin Duo): "I second Jillian Bessett (see last week's column) on the Fishman acoustic amp! That thing kicks so much butt I can play next to Amy Munoz Mendoza and still be heard! All the way to '12' on that one!"

Jillian Bessett (Jillian and the Giants): "Amy Mendoz has no chill! Straight past 11."

Amy Munoz Mendoza (Strange Vacation, Loveland, Sugar Stains, Surfbroads): "I'm just passionate!"

Chris Callahan (Jillian and the Giants, Shrimp Chaperone): “A Fender Telecaster into a Fender Deluxe Reverb with a Tube Screamer based OD or an attenuator. My #1 and #2 are hanging out at Jeremy Michael Cashman's house. I love them because they are simple, wood and wires, planks. Everything that you coax out of them is yours.”

Anthony Rocco DiGrazia (Shit Knife): “My Seventies Bassman Ten sounds good with guitars, basses, keyboards, whatever. It might need a fuzz to get gnarly, but for basic no nonsense goodness and bulletproof reliability, this thing is tops.”

Isabella Rodriguez (Taco Sauce): “Way Huge Swollen Pickle Fuzz Box!”

Troy James Martin (Miller’s Planet):“My Fender Active Deluxe V Jazz Bass has given me the best tone I've ever gotten in my life. Running through a Fender Rumble 500 v3 helps; it has tremendous output, a four-band EQ, and a 2x10" cabinet with horn—but the best feature is it weighs only 35 lbs!”

If I had my 'druthers, I'd stick with the Rumble line, but get the outboard Rumble 200 v3 head, powering a separate 4x10" cabinet. I'd graduate to the Fender American Elite Jazz Bass, Fender Fretless Jazz Bass, add a Fender P/J (if I could find it in 5-string), and a Rickenbacker 4003SW. I'd run them all through a Darkglass Microtubes X7 preamp (along with my usual smorgasbord of effects).

Joyce Luna Zymeck : "I third the Fishman loudbox amp praise!”

“I have a Fishman loudbox mini acoustic amp that I use for smaller gigs where it's just me with the vocal mic and a guitar. I used to use it at Delectables all the time. I love it! It has a really great warm tone but that little amp puts out a lot of sound. And it has good EQ and effects options built-in.” 

“If I could afford one of the loudbox amps that are larger, I would totally go for it.” 

“I also have an LR Baggs venue preamp for my acoustic guitar. I like getting used gear through them, because I can take it back to a store if there's something wrong or I don't like it, rather than have to mail it back to whatever location from which it came.”

“In terms of the LR Baggs preamp, the tuner in it is not very accurate and I don't use it. But everything else is great. I particularly like the Boost function. I forget to use it half of the time still, but it's a helpful option to have for those of us who go back and forth a lot between strumming and finger-picking but don't have a sound person standing by to make sound level adjustments for us! Lots of acoustic players in Tucson and in general that I know use this particular preamp. It's good value for the price."

"I've also been thinking about getting one of the boss looping pedals but I'm a little afraid of it too! I don't even remember to use my Boost button half of the time on my preamp. Not sure I can stay in my left brain enough while I'm playing guitar and singing to use the looping pedal very effectively! But I'd like to try!"

Leila Lopez (Leila Lopez Band): ”I love my Fishman loud box amp! Super light weight, gets just loud enough, and has a super clean sound!”

Katie Haverly (Katie Haverly & The Aviary): "Agreed on Fishman Loudbox amp, Ive had mine for 10 years and it still is beautiful."

Clinton Smith: “My Danelectro dead on 67 baritone through my Bootlegger tube amp.”

Peter Gorritz (For Love or Absinthe, Velocity, October Intuition): “Favorite instruments currently are a Squier Vintage Modified Jazz 5 string bass & an Epiphone Sheraton 2 semi-hollow body guitar. Dream guitar is the Les Paul Custom 3 pickup black beauty with Bigsby that I’m playing in this photo. Not mine, sadly.”

Many of the bands mentioned play live this week around town. Check your local listing below for details!

Celebrating Harold Garland

If you've spent much time in the hallowed halls of Hotel Congress, or have been a local music fan for long, odds are a come across the tall, attractive gentle soul of a bartender who seemed to be old friends with everyone in town, and played in a few bands of his own, including legendary local funk/rap band Mankind.

That tall fellow was Harold Garland and he was well loved around these parts. Garland died last weekend after a brief bout with cancer, his passing coming right on the heels of Club Congress's memorial service for another fallen local musician, Gene Ruley.

Sadly, the venue once again must take a night to say farewell to one of Tucson's finest as those who loved and knew Harold gather to celebrate his life with music and hopefully just a tiny bit of well intentioned mayhem.

Celebrating Harold Garland takes place on the Club Congress stage at 9 p.m. Sunday night October 14, and will feature performances by Carbon Canyon, The Pork Torta and DJ Buttafly. Proceeds will go to Garland's memorial fund.

Strange Bedfellows(Amanda and Neil come to town)

When Dresden Dolls co-founder and "punk cabaret" performance artist Amanda Palmer met fantasy author and comics legend Neil Gaiman,  it was the beginning of a love story made in goth heaven. Gaiman wrote captions for her multiple "obituary" photos for Palmer's solo release "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?" Palmer, in turn, wrote an intro to a compilation of Gaiman's Sandman comics. Many albums, books, TED talks, indie films, cable dramas, tributes to dead rock legends, pop up ukelele concerts and other collaborations  (including three weddings and a baby) later, the John and Yoko of Geekdom are a fascinating pair, to say the least. Especially on the rare occasion when they happen to be in the same time zone as each other, which is rarer than one might think. 

Luckily for Tucson fans, the pair will be in town this week and scheduled to make an appearance at The Rialto - their only joint live appearance on American soil this year, before Palmer heads to London for a series of Dresden Dolls reunion dates. 

An Evening With Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman promises to be a night of  stories, readings, poetry, songs impromptu Q&As and general Palmer-Gaimanesque oddities. The show is sold out, but if you're lucky, you got your tickets early...or perhaps a friend will have saved you a seat. 

An Evening with Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman takes place at The Rialto Theatre this Thursday night, October 18 at 8 p.

Oh, Yoko...

Speaking of John and Yoko, last week marked what would have been John Lennon's 78th birthday and, like any good Beatle maniac, your intrepid local music columnist considers Lennon to be the only "right" answer to that cruelest of questions "who's your favorite Beatle?"

It seems like the past few weeks have been awash with Beatles nostalgia, starting with the recent solo release, and accompanying lighthearted T.V. appearances by Sir Paul McCartney, the upcoming White Album 50th anniversary box set, and more bittersweetly, the death earlier this month of legendary Abbey Road studio engineer Geoff Emerick.

With all that nostalgia afoot, and the state of the world being what it is, the timing couldn't be better to meditate on Lennon's legacy a bit, and the recently remastered edition of Imagine is as good a way as any to bask in the subversive vision of the weirdest of Beatles and his muse. 

Originally "imagined" as an extended length promo film for the song and album of the same name, Imagine was equal parts pre-MTV music video, surrealist home movie and early indie documentary and it was a film you either "got" or shook your head at in confusion. It was very much the vision of John and Yoko themselves, inviting you into their world and not caring very much if you understood it or not.

The film's recent re-release, currently available for pre-order online and making its way to theaters soon, features a fully remastered 7.1 Dolby Atmos soundtrack, track by track remastering of the film from the original negative and additional footage, including scenes of the couple hanging out with some of New York's other most beautiful freaks, such as Miles Davis, Andy Warhol, Fred Astaire and (of course) Dick Cavett.

The film itself is gorgeous to watch and stunning to listen to, and it remains every bit as subversive and surreal as John and Yoko themselves, two optimistic, militant peaceniks trying to make art as the ideals of the 60s gave way to Nixon and post hippie cycnism.

While the film hasn't yet made it Tucson, word on the street is that it will be screened soon at a local indie theater you just might know. In the meantime, you can learn more at the film's website:

In other news...

It's fall in the desert and that means it's festival time! Kick off this weekend with the 45th annual incarnation of Tucson's biggest local culture, food, music, and folklife festival Tucson Meet Yourself (or, as locals call it, "Tucson Eat Yourself") at Jacome Plaza Downtown this Friday through Sunday. The festival will feature dozens of food vendors, local traditional music, crafts, dance and art in the annual celebration of the many heritages of Tucson. 

Meanwhile, not far away at the "Beach" on 5th Street in Downtown Tucson, a new tradition emerges, with the first ever Call Of The Faeries, an all ages celebration of the Fae Folk this Saturday afternoon through evening. The event, a sister celebration to last August's Return of the Mermaids, will feature costumes, live music, dance, an "actual" unicorn and a lantern-light Fairy Parade. Event organizers Warehouse Arts Management Organization promise you a "fairy" good time.  

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 12

  • Songs I Wish I Wrote(Acoustic Happy Hour) - 5 p.m. House of Bards
  • Shinin’ the Law w/ Anna Benson - 6 p.m. House of Bards
  • Belinda Esquer - 6 p.m. Mercado San Augustin
  • Crushin’ It: Untold Stories from Hip-Hop’s Founding Days w/ DJ Rockin’ Rob &  Tony Tone - 6 p.m. Cans Deli
  • The Carnivaleros - 7 p.m. Johnny Gibson
  • The Scaramanga Six - 7:30 p.m. The Parish
  • J-Calvin & The Regulars - 8 p.m. Exo Roast
  • Too Much Information - 8 p.m. House of Bards
  • Dos Suenos - 8 p.m. Westbound
  • Oscar Fuentes & Mark Anthony Febbo - 6 p.m. Sand-Reckoner
  • Hank Topless - 9:30 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Quaker Folk, Sara Ruth, Polecat - District Eatz
  • Freedom 4 The Children w/ Santa Pachita, Diluvio - 7 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Max Mileage - 8 p.m. Crooked Tooth
  • Corridor Sixteen - 9 p.m. Bar Passe

Saturday, October 13

  • Call of the Faeries w/ BreakingGlass,Hatpin Duo - 3 p.m. The Beach Downtown
  • Call of the Faeries w/ For Love or Absinthe - 9:30 p.m. The Beach Downtown
  • Al Foul - 6 p.m. Mercado San Augustin
  • Birds and Arrows - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • DJ Spice Melange -8 p.m. Westbound 
  • Hesus Da God, Vision That Entertainment - 9 p.m. Bar Passe
  • Exbats, Feverfew - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Texas Trash, Gutter Town, Last Responders of Rock - 9 p.m. District Eatz
  • Street Blues Family, Tom Walbank - 5 p.m. Hotel McCoy
  • Greyhound Soul - 10 p.m. Che's Lounge
  • End Of Swan (CIVIllization fundraiser) - 7 p.m. House of Bards 
  • How Gelb (Rare and Spare) - 8 p.m. Exo Roast
  • The Fineline Revisited - 9 p.m. Surly Wench

Sunday, October 14

  • Funky Brunch w/ Hatpin Duo - 12 p.m. La Cocina
  • TENWEST Fuse - 4 p.m. La Cocina
  • Jillian and the Giants - 5 p.m. Public Brewhouse
  • Taconazo - 7 p.m. Exo Roast
  • Flint Eastwood - 7:30 p.m. Club Congress
  • Skeletonwitch, Dayak - 8 p.m. 191 Toole 
  • Kikagaku Moyo, Mute Swan, Hikikomori - 8 p.m. Cans Deli
  • Sutton Papanikolas - 7 p.m. Che's Lounge

Monday, October 15

  • Songs I Wish I Wrote(Acoustic Happy Hour) - 5 p.m. House of Bards
  • Open Mic Night - 7 p.m. House of Bards
  • Open Mic Comedy Night - 6:45 p.m. Surly Wench
  • Guerilla Toss, The Trees, The Frecks - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Open Mic Night - 7 p.m. House of Bards
  • I'm With Her - 7:30 p.m. Fox Theatre
  • Brew Haha Comedy Showcase - 8 p.m. Borderlands
  • Tuesday, October 16
  • JGT Jazz Super Jam - 7 p.m. Jazz Guild of Tucson

Tuesday, October 16

  • JGT Jazz Super Jam - 7 p.m. Jazz Guild of Tucson
  • For Love or Absinthe - 7 p.m. Royal Sun
  • Graham Nash - 7:30 p.m. Fox Theatre
  • The Gem Show, Collate, Dog College - 9 p.m.

Wednesday, October 17

  • Songs I Wish I Wrote(Acoustic Happy Hour) - 5 p.m. House of Bards
  • Magic at the Mortuary - 6 p.m. Owl’s Club 
  • Open Mic Night - 7 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Dos Suenos - 8 p.m. Public Brewhouse 

Thursday, October 18

  • Songs I Wish I Wrote(Acoustic Happy Hour) - 5 p.m. House of Bards
  • Kyklo - 7 p.m. Coronet
  • An Evening with Amanda Palmer & Neil Gaiman - 8 p.m. Rialto 
  • Billy Strings - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Dress to Depress Goth Night - 10 p.m. Owls Club 

Stay tuned next week for more music news and listings...including reviews of new music by Leigh Lesho and Asian Fred.


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