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LIFTOFF: They're dropping like flies, folks. As if last week's breakup of The Weird Lovemakers, one of Tucson's longest-running, most popular, and best punk rock bands wasn't bad enough (though their drunken, bloody closing set at the Fall Crawl will forever live in the annals of local music), now we're losing one of the more promising newer bands in town.

How To Build A Rocketship vocalist/guitarist Jason Garthwait is off in search of greener pastures, and though the rest of the band is talented enough, there is no HTBAR without him. Often compared to Radiohead, and thus Pink Floyd, the band found a nice niche somewhere between those two with a healthy dose of glam-era Bowie and modern-day indie rock riffage tossed into the mix. Their live shows were often hit-or-miss, but when they were on, Rocketship could be truly transcendent. Luckily, they leave us with one excellent CD to remember 'em by. Last year's self-released Thank You Easter Bunny is one of the best local releases of the last couple years. Check it out.

And while you're at it, check out the band's farewell performance on Friday, October 13, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., as part of The Bash, an open-to-the-public birthday party of sorts that also includes L.A. headliner Jetset, Greyhound Soul and The Simplistics. Doors open at 7 p.m., and you can call the club at 622-8848 for more information. Thanks for the noise, boys.

FIERY FLAMENCO FURY: Press kits are always chock full of hyperbolic statements about the artists they promote; that's their job--to sell the artist. And there's perhaps no more hyperbole in said press kits than that found in the genre of flamenco music. "Fire," "fury," "passion," "romanticism"--I dare you to find me a bio on a flamenco artist that doesn't use any, if not all, of those words.

With that said, once in a while the artist lives up to the hype, even in flamenco music. Oscar Lopez fits that bill. Born in Chile, he nurtured his love of Paco de Lucia by learning to play the nylon-string guitar, before discovering--as all teenage guitarists do--that you can make a lot more noise with an electric. He began playing classic rock tunes in cover bands, and continued that trend after relocating to Canada in 1979. (He now calls Calgary home.)

But eventually, he realized his real love was the nylon acoustic he began with, and he drifted back to it, accompanied by the knowledge he'd acquired from playing all kinds of music on all kinds of guitars. Perhaps it is that experience that sets Lopez apart from the current crop of flamenco guitarists. As his newest album, Armando's Fire (Narada), demonstrates, Lopez has embraced and incorporated so many styles into his repertoire that it would be both unjust and inaccurate to pigeonhole him as a mere flamenco player. He's also one of the speediest guitarists among Latin artists, but he never forgets that one element that often gets left behind when most guitarists master their technique: soul, and if I can get hyperbolic for a minute, yes, passion.

The Oscar Lopez Trio performs at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 14, at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. All seats are reserved, and you can pick up advance tickets for $14 at Antigone Books, Enchanted Earthworks, Hear's Music, and Brew & Vine, or by phone at 297-9133. They'll be $16 at the door.

NATIVE INTELLIGENCE: Much is made of the fact that Keith Secola, a Native American from Minnesota, and his band Wild Bunch of Indians have a sense of humor, as if all Native performers are supposed to be stern and bitter by their very nature, no matter what their art. Secola's art is a mastery of socio-political Native American issues issued forth in winning tunes that recall the masters. Though Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie tackled some pretty serious issues in their day, they veered back and forth between the serious and the humorous, resisting the heavy-handedness that too many political songwriters fall into, and making bitter pills a bit easier to swallow in the process.

Secola falls into the same lyrical territory, while musically leaning toward a country-rock feel suggesting that Neil Young records filtered their way onto the reservation (though to be fair, elements of everything from ska to talking blues make appearances). His most recent release, last year's excellent Fingermonkey (on Tempe's Akina Records), suggests a singer-songwriter ready to spring from any corner he's been painted into, and one worthy of greater exposure.

Catch Keith Secola and Wild Band of Indians at 9 p.m. on Saturday, October 14, at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St. Cover is five bucks, and you can call 670-9202 for more info.

MOE JAM: One of the most eclectic bands to carry the "jam band" tag right now is also one of the most inspired. moe. takes the usual trappings of jam-ism and utterly turns them on their heads, incorporating styles that most bands of the genre wouldn't dare touch. Yes, there's the usual jazz, bluegrass, funk, and country-rock elements that are ubiquitous among all the jammers, but when was the last time you saw a rock group segue seamlessly from an Afro-Caribbean groove into a techno beat, then plow tirelessly onto a punk-metal hybrid? Unless you've caught moe. recently, probably never. And as I recall, the Dead never covered The Ramones, as moe. did a year or so back during one of its last Tucson shows.

Touring in support of its new double-disc live collection, L (Red Ink), moe. hits the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 17. Advance tickets are available for $16.25 plus fees through all Ticketmaster locations. To charge by phone call 321-1000, or buy online at www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets will be $17 at the door. For further details call 740-0126.

LAST NOTES: Though his best-known and best-selling (16 mil and counting) album was called Frampton Comes Alive!, until recently fans of Peter Frampton were more likely to be heard asking "Frampton's still alive?" Indeed he is, and he'll be bringing that crazy wah-wah voice-box contraption with him when he plays this week in anticipation of the 25th-anniversary re-release next month (do you feel as old as I do?) of that classic live album, which will include three new bonus tracks. Peter Frampton will appear at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, October 18, at The New West, 4385 W. Ina Road. Advance tickets are $20 in advance through Ticketmaster at 321-1000, or online at www.ticketmaster.com. They'll be $25 at the door. For more info call 744-7744.

Celtic folk campfire duo Small Potatoes bring their winning combination of folk, Irish, blues and swing to town this week for two shows, both on Sunday, October 15, at the courtyard of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, on Wilmot at Fifth Street. The duo will play a children's concert at 2 p.m. with tickets priced at $3 for kids, $4 for adults, or a family admission of $10, then return for an evening performance at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for that one will run $8 in advance (available at Antigone Books, Enchanted Earthworks and The Folk Shop, or by phone at 297-9133). They'll be $10 at the door.

This Friday, October 13, is not only a Friday the 13th, but a full moon as well. Weird things are sure to happen, and if you find yourself itchin' to get yer groove on, the place to be at 9 p.m. is 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St., where it's a funky vs. funky matchup as Interlocking Grip and Funky Bonz will keep your booty shakin' 'til 1 a.m. Need more details? Call 670-9202.

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