Goin’ Back To Tucson
July 2003 (intro)
By Matt Brown
Last month I was sitting in a window seat on an Airbus looking down at the Catalina Mountains as I descended towards Tucson International Airport. Thirty-foot tall flames tore through thick plumes of smoke as the pine forests of Mount Lemmon burned down to blackened skeletons of trees and I was seriously questioning why the hell I was returning from my latest visit to Seattle.
Within a week, fortified by asthma medication and Negra Modelo, I was standing in the middle of a rowdy, adoring crowd at City Limits watching hometown boy Roger Clyne lead his Peacemakers through an intense, blues-soaked set as he downed shot after shot after (yeesh!) shot of Cuervo. It was a perfect, air-conditioned end to a miserably hot June day and it answered my question. I’m in Tucson, Arizona because Tucson loves music as much as I do.
About ninety minutes south of Phoenix and forty minutes north of the Mexican border, Tucson is a frontier town loaded with an embarrassment of cultural riches. Independent record stores galore, a community radio station equipped to record and broadcast unsigned local acts on the spot and an impressive array of live music venues are all packed into the Old Pueblo’s boundaries. The Supersuckers gestated here and the Supersuckers are (intermittently) the single greatest rock and roll band in the world. Just ask â€˜emâ€¦ they’ll tell you.
Now that the fires have finally been conquered and the annual “monsoons” are bringing their evening relief, I’m putting my energy into exposing the Southwest’s best/worst kept musical secret. Bands such as Giant Sand and Calexico are revered in England for their countrified â€œauthenticityâ€ and slide guitar mutant Bob Log III has found his way into many a hip vinyl collection, but relatively unknown groups like Camp Courageous, Chango Malo, Bandye and I Like Red are all components of a musical underground well worth your attention. In months to come, I’ll bring you interviews with the people involved with this scene as well as guides to the clubs, bars and all-ages spots where the music is played. In a worldwide desert of apathy, greed and downright crappy music, Tucson is an oasis full of the good stuff.