LIMBO ROCK: About this time last year, the folks at Radio Limbo, Tucson's long-running micro-powered radio station (read: pirate) available at 103.3 on the FM dial, were in rough shape. Having endured the confiscation of their transmitter at the hands of the mighty Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the station was effectively put out of business. Or were they?

The scrappy organization wasn't about to let anyone, not even a powerful and well-funded government agency, ruin what is consistently the most interesting and inventive radio programming to be found on the dial in Tucson. So rather than fold their proverbial hand, in true renegade style (Pump Up the Volume, anyone?) the Limbo-ites instead organized a wildly successful benefit concert, and in one night effectively raised the money necessary to acquire and rebuild a new transmitter. End of story? Almost.

The organization is quick to point out that no radio station, legal or not, can afford to operate in limbo (despite its name). So the time has come for another benefit show, this time to raise money to purchase some equipment upgrades, and most importantly, to boost its signal so that the station can expand its audience. (It must be noted that the station's signal, since acquiring the new transmitter, is only a fraction of its former power).

The microbroadcasting phenomenon is not a new one, though in recent years, with the deregulation of radio ownership, it has expanded exponentially nationwide. Basically, what that means is that as mega-corporations have merged, and thereby become megalo-corporations, they've embarked on a mission to buy as many commercial radio stations as possible, with one eye on the bottom line, and the other eye, well, asleep, it seems. The same companies own stations in multiple markets, and the result is another step toward the strip-malling of American culture: everywhere you go you hear the same damn songs on the radio, with virtually no local flavor whatsoever. Which brings us back to Radio Limbo, and microbroadcasting at large.

Micro-powered radio is an attempt, by regular citizens, to take back control of their airwaves. (Lest we forget, the FCC is only a regulatory organization -- the airwaves, in fact, still belong to the people). The situation has gotten so dire that even the current head of the FCC concurs that there is a huge problem here, and to his credit, has been making strides toward coming to some sort of agreement to placate everyone. The U.S. Congress, however, whose members' pockets are lined with "contributions" from the station-owning corporations, have kept a death grip on current legislation. Needless to say, the battle for the airwaves will only heat up in the forthcoming months.

But in the meantime, Radio Limbo isn't going anywhere. It has become a vital organization on the local landscape since its inception, a true voice of the people who inhabit the Old Pueblo; in short, it has become indispensable.

Help keep the station on the air and more accessible by supporting this year's Radio Limbo benefit show, appropriately entitled More Power to the People, which features entertainment from Crawdaddy-O, who will reprise their show-stopping set of tunes from Jesus Christ Superstar, chick-rockers Clovenhoof (see feature article in this section), the divine lounge stylings of Bebe and Serge, politico-punks Los Federales, and a puppet show courtesy of the Big Head Puppet Theater. Plus, DJ Furburger will be spinning tunes in between sets. It all goes down at 8 p.m. Saturday, December 11, at the fabulous Mat Bevel Institute, 530 N. Stone Ave. Admission is a mere $5 donation, with all proceeds going to Radio Limbo. While you're at it, pick up a T-shirt or bumpersticker, too -- both will be available for purchase at the show.

BLACK SUN RISING: The newly revived Black Sun Legion is holding a CD release party for the release of its acclaimed, newly remixed and expanded version of the Sky Pilot album (which includes "Sky Pilot Suite," a 20-minute uncharacteristic ambient track), released on the joint San Jacinto/Camera Obscura imprint. The band's current lineup is Psycho Master on guitars and vocals, Michael Glivewell on bass, and Otto Terrorist on drums. Here are some things that Psycho Master would like you to know:

1) Psycho Master is still a clinically diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. He gets a shot every three weeks to keep the voices in his head at bay. For six months during the end of 1993 and the beginning of '94, the voice he heard was that of his spirit guide, Raphael, Archangel of Medicine, Astronomy, Alchemy, Math and Swordfighting. He is eager to hear Raphael's voice again.

2) Black Sun Legion are extremely pleased that they will be entering the studio later this month to record a new project featuring one of Psycho Master's favorite musicians, Giant Sand's Howe Gelb.

3) Psycho Master gives major props to San Jacinto label head Rich Hopkins for allowing the revamped version of Sky Pilot to see the light of day.

4) Psycho Master wants as many people as possible to attend this weekend's show so that he can make enough money to buy a megaphone for $100, which will enable him to recite his poetry at Downtown Saturday Nights.

So come on out to witness the amazing Black Sun Legion, along with The Luminarios and Agave, at 9 p.m. Saturday, December 11, at the Plaza Pub, 20 E. Pennington. Admission is $3 at the door, and the band will have copies of Sky Pilot for purchase at the show. Call 882-0400 for details.

FAIR WARNING: It's time once again for the winter version of the Fourth Avenue Street Fair, and that, of course, means loads of free musical entertainment for all. The Fourth Avenue Merchants Association's Kini Wade has ensured that the lineup includes something for everyone, with four stages of musical fun: the Tucson Musicians Showcase Stage, located at Seventh Street and North Hoff Avenue; the Winsett Park Community Stage, located on the east side of North Fourth Avenue between Seventh Street and Eighth Street; the South Main Stage, located at North Fourth Avenue and East Ninth Street; and the North Main Stage, at East Fifth Street and North Hoff Avenue.

The schedule for the South Main Stage: on Friday, December 10, The Doug Hancock Band (10 a.m.), Bette Better Not (noon), Jupiter Dave (12:30 p.m.), Al Perry (2:30 p.m.) and The Imps (3 p.m.); on Saturday, December 11, Decades (10 a.m.), Larry Kamakazi (noon), Liz Fletcher and TBT (12:30 p.m.), Catacoustic Groove (2:30 p.m.), break dancing (3 p.m.), and Brown Sugar (3:30 p.m.); and on Sunday, December 12, the Larry Redhouse Trio (10 a.m.), Catacoustic Groove (noon), Topless Opry (12:30 p.m.), Catacoustic Groove (2:30 p.m.) and The Wonder Twins (3 p.m.).

The schedule for the North Main Stage: On Friday, December 10, Willis at 1 p.m. and Sticky White Chocolate at 3 p.m.; on Saturday, December 11, Area 51 at 1 p.m. and Amber Jade at 3 p.m.; and on Sunday, December 12, Tricky Luz at 1 p.m. and Crawdaddy-O at 3 p.m.

'TIS THE SEASON: Just in time for the gift-buying season, Club Congress presents The Holiday Bazaar, a nifty conglomeration of live music, cool stuff to buy for your loved ones, door prizes and, of all things, a car show. (That's right, seems cars get into the holiday spirit, too, as they'll be dolled up like sleighs for the event). Tasty tunes will be delivered fresh and steamin' from the likes of Al Perry and Fish Karma, Clovenhoof, The Killing Machine and Zero to Sixty, with Hot Rod Ron on hand to DJ between bands. Oh, and if you buy stuff, the Club promises "scantily clad 'Santa's Helpers' to do some free gift wrappin'." Ooh la la!

Five bucks gets you into this holiday extravaganza, which kicks off at 8:30 p.m. Friday, December 10, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress. Call the club at 622-8848 for more info.

STEVE'S STRINGS: In the world of modern-day rock guitar virtuosos, there are but three names to remember: Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and Steve Vai, who will make his way to town this week for a performance. Truly a musician's musician, Vai has recorded extensively with Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth and Whitesnake, as well as done one-offs with Joe Jackson, Ozzy Osbourne, Al Dimeola, Alice Cooper and Public Image Ltd. -- a diverse list to say the least. He's one of the few guys who can make any accomplished guitarist's jaw drop, and he's touring in support of his new album, The Ultra Zone (a perfect title for any self-respecting modern day rock guitar virtuoso's album, if you ask me).

Check out Steve Vai along with opener Eric Sardinas, at 8 p.m. Monday, December 13, at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave. Advance tickets are available at CD Depot, Sticks and Strings, Majestic Tattoo, Zip's University, and Strictly CDs. For more information call 629-9211.

COUNTRY BOY: Charismatic country crooner Toby Keith captivates crowds 'cross the continent (sorry, once I started I couldn't stop), and this week he'll count Tucson among those ranks. The Oklahoma native has just released How Do You Like Me Now?!, his first album for Dreamworks, and his seventh overall. Expect him to play songs from that album, as well as older favorites like "Should've been a Cowboy," "A Little Less Talk" and "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying," (a song originally recorded as a duet with the tantriffic Sting), when he hits the stage of the New West, 4385 W. Ina Road, at 8 p.m. Sunday, December 12. Advance tickets are $18, available at the club, Gotham, both Hooters locations, all Dillard's locations, Zip's University, and Western Warehouse, or charge by phone at 1-800-638-4253. They'll be $23 at the door. Call 744-7744 for additional information.