HO HO WHO? Local usta-be-alternative-but-now-it's-new-rock radio station KFMA-FM has caught up with the rest of such stations in other markets by throwing multi-act festival-type shows at a reasonable ticket price to--it would seem--thank its listeners for sitting through an insufferably redundant and usually pretty crummy playlist. But hey, the kids seem to like it, and I'll give you the fact that I'm no kid anymore.

The station first delved into the festival biz in May of this year with the appropriately titled KFMA Day, a day-long extravaganza that featured acts such as Everclear, Cypress Hill and Kittie, ostensibly to celebrate the onslaught of another Tucson summer. The station's second festival of 2000--this one billed as the Holiday Ho-Ho-Ho Down--will ostensibly celebrate the beginning of the giving season, or the birth of Christ, or an oil lamp lasting eight days, or something else that happened a long time ago.

The lineup this time around is as follows:

· The nu-metal stylings of the year's music biz rags-to-riches poster boys, Papa Roach, who, while far from original, kick out the jams live as well as any of their spiritual brethren;

· Hi-NRG ska-punks Rancid, a band I'd really love to hate due to its shameless ripping-off of The Clash, but dammit it does it so well, and I love The Clash (note: rumor has it that the band is considering a breakup, so catch its ferocious live show while you still can);

· Generic alterna-rockers Eve 6, whose new album is tanking as you read this, thank God;

· Cleverly snotty pop-punkers Wheatus, whose main distinction is a whiny little ninny of a lead singer;

· Relative SoCal punk-pop veterans Strung Out, whose new EP, The Element of Sonic Defiance, on Fat Wreck Chords, manages to straddle the line between the catchy ditties they've been known for all these years and a "new rock" aesthetic (hey, at least they're trying something a little different);

· And the act that will doubtlessly steal everyone's thunder, the Kings of Rock, rap legends Run-D.M.C.

Perhaps the most curious thing about these festivals is to listen to KFMA as they approach, and to witness the inevitable tailoring of the playlist to reflect the acts on the bill. Seriously, other than "Time Bomb" back in 1995, when was the last time you heard 'em play a Rancid song, let alone put one into rotation? Other than right now, that is. Still, I'd take Rancid over Limp Dipshit any day, and anyone who brings six touring acts to town for under $25 should be commended.

The KFMA Holiday Ho-Ho-Ho Down kicks off at 7 p.m. on Sunday, November 26, at the Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave. Advance tickets are available for $22 through Ticketmaster or at the TCC box office. For more info call 880-5362.

PHOENIX ROOTS: An excerpt from a press release that came across my desk recently from Phoenix's Rustic Records: "We understand that many of the smaller minds in the old pueblo automatically hate anything from Phoenix or Tempe, and relish the opportunity to insult those of us who actually live in the Phoenix area by choice. We don't really care about those people, insecure, obnoxious and superior tho they may be."

Feudin' words? Hardly. Let's read on: "For the benefit of open minded Tucsonians (sic), we're gonna continue to send our artists to perform." So why should we care? Because the memo--likely written by label head and Nitpickers frontman Dave Insley--makes a fine point. We all know that the North-South rivalry is a lot of empty hyperbole, mostly played for kicks and giggles, and that none of us would ever avoid a band simply because it's from that hellhole up the way on I-10 (not to mention the fact that our music scene smokes theirs). But the fact is this: In operation less than a year, Insley's Rustic Records has released some of the finest roots rock to be found in the state.

Earlier this year, the label released discs by Insley's own Nitpickers and Tammy Patrick, and now the second go-round consists of Dark and Bloody Ground by the Trophy Husbands--which played a reportedly kick-ass show to a packed crowd at Che's a few weeks back--and the self-titled debut of Grave Danger, which will grace the floor of the same venue this weekend.

Comprised of singer/guitarist Kevin Daly (Hellfire, Flathead, Trophy Husbands), bassist/backing vocalist Rich Merriman and drummer/background vocalist Vince Ramirez (Flathead), the band's CD is a decent collection of rootsy-twangy-surfy-rockabilly tunes complete with requisite funny lyrics.

But it's in a live setting that the threesome thrives, having garnered a devout following that ensures lots of blood, broken glass and, occasionally, human hair by show's end (the latter following an onstage band- and fan-bonding ritual that saw a fair share of people arrive home post-show with freshly shaved scalps).

Not to mention the fact that, during the band's Tucson debut at Double Zero a few months back, roughly half of the club's patrons had driven down from the band's stomping grounds to attend the show; when was the last time you drove two hours to see a local band?

Get yerself a buzz on and head out to witness the devilish fun of Grave Danger, set to take the stage at 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 25 at Che's Lounge, 350 N. Fourth Ave. Any questions? They'll answer 'em at 623-2088.

LAST NOTES: For the many hip-hop fans still lamenting the last-minute cancellation of The Roots show earlier this month, there's an alternative of sorts this weekend in the form of Foot Action: An All Elements Hip Hop Show.

The event features a slew of DJs including DJ Abel and the Deep Crates collective, which features DJs Chase Crusher and Deeko, a performance by local hip-hop crew Red Dirt Specimens, and a B-Boy battle for cash and prizes.

Things get underway at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 24 at Skrappy's, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Broadway. The all-ages event is drug and alcohol-free, and cover is $4 at the door.

Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., has reinstated its policy of featuring live music every Friday night, as well as stray other-night bookings. Things kick off with a pre-Thanksgiving appearance by the new, improved full-band version of Hector on Stilts at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, November 22. Then the club will feature a triple bill of Howe Gelb, Interplanetary P.O.T. and Liberty School at 9 p.m. on Friday, November 24. For cover charge info call the club at 622-8848.

The Global Music Celebration 2000 will feature indigenous music and dance performances, as well as dance instruction, from India, Israel, Native American tribes, Africa, Australia and more. The event will also feature a performance by local world music group Mandala, plus merchandise booths selling imported instruments, artwork and CDs. Families are encouraged to attend the festival, which will run from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 25 at the Montessa Plaza shopping center, 50 S. Houghton Road (at Broadway). Admission is free.

GIVING THANKS: At the risk of flogging a dead horse, let me use my bully pulpit one last time to mention last weekend's Great Cover-Up. The two-night event went off with nary a hitch, and these people are the reason why:

· Co-coordinators Kini Wade (who saw the organization of the event through even though he is no longer employed by Club Congress) and Melissa Adams from the Brewster Center;

· Sticks N Strings, Workshop Music, Guitars Etc., Rainbow Guitars and CD Depot for providing equipment and/or selling tickets;

· Original event organizers Melissa Manas (who also helped design the event logo) and Mia Proli;

· All the great folks at Hotel Congress for giving the event a home, especially Noe Gamez for going way beyond the call of duty, and Fletch Chmara for manning the soundboard in a most excellent fashion;

· Jim Lowell of Lethal Entertainment for recording the proceedings;

· Jason Hess and Joseph Puyear for designing and printing the tickets and posters;

· All of the bands that participated: Love Mound, Good Question, Mankind, Soccer Moms, Hector on Stilts, Greyhound Soul, Sand Rubies, Bebe and Serge, Funky Bonz, Downtown Saints, The Blob, Creosote, Topless Opry, Wise Folk Malcontent, Crawdaddy-O, Nevershine, Fourkiller Flats, Simplistics and Black Cock (which both wanted to participate but broke up shortly before the event), Fez and Spacefish for stepping in at the last minute, and all of the bands that submitted ideas but were not selected.

Plus a special thanks, of course, to everyone who came out and supported the event. Though exact figures were unavailable at press time, early estimates show that our collective donation to the Brewster Center will fall somewhere in the $3,000 range. Ya done good, people. Have a great Thanksgiving.