PJ PARTY: The few hundred or so folks who packed Solar Culture for the KXCI benefit last week got what they paid for and then some, even at fifteen bucks a pop. (Howe Gelb quipped at one point, "Instead of sending in your donation to KXCI, you're just walking it in. It's much more convenient. But the music's free.") Billed as featuring "Howe Gelb and Giant Sand, Calexico, the return of Al Perry and the Cattle, plus special guests," the guest was special, indeed. Special enough that the event was held on a Sunday primarily to accommodate her schedule. Gelb's recent European tourmate, P.J. Harvey just happened to be opening for U2 in Phoenix the previous night, and had a day off since the next date with U2 wasn't until Monday night in Minneapolis. So while the rest of her band endured a two-day bus ride halfway across the country, Harvey decided to come south and play in the desert, visit Howe, play a few songs at this benefit show, and fly out on Monday to meet up with her band. Smart for her, lucky for us. Her performances were delicious icing on the proverbial cake, which was pretty damn moist and tasty anyway. It was one of those all-too-rare occasions where you can't help but feel the true sense of history and cohesiveness and mutual respect that exists in our local music scene. Maybe it was Al Perry's return. Maybe it was because Howe played with both Paula Jean Brown and Polly Jean Harvey. Maybe it was all the Rainer covers performed. Whatever it was, no one who was there will soon forget it. And thanks to KXCI, who broadcast the event in its five-hour entirety, you could hear it even if you got shut out of a ticket. Which reminds me, if anyone out there taped it, I know a particular music writer who'd love to get his paws on a copy.

WHAT ELSE: Space is tight this week, so here's a brief rundown of a bunch of noteworthy happenings:

Led by Mato Nanji, one of the most talented young blues guitarists around right now, the remaining slots in Indigenous are filled by his brother, sister and cousin. The Sioux siblings were taught the basics on their instruments by their father, who also fed them a steady supply of his old blues records. The foursome played in their basement of their reservation home for five years before stepping foot on a stage. When they finally did, they were met with acclaim not only from fans and critics, but also by rock radio. In short, one of the best touring blues-rock bands in existence these days.

Indigenous plays at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Blues-rock singer/songwriter Chris Duarte opens the show. Advance tickets are available for $16.50 at Zip's on University, Hear's Music, Guitars, Etc., and or charge by phone at 1-800-965-4827. They'll be $20 at the door. For more information call 798-3333.

Here's one for those who like fringe stuff. San Francisco's Species Being creates soundscapes alternately jarring and drifting, sort of like a cross between Scenic and Godspeed You Black Emperor!, with a healthy dose of free-jazz experimentalism. Tucson's Prepping Finger Salad is comprised of four whacked-out multi-instrumentalists with a bent for free-noise skronkery. The two bands pair up for a show at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8, at Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave. Admission is $5. Fore more info call 884-0874.

Also dropping into Solar Culture this week, and also from the Bay Area, is Mark Growden's Electric Pinata, which seeks to find out what happens when you bring a Tom Waits-ian weirdness to cabaret music, admittedly a pretty weird genre to begin with. The result is very dark, very moody, and yes, very dramatic. The band plays along with openers Bucko and Tita at 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 6. Admission to this one is also five bucks.

After a dozen years in existence and a slight taming of both its sound and juvenile sense of humor, Guttermouth is finally getting radio airplay. Though longtime fans may cry "sell-out," the tune in question, "She's Got the Look," from the band's brand-new album, Covered in Ants (Epitaph), is as catchy and quirky as Southern California pop-punk gets. Catch 'em at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 5, along with Pasta Rocket, No Other and Shoot for Tuesday, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are available through Ticketmaster for $10. For details call 798-3333.

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