Rialto expects Rein

By Michael Petitti
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 13, 2005

Earlier this year, indie rock fans - present company included - found themselves absolutely giddy with the announcement that the minstrel of indie-folk Iron and Wine (aka Sam Beam) and Tucson's own, nationally renowned Southwestern indie rockers Calexico were working together.

In the Reins, the resulting EP, came out in September and reaped the fruit of their labors. Critics loved it, fans adored it and Joey Burns of Calexico said both decided a tour was essential.

"That was kind of one of the ideas that we expressed," Burns said. "Because we had so much fun recording the record it was always like, 'Yeah let's tour the States and then next year let's tour Europe as well.' So, it's kind of been an idea since the beginning, to tour."

The making of the EP, which was recorded in Tucson's WaveLab with head honcho Craig Schumaker, went remarkably well, with many local musicians making appearances.

"Most of the musicians (on the EP) are in Calexico," Burns said. "Then like Nick Luca works at the studio and has a band, Ryan who plays sax in a band called Sunday Afternoon, Craig Schumacher, of course he runs the studio."

However, as the recording progressed, Beam was influenced by Tucson's uniquely Southwestern music scene.

"Sam, the more he saw the possibilities of adding different instruments and involving the whole band (of Calexico), got more excited," Burns said. "He even got the idea to ask local musician Salvador Duran - who does a weekly night every Thursday in the lobby of Hotel Congress - to play."

Duran's contribution to the record comes on opener "He Lays in the Reins," where Duran startles listeners nearly two minutes in with his opera-tinged Spanish vocals.

The In the Reins tour is said to be influenced by Bob Dylan's infamous 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue. Much like Dylan's tour (which featured an incestuous mix of opening acts and special guests), both bands intend on having some treats city by city.

"We're trying to invite some guests," Burns said. "We're going to bring Salvador Duran on the road and we have friends in each city that we're going to call on and ask them to come out and perform some songs by themselves or we'll back them up. So, in Portland it'll be Matt Ward, it might be (The Shins') James Mercer in Seattle, maybe Richard Buckner in New York City, maybe Neko Case in Chicago or something."

Aside from indie A-listers, the tour hopes to boost a unique setup to symbolize the hodgepodge of bands, performers and influences.

"(Shows start with) a singer/songwriter guitar guy, or girl, and then Calexico and then that same singer/songwriter and then Iron and Wine and then Salvador Duran and then both bands combined," Burns said. "We'll each play a whole set and then we'll play the EP at the end of the night with maybe some additional cover songs or new songs. So, it's going to be a long night. I'm curious to see how the two different crowds mix."

The look onstage may also be a little homier thanks to artist Deborah Johnson. The band is trying for originality given the possibly short lifespan of the union.

"I think we're going to try and get (Johnson) - who we met on the Wilco tour - to come and do some projection. She does such beautiful work. When people come to the show we'll bring some lamps or something to signify something different, so people think, 'Wow this doesn't look like any other Iron and Wine or Calexico show.' We're just trying to make it something special and unique because it's kind of a one time deal, as far as we know."

To catch a festival of indie, folk and Southwestern music over the course of one evening, head over to the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., Saturday at 7 p.m. The all-ages show is $18 in advance and $20 the day of.