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SUPERSTAR! Har Mar Superstar is a Michigan-born, doughy, big-hair-havin', mustachioed guy who strips down to his Speedo-esque skivvies to engage in his trade. In other words, he's a whole lot like porn star Ron Jeremy. But lest you think he's a talentless hack who got where he is by sporting a ten-incher (again, the briefs demonstrate he's not), know this: Har Mar Superstar is way doper than you are. Har Mar hangs out with the Strokes and the Hilton sisters, he was Kelly Osbourne's date to this year's MTV Video Music Awards, and he wrote tracks for the upcoming Kelly O. and J. Lo. albums. You didn't.

You also haven't released an album on Kill Rock Stars or a division of Warner Brothers; Har Mar has. His most recent, You Can Feel Me (2002, Record Collection), picks up where his self-titled debut left off, taking the clichés of modern, sex-drenched, bling-bling-loving, hip-hop-influenced R&B and stretching them far enough to expose just how ridiculous they actually are. It's all here: the obligatory beeper reference ("Deeper, deeper, I can feel your beeper"), the pitch-tuner as vocal treatment (think Cher's "Believe") the eternal playa hayta dilemma ("All you haters, step the fuck off/I ain't got nothin' but love to write/All the ladies kiss the haytas/'cause they ain't no playas"--huh?), the "I gots too many ladies" issue ("I'm puttin' ladies on layaway, makin' very sexy installments--Ladies crave me like a P'zone/I shall make them moan") and his tweaked take on the tired "Throw your hands in the air" call-out ("All the youth in Asia, put your hands up/All the kids in France, put your hands up/'Cause one day you're gonna get lay-ayed"). He's also likely the only one to ever rhyme "chorizo" and "Mother Teresa" in a song.

Yes, it's hilarious, but it's also damn funky. The songs are catchy enough that you'll find yourself mumbling lines like "I led her eyes to the bulge in my pants/Let her get a glimpse of the holy land" underneath your breath at the Safeway checkout counter, before you stop to realize how inane it all is, at which point you begin to laugh yourself silly.

Also on the bill are The Gossip, which combines singer Beth Ditto's sweaty, sex-positive, soulful wail with primitive garage-blues riffs (Ditto also guests on Har Mar's You Can Feel Me), and The Agenda, a pseudo-militant punk outfit that includes one of the co-owners of Kindercore Records.

Har Mar Superstar, The Gossip, and The Agenda perform at 9 p.m. on Friday, November 22, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Cover is a mere six bucks. Call 622-8848 for the 411.


BLUE MONDAY: Joe Bonamassa is the sort of singer/guitarist that magazines with names like Hotcha Lick-Player drool over, but he's also entrenched enough in the tropes of rock radio that his latest album, So, It's Like That (2002, Medalist), reached the number one spot on Billboard's blues chart. If you've got a weak spot for the type of melodic, bluesy, classic-sounding rock that KLPX plays in between songs with "pummeling riffs," this be for you.

Joe Bonamassa performs at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 25, at Backstage, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road. Admission is $5. For more information call 327-2214.


SYSTEM CHECK: When the Elephant 6 collective officially disbanded earlier this month, bubblegum-chewing indie kids everywhere put on their Pet Sounds box sets, sobbed and began asking questions. Will Jeff Mangum ever release another Neutral Milk Hotel album? Will that trans-Atlantic collaboration between Robert Schneider and Andy Partridge ever see the light of day? And what ever happened to Olivia Tremor Control, anyway?

The savvy listener will have at least a partial answer to that last question, as Bill Doss' new band, the fuzzy-but-sunny Sunshine Fix, has made a couple of local appearances in the last year. But OTC's other primary songwriter, Will Hart, has been M.I.A., until recently. In late August, Hart and company, under the name Circulatory System, released their debut self-titled album, on Cloud Recordings. Whereas the Sunshine Fix stripped away much of the sonic experimentation of the Olivias to expose the songs lurking within, the System goes the opposite route, weaving together melting psychedelia for a whole greater than the sum of its elements. In other words, difficult but rewarding.

Circulatory System opens for the equally experimental Need New Body at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, November 27, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is $5. Call 622-8848 for more details.


TRAVELIN' BAND: Tucson will get its first glimpse of the new, slimmed-down version of harp-blower extraordinaire John Popper this week, as he and his Blues Traveler bandmates bring their wagon train to town. The band has just released a brand new album, Live: What You and I Have Been Through (BMG), which is long on new tunes (five from Bridge, its last studio album alone) and short on the oldies. Still, BT has always been a live band at heart, and the new disc bears proof of that. If you're a fan, the only thing better than a live Blues Traveler album is actually seeing them play live.

Your chance comes at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 23, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are available for $25 at all Zia Records locations and the Rialto box office. They'll be $27 at the door. For more info call 798-3333.

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