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Emcees, CDs and THC



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We all know that musicians are way too healthy and well-adjusted to seek out medical marijuana cards, and would never have even considered smoking pot back when it was still illegal.

But that's all changed now. In the wake of legalization, a number of musicians and their fans have apparently begun experimenting with this exotic substance.

So don't be surprised if you detect a certain scent in the air at this coming Sunday's Speak Easy Vape Lounge show, where two emcees will be celebrating the release of their new CDs. Or, as the event's Facebook page puts it, "Prepare to have your minds and lungs blown."

Let's start with the mind-blowing part: Stoney Bertz, easily one of the best emcees in town, will be performing tracks from her brand-new sophomore CD, The Gift. She'll be co-headlining with producer/emcee Teqnik G, who's got an EP of his own for sale.

A follow-up to Bertz's Slight Smiles debut album, The Gift features a dozen original tracks, plus two that borrow their instrumental beds from Beanie Sigel's "Feel It in the Air" and Drake's "Pound Cake." Go to and check out "The Difference" to hear her conscious rhymes and flow: "Exodus, exit us / We might come back later / But that requires love / And a whole lot of favors."

"I recorded 'The Difference' some months back when I started working on this album," she says. "It kind of personifies the goal of the project. I'm focusing on the difference between the substance in hip-hop and the nonsense."

As for the lung-blowing boast, there are additional incentives for the so-inclined. According to Teqnik, anyone who buys a CD gets a bonus bong hit, two if you buy both.

Resident deejay Chris Diablo and emcees Dom Journey, Earsiq and Etch are also on the bill, which means it'll be worth showing up at 8 p.m. Or, you know, whenever it really gets started.

Meanwhile, if you've been missing Broken Spoke — the refined roots band led by singer-songwriter Tom Skora and jack-of-all-strings Josh DeSmidt — you can take some consolation in the group's final recordings, which were released just last week. Actually, the album is credited to Joy of Harm, the name the band was using when it recorded the five tracks at WaveLab Studio down in Tucson.

Granted, Joy of Harm may not have been the best name choice, but the songs, sound and performances are all pretty wonderful. Skora's lyrics are also as poignant as ever: "Sayonara, sayonara / I'm marching out of this town / Like a soldier or a failure / With eyes hung down."

It also doesn't hurt that the tracks were recorded by Craig Schumacher, who's produced Calexico, Amos Lee, KT Tunstall, Neko Case, Iron and Wine, M Ward and just about every other musician who's ever written forlorn songs while staring meaningfully across a barren desert landscape.

In addition to producing, Schumacher contributes backup vocals, keyboards, orchestra chimes, and the best analog rate attenuator you've ever heard. Calexico's Jacob Valenzuela also sits in with some mournful mariachi trumpet on "White Out Blues."

"We aren't going to be playing any shows," says DeSmidt, "but I really think that this is a project that could resonate with people."

Have a listen at, and you'll likely find yourself wishing the band had figured some way to stay together. It's definitely a quantum leap from their Broken Spoke albums and, if nothing else, a genuinely impressive farewell.

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