Punk rock, Hot Strings and good, clean educational entertainment

I leave you people alone for two weeks and you let a Starbucks sneak into town? That's alright - we'll beat them down with the rumor mill. Remember Taco Bell? I think you'll be hearing very soon about the Starbucks/Folgers/cat urine connection. My thanks to Liggett for picking up my slack a couple of weeks ago, and also to him and everyone who's had a kind word for me during my recent unpleasantness. And to my guardians at KSUT, who have still not fired me after two extended absences in one year. I really hope I don't get chicken pox. So people are good. But bad things do happen to good people too, and it's nice to have lots of extra ones around. Really, thank you everyone.

I'll get back into things with the highlight of the week. KDUR is one of those institutions in town that everyone seems to love, but like so many of us who toil in the non-profit world, they have to go begging for money every few weeks just to stay in existence. What a country. Of course, any one of us could whore ourselves out to corporate or government interests a la Rush Limbaugh or Armstrong Williams, but that just makes for really polished infomercials and takes all the fun out of free speech. And so KDUR continues to bring news and music that no one wants to pay for but shouldn't be without. God, this country really does suck. But it won't suck this Saturday night. One of the station's most popular fund-raisers returns as local musicians unite for Ramones Night at the Abbey Theatre. If you've never been to one of these cover night gigs, here's how it works. Lots of different bands or individuals rotate on and off the stage playing their version of a Ramones song. That's what makes it cool. Could be a rock band, then a solo acoustic type, then some bluegrass, maybe some metal (come on, Russ!) and it's usually a disaster. With the Ramones as the roastees this time, it should really be a disaster, which for our purposes means a smashing success. As an added bonus, the Abbey will screen "The End of the Century", a documentary on the New York-based punk godfathers. That shows on Friday night, then again Saturday at 8:30 to be followed by the music. Do plan to attend. And if you're a musician who for some reason is not on the slate, there's still plenty of time. It's the Ramones we're talking about, not the Boston Pops. Three or four chords and a sound check should get you ready.

I'm getting old. Don't laugh, that means you are too. I remember, and not too long ago at that, when the Pagosa Hot Strings were a kind of novelty in that a group of young children could play some very grown-up bluegrass. Now, the youngest is a senior in high school and the rest are in college. Wow. But age has only made them better, and if you don't believe me, check them out on Friday night at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College. I wouldn't say they're all grown up or anything so trite, but if nothing else, the performance has matured, and the Hot Strings are now being talked about with the best of the Newgrass crowd. Showtime is at 7 p.m., and tickets are really cheap - ten bucks to the public and even less if you still have a college ID like some of us.

Surely you noticed that "good, clean, educational entertainment" bit at the top of the page. After reading the description of the Super Scientific Circus, I'd say it's perfect for drunks and stoners, too. I always keep an eye out for the outré, bizarre and just plain stupid gems in the A&E treasure chest, and this one could be a hall of famer. The Super Scientific Circus "employs circus techniques, utilizing boomerangs, bubbles, beach balls, bullwhips and magic to introduce the principles of friction, inertia, centrifugal force, aerodynamics, sonic booms, air pressure and ultraviolet light to audiences." Bitchin'. And the ringmasters, if you will, are named Mr. Fish and Trent the Mime. It's a Sunday matinee at the Concert Hall, getting underway at 3 p.m. Matinees usually evoke visions of families and everything that connotes, so be a sport and leave your weed in the car. The most heartbreaking aspect of this scheduling, for me anyway, is that even the Super Scientific Circus can't compete with the Philadelphia Eagles' fourth consecutive attempt at a Super Bowl, so take pictures for me.

Whether I like it or not, next week's column will most likely be a Snowdown preview, but it's possible that the best event of the whole festival will take place on Wednesday night, before the new rag hits the newsstands. And so I exhort you to get your tickets early and attend the second annual Gong Show at the Abbey Theatre. If you don't remember the Gong Showon second thought, if you don't remember the Gong Show, I'd be surprised if you were reading this column and I probably don't want to talk to you anyway and I certainly don't want to spend an otherwise splendid evening wasting my Nipsy Russell jokes on you. For the rest of you, the good people, it will be an evening you won't forget, despite your best efforts. Some acts good, some not so good (but aren't they the best ones?) and some downright strange. There'll be three judges (Jamie Farr canceled, again!), and some idiot on stage doing an awful impersonation of the great Chuck Barris. Get your tickets at Magpies. Oh, and if you want to do an act, it's not too late and there are cash prizes, believe it or not. Call Jen at 259-0226 for info. Showtime is Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.

I need a tux, cheap. ted@ksut.org. Seriously, they can't lose four in a row, can they?




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