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Local Music « Ted's Polish-Mexican Page

Michael Ronstadt

Categories: Local Music
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Published on: August 10, 2016

I heard this morning that Michael Ronstadt passed away. I didn’t know him well, but I had friends who played with him and I know many members of his family. He was always up for a chat after the show. He loved talking politics with me. If you are familiar with the last name but not familiar with his singing, here is a sample:

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

A Different Take on the Marine Hymn

Categories: Local Music, Old Pueblo
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Published on: September 29, 2014

One of the perks of my job is that I get invited to community events that I would have otherwise not even known about. This weekend, a group staged a Gathering of Native American Veterans. Entertainment was provided by the Tohono O’Odham Veterans band, a waila group led for years by Carl Cocido. I first saw them at Waila Festival twenty years ago, when they performed in fatigues.

They opened a lunchtime set with the Marine Corps Hymn. I wasn’t ready for them, but I managed to record a big chunk of it:

The room was more full than this would tell you. I was in a strange spot, so it looks like the bass player (not sure who, but in the past Carl’s band has featured Chuy Salcedo on bass) is hiding behind the stack. The smattering of marines in the audience stood at attention throughout, and you can hear them letting out a “Hoo-Ah!” at the end.

A man named Doug Juan gave a long talk about the work that needs to be done with Native American veterans. He grew up on the Gila River reservation, so Ira Hayes casts a big shadow for him. One of his stories was about the day the family down the road learned that their son Ira had died.

Juan hadn’t served in combat (he joined the Army in 1974), but has been very active with his fellow Native American veterans. He talked about meeting a man who served at Iwo Jima. The man’s unit also went up Mount Suribachi, but their job was to lay down wire. He had seen Hayes go up the hill. Juan said that the man regretted not being one of the marines that raised the flag. Juan told him: “You were there. That is something. You came home. That is something.”

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

For Jim

Categories: Local Music
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Published on: September 17, 2014

Jim Parks posted the lyrics to “Flashflood” on his Facebook page (before Odile fizzled) and said that he’d post an MP3 of the song when he got a chance. Well, I’m saving him the trouble:

You can thank me later, James.

It’s cool that I do this because Jim played bass on the song, right?

The lyrics:

FLASHFLOOD (Jeff Keenan)

Let’s go for a ride, shoot holes in the road signs
Get stuck in the sand beneath the darkening sky
We’ll gather some friends, pile into the car and then
a little trip somewhere with nothing to declare

The radio said there’s a storm watch out, a storm watch out, it said
Waiting for the flash flood out in this river bed

We think in cliches and pile up all these empty days
Already regret what hasn’t happened yet
We like to complain out here in the flood plain
And think maybe this is as good as it’s gonna get

Sealing off like poisoned wells the parts where the true feeling dwells
There behind the barricades, shots ran out and bottles fell

Caught like this in a flash flood
Swept away, these roots aren’t strong enough

The clouds loom large on the horizon, each new bottle that he cries in
Emptied, tossed into the river bed, busted up with these hunks of lead
You listen to the shots and the bottles shatter, you listen for months for something that matters
All this wasted ammunition, who’ll get the next round?

The radio said there’s a storm watch out, a storm watch out, it said
I wonder how they’ll find us out in this river bed

Caught like this in a flash flood
Swept away, these roots aren’t strong enough

Pimalteño Gathering

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Published on: September 2, 2014

Saturday was Big Jim Griffith’s annual party, dubbed the Pimalteño gathering. The food included some impressively sized prickly pear fruit. These things were the size of oranges. Good sized oranges.

Of course, the big reason why people go is music. There were three gatherings of musicians on various parts of the property, plus Tom Walbank by himself with his harmonica. I managed to get some video from two of the gatherings.

Outside, there was a cluster of folks playing a mix of cowboy flavored fiddle music and rancheras. I made the mistake of sitting near the grills. They had been cooking food on them all afternoon, but they were done by the time evening came around and I was there. Still, people thought I was some sort of grill attendant and wanted to know when they would be cooking again, or if I had any extra carne asada.

I don’t know the name of this song. The young fiddle player is the daughter of the older one.

Long time local character Bobby Benton with a take on the children’s song “Yo Tenia 10 Perritos” that he claims was “The way the sang it in Barrio Anita.” Note the final verse.

Other musicians in that circle include John Jensen and John Ronstadt.

John Ronstadt and Bobby Benton cooperated on “Cancíon Mixteca.”

I don’t know the name of this song.

Tom Walbank entertained the kids on Big Jim’s back porch.

Inside, Big Jim played banjo with several musicians. I didn’t stay long in there. Even with his sizable living room, the place was crowded.

Music this weekend

Categories: Local Music
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Published on: August 10, 2014

I caught Amy Muñoz Mendoza and Damon Barnaby in a low key set at Flycatcher on Saturday night. The first set was just the two of them, with Amy’s husband Ernie sitting behind the drum kit for the second set.

There was a crew from a whiskey company trying to give out shots while I was there. I think you can hear them on the video.

My friend and I wandered to La Cocina (after a stop off at D & D Pinball) and arrived just in time to catch a few songs from The Moonstruck Coyotes. Unfortunately, the picture I got of them was of very low quality, but suffice it to say the group was acoustic guitar, electric guitar and bass, with all three musicians in white cowboy hats, black shirts and jeans. The look tells you a wee bit: they did some traditional western songs with those harmonies you listen to that sort of music for, and then they veered into several 60’s standards, including “Stand By Me.” Talented and fun.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Jesús Acedo

Categories: Local Music
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Published on: March 5, 2013

Jesus AcedoI learned of the death of long time local musician Jesús Acedo yesterday.

Jesús is a familiar name for those of us who remember a Tucson scene pre-Calexico. His band, the Black Sun Ensemble was often incomprehensible. But it didn’t matter. You sat there and took it in, because after a while you’d realize how beautiful and brilliant what you were listening to was.

Jesús described his own music in one interview as “middle-eastern psychadelic rock.” You can believe that or just give it a listen.

The Black Sun Ensemble got written up in Rolling Stone and opened for Camper Van Beethoven on tour back in ’89.

That particular tour led to one of the more storied incidents in that period of Tucson rock when fellow ensembleer Odin Helgison was taken into custody along with one of Paul McCartney’s daughters.

Ah, the good old days.

Jesús dealt with mental illness for most of the last decades of his life. I don’t know how he passed away, but I can’t help wondering if it was related to the hurricane that raged in his head.

Rich Hopkins told me once that he burned tapes of a recording his band had completed because he thought they were possessed by demons. I’ve had friends who tell me that his brilliance was because of the illness, but I gotta wonder how often it got in the way too.

At one point, he took to calling himself Jesús Ángel de la Paz. Maybe now he’s found some of that peace.

About a year or two ago, I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch downtown. My friend cancelled. I was walking back to my car and saw Jesús. He said hi and wanted to tell me how good the donuts were at the place he was living. He wanted to know what I was doing.

“So, you missed lunch?”

He wandered off. I continued my walk. I was far away from my car, so he caught up to me. He gave me a donut. I can’t imagine the guy had very much at that point to be offering me food.

Some people talk about the mentally ill as having “troubled souls.” His soul seemed to be just fine.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Hopefully not the Last Dance

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Published on: October 31, 2012

Last Thursday, I went to see Ned Sutton and the Last Dance play over at the Boondocks. The Boondocks gets a bad rap from some folks for God knows what reason. Maybe it’s too working class for hipster tastes. Heck, I’d rather spend a couple of hours there than I ever would at the Buffet or even the Shelter.

Ned’s latest agglomeration is The Last Dance. I saw them play in the patio at La Cocina a few months ago. They were solid, but their song selection may have lost more than a few folks in that audience. What you had was Sutton and company playing a series of rather down Western songs (“Give my Love to Rose,” for example) to a group of folks who for the most part were waiting for whatever dubstep or trance that night’s DJ was going to play. Tucson audiences can be pretty forgiving, but a few up tempo songs would have engaged them better.

Well, down tempo wasn’t a problem on Thursday, with a few more high energy songs thrown in. My guitar teacher, John Jensen, is plays in the band and he told me that the addition of a drummer is what’s responsible for that. It seems to have worked.

I think their run at the Boondocks is over, we’ll see where they turn up next.

I saw an older gentleman with dancing with a woman out in front of the band at one point. After one song he comes over to me and says, “I’m 94 years old!”

A few minutes later, the woman tries to get him to go back out.

“No, that’s all right,” he said.

I found out later that the man is Ned Sutton’s father, and the woman is Ned’s wife.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Why I Ditched Club Crawl

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Published on: October 8, 2012

I’m a long time supporter of the local music scene. So long, in fact, I think I still have a broken drumstick from Phantom Limbs/River Roses drummer Splat.

(I use his one time nickname ’cause I can’t remember how to spell his actual last name)

I went to the first Club Crawl, and most of them over the next few years. In those days, if I remember right, you’d pay once to visit all the various participating venues, all of which were within a short walk.

By the way, not a fence in sight.

It was a great chance to check out bands you like while also having a chance to see acts you haven’t heard of. My first encounter with the New Orleans-style jazz band Crawdaddy-O was at a place on Fourth Avenue called Sweetwater (where the front bar of Plush is now). It was clearly a place not designed for live music, much less an ensemble that included a Souzaphone, but there was still that thrill of discovery.

My early experiences with Calexico, by the way, were at Club Crawl too.

In those days, it was actually a Club Crawl…you’d wander from bar to bar. It was really possible. You’d arrange meetings with friends with friends by saying things like, “Hey, Chango Malo is playing at Double Zero at 11…see you there.”

One time, my friend Eric lost track of me, so he wandered over to the Airport Lounge (anyone remember that place?) when the Phantom Limbs were playing (oddly enough with a line-up that included a saxophone player) ’cause he knew I’d be there.

Somewhere along the way, things changed. First change happened when the crowds made it harder to move from bar to bar. You’d hang at the Hut to see somebody, but you know the next band you like won’t be playing for hours. Well, you couldn’t leave without worrying that the place would be too crowded to let you back in.

Then came the outdoor stages. Not a bad thing at first. I still remember walking by a stage set up on Fifth and hearing then-Cattle drummer Julia Mueller scolding me from the stage for walking by when they were about to play. I didn’t even see them up there, honest.

The fences and the outdoor stages didn’t ruin everything at first. The crowds became bigger though. This isn’t a bad thing: people from all over town coming downtown and hearing music.

But, not long afterward it became all about selling beer. The beer vendors set up further and further from the stages. It’s became possible for people to go to the event, blow fifteen or twenty bucks on beer and never see a band.

That’s when it stopped being about the music. In fact, it’s hard to really enjoy the music at Club Crawl these days while making your way past crowds of drunks.

So I gave Club Crawl a hearty “no thanks” this year. Sorry to friends of mine that were playing. Just not my scene anymore.

I’ve heard Club Crawl and similar nights Downtown derisively called “amateur nights.” Friend of mine who was playing (I’ll leave her anonymous) sent me this text. Bear in mind, this is someone that was playing Club Crawl:

CC is lame. Bunches of strippers holding 6 inch heels walking barefoot on cigarette butts & shame.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Mighty Thor!

Categories: Comic Books, Local Music
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Published on: May 6, 2011

I was a die-hard Marvel fan growing up. Had the Mighty Marvel Marching Society not been discontinued the year before I was born, I would have gladly signed up. Even so, I was always ambivalent about Thor. Even as an eight year old, I found the Elizabethan English silly (for those who don’t know, Thor talks like Shakespeare’s rejected first drafts). Thor also seemed to be the comic of the older fans. As a pre-adolescent, it seemed every teenage or early adult Marvel fan I met seemed to really dig Thor. I didn’t see what the big deal was.

I was, however, a dedicated reader of the Avengers, so I had a bit of a loyalty to the character. The loyalty was not expressed by reading his own book though; I missed out on the whole Beta Ray Bill thing and all those trips to Asgard. Like the lingo, a bit too silly for me.

Will I see the movie? Probably not, but more because I don’t make a habit of going to movie theaters these days than some sort of value judgement on the film.

Wouldn’t it have made sense to debut the movie on a Thursday? Check the etymology.

There used to be a band in town called The Host. Their antics were rather infamous. The lead singer was named Odin. Of course, his son was named Thor. Thor started playing drums very young and named Peter “Splat” Catalonotte of the River Roses and Phanom Limbs as his biggest influence. My friend Tim claimed to have spotted the young Thor banging on something at an event proclaiming himself “Mighty Thor.” I saw a flyer for a show that the by then in his early 20’s Thor was putting on a few years ago. I didn’t go, but heard good reports.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Civic Pride

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Published on: March 11, 2011

KUAZ did a short story about the concert last night naming the big name acts that came down, but failed to mention Calexico played too.

KUAZ plays Calexico during it’s local drops, so you’d think they’ve heard of them.

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