Saturday night specials

By Noah Lopez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 3, 1996

It's pretty rare for there to be even one quality music show on a Saturday night in Tucson. Actually it's pretty rare for there to be a quality show once a week in Tucson.

Until now. This Saturday night shapes up like a bizarre showcase of the diversity of musical interests present in this sleepy ol' college town, with a great show in store for anybody willing to take the effort to step out of the house.

America's most popular western musical and comedy group, Riders in the Sky, play Tucson for the first time since 1988 when it opens up the barn doors of the Berger Performing Arts Center Saturday night. The cowboy trio (Ranger Doug, Too Slim and Woody Paul) have a popular weekly show on National Public Radio, and have hosted a number of TV specials on the Nashville Network. Last year saw the trio bring its 16th album alive on Rounder Records, after the band's limited success on a few major labels. That album, Always Drink Upstream From the Herd, featured a return to the band's acoustic roots, and its live show should feature a wealth of Western classics ("Rawhide" and "Cattle Call"), wild yodeling, and strange and comical props. If you're a fan of old cowboy country, this is definitely a must-see show. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $20. For more information, call 327-4809.

Popular and Grammy award-winning reggae group The Itals also performs Saturday night, bringing its Carribean flavor to the Rock. The show is being presented by Papa Ranger (KFMA's Reggae DJ) and the Twelve Tribes Reggae Shop. The trio boasts great vocal harmonies to accompany its hard roots trio sound. The show gets underway around 9 p.m. with younger reggae artists Andrew Bees opening. Advance tickets are $8, available at Twelve Tribes Reggae Shop (620-1810).

Punk favorites The Weird Lovemakers cruise into Cafe Luna Loca Saturday night for a record release party for its "Irving" single. Rumor has it that the band is making plans for entering the studio again to start work on its debut album, and if "Irving" is any indication of things to come, Tucson could have a smash record on its hands. Local enigmas, the Bob Fanning Trio, will open the show a little after 9 p.m. Both of these bands are definitely worth checking out.

Finally, blues legend Taj Mahal hits the Rialto Theatre in support of his new album, Dancing the Blues. Mahal's gritty, grooving blues style encompasses many of America's native musical forms, ranging from soul to jazz to Robert Johnson styled blues. This $10 blues show starts at 9 p.m., and it would be hard to imagine a more important blues concert happening in Tucson this weekend.