Live | ignite520’s Tucson Improv Movement + the ‘Superband’ @ 191 Toole

We have a saying here in Tucson that’s reverberated throughout much of our artistic community, and that’s to “Keep Tucson weird!” We may not be as big as Phoenix or as affluent as Scottsdale, but we make up for it in terms of moxie, as well as a real sense of individuality that pulsates throughout the heart of our dear city. Indicative of all of this was last night’s ignite520 showing at 191 Toole, an offbeat and hip local venue at the foot of downtown Tucson that has become a bastion for both touring artists and the regionally acclaimed.

Brought to us by Tucson Young Professionals in conjunction with the Rialto Foundation and Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA), the center of 2018’s ignite520 showcase may well have been the show these organizations funded at 191 Toole on this first full April weekend. The idea for the show was simple, yet effusive of our entire Tucson experience and what keeps our tickers ticking here in the Old Pueblo. We met a convergence of the arts with a full-on embrace as members of folk-rock duo Ryanhood (Ryan Green and Cameron Hood) and bluegrass ensemble Run Boy Run (Rebekah and Matt Rolland) took the stage alongside the Tucson Improv Movement.

The members of the Tucson Improv Movement are all about just what their organization’s name implies. They provide cutting-edge improvised comedy at its finest, with the movement themselves offering sketch comedy and improv classes to help refine their members’ expertise. Ryanhood and Run Boy Run are quite simply two of Tucson’s most well-loved bands, of note all throughout the world for their music. So, what do you get when these incredible, but undeniably different, class acts of the arts get together on the same stage?

You get one incredible night of music and comedy courtesy of ignite520. Following a performance from either Ryanhood, Rebekah and Matt, or a full-on superband combination of the four, the Tucson Improv Movement would take the stage to do what they do best. Their improv this evening would be centered around the stories surrounding the music played by our superband on stage prior to their performance, offering comedic spins and insight on the life and times of some of Arizona’s favorite musical artists. Whether they were hunting for chestnuts whilst getting caught up in the drama of their family bands’ inherent rivalries or getting mixed up over their long-distance musical connection through cassette tapes, they brought down the house when it came to even their most loosely-related improvisations.

Being totally off the cuff, improv comedy is notoriously known for high highs and low lows. With the Tucson Improv Movement this evening, however, they totally brought it and had a packed audience laughing constantly throughout their themed performances this evening. Ryanhood and the Rollands, of course, were as consummate as they ever were on the stage. They especially set it alight when they got together as a superband and really pushed themselves as a live quartet. For instance, Ryanhood’s Surrounding Dillinger theme song, ‘Welcome You Into My Head’, was given another blast of breakneck vitality with Rebekah and Matt incorporating their rad fiddling skills over a part that would usually be reserved for Ryan Green’s virtuosic mandolin.

All in all, this was a night that brought Tucson together in the most Tucson of ways, and everyone felt just as welcome and invited to the table. Special thanks goes out to Tucson Young Professionals, the Rialto Foundation, and SAACA for coordinating this event with the Tucson Improv Movement and our Ryanhood x Run Boy Run-flavored superband.

It should also be of note that visual artist Victor Navarro was there that evening not knowing what he was going to paint. By the end of the night, his live painting brought a series of gorgeous artworks to life that were reflective of 191 Toole and that evening’s performance. You can find out more about Victor and his artwork over at his official website.

For more information on any of these artists and organizations, please refer to the links spread-out above. Both Ryanhood and the Rollands will be playing next at the 2018 Tucson Folk Festival, which runs from May 5-6. You can see the festival’s full two-day schedule via their official website.

Words by: Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)