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Thursday October 5, 2000

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Fall Crawl entertains Tucsonans with more than 70 musical acts

By Ian Caruth

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Bands and beers inaugurate autumn with annual music

In Tucson, fall is signified not by the melody of gentle songbirds flying south for the winter or the crisp staccato of fallen leaves crunching underfoot, but something way cooler - the sounds of scores of tattooed, pierced nihilists playing bone-crunching bar music.

One of Tucson's biggest music events of the year, Fall Crawl, descends on the Old Pueblo Saturday night. The sister event to spring's larger Club Crawl, Fall Crawl allows drinking-age music fans to catch 71 local and national acts on 20 stages for the cost of a wristband - $5 in advance or $10 at the entrance of any venue.

"Fall Crawl started as an offshoot of Club Crawl, because Club Crawl was so successful," said Jeb Schoonover, Rialto Theatre co-owner and Fall Crawl organizer. "It's the biggest night of the year for every business that's open past five (p.m.)."

With 15 venues showcasing about four or five bands each, the "Crawl" events allow up-and-coming local bands to share audiences and stages with more established musicians.

"I go to all the venues and give them a wish list, and say 'give me eight bands that you would like to see play at your place,'" Schoonover said. "I try to pick four of those. That way, they have a say. If they're picking the bands, they're familiar with them or they've played there.

"If there are bands out there wondering 'how do we get in,' my advice would be to develop a relationship with the clubs, send a demo tape out, get to know the owners," Schoonover added. "(Fall Crawl) is very good for the bands too, not just the bars."

The Crawls are the biggest exposure of the year for many bands. Thousands of people attend the event - so many that crowds at last spring's Club Crawl necessitated the closing of Congress Street.

"We're not closing the street this time," Schoonover said. "Fall Crawl is traditionally a smaller event than Club Crawl. For (last spring's) Club Crawl, we had about 11,000 people. We'll probably have anywhere from eight to 10 thousand (on Saturday)."

Attendees will not include anyone under 21, however. Because most of the venues are bars, all of the Fall Crawl venues will require valid proof of age.

"We've had very little support from the underage venues," Schoonover said. "They really didn't want to do it. We have tried (to have underage venues), and if we had seen success in the past, we would have - but nobody wanted to do it."

With so much live music, augmented with food and drink vendors, Fall Crawl is one of the best opportunities for Tucsonans to support their local music community, Schoonover said.

"It's been successful since 1998," Schoonover said. "This is a time when people should come out and celebrate."