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NAKOTA BLUES: After a near sellout the last time it came through town, blues-rock band Indigenous has seen its star get only brighter. The last appearance saw it touring in support of its debut album, Things We Do (Pachyderm Records, 1998). That earned them three Top 25 rock radio hits, as well as the distinction of being the first Native American group to have a Top 10 rock single ("Now That You're Gone," which peaked at number eight on the charts). The family affair--the band consists of two brothers, a sister and a cousin--released the sophomore follow-up, Circle (Pachyderm) in May of this year and has been touring tirelessly to spread the gospel.

The members of Indigenous grew up in South Dakota on a Nakota reservation, where they learned the blues from listening to their father's records. Remarkably, all are self-taught musicians who are still in their 20s. But unlike other blues prodigies (Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd spring to mind), Indigenous' lead guitarist and singer-songwriter Mato Nanji doesn't feel the need to show off technically with lighning-fast blues scales, instead allowing his soulful guitar prowess and gruff voice to carry the material.

The band provides enough breathing room to allow for subtleties mostly unheard of among such young players, and Nanji's tone evokes that of Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy and especially Stevie Ray Vaughan. (Not coincidentally, Circles was produced by Texan Doyle Bramhall, best known for his collaborations with Vaughan.) Nanji and his fellow bandmates don't merely show promise, they have arrived as a fully formed package: the real deal, as they say.

Catch Indigenous at 8 p.m. on Thursday, September 21, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets were $15, so expect to pay a little more at the door. For more information call 798-3333.

PUNK SURVIVORS: Boasting ex-members of the Motards, Bulemics, and Secret Lovers (not to mention the former singer of '80s Tucson hardcore band Ice-9), Austin, Texas' The Richie Whites rumble into town this week. Their just-released seven-inch, Mark Penner Murdered Tyrone Childs (PeladoRecords), is a blissful little slab of vinyl that showcases their driving vintage punk sound, which recalls mid-'70s NYC vets like the New York Dolls.

They'll set up shop at 9 p.m. on Sunday, September 24, at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St., along with The Weird Lovemakers and Headgrenade. Cover is a paltry three bucks and you can call 670-9202 for further details.

SIX FEET OF CLAY: Clay Davidson purports to be a country outlaw in the tradition of Waylon Jennings or Merle Haggard, and he may well be. But his first mistake was letting the hacks in Nashville get ahold of him. Just as with most country acts that get played on the airwaves these days, the result--Davidson's debut album, Unconditional (Virgin)--sounds like it was churned out in cookie-cutter fashion, using all the same sound-alike session musicians that everybody else in Nashville uses, thereby rendering himself indistinguishable from all the other big-hatted guys. Note to Clay: If you really want to be an outlaw, then stay the hell away from Nashville.

But hey, if you're a fan of modern country radio then check out Clay Davidson when he appears at 8 p.m. on Sunday, September 24, at The New West, 4385 W. Ina Road. For detailed information call 744-7744.

HAT TRICK: Describing its sound as acoustic avant-chamber-jazz, San Francisco's Tin Hat Trio has just released its second album, Helium, on Angel Records. The instrumental album (save for a guest vocal from none other than Tom Waits on closer "Helium Reprise") touches on Gypsy jazz, traditional American folk music, tango, modern classical, French café music, delta blues, Viennese waltzes, and bluegrass in its surprisingly subtle approach.

Amazingly, nothing sounds out of place. Credit it to the players' pedigrees: Rob Burger, player of all things with keys (piano, organ, accordion, etc.), was schooled in classical piano at Juilliard and has since studied improvisation with the likes of Max Roach, Yusef Lateef and Archie Shepp. Violinist/violist Carla Kihlstedt's résumé boasts names like John Zorn, Mr. Bungle, and the aforementioned Waits. Mark Orton on guitar, dobro and banjo rounds out the trio, which has garnered rave reviews since its debut album was released last year.

Check out what all the fuss is about when Tin Hat Trio plays at 9 p.m. on Friday, September 22, at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. Local Gypsy jazz ensemble Molehill opens the show, and cover is $6. Call 884-0874 for more 411.

TRANCEBEAT? Trance master BT, best known for his collaboration with Tori Amos on "Blue Skies" from his disc Ima (Elektra) a few years back, has just released a new album. Movement In Still Life (EMD/Nettwerk) expands his sound from the dream-trance he's known for into all sorts of other avenues including breakbeat and even (gasp!) big beat. The platter also includes "Never Gonna Come Back Down," a collaboration with DJ Rap, which also features vocals from M. Doughty, singer from the late, lamented Soul Coughing.

BT will be performing in support of his new album when he takes the stage of the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, September 26. DJ Alex Ruiz will open the show, and advance tickets are available for $15 at The Sound Factory. For more info call 798-3333.

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