Jazz Traveler

Argentinean jazz legend Gato Barbieri's constant search for new sounds goes on

Despite the self-deprecating barb, the Go-Go's were in surprisingly good form, both literally and musically. The rhythm section of Kathy Valentine and Gina Schock has only improved since the band's halcyon days (helped no doubt by the pair's tenure in the fem-blues band the Delphines). The musical and personal interplay between Carlisle and guitarist Jane Wiedlin was as entertaining as ever with the two taking playful shots at one another all night.

But the highlight of the evening (and I say this as an objective journalist and not as someone who's had a crush on her since I was in grade school) was the performance of lead guitarist Charlotte Caffey. The biting surf-punk tone that Caffey wrung from her Fender gave the songs a distinctive edge, while her choppy punk chords recalled the band's earliest roots.

Running through most of the obvious choices from their early-'80s catalogue, the group dug out a few rare nuggets, including the Wiedlin-penned "Fun With Ropes." But the crowd came to hear the hits, and they didn't go away disappointed. Rousing versions of "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "We Got the Beat" were played with more vitality and spark than a dozen '80s bands on a nostalgia trip could muster.

More than anything, the Go-Go's performance showed that they're still capable of crafting the kind of pure sonic confection that made them equally loved by mainstream audiences and pop diehards. As a fellow New Times contributor (and one who is much more jaded and cynical than I) commented, "There was a moment during 'Vacation' where it completely crystallized why I love pop music."

Christmas in July: Last week, United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona held its annual Merry Arizona search at the Celebrity Theatre. Glendale's Reigning Mercy came out on top as both the People's Choice Award winner and the Desert Star Contest winner. Swaying voters with its a cappella version of "Amazing Grace," the group beat out a diverse field of competitors that included Satellite front man Stephen Ashbrook.

As part of their victory, Reigning Mercy will have one of their songs included on the annual Merry Arizona CD, as well as a slot performing at the disc's record-release party. The Merry Arizona project has raised more than half a million dollars in the past four years to benefit UCP of Central Arizona. In addition to aiding those with cerebral palsy, the organization also serves children and adults with various disabilities.

Former Merry Arizona participants have included Charlie Daniels, Nils Lofgren and the Pistoleros, among others. The CD will be available beginning in November.

--Bob Mehr

Contact Bob Mehr at his online address: bmehr@newtimes.com

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