Evening at the Improv

A trio of local music virtuosos teams up for a special showcase

Last Call:The approaching end of the year means a final call for submissions for the annual New TimesMusic Showcase. This year's event, which will be held in mid-April, will have a somewhat different look and feel, though a similar format. Full details on the 2001 showcase are forthcoming.

Artists or bands interested in entering officially can send contact information, along with a CD, tape or Edison cylinder of their work, to Music Showcase, c/o New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix, AZ 85002.

Truck Stopped:As ardent fans of desert twang will have noticed, Valley alt-country torchbearers Truckers on Speed have been lying low for much of the fall and winter. This bit of inactivity is due in part to the arrival of a newborn son to bassist Theron Wall and to the band's preproduction work for its sophomore release.

Circle R, from top, Jamal Ruhe, Robin Vining and Jon Rauhouse, performs this week.
Circle R, from top, Jamal Ruhe, Robin Vining and Jon Rauhouse, performs this week.
Muddy Violets singer-songwriter Jason Longo goes Off His Rocker this week with the release of the group's debut disc.
Muddy Violets singer-songwriter Jason Longo goes Off His Rocker this week with the release of the group's debut disc.

The group -- which made its first appearance in a couple of months this past weekend, opening for the Peacemakers at the Bash on Ash -- released its debut, No Sense in Runnin', earlier this year. Recording at Mind's Eye Digital, with Larry Elyea, the group returned to the studio in August to lay down five new tracks (including the stellar "I-10") for a promo-only disc. The Truckers will continue to demo songs through January, at which point they will begin recording a follow-up in earnest. This time out, the band is set to go in with producer Clarke Rigsby (Revenants, Flathead) behind the boards at his Tempest Studios in Tempe. TOS expects to have its new album ready for release by mid-2001.

In the meantime, group front man Dave Wolfmeyer will begin performing some happy-hour acoustic sets at Tempe's Cannery Row. The Cannery, a onetime frat-boy haven turned humble beer den, has expanded both its hours and entertainment quotient -- as well as its already impressive selection of the finest in canned beers. In addition to its usual lineup of touring punk and trash rockers, the club has a Monday open-mike night and regular mid-week DJ sets, plus regular appearances by local talents like Uber Alice and the Tellers.

Wolfmeyer is scheduled to perform at the Cannery on Friday, December 29. Showtime is 6 p.m.

Violets Are Blue:Despite a revolving door of lineup changes and a couple of thwarted recording efforts, the Muddy Violets are finally set to surface on disc. However, the band's forthcoming debut, titled Off His Rocker, is actually an acoustic affair featuring singer-songwriter Jason Longo and guitarist Johnny Bala. This album will serve as a stopgap until the band's electric long-player is released sometime early next year.

What Rocker lacks in polish it certainly makes up for in intimacy; Longo's spoken intros and drawled exhortations lend a front-porch quality to the 10-song workout. Notable among the tracks are a couple of longtime Muddy Violet staples, "Boulder County Blues" and "12 Gauge Shotgun" -- numbers brimming with an all-too-real junkie pathos and Born to Lose fatalism. The stripped-down set also showcases Bala's guitarwork, which infuses the dark Americana with flourishes of twangy bounce throughout.

The group is scheduled to celebrate the release of the disc this Saturday, December 23, at Long Wong's on Mill Avenue. Tucson's Greyhound Soul will open the show. The Muddy Violets will also play Wong's on Christmas night, along with Dave Wolfmeyer. Showtime for both is 9 p.m. The disc will also be available at the group's new Web site (www.muddyviolets.com).

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