One Suburb has left the building, but another has returned.
One of the two main questions surrounding Saturday's Suburbs reunion gig at First Avenue is whether or not co-leader Beej Chaney would be back with the band for its tribute to guitarist Bruce Allen, who died in December. Chaney did not make Allen's funeral, and he was missing from the last 'Burbs gigs in 2006.
As of Monday, Beej was in town from Los Angeles and rehearsing with his old mates.
"We had a lot of fun," fellow singer Chan Poling reported afterward. "There's just a joy in playing those songs again."
That answers the other big question around the show: Whether or not a band famous for its fun, hard-driving, party-centric live shows would (or could) still muster up its old vibrant spirit for a gig with such a somber undertone. Allen, 54, helped anchor the quintet's rhythmic punch, and his style and humor helped define the Suburbs' personality. The '80s rockers failed to make a big national splash after signing with A&M Records but always remained wildly popular on the local front. No surprise, Saturday's show is sold out.
For this tribute, most of Allen's parts will be played by Steve Brantseg (Curtiss A, Bash & Pop), with Slim Dunlap also helping out. Look for the return of the 'Burbs horn section, too.
"This is still gonna be a loose thing -- it's not going to be a full-on power 'Burb show like from the days of yore," Poling said. "This is old friends getting together to honor and remember and celebrate a great, sweet guy, an inventive and tasty musician, and a part of our lives that we will never forget."
"Loose" was always a defining trait of the X-Boys, the garagey big band that Allen also played in with Suburbs drummer Hugo Klaers, Suicide Commandos guitarist Chris Osgood and other local vets. They're also reuniting for the show, as are the Commandos. As much as it'll be a musical fête, the concert is also sort of a high school reunion, since many of these musicians grew up with each other in the '70s around the Minnetonka area -- yeah, the suburbs.
"We really all have been good friends since we were about 13, so that adds another touching element to the show," said Osgood, who helped organize the event. Early in the week, he was sorting out how the gig money will be converted into an arts scholarship fund in Allen's honor.
Said Osgood, "These were all things that Bruce, in his final days, said he really would like to see us do in his honor."
Poling and Osgood agreed it also would've been Allen's wish for the tribute to truly be a celebration, and not some downer affair.
"It should be a great party," Poling said. "It sounds corny, but Bruce wouldn't want it any other way."Curfman, the new red rocker
A teenage blues-rock star signed by Clive Davis and Arista Records a decade ago, Shannon Curfman is now old enough to be a mom, and to have lived through enough battles to have something to scream and groan about.
She does a lot of that on her second of two rock-centric albums since she fell out of the major-label fast lane, "What You're Getting Into," which she's touting with a hometown release party Friday at the Fine Line (9 p.m., $15-$18). Her vocals on the cover version of Fleetwood Mac's pre-Stevie/Lindsey classic "Oh Well" sound as fiery red as her hair, as do some of her Pat Benatar-ish originals. But she also shows a more soulful side here and there, including a graceful cover of Clapton's "The Core."Random mix
Another cool scholarship fundraiser: Heiruspecs are playing their alma mater, St. Paul Central High School, on Feb. 25 to benefit students. Details at Heiruspecs.com. ... Heiruspecs' instrumental offshoot Big Trouble is pairing up with Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles and guest vocalists for a quirky Valentine's concert Saturday at the Cedar Cultural Center (7 p.m., $12-$15). The set list will be songs from hit romantic comedies. Pray that doesn't mean any Diane Warren tunes. ...
Last seen by most fans onstage at the Jayhawks' reunion for the Basilica Block Party, Tim O'Reagan returns to solo gigging with friends Wednesday at Red Stag Supperclub (10 p.m., free). ...
Don't expect God Johnson's Paul McCartney tribute Saturday night at the Cabooze to go too late: GJ leader Jason Fladager and Nicholas (the Feelin') Mrozinski are now co-hosting "Tunes and Toons" every Sunday at the Suburban World Theater, 3022 Hennepin Av. S., with classic cartoons from 9 to 11 a.m. followed by music until 2 p.m., all paired with the Uptown Bar's old brunch menu. ...
Sunday at the Cabooze sees the return of the 28th annual Battle of the Jug Bands, a not-just-for-fun blowout that's still always a hoot, with about 20 acts (12:30 p.m.-?). ... Speaking of old West Bank institutions, Spider John Koerner and Tony Glover will be back together Saturday at the Turf Club (9 p.m., $5). ...
A newer West Bank tradition, Dre Day returns to the Triple Rock on Thursday (9 p.m., $10). This year's tribute to the Chronic Doc will include performances by Träma, Carnage, Felipe (Los Nativos) a "halftime performance" by the Velvet Whips dance troupe and the ever-popular 40-ouncer drink specials.
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