aRELIEF FOR RUDY: It's hard for some people to understand the Republican Party's Contract With America. They see it as some mean-spirited plan on the part of the rich to dupe the middle class into believing they're being scammed by the poor. Nonsense. That misinterpretation is simply a result of the wretched education people get in public schools--something that will be remedied shortly by further slashing of education budgets.
I admit that I suffered misgivings about The Contract myself. But those negative thoughts have been wiped away, leaving my conscience as clean and smooth as the freshly mown greens at a country club. It didn't take deprogramming, delousing or even the demoralizing act of filing my income tax returns to make me see the light. No, it took but one sick boy to prove how fine The Contract is going to be once implemented.
OK, you've groaned and braced yourself for the bleeding-heart punch line. Well, there isn't one, so relax. The story is a heartwarming one. Rudy Ptacek got sick and his parents, Rainer and Patty Ptacek, took him to the hospital. Now they can't pay the bills because they couldn't afford health insurance premiums--so we're in luck. Why? Because Rainer happens to be one of the best musicians around and we get to hear him play to pay off the bills. It works out for everyone: the debt gets repaid (eventually), the community is enriched by a night of music and best of all, not a cent of tax money is spent at any time. This proves The Contract works! People don't need health insurance or social programs to help them through the bad times, all they really need is a song someone wants to hear.
Before anyone starts trying to cast this event in any sort of negative light, let's stop right here. Rudy is fine. The unpaid-for medicine cured him of the severe infection that attacked the area around his left eye. Rainer and Patty are fine. Of course they were worried about their 11-year-old, who wouldn't be? But his health is back and they don't have to worry unless he gets sick again.
But, we're getting off the point--and the point is positive. Rainer has asked some of his friends to play at the benefit concert on Sunday, March 5, at Club Congress, and they've agreed to help out.
Actually, the first performers aren't friends of Rainer. They're a rock and blues band from Pennsylvania known as Go To Blazes. Their schedule happens to take them through this part of the world that evening and they've agreed to play for a night's stay at Hotel Congress. They won't get paid for this gig--all the money goes to pay Rudy's bills.
Go To Blazes is followed by Dan Stuart (of Green On Red), Al Perry (those two will play a few songs together--just as they did on the Retronuevo album), Van Christian (of Naked Prey and Friends Of Dean Martin), Rainer and Giant Sand (Rainer will also play along with the Sand).
"There's no way we're going to cover all the hospital bills (with this concert)," Rainer says. "But if we can make a major dent in 'em, like get half of the bills out of the way, I'll be satisfied."
He says he hopes to pay the rest of the hospital charges with the income generated by a new CD he's releasing in the next couple of weeks. The album is a compilation of different recording sessions held over the past few years--the San Pedro Chapel sessions, part of the Texas Tapes sessions, stuff he recorded with Das Combo and previously unreleased solo material.
"Odd, curious kinds of things," is how Rainer describes the collection of songs to be called DYO (Do Your Own). "It's covering as many bases as possible."
The CD will be available at Hear's Music sometime in the days following the Relief for Rudy concert.
A donation of $5 is suggested for the March 5 show.
CORRECTION: We made a mistake in "Big Noise," February 23. The artist profile of Cynthia Stacey was inadvertently attributed to Yvonne Ervin. The article was written by Molly Who.
LAST NOTES: Let's Go Bowling brings their ska back to the Downtown Performance Center, 530-B N. Stone Avenue, on Thursday, March 2.
Edgar Winter is bringing Pat Travers with him to The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave., for a Friday night concert. Winter is touring in support of Not A Kid Anymore, his first solo album in over a decade.
Another performer with a blue bloodline is in town that same night (Edgar is, of course, Johnny's brother). Josh White Jr. is the son of the famous folk and blues singer. He'll perform some of his father's material in addition to his original folk tunes at the Southwest Center for Music, 2175 N. Sixth Ave.
The Coctails (yes, sharp-eyed readers, that is the correct spelling) have left the lounge lizard revolution behind--now they play a martini mixed with pop, jazz, folk and rock. They're at the DPC this Saturday night with Wise Folk Malcontent and StarCrunch.
The DPC keeps things popping with Samiam on Monday, March 6.
They're on a bill with Goops and Chokebore in an all-ages show.
The Radiators roll into The Rock to play their New-Orleans-boogie-filtered-through-a-Grateful- Dead-attitude-party-music. It starts Tuesday night and ends Wednesday morning at one.
Singer-songwriter Dar Williams has a considerable following on the East Coast, but this is her first time touring our part of the country. She's at the Southwest Center on Wednesday night, if you're interested in songs and a singer looking at life from oblique angles.
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