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REBELS WITH A CAUSE: "All laws which can be violated without doing anyone any injury are laughed at. Nay, they are so far from doing anything to control the desires and passions of men that, on the contrary, they direct and incite men's thoughts the more toward those very objects, for we always strive toward what is forbidden and desire the things we are not allowed to have. And men of leisure are never deficient in the ingenuity needed to enable them to outwit laws framed to regulate things which cannot be entirely forbidden." --Baruch Spinoza

This quote comes courtesy of the friendly folks at Radio Limbo, and is most appropriate to their existence. Since 1996, the non-licensed, micro-radio station--located at 103.3 on your FM dial every day from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.--has skirted FCC laws by changing the location of both its broadcasting headquarters and its transmitter (which was once confiscated by the feds). Why would an all-volunteer staff continue to put itself on the line, work its collective ass off to keep the station up and running, and be so tenacious in its efforts as to reappear after each setback it has faced? Did you bother to read the opening quote, dummy?

It seems the Limbo-ites are so convinced of their place in this community that they simply refuse to go away. And justly so. Without a doubt, the station provides a much-needed freewheeling approach to radio that has virtually died away as conglomerates have continually bought out commercial radio stations, thus making them virtually unrecognizable from same-formatted stations in other towns. With the exception of college radio and community stations (such as our own KXCI-FM, 91.3), real local radio has virtually vanished from the radar. And while KXCI certainly serves its demographic well, Limbo succeeds in filling those gaps left by a tightly run, professional-sounding community station. Plus the music is, nine times out of 10, more eclectic than anything you'll hear anywhere else on the dial.

Now, after a five-month absence (is that all it's been?), Radio Limbo is back on the air once again, ready to serve its hungry public, and offend them whenever possible. But even volunteer radio stations have costs to absorb, and it is to this end that the Third Annual Radio Limbo Benefit Party will be thrown this weekend.

Entertainment includes distorto-Delta-blues-on-meth dude Bob Log III; lounge-hell-escapees Bebe & Serge; organic hip-hop from Mankind (who stole the show at the Great Cover-Up with its set of N.W.A hits); the down 'n' dirty punk rock fury of Head Grenade; radical cheerleading courtesy of Las Sin Fronteras; Tucson Puppet Works; live DJs; a giveaway of a Bicas-donated bike; plus many more surprises.

It all goes down at 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 20, at the Mat Bevel Institute, 530 N. Stone Ave., and will run you a mere $5 donation. For more info check out www.radiolimbo.org, or e-mail limbo103@yahoo.com.


PONY EXPRESS: It seems the yearly musical lull brought on by the holiday season has finally dissipated, and we've finally got a busy week on our hands. So let's get right to it --

Call it small(er)-town pride, but nothing seems to make us Tucsonans more gleeful than when a cool show bypasses the greater Phoenix metro sprawl for our humble little burg. This week we're treated to one of the cooler metal bands in existence doing just that: The Deftones, whose newest release, White Pony (Warner Brothers), has just been re-released with a bonus track (I hate it when they do that!). The group will be in town tonight (Thursday, January 18) at 8 at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St.

Pony, which made many a critic's Top Ten list of last year, is a moodier affair than its previous efforts. Yes, it still rocks like a motherfucker, but there are some (relative) ballads on there, too. At a time when nu-metal bands seem to be in a competition to see who can rock harder (never mind actual songwriting), it's downright refreshing to see a band successfully pull back in the other direction. And it's just as cool that the fans seem to appreciate it--I've yet to hear a single fan call it a "sellout." Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.


CASE STUDY: With the members of Giant Sand and Calexico back in town from their seemingly perpetual tour schedules comes a host of local shows. Last week we were treated to not one, but two Giant Sand shows, and this week it's Calexico's turn. And while I realize that it's pretty unnecessary to spill any more ink on their behalf (if you don't know what to expect from a Calexico show by now, you have no business living in this town), I will gladly urge you to make it to the show early this time around in order to catch the out-of-town opener.

Like many an alt-country (whatever that is) artist, Neko Case forsook her rock band, Maow, a few years back (she played drums and sang) in order to step into the spotlight to front her new band, Neko Case and Her Boyfriends. That band has released a split single with the now-defunct Whiskeytown, along with two full-length albums on Bloodshot Records, the most recent being last year's Furnace Room Lullaby.

The lowdown: This lady's got pipes! From sultry crooners to hillbilly boogie, Case's voice always sounds at home in her material. And frankly, she's pretty easy on the eyes, too. The Dixie Chicks wish they had an ounce of her talent. Check out Calexico along with Neko Case and Her Boyfriends at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, January 23 at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. For more information call 884-0784.


DANCING IN CIRCLES: One of the brightest lights in the Tucson Irish music scene (sounds weird, huh?) over the last couple years has been Round the House, a four-piece that consists of multi-instrumentalist Dave Firestine (banjo, mandolin, cittern, guitar and vocals), Sharon Goldwasser (fiddle), Mike Smith (guitar) and Claire Jamieson Zucker (vocals and bodhran). The quartet has earned a substantial local following for its traditional treatment of both Celtic ballads and up-tempo jigs-n-reels, and those who have witnessed it live now have the chance to take the band home with them.

Before you get any ideas, I'm talking about the release party for the new CD, Keep This Coupon, this weekend, which also doubles as a benefit for the Bracken School of Irish Dance, Tucson's only Irish dance school. For the performance, Round the House will be joined by some of the school's dancers, performing both solo and group pieces. The show takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 20 at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Advance tickets are available for $12, with a $2 discount for In Concert! and TFTM members (kids 12 and under are $6), at Hear's Music, Antigone Books, The Folk Shop and Harp & Shamrock, or by phone at 327-4809. All tickets will be $2 more at the door.


LAST NOTES: Bentley's House of Coffee and Tea presents an evening of original acoustic music courtesy of singer/songwriters Nancy Lynn Bright and Hank Childers this weekend. Bright released a winsome collection of high and lonesome-style ballads last year on Orchestrate the Jubilee (Mother Bear). Check 'em out at 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 20. Bentley's is located at 1730 E. Speedway, and you can give them a call at 795-0338 for more information.

Support underground hip-hop when the Fantastic Four Tour, featuring The Micranots, Zion I, Foreign Legion and Boom Bap Project, drops into The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave., on Sunday, January 21. For more information call 629-9211.

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