Melanie Krahmer and Rich Libutti, the rock duo who play under the name Sirsy, learned a valuable lesson on their first tour through the American Southwest.

If you are driving a white, unmarked van loaded with instruments and equipment covered by a large silver tarp, there is a good chance the Border Patrol will have some questions for you.

The duo went through their first BP checkpoint en route from Roswell to Las Cruces, N.M., while on a phone interview with Caliente last week.

"They made us linger much longer than the cars ahead of us," Krahmer said after the stop. "We fared pretty well. They made us remove the tarp, but there were no strip searches and they let us go."

Krahmer and Libutti are experiencing all sorts of new things on their inaugural Southwest journey, a trend they hoped to continue here in Tucson.

What separates their gig at Plush Saturday, from the rest of the trip is that they will get to visit their label, the Tucson-based Funzalo Records, during their stay.

Funzalo's artist roster features a long list of local acts and regular visitors to town, which makes Sirsy, a twosome from Albany, N.Y., a unique addition to the lineup.

Funzalo president Michael J. Lembo discovered the band a few years ago through a lawyer friend from the East Coast.

Lembo appreciated that Krahmer and Libutti already had a strong fan base in the east and Midwest, thanks to a steady 250 dates-a-year touring schedule.

Creatively, Krahmer has "an amazing voice," Lembo said. "She is also a good drummer. It is really powerful. It's more noise on stage for two people than a lot of bands can create."

The label gave Sirsy the opportunity to up its game when it came to producing music.

The band's latest release, "Coming Into Frame" was the first project in which Krahmer and Libutti didn't do all the production work themselves.

Instead, the two worked with Paul Kolderie and Sean Slade, two of the co-founders of Boston's famed Fort Apache Studios and collective veterans of albums put out by The Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., Weezer, Uncle Tupelo and Radiohead.

Sirsy worked with Kolderie and Slade at Brunswick Recording Studio in Brunswick, N.Y.

"We were a little bit intimidated by their reputation," Krahmer said. "We felt like we were not going to measure up to all these great bands."

Those fears soon washed away.

"Their approach was to get the vibe of what Sirsy was about," Krahmer said. "To get the best version of Sirsy and capture it on record."

Krahmer said they enjoyed having that kind of power behind their album.

"They got better performances out of us than we could get out of ourselves," Krahmer said. "If you are your own judge, it is never good enough. You do too many takes and the life gets sucked out of the final product."

She added that the duo wouldn't have had that sort of production help without Funzalo.

"They are a smaller label, so we don't get lost in the shuffle amid larger artists," she said. "At the same time, Mike has some really amazing connections. It is the best of both worlds."

Krahmer and Libutti are eager to squeeze in a visit to the label while in Tucson, in addition to seeing the sights in Southern Arizona - even if that means another Border Patrol checkpoint or two.

"We've been trying to take in the local culture and personality of each town as we travel," Krahmer said.

if you go

• What: Sirsy in concert with The Tryst and Some of Them Are Old.

• When: 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: Plush, 340 E. Sixth St.

• Tickets: $5.

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at or 807-8430.