MONSTER MASH: Back in the late 1970s and early '80s, when punk rock was first taking root in the U.S., it essentially assumed two forms: that of the let's go rock and have some fun credo typified by the Ramones ("Beat on the Brat", "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Teenage Lobotomy") and those who used the energy of the medium to tackle more political issues à la the Clash ("White Man in Hammersmith Palais," "English Civil War," "I'm So Bored With the U.S.A"). New Jersey's Misfits fell into the former category, though even in that realm they were, um, sorta misfits.

The Misfits combined potent punk-rock power chords and frontman Glenn Danzig's Elvis-come-lately crooning with cartoonishly spooky topics torn from the pages of '50s monster magazines and the movies that inspired them. They eschewed the Doc Marten's, tattered jeans and leather jackets that the Ramones made so famous in the CBGB scene for a more goth-inspired look, and in the process created some of the most exciting -- and most durable -- punk-rock music of their time. So when Danzig broke the band up in 1983 (with several posthumous albums of unreleased material to follow) to form Samhain, and eventually Danzig (Glenn's once commercially successful gloom-metal band), it seemed the only way to revel in the horror fantasy of the Misfits was to pick up the old albums.

But in 1995, after 13 years away from the scene, and following a nasty legal battle with Danzig over the rights to the band's name, the Misfits were re-formed by original bassist Jerry Only, his brother and guitarist Doyle Von Frankenstein, drummer Dr. Chud and vocalist Michale Graves. The new Misfits kept the horror-film schtick intact, but the music itself was a more metal-inspired din than the straightforward punk of the original incarnation. In 1997, the band released American Psycho on Geffen, but was subsequently dropped from the label; and last year produced the follow-up Famous Monsters, after the band inked a deal with indie label Roadrunner Records.

So here we are in 2000, a year which finds the steroid-addled Glenn Danzig licking his wounds from a series of really awful recent releases which, unsurprisingly, tanked commercially, while his former compatriots in the newly metallized Misfits still retain a devout cult following, perhaps somewhat based on name alone. The newfangled lineup of the Misfits is currently touring in support of Famous Monsters, and will arrive in Tucson this week.

Catch the Misfits, along with Indecision and Malignus Youth, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 19, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are $15, and are available at Zip's University and Strictly CDs, or by phone at 1-800-965-4827. Call 798-3333 for further info.

ACOUSTIC ASSEMBLAGE: The Tucson music scene is rife with traditional events -- the TAMMIES Awards, the Great Cover-Up, the Club Crawl and its younger sibling, the Fall Crawl -- and it's time once again for the granddaddy of them all (at least in terms of life-span): The Seventh Annual Wooden Ball (eighth overall: the original debuted in the '80s, but was followed by a seven-year hiatus) hits its home turf of Club Congress this week. The event, organized each year by pop maven Chris Holiman (he of River Roses, 35 Summers and Downtown Saints fame), is a showcase for local talent to leave the Marshall stacks at home and place the focus on the songs by making each act play acoustically -- a "Tucson Unplugged," if you will. And once again, Holiman has secured a large and diverse lineup for the event, with a staggering 14 bands in all. The acts scheduled to perform are (in descending order of appearance): Al Perry, Rich Hopkins and Luminarios, Greyhound Soul, Nevershine, Chris Holiman, Creosote, the Simplistics, Annie Hawkins, How to Build a Rocketship, Chris Burroughs, Blue Spark, Starcrunch, Fourkiller Flats, and ¡Oye! (Mateo Y Noé). Be sure to arrive early: the shindig kicks off precisely at 6 p.m. Friday, January 14, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Tickets are $7 (a mere 50 cents per band), and you can call the club at 622-8848 for more details.

A REAL GAS: You like yer rawk as heavy as an anvil? As psychedelic as a Hunter S. Thompson flashback? As groove-laden as Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf"? Look no further than the third Tucson appearance of Los Angeles' Nebula. After a series of singles and EPs, the band released its first full-length album, To The Center, in November on Sub Pop to near-universal acclaim. Tucson Weekly contributor Fred Mills included the platter on his list of the 10 best albums of '99 ("Phono Op," December 30), declaring, "Some of the tuffest, most psychedelicized hard rock to motorvate down the pike in ages, steering Electric Ladyland across the Bridge of Sighs and through a Fun House mirror." Still in need of proof? Then don't miss Nebula when they overtake 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St., on Sunday, January 16. The show kicks off at 9 p.m. with Bob Log III and The Blacks. Call 670-9202 for additional information.

And speaking of Mr. Log, who is ubiquitous in all the national music mags these days thanks to his ingenious idea of percussion (tit-clapping, that is) present on Trike, his second solo release for Fat Possum/Epitaph, the eighth-wonder, one-man band will also be making an appearance this week at Nimbus Brewery in an unusual double-bill alongside Dead-inspired jam band Downstream Ritual. The festivities kick off around 8 p.m. (with Log appearing first) on Friday, January 14, at Nimbus Brewery, 3850 E. 44th St. Cover charge is $3, and the on-site brewed pints are tasty and cheap. For further details, call the friendly Nimbus folks at 745-9175.

CARVIN' HIS NICHE: Accolades are nothing new for Phoenix's The Carvin Jones Band. They've earned the Best Blues Band and Best Guitarist honors in the Phoenix New Times' annual music awards for three years running, and Carvin has, more than once, been called one of the best blues guitarists in the world. He's had the likes of Carlos Santana and Buddy Guy sit in with the band, and has toured with Guy, Joe Cocker, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. But it was a 40-date U.K. tour this past summer that really added fuel to the critical frenzy. His shows were attended by some of rock's elite, including Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton, the latter placing a feather in Carvin's trademark wide-brimmed black hat by saying, "There is this cat in Phoenix called Carvin Jones, who I saw at Chars Has The Blues club, and he is the best up-and-coming guitarist." Not too shabby, considering the source is a man many have called "God" over the years. Do not miss this extremely rare Tucson appearance by The Carvin Jones Band at 9 p.m. Friday, January 14, at Mutt's, 424 N. Fourth Ave. Call the club at 628-8664 for more info.

BRITISH IMPORT: A heads up for all you Elton John fans: tickets for the bespectacled one's February 15 concert at the TCC go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, January 15, at the TCC box office, 260 S. Church Ave., all Dillard's outlets, and by phone at 791-4266 and 1-800-638-4253. The lottery lineup begins at 8 a.m. at the TCC box office; the lottery line number will be drawn at 9 a.m. You must be at least 12 years old to purchase a ticket. Tickets are $60.50 and $50.50. Call 791-4101 for further details.

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