When psychobilly-punk band the Tombstones was signed to Relativity Records in the late '80s, front man Stevie Tombstone bought a headstone for blues legend Robert Johnson and personally delivered the slab to Mississippi. The press labeled his gesture "disrespectful behavior." Punk was crass and uncool in those days, and few people saw any correlation between punk and the blues. But the Tombstones made the unlikely marriage of punk and country work, and "both genres are thematically blues-based," says Tombstone.
After self-releasing two EPs of "swampabilly" swank, and playing gigs with the likes of the Circle Jerks, the Stray Cats, D.R.I., and Bad Brains, the Texas-based trio folded in the early '90s. But after surfing the Internet, Tombstone decided to re-form the band and rerelease the early EPs in a CD titled Twang From the Grave.
"I had fallen off the grid until I got back on the Web and saw all the people asking about the band," says Tombstone. "There's still an audience, and I thought that merited a national tour."
As part of that tour, the Tombstones play their first Phoenix show in more than a decade on Monday, September 12, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. The Wrongsiders, and the Numptys open. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $5. Call 602-265-4842. -- Niki D'Andrea
Check out Oscar bus
When Oscar Wilde wrote that "the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium," he could have been referring to the character of Alfie Byrne in Terrence McNally's musical A Man of No Importance, opening Friday, September 9, at Scottsdale's Desert Stages Theatre. Byrne is an Oscar Wilde-loving bus driver in 1960s Dublin who's directing a group of amateur actors in Wilde's controversial Salome. While the scandal surrounding the production lends a lot of drama to the show, director Jim Carmody gives kudos to our unlikely protagonist. "[Byrne] draws upon literature to deal with life's crises, and it's done in a very poignant manner," says Carmody. "This character loves literature and poetry and verse, and that's what sets him apart. Otherwise, he's just another middle-aged bus driver." Tickets for the open-ended production cost $20 to $25, with shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The theater is located at 4720 North Scottsdale Road. Call 480-483-1664 or visit www.desertstages.com. -- Niki D'Andrea
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Still life in the big city
Imagine a place in L.A. where gang members and dope pushers can't penetrate -- a playground where race and culture cease to fuel the fires of hatred. This real-life sanctuary was ASU graduate and playwright José Casas' inspiration for the hip-hop musical The Vine, opening at 8 p.m. Friday, September 9, at Phoenix College's John Paul Theatre, 1202 West Thomas, and continuing through September 25. In the play, Alex Torres, a fictional teen whose brother was killed in a drive-by shooting, is torn between a love of break-dancing and his desire to escape the urban streets. Casas' innovative writing style creates an urban feel by mixing traditional dialogue with break-dance and spoken-word poetry with music by Grandmaster Flash, and Zapp & Roger. Tickets cost $12 to $15. Call 602-258-1800. -- Wynter Holden
Sombrero kind of wonderful
Nothing says "Mexican" like mariachi music -- except maybe tequila. Chandler kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month on Saturday, September 10, with the annual Chandler Mariachi Festival at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue. The event is like a Hispanic version of Oktoberfest minus the beer and brats. Instead of Hefeweizen, there's Tecate. Instead of polka, there's mariachi: upbeat ensemble music featuring violin, guitar, trumpet and vocals, with members typically dressed in sequined charro suits and sombreros. The entertainment lineup includes vocalist Mercedes Castro accompanied by Mariachi Tierra del Sol, plus guest artists Mariachi los Arrieros from El Paso, Texas, heating up the stage with a blend of traditional ballads, popurris (medleys), and modern tunes like Son By Four's "A Puro Dolar." Showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25 to $30. Call 480-782-2680. -- Wynter Holden