SPIN CITY: Other than the explosion of cheap, computer-driven digital recording technology, perhaps the most unique development in the D.I.Y. end of music in the last couple decades is the rise of the DJ as viable musical performer. Likely owing to the ascent of hip-hop culture in the early '80s in which MCs would name-check their DJs (I can't remember who was spinning the wax for the Sugarhill Gang, but I damn sure know who Jam Master Jay is), the DJs of today have become stars in their own right. Whether it's the seamless samples-only mastery of DJ Shadow, the turntablism of guys like Rob Base, or the resurgence of '80s pop stars in their new careers as club DJs (see Fatboy Slim and Boy George for examples), the DJ of today has become just as recognizable as the pop star. Add to that the multiple subgenres of DJ-driven electronica -- breakbeat, trip-hop, techno, drum & bass, to name a few -- and you've got a genuine phenomenon on your hands. But besides the underground rave culture which once thrived in Tucson, our burg seems to be slightly behind the curve of DJ culture. Which makes it all the cooler that the Wax Trax! Mastermix Tour has placed the Old Pueblo on its list of dates this summer.

Touring in conjunction with the Mastermix series of compilations on Chicago's Wax Trax! record label is a revolving roster of notables including such heavy hitters as Underworld, Autechre, Nightmares on Wax and Juno Reactor. The Tucson stop of the tour will spotlight five of the performers featured on the Mastermix series:

· Supa DJ Dimitry is perhaps best known for his work with the groundbreaking dance act Deee-Lite, but has been working several years now as a renowned club DJ. In fact, last August he was named "DJ of the Year" in a competition in Ibiza, which has garnered a reputation as the dance party capital of the planet.

· Co-founder of Sonic Groove records, Adam X has been instrumental in fostering the East Coast rave scene. The Brooklyn-based DJ/producer's style is an agressive brand of techno with energy to spare.

· Touring in support of their newest release, Electrocaine (Wax Trax!/TVT Records), French duo Pills has been credited with charting new territory in the world of dance music, introducing an inventive mix of electro-rap, punk-house, and hardcore techno. UK music magazine NME has called Electrocaine "an acid-tinged pop masterpiece."

· Funky big-beat practitioners Expansion Union had a track featured in last year's hit movie Blade, the anthemic "Playing With Lightning." The NYC duo's debut album, World Wide Funk, rifles through an amalgam of styles, including electro-funk, drum & bass and hip-hop

· The Australian DJ/producer team of Chris Arkley-Smith and Scott Simon make up the breakbeat act known as Frontside. The duo's style mixes elements of techno, breakbeat, and funky acid to come up with a style uniquely their own.

Catch all five acts, performing alongside Tucson's own Spyder Rhodes, beginning at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, July 13, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. And to provide that added rave-like touch to the proceedings, the club will remain open until 3 a.m., so you can dance 'til the smart drinks wear off. Tickets are $15 and are available at Zip's University and Hotel Congress. Call 622-8848 for more info.

BLUES TIMES TWO: Fans of jump-blues have a tough decision to make this weekend, as two excellent touring bands in the genre make their way to town.

Call it truth in advertising: with its current eight-member lineup, the 30-year-old band known as Roomful of Blues can literally fill up a room. Having been through countless incarnations over its celebrated history (Roomful alumni feature such notables as Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard and Al Copley), the band has tackled virtually every blues-based music form that exists -- Chicago blues, Texas blues, rock and roll, New Orleans blues, Kansas City blues and jump-swing, for starters. (They were possibly the only band who was playing the traditional swing music that has become so vogue recently all the way back in the '70s). Celebrating their newest release, last year's There Goes the Neighborhood (Bullseye Blues & Jazz), the band will make a stop at Boondocks, 3360 N. First Ave., on Saturday, July 10. Call 690-0991 for ticket prices and showtime.

As part of the continuing Plaza Palomino Courtyard Concert series, Big Dave and the Ultrasonics will swing into town, bringing their blues-roots boogie all the way from their hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The band's latest release, 1996's No Sweat! Live (Schoolkids' Records) demonstrates their sheer versatility, as they glide effortlessly from traditional swing to New Orleans rumba, from Hammond organ-fueled funky blues shuffles to '40s-style jump blues. Though they're only a five piece, the band's arrangements lend them a sound far bigger than you'd expect out of a quintet. Catch Big Dave and the Ultrasonics, with special guest Vicki Tama, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 10, at Plaza Palomino, at the corner of Fort Lowell and Swan. Tickets are $12 in advance, and may be purchased at Enchanted Earthworks, Hear's Music and Beaver's Band Box, or by phone at 881-3947. They'll be $15 at the door unless you're a KXCI supporter, in which case they'll remain $12. Call 297-9133 for details.

STEREO LISTENING: And finally, fans of hook-heavy pop-rock won't want to miss The Stereo, a two-piece outfit that has just released its debut album, Three Hundred (Fueled By Ramen Records). Produced by ex-Jawbox leader J. Robbins, the album sounds like a pomo version of classic AM radio pop music played through Marshall stacks. Recommended. Check 'em out as they hit the basement of the Double Zero, 121 E. Congress St., on Monday, July 12, along with Bracket. Things should kick off around 9 p.m.; call the club at 670-9332 to find out how much the cover charge will set you back.

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