HIT THE ROAD, JACK: Just two weeks following one of their we-can't-really-call-it-a-reunion-anymore shows, the two core members of the Sand Rubies, singer/guitarist Dave Slutes and guitarist Rich Hopkins, are following divergent paths in their other musical pursuits.

Slutes has become, how shall we put this, spokesman for guerilla theater cover band The Zsa Zsas, comprised of a Tucson-by-way-of-Eastern-European who's who of musical talent. (As anyone who's seen the band knows, it bastardizes overplayed and over-familiar songs in extended medleys, played note-perfect, while singer Milos Sucrose brazenly fumbles with the words in whichever horrible accent slips off his tongue at any given moment, insulting his adoring fans whenever the opportunity arises.)

As somewhat of a lark, the band caught word that VH-1 was accepting audition tapes for a new show called Cover Wars, a sort of battle of the bands wherein contestants would be tested on their musical acumen based on how well they could play any song at the drop of a hat, and in any genre, no less (e.g. "Play 'Like a Virgin,' reggae-style, and GO!"). Although the ZZs' application came in well past deadline, the cable TV gods cut the boys some slack and let them advance to the next round anyway, booting one previously selected band in the process. Roughly 1,000 bands had sent in applications.

For the next round of auditioning, VH-1 sent out a hermetically sealed package to the band that insisted that they go to their practice space prepared to videotape whatever occurred there, beginning with the opening of the package, on camera, which they did. Inside were instructions to perform 22 songs, from '60s rock classics to the current Christina Aguillera single, on the spot, four of which had to be performed in a couple of different styles, with a mere five seconds in between each song. Though the band was stumped by a Dave Matthews Band song, they must have impressed network brass with their take on "Whole Lotta Love," which segued into "Muskrat Love."

The band was one of only a few outside the New York area to garner a spot on the show; they'll touch down in NYC on Friday for a five-day trip, climaxing in the show taping on Sunday (Paul Schaeffer hosts), all on VH-1's dime. Which is all kinda funny, considering the Zsa Zsas have always prided themselves on being an Anti-Cover Band.

Slutes, for his part, is filled with glee. "I haven't been this excited about something since [the Sand Rubies] got signed [to RCA]," he says. "Think about cover bands, and how lame all those tapes must have been, and then they get The Zsa Zsas, which must have been a breath of fresh air; although they have fucking no idea what they're getting into with us. We're not a real cover band."

The group, in true Anti-Cover Band fashion, views the opportunity--which could yield a tricked-out tour van worth about 30 grand if they win--as another chance to create mayhem, rather than seriously compete, as most of the mullet-headed, Crue-worshippin', "but we know all the Britney songs so we can still play bar mitzvahs" Jersey-ites undoubtedly will. "We don't care about winning," says Slutes. "We just wanna get our shtick up, and if we get tossed out of the studio, we want it on film. They don't know that if we don't know a song, we crack into 'Hava Nagila.' They've let the wolf in the henhouse on this thing. It's all performance art to us." The band is essentially preparing to pull a Tony Clifton. To press the case further, Zsa Zsas singer/insulter/shady dude Milos Sucrose has already written what Slutes calls "a nasty old bribery letter" to the network. We'll keep you informed of the results.

But in the meantime, Club Congress has decided to forego its usual dance night on Thursday to allow the band one last warm-up gig before the trip. In order to prepare, the performance will be an all-request show, with ground rules similar to the Cover Wars setup (e.g. no attempts to out-obscure the band). It all goes down at 9 p.m. on Thursday, June 7 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. For more information call 622-8848.

Rich Hopkins, on the other hand, is sticking to more serious musical pursuits. His "other" band, The Luminarios, is also heading out of town soon, albeit for the more traditional summer tour. The band, which also features ex-MC5 bassist Michael Davis and ex-Magnolias drummer Tom Cook, will be touring Europe for the summer festival season, just after Hopkins and producer Craig Schumacher return from Orange County, Calif., to mix not one, but two new Luminarios albums, set for release in the fall on his own San Jacinto imprint. The records were mixed on one of the only three Flickinger mixing boards ever manufactured, back in 1969; Hopkins calls it "one of the most unique mixing boards ever made." (Appropriate, considering he also refers to the material on the forthcoming discs as "by far the most ambitious stuff I've ever done.")

Before the boys board the plane, though, they'll make one last stop at Club Congress for a combo CD release/bon voyage celebration. Join them at 9 p.m. on Friday, June 8 at the Congo, 311 E. Congress St. Phoenix's The Trophy Husbands will open the show, which will cost ya five bucks at the door. That number again is 622-8848.

POST-PUNK POOH-BAHS: Not unlike an indie AC/DC with post-punk start 'n' stops, Those Peabodys, whose new self-titled album (Post Parlo Records) was produced by Silver Scooter's Scott Garred and released on February 6, will appeal to those who grew up on punk rock but found equal solace when they discovered their older brother's (uncle's?) Billy Squier records. Rocket from the Crypt without horns, anyone?

If so, head out to Skrappys, 201 E. Broadway Blvd., at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 7. Celsius and others will provide support. Cover for the all-ages show is five bucks. For more info call 620-1824.

LOVE ME TENDER: Singer/songwriter Kimberlee has two personas: By turns she possesses one of those voices that comes rather close to sounding like a Muppet at times but manages to escape by virtue of individuality (think Macy Gray and Tina Turner); other times she shows off the goods of a sultry songstress. She's a folkie in the truest sense, sent from 25 years back to sing simple, tender songs about simple, tender stuff like love, though she's moderne enough to insert swatches of Ani-style funk-folk into tunes like "Stop This Train." She'll play for free at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 11 at Borders, 4235 N. Oracle Road. All ages are welcome. For more information call 292-1331.

TOTALLY TUBULAR: I have a special relationship with The Tubes for several reasons, some of which I've previously written about in these pages (formative childhood experiences) and some of which I haven't (their way around completely silly, dead-on parody songs, packed with more hooks than a pirate movie). Showfolks to the Nth degree--a good portion of The Tubes' live set is "performed" by an onslaught of fictitious personalities--The Tubes are first and foremost entertainers, albeit ones with a substantial catalog to draw from. Judging from their last local appearance, I'm not alone in professing my love for them. (Note to the die-hards: Quay Lude will be in attendance.)

The Tubes appear at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 9 at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Advance tickets are available for $10 at all Zia locations. For details call 798-3333.