HEAT STROKES: Tucson summers are a threat to all of us. Those who can leave town, do. (Did you ever think you'd be jealous of a snowbird or a gutter punk?). Band members are no different. They seek the same shelter from the storm (allegorically speaking) as you or I. And so it is, every summer our burg suffers a casualty or two to the heat.

No bones about it, the two-member core of Hector on Stilts--we'll call 'em Clayton and Jeb Colwell--has decided to pack it up for good, in Tucson anyway. The harmony-heavy pop duo is relocating to Lenox, Massachusetts, chosen for its affordability and proximity for East Coast touring. The band will play its final local show this weekend, abetted by drummer Bruce Halper and bassist Adam Levy. Plus on a few tunes, Paul Colwell (aka "the old banjo guy"), will join the band via satellite (Seattle-ite?) from his new home in the Pacific Northwest. To show their gratitude for your support over the years, the band will be handing out a limited number of CDs which contain newly recorded, unreleased material.

Catch Hector on Stilts' Tucson finale at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 26, at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St. Openers are Ozlo and Fourkiller Flats. For additional information call 670-9202.

Speaking of which --

Jim Cox, frontman for twang-rock combo Fourkiller Flats, decided to pack it up for the next two months when he was offered a tech position at a summer stock opera camp in northern Arkansas. A (relatively) fat paycheck and respite from the oven-like temperatures are to blame for the fact that this week brings us the last two Flats shows until sometime in August. The band's last headlining gig is at 9 p.m. on Friday, May 25, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Opening the show are Truck and Fanchon. For more info dial 622-8848.

GOIN' BACK TO CALI: After being based in three different cities for the last year or so, the final Tucson link of veteran indie-rock trio La Cerca (formerly known as Wise Folk Malcontent) is set to move onward later this summer. Frontman Andy Gardner will join the band's bassist/keyboardist, Steve Krolikowski, in the L.A. area, leaving only Olympia, Washington-based drummer and K Records employee Michael Newman as the sole commuter to a new Cali-based setup. Oddly enough, the band seems to have only gotten more productive as it splintered apart geographically, and this week sees the release of the fruit of several years of labor, in the form of its new album, Goodbye Phantom Engineer, on Ohio's The Unlike Label. The disc finally delivers on the promise that the band's live shows have supplied for several years now; in short, it's the record that Gardner has been hoping to make since he started playing eight years ago.

La Cerca celebrates the release of Goodbye Phantom Engineer with a CD release party at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, May 25, at Plush, at the southwest corner of Fourth Ave. and Sixth St. L.A.'s Earlimart opens the show. For additional information call 798-1298.

BLIND ALLEY: Writing this shortly after I had a conversation about architecture, during which I confessed the fact that I know virtually nothing at all about architecture save Frank Lloyd Wright, I have come across a disc from my old stomping grounds--central Illinois--and am dazzled by the photos all over the sleeve. A couple of anonymous guys--we don't see their faces--are shot in front of waist-level concrete-slab walls made of bricks of varying dimensions colored in varying shades of earth; cream to sand to pumpkin. The sight is familiar to anyone who has spent any time in that region. I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with the famous "Midwestern architecture belt" I learned about earlier today; I, of course, would attribute it to Frank Lloyd Wright, and that's exactly why I write about music, not architecture.

As for the band, they're called Absinthe Blind, and they've got a new album out on Parasol Records, called The Everyday Separation. I'm listening to it right now. It sounds like an orchestrated version of La Circa (formerly Wise Folk Malcontent, for those stuck in the 20th century) with male-female vocals that swoop around each other until they collide in harmony. (Anyone remember Jawbox?)

If I was describing it to anyone who doesn't know me, I would talk about how it's refreshing to hear a traditional indie-pop album, all gushy, pretty emo-ish songs that aren't afraid of a mass guitar rush, and a string section to boot, that still sounds vital no matter how many people try to tell me that indie-rock is dead.

If I were talking to a friend, I would say that it reminds me of home and I love it.

If you can take advice from someone who so willingly admits his lack of objectivity then go see Absinthe Blind at 7:30 p.m., on Sunday, May 27 at Skrappy's, 201 E. Broadway Blvd. For more info call 620-1824.

GHOST STORY: Adam Marsland and his band, Cockeyed Ghost are up to their usual tricks on their new release, Ludlow 6:18, just released on Karma Frog Records. Marsland and Co. have had a serious sweet tooth for the Beach Boys and the Raspberries (as well as sorta trite lyrics) for a while now. On Ludlow, they seem to have dug into their old E.L.O. records as well as having discovered Ben Folds Five. They'll be playing at 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 27, at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St., opening for Ouinur along with Trailer Park Mark. In deference to its name, the headliners promise a free wiener with each paid admission of $3. Questions? Call 670-9202.

OH, DADDY-O! After a bit of a hiatus fueled by the birth of frontman Jason Steed's baby, Creosote has begun to play around town again with a brand new rhythm section in tow. They've chosen to take the middle slot--in between Caliche Con Carne and Topless Opry--for a show at 9 p.m. on Friday, May 25, at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St. For more details call 670-9202.

WAYBACK WHEN: Tucson six-piece jam combo The Wayback Machine will throw a release party this weekend to celebrate Who Knew?, its debut CD, recorded live in December at the Casbah Tea House. As the band itself states, "This is not high art." Rather, the disc features extended takes on classic tunes from some of the old reliables: the Grateful Dead, Van Morrison, and Paul Simon to name a few. Join in the fun at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 26, at Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave. Cover is $5, and you can pick up a copy of the disc for $10. Call 690-0991 for more info.

ROYAL TREATMENT: Boondocks is also the chosen site for a benefit show for Dave Trippy of Phoenix blues outfit The Hoodoo Kings. Trippy has been battling cancer for the last year, and all proceeds from the event will be applied to his medical bills. Performing at the event will be the Kings of Pleasure, and there will be plenty of surprises in the way of special guests, raffles, and giveaways. The show starts at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 27, at Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave. Admission is a $5 donation to the cause. Call 690-0991 with questions.

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