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Tucson sounds: Celebrating Tucson's vibe with Robin Hunn

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Tucson sounds: Celebrating Tucson's vibe with Robin Hunn

  • Tucson Vibe founder Robin Hunn shooting pool at the Buffet
    courtesy Robin Hunn via FacebookTucson Vibe founder Robin Hunn shooting pool at the Buffet
  • Natalie Pohanic at Tap & Bottle
    Robin HunnNatalie Pohanic at Tap & Bottle
  • Miss Olivia and the Interlopers at Sand-Reckoner
    Robin HunnMiss Olivia and the Interlopers at Sand-Reckoner

Tucson resident Robin Hunn knows great music when she hears it.

Hunn spent her childhood as a young drum prodigy, traveling with her family's touring band. As an adult, she settled in the musical oasis that is New Orleans, where she fell in love with that city's live rock and roll scene. 

More recently, this music enthusiast with the rich warm laugh and wild, Keith Richards-inspired aesthetic has made her home in Tucson; she delved deep into our local creative scene right away. Hunn's latest project aspires to share the story and soul of Tucson's local live music community beyond our dusty streets. The project, a CD with a companion photo book, is called "Tucson Vibe" and Hunn hopes it will be an ongoing series which will help raise the profile of Tucson's musicians and live music venues while raising some much-needed funds for musicians themselves. Tell us about the Tucson Vibe project. How did you get the idea for it and what do you envision?

Robin Hunn: "The Tucson Vibe is an initiative to help support the local live music scene in Tucson."

"It’s going to include a new compilation CD of 15 original songs by local musicians and a companion photography book showcasing both the musicians and the cool smaller venues in the Downtown Tucson and 4th Avenue area."

"As a long-time music lover, I wanted to create something that could help generate support for local musicians and also promote a broader awareness of the wonderful small music venues we have downtown. Kind of like 'building a bigger tip jar' where more people go out to see local live shows and support our incredibly talented musicians."

"Through the Kickstarter crowd funding campaign going on now we are trying to raise funds to pay the 15 musicians for their original song contribution to the CD and to pay for part of the costs of printing the book. Some people don’t know that the payment to a musician for streaming a song is very miniscule. Through the Kickstarter, what we will pay for each song would take over 50,000 streams on something like Spotify or another streaming service."

"The Tucson Vibe is a way for fans to directly help musicians up front for a great song and for musicians to get broader exposure through a diverse compilation CD."

"This is hopefully Volume One of a series if we are successful with this first one!"

TS: This isn't the first venture multimedia project you've managed, is it? What's your background as far as putting together something along these lines?

RH: "It’s not a small undertaking to work with 15 bands and 15 venues to make a book and CD but fortunately, I have a lot of experience in managing big projects, mostly in a variety of professional fields like health care and nonprofit work. And when I lived in New Orleans I made and produced three CDs of my own and a couple of companion books with those CDs, including one that highlighted small, out-of-the way venues that many folks at the time didn’t know about."

TS: Coming from the New Orleans music scene, what are your thoughts about Tucson's creative community? What is unique about here? Why do you love it?

RH: "I moved to Tucson from New Orleans in 2017 after I visited for a few days and just fell in love with the 'vibe' of downtown Tucson. The music, the architecture, the art, the walkability, and the friendliness of everyone I met. 

"New Orleans will always be unique and I go back a lot to see musician friends, but there is something special about Tucson. There is such a community of music and musicians here and at the smaller venues that will be highlighted in the book there is a feeling of intimacy between the musicians and the audience."

"Plus, it is clean and safe here. You can walk all over Downtown and 4th Avenue at any time of night and feel safe. You can’t do that in New Orleans anymore."

TS: How did you fall in love with rock and roll?

RH: "Listening to the Rolling Stones and, particularly, Keith Richards riffs as a child. Isn’t that how everyone fell in love with rock and roll?"

TS: Are you a musician yourself? How does your own past music experience color this effort?

RH: "When I was 10 years old my dad came home with a van load of instruments and said here are your drums, learn how to play. We had a honkytonk type band for the next six years and had gigs every weekend and I made enough money to put myself through college. Over the decades, I have always been aware that many working musicians don’t make much more per gig than what I made as a child drummer. That’s just wrong. There needs to be more awareness of how much musicians are paid and more support for their contributions to our community.

TS: Who will be featured in the first volume of Tucson Vibe?

RH: "I love so many bands and venues here and I’m out at the venues in the book every week! We are including 15 bands on Volume One as 15 is about the maximum number of songs you cantechnically fit on a CD. The diverse musicians on this first Volume include: Naim Amor, Birds and Arrows, Connie Brannock, Mark Anthony Febbo, Feverfew, Hank Topless, Mark Insley, Little Cloud, Leila Lopez, Amy Munoz and Strange Vacation, Miss Olivia and the Interlopers, Kevin Pakulis, Joe Peña, Natalie Pohanic, and Texas Trash and the Trainwrecks. There are so many more fabulous musicians in town.

"I wish we could fit everybody on Tucson Vibe: Volume One, but hopefully music lovers will make this a success so we can make another Volume."

"The venues featured so far for Volume One include Borderlands, Che’s, El Crisol Bar (otherwise known as Exo), Iron Johns, La Cocina, Public Brewhouse, Revel, Sand-Reckoner, Sky Bar, Tap and Bottle, the Buffet, and the Dusty Monk. We are waiting on confirmation from a few more."

TS: What can people do to help get this project off the ground?

RH: "We have a Kickstarter campaign going to pay the musicians for their song contribution to the CD and to pay for part of the costs of the printing of the book. There are some great rewards for contributing, such as a copy of the CD, or the book itself, depending on the contribution level. 

"It’s like pre-ordering, not just a donation. We are about halfway funded and the campaign ends on December 31, so there is a bit of urgency."

"In addition to the Kickstarter, I'll be putting in my own funds to help cover the rest of the book printing costs and the manufacture and mastering of the CD. Any profits from the project go 100 percent back to the musicians and (beyond that) towards more volumes."

"I really want to say thank you so much to the wonderful music lovers who have contributed so far! And thank you to the musicians who have announced the project at their gigs or shared it on Facebook."

TS: Favorite moments you've witnessed in Tucson live music?

RH: "One of my favorite things is the Great Cover Up every year. It really showcases the talent and diversity of our musicians in a creative way that also helps the community. I love seeing musicians do a genre they don’t normally play."

TS: Weirdest moments? 

RH: "Coming from New Orleans I’m pretty used to weird but I’ve been to a couple Bob Log shows and those are always entertaining!" 

TS: Most "Tucson-centric" live music experiences?

RH: "One of the things we are trying to do on The Tucson Vibe is to have very 'Tucson' songs on the CD. For example, Mark Insley’s song 'Tucson,' the first recording of Natalie Pohanic’s song 'Arizona,' Mark Febbo’s new song 'Urban Hollow,' Naim Amor’s song 'Tucson, AZ' and a new release of Kevin Pakulis’ song 'Yeah Yeah Yeah' all really give you a feel of Tucson."

TS: In your opinion, what can Tucson do to better support its music scene without losing what makes us special as a creative community?

RH: "I continue to be surprised at folks in Tucson who are not aware of the smaller venues downtown."

"To that end, there will be a map in the book to show the easy proximity and walkability of the venues and to encourage more folks to come out to live music which would help musicians and the venues to flourish. Musicians would get more tips, more people would buy their CDs and merchandise, and there would be increased demand for more live music.

"Hopefully, the Tucson Vibe project will raise awareness and result in broader support for the scene and put more money in the pockets of musicians."

"I think that can all be done while still keeping it special."

TS: How can folks help or just find out more about the Tucson Vibe project?

RH: "Go to the Tucson Vibe's Kickstarter page for more info. Folks can also email me at or message me on Facebook at Robin Hunn for more info or with any questions. The deadline for the Kickstarter is December 31 so check it out now if you can. Let’s give these musicians a nice holiday gift!"

Check your local listings...

Friday, December 20

  • Oscar Fuentes & Heather Hardy - 5 p.m. Westbound
  • Habitation Speakeasy - 6 p.m.  Habitation Realty
  • Miss Olivia & the Interlopers - 7 p.m. Sand-Reckoner
  • Super Gay Party Machine - 8 p.m. Club Congress
  • Dry and Dusty with Freddy Parish - 8 p.m. Exo
  • 12 Dead Legends - 8 p.m. House of Bards
  • Brew Haha Comedy Showcase - 8 p.m. Borderlands
  • A Night for Amy Benefit Showr - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • BTP & Friends Holiday Spectacular - 9 p.m.Sky Bar
  • 9:00 PM
  • The Disappearance - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Legion: A Dark Dance Experience - 9 p.m. Surly Wench
  • Club 90s Selena Dance Party - 9:30 p.m. Rialto

Saturday, December 21

  • Kevin Palkus Band - 10 p.m. Che’s
  • Not So Silent Night - 4 p.m. House of Bards
  • Winter Solstice Celebration - 6 p.m. Crooked Tooth
  • St. Andrew's Christmas Carolers - 6 p.m. Tap & Bottle
  • Dan & Ocean - 6 p.m.  Sand ReckonerAnnie & Stuart - 7 p.m.  La Cocina
  • The Appice Brothers with Blackfoot - 7 p.m. Encore Tucson
  • The Bennu w/ Legion of Mario - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Tradiciones - 8 p.m. Exo
  • Gabrielle Pietrangelo - 8 p.m. Club Congress
  • Die Hard 80's Dance Party - 9 p.m. Surly Wench Pub
  • Sonora Borealis - 9 p.m. Irene’s Holy Donuts

Sunday, December 22

  • Chesmas! Presented by Leila Lopez Band - 6 p.m. Che’s Lounge Patio
  • Saint Charles Tavern Holiday Spectacular - 5 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Winter Kickoff feat. Somniac, The Sinks, Alien Jacket, & more - 6 p.m. Club Congress
  • Black Heart Charity Show - 7 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Romo Tonight Live w/ the Pangs - 9 p.m. Thunder Canyon
  • After Dark - 9 p.m. Passe
  • SRS Deluxe ·10 p.m. Owls Club

Monday, December 23

  • Christmas Eve Eve Comedy Benefit Showcase · 7 p.m. Surly Wench Pub
  • Hans Hutchison w/ Mamma Coal - 7:30 p.m. Club Congress

Tuesday, December 24

  • Natalie Pohanic Christmas Eve Special - 5 p.m. Public Brewhouse
  • Christmas Eve with Joe Novelli and Joe Pena · 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Christmas Eve with Loveland - 8 p.m. Red Light Lounge at Downtown Clifton

Thursday, December 26

  • Rock n Racing - 6:30 PM · House of Bards
  • Deeper - 10 p.m. Passe
  • Opti Club: Not Here For Long - 10 p.m. Club CongressDec 26

Friday, December 27

  • Belinda Esquer Duo · 5 p.m. Westbound
  • Brian Lopez w/ the Senators - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Bang in the New Year - 7 p.m. Rialto
  • Naim's A Jazz Trio · 8 p.m. Exo
  • Sharkk Heartt - 8 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Testify: Rage Against the Machine Tribute · 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Funk Yo House 1st & Last Fridays - 9 p.m. Irene’s Donuts Tucson
  • What Really Happened - 9:30 p.m. Sky Bar

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

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