A Solstice Celebration

November 25, 2013 |

Kate Becker, organizer of Christmas Carnivale, also performs the event with her band.
photo: Puspa Lohmeyer

“I think of that time of the year, the solstice, as a time to celebrate the year and send it off,” says songstress Kate Becker.

We’re sitting on the back porch of Kate’s Magik, Becker’s essential oils – blended with intent – business in Iron Horse Neighborhood, talking about Christmas Carnivále. Between bites of delectable roasted veggies and soul-infusing honey-sweetened hot tea, Becker shares some background along with the vision of the event and the musicians she has brought together for the Wednesday, Dec. 18 show at Club Congress.

“The format is based on shows I did in New York at Collective: Unconscious on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. I was just starting out, and I started putting together monthly shows with other artists – poets, dancers, performance artists… but mainly musicians, songwriters, cowboy poets.”

Becker, who hosted those shows from 1999-2001, further explains that the goal was to attract more audience members and share the audience, as “there is only so many people any one band or performer can bring out.

“I did that for a couple of years until I moved out here and then I did a listening series at The Hut every second Wednesday of the month. I did (a series) in Bisbee too, at Elmo’s and Hot Licks, so, it became a tradition.”

When the singer/lyricist moved to Tucson in 2002 (“after 9/11,” Becker explains), she was seeing a lot of live music, “hoping to share the stage with some of them someday.”

That time has come. When Becker approached Hotel Congress’ entertainment director David Slutes with the idea, he was supportive and had a date open. “And it came together – whoosh – like nothing,” she shares, smiling.

Becker chose the bands and musicians by inviting “people who meant a lot to me, and most of them said yes.” Along with The Kate Becker Band, the line-up includes: Al Perry, Annie Hawkins, Leila Lopez, Joe Peña, Stuart Oliver & The Desert Angels, Combo Westside, and Mariachi Luz De Luna with Salvador Duran.

A pared down version of Mariachi Luz De Luna performs at Christmas Carnivale.
photo: Dov Frazier/courtesy Mariachi Luz De Luna

With her warm brown eyes as bright as the afternoon sun, Kate shines as she recalls seeing Mariachi Luz de Luna performing with Calexico in the past at Club Congress, and recounts her pleasure of the group joining the show.

“When he (Ruben) said yes, it was exciting for me because they are the best mariachi group. To see Mariachi Luz de Luna in a club is rare these days.”

Becker does a brief roundup of a few of the artists she picked and why: “Al Perry represented the desert to me, I had never heard music like that before I came here. That’s going to be special; he will be playing the oud. Also really special is Annie Hawkins playing with a band, something she hasn’t done in a long time. And Joe Peña, of course, he’s the bomb.”

And swapping the slots in-between the 25 minute sets are performers Donna Khil and hip-hop beat poet, Brian Haskins (aka Suchamc). “Donna is going to be playing the accordion. That will add to the carnival feel!

“Every artist is doing at least one holiday song of their understanding, whatever that means for them. It should be very festive and celebratory!”

For a mere $5, fans of live local music really can’t go wrong with this Wednesday, Dec. 18 show. It runs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. with, in order of appearance: Al Perry, Annie Hawkins, Joe Peña, Leila Lopez, Stuart Oliver & The Desert Angels, The Kate Becker Band, Combo Westside, and Mariachi Luz de Luna with Salvador Duran. Visit HotelCongress.com/club for more info.