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Casa Maria Thanksgiving Benefit

Fri 22 Nov

Casa Maria Thanksgiving Benefit

Friday, November 22nd 8:00PM

Featuring: Brian Lopez, The Sand Rubies, Sugar Stains, & Tecnobanda La Picosa! (8pm, $7, 21+)
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Congress is hosting a great night of local music to benefit Tucson’s Casa Maria Catholic Worker Community, located at 401 East 26th Street Tucson, AZ, 85713. They have been providing food and clothing to the local community in need since 1981. The Casa Maria kitchen opens at 8:30 AM Monday-Friday, 365 days a year to hand out more than 600 bag lunches and groceries. Click here to learn more.

Live music by:


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It’s not enough to say of Tucson’s Brian Lopez that he is a young man of drive, discipline and vision, laudable as those qualities are, and how essential they are to success in almost every endeavor. Couple his estimable attributes with an artists sensibility and you really have something special, something to count on for the long haul. Brian Lopez is an artist, and with his album Ultra he has begun the real work of going inside himself to find out what he has to say to the world. And lo, it is good. Brian grew up in a typical American home. Parents married young, had several children and Brian was raised with more of an athletic upbringing than a musical one. Competition shaped Brian and gave him a “drive to win…to compete and excel”. As a child he was an aficionado of The Beatles. Learning to play their songs on a “crappy Fender Squier” Brian quickly started a band and became “one of the cool kids” because he could play any song requested. He played in several bands not worth naming, put himself through college on a classical performance guitar scholarship and graduated with a BA in Music. And while he could play with the jazz cats and jam with the classical guitar guys, his heart always loved rock n roll. Ultra is the product of Brian Lopez’s rock n roll heart. Yes, there are the Spanish language songs, and as all the best foreign language songs do, these transcend language barriers and move the spirit with the force of their feeling. But there is more, much more to behold on Ultra, and this reveals Lopez to be very much a product of his times, speaking to his times. There is also that underlying element of desert; listening to Ultra there is almost a palpable heat and wind. Leda Atomica, I Pray for Rain, and the stirring Red Blooded Rose (the latter being so well crafted lyrically, so evocative musically and so impassioned in it’s delivery as to make it an early contender for a career defining, trademark kind of song) are the kind of sit-up-and-take-notice songs that mark the emergence of a remarkably insightful songwriter rummaging around in his heart to speak directly and unambiguously of his youthful passions and conflicts alike. Couple these admirable songs to a voice that can transform, in the blink of an eye, from muscular and aggressive to vulnerable and aching, and Brian Lopez’s unusual and manifold gifts come into focus. The temptation looms, so deliciously, to go for it and call him “the Latin Jeff Buckley” but (a) Mr. Lopez doesn’t feel such a comparison is appropriate and (b) there may well be an alternative comparison more apt than the late, lamented Mr. Buckley. On Ultra (his first full-length solo effort), Brian’s infatuation with the sonics and atmospherics of Radiohead’s OK Computer is evident, as is his scrutiny of how Thom Yorke goes about making the personal public without losing either his dignity or his soul. Like Yorke, Lopez is a thoroughly modern young man who has deep roots in a certain traditionalism that enables him to get his points across much in the manner of a folk singer while presenting his findings in an undeniably modern setting. In Brian’s case, though, the music is a heady synthesis of brute force rock n roll (he does after all, lead a highly regarded three-piece band, Mostly Bears, that has won plaudits for their rousing live shows) and Beatles-like classicism (literally, in that his current band configuration for Ultra includes violin, cello, accordion, upright bass and lap steel) centered in rock, country, pop, and traditional folk all at once. (This is assuming that anyone reading this agrees on Rubber Soul being one of the founding documents of country’s mid-’80’s New Traditionalist movement – Rosanne Cash says so, why not you?). Even at this early stage in his career, he’s toured Europe with French chanteuse Marianne Dissard as her guitarist and backup vocalist. He’s played with Calexico, and recently he’s been touring with Howe Gelb and his band Giant Sand, who’ve helped to build the careers of artists such as M. Ward, Neko Case, Granddaddy and Scout Niblett. Ultra is the product of a long and winding music highway Brian Lopez has been traveling for years through some interesting byways of song and style, with more than a little personal growth occurring along the route. In his own words….


The Sand Rubies evolved from an Arizona group called the Sidewinders, an outfit that had already put out three albums with Rich Hopkins on guitar and David Slutes as vocalist. The name change came about because of legal difficulties, but they went on to ink a deal with Mammoth Records in 1988. A showcase followed in New York, resulting in a deal with RCA. Due to little promotional backing from RCA, the Sand Rubies moved on to Ensign/Chrysalis during the early 1990s. Unfortunately, when EMI took over Chrysalis, the band was left out in the cold. Soon the Sand Rubies again had a new deal, this time with Atlas/PolyGram. At one time, Pearl Jam was the band’s opening act. But the frustrations of continually having to find a new label tested band members resolve and resulted in tempers that were sometimes short. Infighting between Hopkins and Slutes led to even shakier times in 1993, and band members went their own ways. Three years later the two feuding musicians seemed to have buried the hatchet and they reunited with drummer Bruce Halper and bass player Mark Perrodin. Hopkins also has a solo career.


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Sugar Stains are an autonomous unit of chicks reared on pop culture and grunge. We like breakin’ shit and drinking jack n coke. We’re loud and unapologetic. We like to hold hands. We enjoy motorhead and neal diamond.

Tecnobanda La Picosa

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