IN THE NICK OF TIME: Mere coincidence or savvy timing? Ask the members of local band Funky Bonz, winners of three consecutive TAMMIES Awards (1998-2000) in the category of Best Funk Band. They'll release a four-song CD EP at a gig this weekend, just as their core audience of university students are tacking up posters on the walls of their freshly painted apartments and dorm rooms, preparing for the upcoming semester.

The self-released Sexy Little Nun--complete with blasphemous artwork of a leather-clad dominatrix/nun masturbating with a cat o' nine tails--represents the first recorded output of the band's relatively new rhythm section, bassist Sean Meyerchek and drummer Alan Anderson, former trapsman for Greyhound Soul. The core lineup of singer/songwriter Brent Kort, guitarist Doug Floyd and saxophonist Tom Kennedy remains the same. Kort is quick to point out that the new disc is dedicated to the memory of Dan Meyers, a former drummer and percussionist for the band, who tragically died in an automobile accident last year. But rather than lament Meyers' passing, the disc is more a celebration of his life, and of life in general.

Utilizing the Bonz' trademarked bluesy, soulful Memphis funk--the music on several tracks brings to mind the choicest grooves of post-Big Star Alex Chilton--the disc is rife with direct references to our impending mortality, and the carpe diem dogma to escape its trappings. Indeed, the first couplet of the album sets the tone for the rest of the EP, making direct reference to Meyers' untimely death. "Early Bird" opens with the lines, "You gotta get up and get on your feet/Put your ass back in the driver's seat," before concluding in the infectious chorus, "Good things come to those who wait/But better things come to those who don't hesitate."

Elsewhere, "Live It Up" echoes the same sentiments ("You can't steal second if you got your foot on first/Life's a stage but there ain't no time to rehearse"), while "Cradle to the Grave" takes a slightly more pessimistic tack on similar terrain ("One way ticket from the cradle to the grave/No one gets out alive"). Rounding out the disc is the title cut, which is pure dirty fun ("Humping and pumping in the name of the lord"), and features a typically blistering guitar solo from Floyd that cops the lick from Average White Band's "Pick Up the Pieces." Floyd's guitar is the singular element propelling these tunes, but the rest of the band is tight as a Swiss timepiece, and Kort's throaty vocals serve the arrangements well. All in all, it's about the most you can ask from white-boy funk.

Catch the CD release party at 9 p.m. on Saturday, August 19, at Guido's, 424 N. Fourth Ave. Cover is $3 and you should direct all questions to 628-8664.

DEEP DISH, CHICAGO STYLE: I'm not a guy of few words, but after listening to 33.3's self-titled debut album, dressed in a lovely hand-pressed cover--another one is due in the fall of this year called Plays Music (both are Chicago's Aesthetics imprint)--the only word to enter my mind is "sublime." Keep in mind that I'm as skeptical as anyone when it comes to the Chicago post-rock underground; it's just that when a group of folks comes along and masters it, who am I to complain?

You've heard all the hyperbole before: Phrases like "sonic texture" get bandied about (I'm pretty sure I'm about to be put out of a job by even bringing this stuff up) and "dub elements" and "recurring passages" and "psychetronic funk"--OK, I just made that one up, but you get the idea. Cello saws across the rough-hewn pasture as indie rock guitar shrapnel cuts across the landscape and classical music arrangements clash head-on with jazz elements and -- again, you get the idea.

It's like Tortoise without all the media frenzy, and therefore without the pressure to figure out what all the fuss is all about. It's good, adventurous music; why ask for more? P.S. I'll bet they'll floor us live.

Labelmate Daniel Givens opens the show, touring to promote his debut disc, Age, which employs sparse, beat-driven tracks with mostly spoken-word accompaniment alongside ethereal mood pieces, circus world beat, desperate noise collage and hip-hop jazz.

Track 6, the nearly eight-minute "No Visible Color," opens with barely-there percussion and a chanted mantra: "No visible color/No particular race/No assigned border/No expiration date," before picking up steam and a healthily thick bassline. Knitting Factory bump poetry--"breath makes beats" and "no tradition without religion"--comes later and pretty soon it's all collapsed into a what-if-Captain Beefheart-only-used-drums-and-bass-cacophony. OK, so the next few tracks are crap; track 8 gets interesting in the last four minutes, but it's too little too late as the song stretches into a discomforting 18 minutes-plus. Still, to paraphrase Meat Loaf, six or seven out of 11 ain't bad.

Never mind the hyperbole; fans of the Chicago underground will flock to catch 33.3 and Daniel Givens, with local openers Wasabi, at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, August 22, at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. Admission to this all-ages show is $5. For more info call 884-0874.

RUSTY ROOTS: Rusty Zinn is a straight-up crooner in the tradition of all them early leather jacket-wearin' rock dudes that I, quite frankly, missed out on. Thanks to ol' Rusty I can relive those never-had memories. What's weird about all this is that the guy is actually younger than I am, dammit!

The guy's got way too much soul to be young and white, but dang if he doesn't defy the odds. Roots-rockabilly, jump/swing, Chuck Berry-flavored blues-rock licks--all find their way into Rusty's catalog of tricks. He wowed 'em at this year's Pima County Fair, and he'll wow 'em again this weekend at 9 p.m. on Thursday, August 17, at The Boondocks, 3306 N. First Ave. Tickets are $10 at the door, and you can call 690-0991 for additional info.

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