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Weekend music

Tucson sounds: Annie Jump Cannon fests econo, plus a Tucson DIY reunion (of sorts)

Once upon a time, Minutemen bassist and West Coast punk pioneer Mike Watt taught us how to “jam econo,” a frugal, DIY based philosophy towards touring, record making and live performing that meant cramming your band into a small used van instead of chartering a tour bus, crashing with friends (and friends of friends) instead of staying at hotels, playing gigs at house shows and small but friendly venues rather than aiming for trendy night clubs or arenas, and cultivating (or outright creating) small indie record labels with word of mouth fan bases over courting major label support. 

The econo way of life, in a nutshell, is about aiming to build a modest, and hopefully sustainable, living by doing what you love with and for like-minded travelers rather than trading control of your art and your way of living to the corporate music industry in exchange for a chance at the proverbial "big time."

Today, the newest crop of homegrown DIY musicians is reinventing the gospel of econo, some of them right here in Tucson. 

Case in point, local teen-band Annie Jump Cannon, whose emo influenced punk and high energy live shows are one of the cornerstones of Tucson’s youth-based DIY and house show scene. 

If “Living Room Fest” isn’t the econo answer to modern commecial music festivals, your friendly local music scribe does not know what is.

Tucson Sentinel: Introduce yourselves! Who is Annie Jump Cannon? 

Nick Swiniuch (lead guitar): "Annie Jump Cannon consists of myself, Nick, on lead guitar, Logan on bass, Jake on drums and Savannah, aka Sav, on vocals and rhythm guitar.”

TS: Where’d the band name come from? 

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NS: “Sav got the idea for the name from her Astronomy teacher, who thought Annie Jump Cannon sounded like a “cool” name for a band. The name originates from the late astronomer, Annie Jump Cannon, who played an important role in the discovery of stellar classification.”

TS: The Harvard Classification Scheme, I believe? Science! Back to the interview, though. How did you all fall in love with music? And how did you each find your instruments of choice?

Savannah Membrila (guitar, vocals): “I started playing when I was four and wanted to play drums. I would hit toy boxes with wooden spoons. I developed a deep love for music when I started learning songs on a little keyboard as I got older, at about the age of nine.” 

Logan Membrila (bass): “Since I was a child, I always knew I wanted to learn how to play the guitar. It wasn’t until my first rock concert when I found my passion for playing music in a band.”

NS: “My love for music started when I found out what a concept record was. Seeing the chance to develop a story sparked my love for music.”

Jake Cowen (drums): “Growing up with two other musicians completely opened the door for me. In middle school, I realized how much there was to learn about music which began to fuel the passion.”

TS: Who are your biggest musical influences and inspirations?

SM: “My choir teacher Mr. Vega, Tigers Jaw, and Neil Peart.”

NS: “Hot Mulligan, Steve Vai, and Billy Joel.”

LM: “Descendents, Violent Soho, the Wonder Years.” 

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JC: “Luke Holland, Donovan Melero from Hail the Sun, and older Mutemath.”

TS: What are some of your favorite local bands?

NS: “Some of our favorite local bands to play with include Pelt, Carnival, and Rough Draft. Whenever we get together with any of these bands it’s for sure to be a good show!” 

TS: What about local venues? Any favorites? And thoughts on the all ages and DIY scene in Tucson?

NS: “Some of our favorite venues would have to be Club Congress, because we sound great every time we play there, Spark Project Collective because they helped get us into the local music scene, 191 Toole because of how big the place is, and the Scheme because of the people involved and the purpose behind their movement.”

“ As far as the local scene goes, we feel the scene is very friendly and connected. We love how the entire art community can come together as a whole. From musicians, artists, photographers, and graphic designers, we all help each other out!”

“All the other musicians and bands we have met have been some of the most talented and down to earth people. We love to make friends with all the bands we play with.”

“The energy at local shows compares to nothing else. Diving off an old piano or couch onto a crowd in a sweaty room while screaming the lyrics to one of your favorite local bands — it’s a feeling you can’t get anywhere else.”

As far as the big picture goes, it seems like there can be a lot of narcissism, predatory behavior, and money hoarding. We feel like it’s extremely important to counteract these things with good energy and being open with your fellow artists and followers.”

TS: A lot of the musicians from Tucson’s youth oriented music scene have a ton of training and have been playing since a really young age. Others are self taught and learning through doing. Where does your band fall on that spectrum and what are your thoughts about it?

NJC: “ We are a mix of self-taught and formally-trained members. Those us of who have been self-taught have developed a unique sense of style and open mindedness. Still, you should never underestimate how much knowledge you can attain from just one music lesson.”

TS: What are some of the more interesting gigs you’ve played so far?

NS: “Living Room Fest last May was a show we hosted in our practice space/living room with some of our favorite Tucson bands. The point of Living Room Fest is to give back to the local music scene, and what better way to do so then putting together a 100% free show? This years lineup featured a total of six acts including one pre-show acoustic set, four full band performances, and an after-party DJ set.”

TS: So the idea is to make it a recurring event?

NS: “Yes! This wasn’t the first show we’ve hosted in our living room, we also host a Halloween show every October. We have big plans for our annual shows. Each year they get bigger and bigger, we have hopes to one day make Living Room Fest into a full scale production in a venue.”

“The Groundworks Fundraiser in June was a gig that we were really honored to be a part of. Logan Greene asked us to play the show and we’re so grateful for how supportive he’s been of our band ever since we met him. It was our first time playing a show at 191 Toole and the lineup was stacked! The Groundworks team did an amazing job of bringing all kinds of creativity into one room. The staff at 191 are very kind and helpful; the whole band feels that it was one of our most outstanding performances individually and as a whole.”

TS: Any plans to record or release music outside playing live shows?

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NS: “As of right now, we’re working on the release of our first EP, “the Worst Day,” which will be out before the end of 2019. “The Worst Day” is a concept we’ve been working on ever since the band was formed. The EP will feature five songs; some old, some newer. We’ve been working real hard to ensure the final product is something we love and we hope you love it too!”

TS: Sounds great. Until, then, though, when can folks catch you playing live? 

NS: “Upcoming shows include November 29th at Club Congress as apart of Emo Night, December 3rd with the Home Team and Crooked Teeth, and finally December 14th at Blacklidge Community Collective with Sad Dance Party, Rough Draft, and Logan & the Greenes.”

Annie Jump Cannon joins Signals, Taking Back Harambe, and Tucson Is The Reason for Is This Thing On? Emo Night at Club Congress on Friday, November 29, at 7 p.m.

A Reunion of Sorts

While the current, youth-led DIY scene mostly documents its gradually unfolding history with YouTube videos, Instagram posts and Facebook event pages, once upon a time, photo-copied show flyers and wheat paste were the “event invite” of choice, and posting pics of your friends’ bands on your “wall” meant literally duct taping cheap color photo prints to the drywall in your room.

Luckily, the close-knit groups of creative folks that form small local underground scene are often inclined to have a decent photographer or three among their ranks. Such was the case with Tucson's local underground, punk and indie rock scene circa the late 90s and early 2000s, centered around long gone but well loved venues like the Dowtown Performance Center and the Double Zero. 

While all those places, and many of the bands are gone, they are by no means forgotten and there's pictorial proof. Such is the premise behind local photo showcase and music event A Reunion of Sorts, which features a collection of photos from the late 90s and early 2000s taken by such as local turn-of-the-milennium Tucson DIY scene veterans Jared Mingus, Michelle Testa and Katie Rogers.

Katie Rogers: “So the idea was to have some bands play that had at least some members that used to be in other bands back in the day. And by back in the day I mean like 1998 through probably 2009. Tucson had quite an incredible scene back then with bands like the Blacks, the Knockout Pills, Swing Ding Amigos, Shark Pants, Foolscap Fire, Hobarts, Staircase Wit, F.A.N.N.S and others. We were all very close kind of like a little family of misfits who loathed the musical status quo and wanted to do something entirely different.”

“Music has always been important in the lives of Tucson’s youth. In our youth, and still ongoing, we have gathered at enough house parties and downtown venues to bestow a couple of days worth of ringing in our ears. Tinnitus was worth it!”

“Groups of friends singing, dancing, drinking, having the times of our lives while supporting each other’s bands. During these times, nothing else mattered in the moment. These photos are representations of the days of past and of the present. Friends, with strong, loving bonds, friends who have passed on, friends that are still willing to lose some sleep in support of one another, will be displayed in this exhibit.”

“Free Machines and Carbon Canyon are both comprised of members who were a part of our underground rock and roll scene from the late 90's to the mid 2000's. These bands represent the current incarnation of this powerful musical breeding ground birthed during that period."

A Reunion of Sorts with Free Machines, Carbon Canyon and photos by Michelle Testa, Katie Rogers and Jared Mingus takes place this Wednesday, November 27 at 191 Toole. Show starts at 8:30 p.m.

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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 arts@tucsonsentinel.com.

Friday, November 22

  • Naim's A Jazz Trio - 8 p.m. Exo
  • Tucson Libertine League Presents: Burlesque Battle Of The Bands: Sugar Stains vs. Miss Olivia & The Interlopers - 9p.m. 191 Toole
  • Big Freedia - 8 p.m.. Rialto
  • Sidewinders Witchdoctor 30th Anniversary - 7:30 p.m. Club Congress
  • Silver Cloud Express and Leila Lopez Band - 7 p.m. Crave Coffee Bar
  • 90’s Juggalo Jam w/ ILL V , Gilgamesh and more - 9 p.m. Irene’s Holy Donuts
  • Silent Movie Actress, Los Diablos Gordos, Cicada - 8 p.m. The Edge
  • The Unday, Gladhammer, Whiskey Knuckles - 9 p.m. Surly Wench
  • BTP & Friends, Dirty Magic Mike - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Wooden Tooth Vinyl Night - 6 p.m. Tucson Hop Shop
  • Determined Luddites - 7 p.m. Crooked Tooth
  • The Dead Writers - 7 p.m. Thunder Canyon Brewery
  • South Forty - 8 p.m. House of Bards
  • Belinda Esquer - 7 pm. Hotel McCoy
  • Diluvio - 8 p.m. Boxyard
  • Paul Jenkins - 8 p.m. Westbound

Saturday, November 23 

  • Anchorbaby & Very Paranoia - 9 p.m. Che’s Lounge
  • Gratitude Live at the Kat Club - 6 p.m. Kinteic Arts Tucson
  • Joyce Luna - 7 p.m. Caps and Corks
  • DJ Rx - 8 p.m. Downtown Clifton Red Light Lounge
  • Karaoke - 8 p.m. Hotel McCoy
  • Over the Rhine - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Mr. Skynyrd, the Jack, Drop D - 8 p.m. The Edge
  • The Section - 8 p.m. House of Bards
  • Smakksgiving: Wolfie, Skip Glitch,Cuddle Muffin,PhotoniX, Kool Arrow - 9 p.m. Irene’s Holy Donuts
  • Pocket Sand, Demonyms, Demons - 9 p.m. Sky Bar

Sunday, November 24

  • Century of Tucson Party - 12 p.m. Hotel Congress and Rialto
  • Mik and the Funky Brunch - 12 p.m. La Cocina
  • Kevin Pakulis - 2:30 p.m. Borderlands
  • Kids Open Mic - 4:30 p.m. Westbound
  • Last Sunday Revival - 5 p.m. Tap & Bottle
  • Moontrax & Vonnie Kyle - 6:30 p.m. Crooked Tooth

Monday, November 25

  • Turkey Jerky: A Thanksgiving Comedy Showcase - 7 p.m. Surly Wench
  • Divide and Dissolve, Muddle of Pud, Lairs - 7 p.m. Blacklidge Community Collective

Tuesday, November 26 

  • Pelt CD Release Party - 6 p.m. Club Congress

Wednesday, November 27

  • Mesquite, Los Diabólicos and DJENTRIFICATION - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Carnivaleros Trio - 7 p.m. Public Brewhouse
  • Joe Peña w/ Joe Novelli - 8 p.m. Tap & Bottle
  • A Reunion of Sorts w/ Free Machines, Carbon Canyon - 8:30 p.m. 191 Toole
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Adrian Suarez (@adrianintraining)

Annie Jump Cannon at Illegal Pete's in Tucson

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