Tav Falco debuted his band, Panther Burns, four decades go in a Memphis cotton loft.
Up to 18 albums, Falco is returning to Arizona to support “Cabaret of Daggers,” an amalgamation of blues, jazz and cabaret.
“The last time we played Phoenix we played this historic little roadhouse,” he says. “The architecture of the place was very, very basic. Inside you could just feel the vibes of decades and decades of history. They treated us royally. It had a good feeling.”
The 40th anniversary jaunt—which comes to the Yucca Taproom on Wednesday, May 15, and the Orpheum in Tucson on Thursday, May 16—will feature music up to “Cabaret of Daggers.”
He says the show will have its “incendiary moments, romantic moments and it will have its sensual rhythm swamp and rhythm gradients.”
“It will also have a certain intellectual appeal,” he adds. “There should be something for everyone in there now. The genres we draw from are rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, tango, ballads and samba. These are the devices we use to create the undercurrents people in the audience can take home with them in a residual way or subliminal way. They won’t forget us.”
Falco moved from the United States to Paris to Austria, where he was offered a national radio show.
“Vienna is a music town,” he says. “There are some parallels to Memphis. Even though our contribution in Memphis is blues and jazz, rock ‘n’ roll came out of that.”
Even though he lives in Austria, he contends he’ll always be an American in Europe—not an Austrian. And, he stresses, he’s at the prime of his career.
“I am at the height of my powers,” he says. “I got a late start in life and it didn’t happen overnight. Now I can do what I intend to do on stage. The new album was very much a challenge. I walked into a studio in Rome and I knew without having rehearsed or playing it once I could sing the foremost protest song of all time, ‘Strange Fruit,’ by Billie Holliday, a song that almost wrecked her career. It’s a lynching ballad and it’s very meaningful today.”
Tav Falco w/special guests, Yucca Tap Room, 29 W. Southern Avenue, Tempe, 480.967.4777, yuccatap.com, 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, $12-$15.