You can't listen to more than 30 seconds of Sand Rubies' 1990 single "We Don't Do That Anymore" before it become obvious that the Gin Blossoms weren't the first Arizona band doing the jangle-pop thing.
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Tucson's Sand Rubies -- originally called The Side Winders before a North Carolina cover band sued them and forced the change -- have a long and sordid history, one I won't even try to scrape the surface of here. Let's just say Pearl Jam famously opened for them, and they acted like it. Want more backstory? Guitarist Rich Hopkins tells his side of the story in great detail here (or read a feature-style account here). The press release they sent us (on the jump) is over 1,000 words, if you can believe it.
Anyway, the band is celebrating it's 25th anniversary with a show at The Sail Inn in Tempe on Saturday, April 24.
Tucson's own Sand Rubies (a.k.a. Sidewinders) will be celebrating their 25th Anniversary with a show at SAIL INN BAR on April 24TH They will have special guests LOS GUYS opening the show.
The Sand Rubies who played under the name Sidewinders started up back in 1985 when Rich Hopkins asked David Slutes to record a demo at his house for his band, the Sidewinders. The only thing was Dave was not the singer...yet but with in a month or so that all changed and history was in the making with Rich, Dave, Andrea Curtis, Mike Monke, Ron Zastuary and some possessed guitarist by the name Dave Moskowitz.
Their first show was opening up for legendary desert rockers at that time, Naked Prey at Jack's which was down on Congress at the time (now an empty lot). The Sidewinders gigged extensively in Tucson from 1985-87 with some shows up in Phoenix and the occasional house party now and then with the band going through lead guitarist by the dozen.
Then a funny thing happened, David and Rich finally found their songwriting style and confidence and decided to drop the "lead guitarist" and had Rich move into that role which he has never let go of to this day. With David firmly set as the lead singer and playing guitar coupled with Rich's new found freedom as the "lead guitarist", the band reunited with Andrea Curtis(Ned Sutton and the Rabbits, The Phantom Limbs) who would play drums and sing and Scott Garber(Giant Sand), a seasoned veteran who really settled the band down(taught Rich how to count off a song 1,2,3 and) and gave them that much needed confidence that feeling that they were for real.
With a show in Austin at the legendary LIBERTY LUNCH thanks to Garber's connections, the band was in full swing writing material for their first full length album which came out on Hopkins' Sand Jacinto Records in Feb. 1988.
The band took off from there: Garber was replaced by Mark Perrodin who became "the Bassist" for the Sidewinders till 1993, Andrea Curtis eventually remarried and was replaced by Diane Padilla but not before the Sidewinders had gone on their first nat'l tour in the summer of 1988 and also playing drums and singing a song on the Sidewinders seminal WITCHDOCTOR album which would eventually be picked up by Mammoth Records and then picked by RCA/BMG in late 1988. The band was up and running with tours all over the country. It didn't hurt that WITCHDOCTOR had become a top 5 album at college radio and the band had a video on MTV. The band kept on touring (with bands like Drivin N' Cryin, Replacements, Charlie Sexton, Hoodoo Gurus to name a few) and kept up their writing and recording.
In 1990, the band switched drummers and Bruce Halper, a long time veteran of the Tucson music scene with Randy Orange Band and headed to LA to record AUNTIE RAMOS POOL HALL with veteran producer Eric Westfall(Giant Sand) which would end up being their last album for RCA. The band kept on touring nationally and did a video for "Doesn't Anyone Believe", landed a real manager, got sued by a cover band in North Carolina called Sidewinder, lost the law suit, had to change their name, got dropped off RCA, got a new record deal with an English label Ensign Records (Waterboys, Sinead O'Connor),changed their name to Sand Rubies, went to LA for three months and recorded a great new album which would be self titled with amazing producers like Waddy Wachtel, Larry Hirsch, David Briggs and Mike Campbell. The rhythm section of Mark Perrodin and Bruce Halper both quit for different reasons, the band lost yet another record deal but were eventually picked up by Polygram, the band regrouped with local boys, Tom Larkins, Nick Augustine and Dave Seger and set out to tour the US behind their new album Sand Rubies but after 6 months of touring, the band began to unravel and by summer 1993, Rich and Dave finally called it quits.
Well after a seemingly much needed break from each other, Dave and Rich got back together and realized through all their experiences and ups and downs, they still loved the band and wanted to give it another shot. So in 1996, they started writing again and came up with a really kick as album RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Bruce Halper was back on drums joined by Robin Johnson on bass, then Ken Andree from El Paso, Texas who would be Robin's permanent replacement and is still with us to this date.
The band never did realize the mega star commercial success like Tempe's Gin Blossoms but they are supremely grateful with their own successes and they were and still are the pride of Tucson following in the footsteps of their musical hero's who had paved the way like Green On Red, Giant Sand and Naked Prey. Since their reunion in 1996, the band experienced their fair share of ups and downs with in-band fighting but also made three more albums (RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, RELEASE THE HOUNDS AND their latest 2007's MAS CUCACHA), have toured twice in Europe and are still together and playing possibly better than they ever have. Why not? They have been there and done it and are playing because they love to play and know that their music is one of a kind. This band has survived more marriages than I care to count so 'C'MON PEOPLE AND LET'S CELBRATE' with Tucson's one and only Sand Rubies!
The band of Dave, Rich, Bruce, Ken and sometimes Winston Watson) is still playing today and will be celebrating their 25th Year anniversary with two shows, April 25 at the Sail Inn in Tempe and their Tucson show on April 30 at PLUSH. They will be playing songs from all their albums starting with their newest material from Mas Cuacha and ending up with material from 1988's CUACHA!, their first album ever. The band will also be selling a commemorative BEST OF THE SIDEWINDERS. SAND RUBIES 5 SONG CD BOX SET along with a book that will illustrates the band's history with photos and press clippings concentrating on their glory days from 1988-93.