“The Whole Enchilada” traces the story of Tucson rock from the ’70s through the ’90s | desert times

aIt turns out that the story of Tucson rock is filled with so many twists and characters that it cannot be summed up in one record – or even three, for that matter. “The Whole Enchilada: The History of Desert Rock” is a multimedia project that follows the music scene in Tucson from 1978 to 1994, featuring music and stories from those who lived it. “The Whole Enchilada” is a 3-LP compilation, accompanied by a book as well as a documentary. The entire project will be launched with live music, performances, and more at Hotel Congress on Saturday, April 16th.

The compilation traces the emergence of the desert rock scene in Tucson: that warm, lively, and sometimes borderline humorous mix that originated when punk rock collided with the music of Arizona cowboys. But every song in the group isn’t exactly a mix of desert rock. Across the three recordings, you can hear what the scene was like, from acoustic country music in the beginning to more new wave sounds of the ’80s to indie rock of the ’90s. But all this seems undoubtedly Tucson.

“It wasn’t originally going to be a 3-LP album, but when we got started on it, I realized there were a lot of good bands here,” said producer Rich Hopkins. “And I couldn’t even include all the bands I wanted. I had to let some people go, but what do I do? And the book is for if you’re going to listen to all these bands, you know better who they are and what they’ve been through, because Tucson has such a Wonderful history.”

Hopkins played guitar for several Tucson bands, including The Sidewinders (later Sand Rubies) and Rich Hopkins & the Luminarios. He’s been on multiple sets of Tucson music in the past, but never on that scale. He says he’s had the idea for years, and the pandemic has pushed him to action.

“We didn’t play and it was all up in the air, and it seemed like a good time to do something a little different. Especially because some people were getting older,” Hopkins said. “It just seemed like the right time.”

The group includes the likes of Howe Gelb, The Sidewinders, Chuck Wagon and the Wheels, River Roses, The Pedestrians, Dusty Chaps, and many more. While much of the music sounds like the Sonoran Desert, it also depicts the area, from lyrics about the beauty of the desert and specific Tucson sites, to a bust of cocaine in Hermosillo.

The songs range from reflective guitar-and-acoustic-only solos, to extended raucous jams that one might hear leaking from a dive bar somewhere off Broadway. Hopkins says the album years, 78 to 94, began by the time he became interested in live music in Tucson, and ended “because we had to wrap it up sometime.” It’s a love letter to many aspects of Tucson’s music, but perhaps more specifically, it’s a celebration of an era of desert villains not entirely captured. The set was released by Hopkins Records in San Jacinto.

Several of the group’s musicians also appeared in the adjacent documentary, which will be shown throughout the release run. Directed by Maggie Rowling Smith, the documentary “The Whole Enchilada” interviews Tucson musicians about the formation and trajectory of the sound of desert rock.

“We wanted to highlight bands that never really got off the Tucson scene, but were still pioneers in desert rock, that went on to influence a lot of other people,” Smith said. “Not much of this music has been heard outside of this region.”

According to Smith, much of the scene’s history is not well archived on the Internet. This made the documentary, the recordings, and the book all the more important, especially since some of the main characters died while putting together the project, such as musician Ned Sutton and Joe Thames, who owned the recording room on Fourth Avenue.

“It was really important to do that at this time, because there were a number of old guards who got sick or were on their last leg, so they could see another comeback of the music. And with that I realized we have to get archival footage of all these people,” he said. Smith. “I tried to do the old guard first, to get a feel for what the scene was like before the bad guys came along. Then how they saw the scene 10 years ago and 10 years later… Thankfully, there were people with good historical heads on their shoulders.”

The documentary, filmed throughout the pandemic, features one-on-one interviews as well as scenes in which former bandmates interact. Musicians such as Billy Seidelmayer, Dave Slots, and Susie Evans describe the music of the era, as well as the locations in Tucson that helped give birth to it. As Gelb describes in the documentary, downtown Tucson was basically a ghost town in those days, which turned out to be beneficial to some musicians.

“It definitely gave people a chance,” Hopkins said. Punk rock scene They had the chance to thrive because they could play in these difficult places and create their own scenery. There were opportunities for the bands to play, because it was kind of in the middle of a dead city.”

As part of collecting memories of the documentary, Smith also reached out to the “Remembering Tucson” Facebook group. She said there was a huge outpouring of support in the form of Tucson photos and stories in the 1970s and 1980s.

“Everyone I met had something so endearing about them. Whether they went around the world with their music, or they never left. There is something magical about this time period and scene that completely changed everyone involved. There was also a sense of gratitude for archiving it and taking it on,” Smith said. seriously. As a filmmaker, you don’t often have the kind of instant gratification where even before people saw it you were glad you interviewed them.”

When the documentary “The Whole Enchilada” screened at the Tucson Film and Music Festival, Smith said some of the attendees hadn’t seen each other in 30 years or more.

“There were tears,” Smith said. “It was a really rewarding project to be a part of.”

The book “The Whole Enchilada” serves as a kind of extended notes for the recordings. There are entire articles and photos dedicated to each band featuring their music. Oftentimes, articles are written in the musicians’ words, remembering the music, the desert cadre, the stifling garage shows, and plenty of unchanged street names. The book was edited by Brian Smith, a Tucson Weekly columnist.

The 70-page paperback begins with the lyrics of Tucson rock band Fish Karma’s 1992 song “Sunnyslope,” which serves as a kind of humorous recapitulation of the entire scene: “My generation grew up in the ’70s, but that didn’t stop us from imitating the youth culture of the ’60s.” devoid of any understanding or context.”

At the end of Memories and Pictures of the scene, the book aptly includes a memorial page for a musical avant-garde. A few of them passed away in the ’80s and ’90s, but most have been in the past 10 years, including many in 2021. It just shows that to capture the story and essence of Tucson rock, you may or may not have been now.

“Every city has its own flavor, and that’s the flavor of Tucson,” Hopkins said. “People went out there with a guitar and made some noise in the desert.”

Presentation of the launch of “The Whole Enchilada”

3 LP compilation and documentary book

Advantage of Casa Maria Soup Kitchen

At the Congress Hotel, 311 E. Congress Street

Saturday 16th April 3:30pm Doors / Show 4pm

$18 upfront / $20 on show day

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