ZSA ZSA GALORE: That likely inbred family of Lotsaslavians, The Zsa Zsas, have a pair of dates cooked up this week for you, the indiscriminate listener. First up, the "greatest Eastern European cover band in Tucson" headlines the Halloween Monster Mash over at Hotel Congress, along with openers The Solace Brothers, while Flam Chen provides fire acrobatics in the parking lot. ('Cause that shit be flammable, y'know?) Additionally, there will be the requisite costume contest and the Congo's banquet room will become "The Room of Hauntedness" for the night. The Zsa Zsas will play two sets of songs you know and love/hate in their inimitable fake accents, and will accommodate your self-loathing tendencies by berating you at some point during the evening. Aaaahh--enjoy.

But the double-Z fun doesn't stop there. The following night, the boys return for the first-ever installment of The Zsa Zsas--The Game Show. Likely an attempt to heal the wounds inflicted by their controversial loss on VH1's short-lived Cover Wars (trust me--I was there and the fix was unquestionably in), the competition will feature such soon-to-be-loved segments as "Karaoke Live With The Zsa Zsas," "Stump The Zsa Zsas," and "The Wheel of Party Much," all of which rely on audience participation (that's you). This is probably the closest you'll ever get to playing on the Club Congress stage fer reals, so as Milos Sucrose might say, "You mus relish dees opportoonty to perform wit de Zsa Zsas. After all, we are beeg time stars, and you are just stoopeed leetle people."

The Halloween Monster Mash kicks off at 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 31, at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are available at the hotel desk for $10. They'll be $12 at the door.

The Zsa Zsas--The Game Show gets underway at 9 p.m. on Friday, November 1, also at Club Congress. Admission is $5. For more information on either call 622-8848.

TUBA OF TERROR: Don't let the fact that Drums and Tuba is on Ani Difranco's label fool you--there'll be no ham-fisted rants about gender politics and no "funky acoustic guitar action" present when the band appears as headliners of Plush's Black Ball on Halloween night. And don't let the fact that the band is a trio of liars get to ya neither--it's got drums, tuba, and guitar (and no vocals). As for what genre these Austinites mine, they don't need no stinking genre. Instead, D&T pretty much invented its own, incorporating quirky Primus-esque prog-funk, sneaky spy motifs, fictitious '70s cop-show themes, and a sinister sense of drama. It's pretty challenging stuff to listen to and extremely entertaining to watch being created.

Of similar mind and even tougher to peg is San Francisco's That 1 Guy, aka Mike Silverman, who has fashioned his "magic pipe" into the sole instrument--OK, so he has a kick drum, too--of his one-man-band act. Made of galvanized steel pipes, a single string, and a bunch of other gizmos, the "magic pipe" recalls the clang and clatter of the found percussion sounds of latter-day Tom Waits, with a distinctly funkier edge. And Silverman's got a distinct brand of lyrical whimsy to accompany his musical one, too. Again, must be seen to really "get" it.

The Black Ball, which also features a Halloween costume contest and wickedly cheap drink specials, begins at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 31, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Admission is a mere five clams. For further details call 798-1298.

TROPICAL PUNCH: One of Brazil's finest musical and literary treasures, Caetano Veloso makes a rare Tucson appearance this week. Veloso began his career in the '60s, emulating Joao Gilberto's bossa nova sound, but soon found his own voice as one of the founders of tropicalismo, which built on bossa nova by incorporating elements of folk, avant-garde jazz, spoken-word passages, psychedelic electric guitars and art-rock. Additionally, he was outspoken in his decidedly leftist political stance, which landed him in prison for "anti-government activity" and would eventually lead to his being exiled from Brazil altogether. He was allowed back in 1972, and upon his return, he found that the form of music he had helped to invent had become the primary form of popular music in Brazil, and was appropriately given a hero's welcome. He hasn't slowed down since, and now enjoys status as the biggest pop star in his native country.

This month sees the release of both his Knopf autobiography, Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil (Veloso is also a revered poet), and the career retrospective double live album, Live in Bahia (Nonesuch), a perfect starting point in your personal discovery of what The New York Times has called "one of the greatest songwriters of the century."

Caetano Veloso performs at 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 2, at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. Tickets are available at the hall's box office, online at www.tickets.com, or by phone at 621-3341.

OH, K.: Ida and Beekeeper frontwoman Karla Schickele's solo project, k., hits town this week. With a voice that occasionally recalls an alto version of Suzanne Vega's conversational approach, Schickele's songs from k.'s second album, Goldfish (2002, Tiger Style) are intimate, sparse, and truly pretty--the kind of songs that would be perfect to listen to with a cup of hot cocoa in front of the fireplace, as snow blankets the trees outside. (Use your imagination, Tucson.)

k. appears at 9 p.m. on Friday, November 1, at Las Sinfronteras, 137 E. Congress St. For more info call 623-8935.

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