ROCKY ROAD: I thought I'd play along with this week's summer extravaganza issue and write about something somewhat seasonal. (Actually, my esteemed editor "strongly suggested" I tackle something summer-oriented while brandishing a cattle prod and glowering ominously, but I digress.)

Should I share my lame list of the top 10 summer songs of all time, à la Hi-Fidelity? Or wax nostalgic about the best summer I ever had, 1990, the Summer of Love I reflect on every time I hear the first two Jane's Addiction albums? That would be lame and self-indulgent.

So I've combined two other traditional summer rituals--the road trip and the giant outdoor rock show--into a nice little informative package, a little mini-guide to the music most worthy of the over-priced gas up I-10 to Phoenix.

We're spoiled in a sense, living in the Old Pueblo. We don't have a giant shed auditorium where you shell out a king's ransom for an actual seat, or accept being cast out to the lawn ornament section, where insectine stars perform tiny instruments on an amphitheater stage far, far away.

All we get are moderately priced shows at mostly intimate venues. But Phoenix gets all the big 'uns that seem to pass us by, so it's in that spirit that I present the following.

If you just can't get enough of that new live Pink Floyd disc, you might want to check out a semi-rare performance from the mastermind behind the group's post-Syd Barrett and pre-sucking-ass phase. Roger Waters hits America West Arena at 8 p.m. Friday, June 16. This one loses points for not actually being outdoors, but rallies for its wallet-gauging $35 to $50 tickets. To reserve by phone, call 1-800-638-4253, or visit ETM.com.

Gloom-n-doomers Nine Inch Nails will attempt to bolster sales of their not-quite-flying-out-of-the-stores latest release, The Fragile (Nothing/Interscope), by taking their legendary live show to the stage of the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 4. Tickets are $29.50 and $42.50, available at ETM.com and by calling 1-800-638-4253.

Punk rock kids get the best bargain of all in this year's Vans Warped Tour 2000. For a mere $25 you get more than 25 bands, including Green Day, Jurassic 5, The Donnas, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the Lunachicks, MXPX, NOFX and Long Beach Dub Allstars. Sideshows galore include a demonstration by skateboard god Steve Caballero.

Gates open at 1 p.m., and the debauchery goes down at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 25, at Manzanita Speedway, 35th Avenue and Broadway. Call 1-480-503-5555 to purchase tickets by phone.

A similarly huge (though way pricey) alternative for headbangers is Ozzfest 2000. In addition to His Ozzness himself, you'll see more than 20 bands this year, including Pantera, Godsmack, Methods of Mayhem, P.O.D, Queens of the Stone Age and Ministry. The demonstration in heaviosity kicks off at 11 a.m. Wednesday, August 30, at Desert Sky Pavilion. Tickets range from--get ready for this--$32.25 to $62.25, and that's before Ticketmaster levies service charges. If you love your metal at any price, visit Ticketmaster.com, or call 1-480-784-4444.

Hopefully Scott Weiland will keep his veins clean enough to make it to Stone Temple Pilots' scheduled Valley appearance at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 13, at Mesa Amphitheater. Tickets are $24.75, available at all Dillard's outlets or 1-480-503-5555.

Line up the babysitter now, 'cause here's one for the parents: self-indulgent '70s prog-rockers Yes and Kansas team up for a trip down memory lane at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 25, at Desert Sky Pavilion. Tickets range from $10 to $35, available at Ticketmaster.com, and by calling 1-480-784-4444.

An alterna-radio-friendly lineup if ever there was one: Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters hit Desert Sky Pavilion along with Kool Keith at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 2. Tickets range from $26.80 to $37.50; dial 1-480-784-4444 or log on to Ticketmaster.com.

This is but a sampling of the largess that awaits just two-hours north, and don't forget: getting there is half the fun. Be safe.

BURLESQUE BACCHANAL: Longtime local clubgoers will fondly recall a period from 1995 to 1998, when Clif Taylor held a regular Wednesday night slot at Club Congress with his band, Chick Cashman and His Countrypolitans. (In street clothes, he's Clif; in drag, playing his singular brand of danceable instro-garage surf tunes, he's Chick.) The group essentially functioned as the house band for a modern-day burlesque revue, with audiences learning to expect the unexpected early on, be it drag performances, strippers, an abundance of guest musicians, the occasional out-of-towner (e.g. Jon Spencer), and a seemingly endless cache of truly oddball acts that split the difference between vaudevillian irreverence and sideshow curiosity--all in the name of entertainment both fabulously shocking and shockingly fabulous.

Three years later, Taylor threatens to throw one more giant shindig in homage to Wednesdays past to celebrate the upcoming marriage of Countrypolitans saxophonist Mr. Tidypaws, a.k.a. Jeff Grubick, to fiancée Debra Dale: a stag and doe party, if you will.

Cashman and the Countrypolitans are hanging up their spurs for good following this one-night extravaganza, which also features appearances by Al Foul, The BLTs, drag comedian Alotta Hormones, otherworldly folk singer The Space Ovary, lots of exotic dancers, and of course tons of assorted, sordid weirdos.

It's the end of Chick as we know him, and everything must go, including you. Don't miss it at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 24, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St.

The band will also peddle all sorts of cool stuff, including copies of the "long lost" Jim Waters-produced-plus-live-bonus-tracks CD we've heard about for years. Four bucks and a valid ID gets you in the door. Call 622-8848 with any burning questions.

LAST NOTES: There's lotsa good stuff this week.

"Zydeco Sweetheart" Rosie Ledet brings her saucy, soulful sound downtown for a Louisiana dance party at 8 p.m. Friday, May 19, at the International Arts Center, 516 N. Fifth Ave. Authentic Cajun cuisine will be served when the doors open at 6:30 p.m., with free Louisiana dance lessons at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $15, $14 for KXCI members, available at Hear's Music, Antigone Books and Zip's University. They'll cost $17 at the door. Call 297-9133 for information.

Wielding a smart blend of heaviness and psych-rock, Queens of the Stone Age (featuring ex-members of the legendary Kyuss) rock The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave., on Saturday, May 20. Doors open at 7 p.m., and opening bands are Eleven, PH8, Product B and Size 5. Advance tickets for this all-ages show are available for $10 at Zip's University, CD City, Strictly CDs, Ticketweb.com, and by calling 1-510-594-1400. For details, call The Rock at 629-9211.

Thank goodness the Calexico boys are in Europe right now; their former band, Friends of Dean Martinez, is playing its first Tucson gig after a less-than-amicable split after the outfit relocated to Austin, Texas, with pedal steel player Bill Elm at the helm. See what this onetime-local band has been up to for the past few years when they hit the stage of 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St., on Friday, May 19. Willis gets things started arout 9 p.m., and cover is $5. Questions? Call 670-9202.

Shows for blues fans include the dynamic duo of Smokin' Joe Kubeck and Bnois King, bringing honey-smooth Texas blues to Nimbus Brewery, 3850 E. 44th St., on Thursday, May 18. Big Galoot kicks the show off at 8:30 p.m., and admission is $7. Call 745-9175 for details.

Finally, Heather Hardy celebrates the release of her new CD, I Believe, with a show at 9 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at The Boondocks, 3306 N. First Ave. Show time is 9 p.m., and cover is $8, with a $1 discount for Tucson Blues Society members. Call 690-0991 for recorded info.


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