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THIS ADDS UP: Having performed in a coveted slot opening for Fairport Convention last week at Berger Center, Devon, England's Equation returns for a headlining gig of its own this week at Plush.

Billed as "the UK's top young folk-rock band," a description that calls to mind comparisons to the likes of Lindisfarne, Steeleye Span, and well, Fairport Convention, the quintet actually bears more in common with more modern bands, such as 10,000 Maniacs and '70s- and '80s-era Fleetwood Mac. Comprising Kathryn Roberts (vocals, woodwind, piano), James Crocker (guitar, banjo), Sean Lakeman (guitar), Darren Edwards (bass), and Iain Goodall (drums, percussion), Equation specializes in easily digestible, story-songs that your mom could love. Roberts' voice recalls a cross between Natalie Merchant and The Reputation's Elizabeth Elmore, at once brainy and cotton candy sweet, and while most of the tunes on the band's new release, First Name Terms (2002, I Scream), are slow- to mid-tempo, the standouts are the ones that deviate from the pattern: in a far more stripped-down form, "Full Speed" would sound like one of those acoustic-punk rave-ups that made the Violent Femmes its name, while album opener "Wild Card" is a clipped-chord, hook-y tale of a woman who left behind her husband and child for a taste of la vida loca that would sound right at home on AAA radio.

Currently on its fourth U.S. tour in as many years, Equation performs at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 10, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Admission is $7. For more info call 798-1298.


HIP-HOP TO IT: Judging from the sold-out response to Atmosphere's show at Club Congress last week, Tucsonans have developed a hearty appetite for cutting-edge, underground hip-hop. The devout should take note of an Anticon collective show hitting town this week.

cLOUDDEAD has made two well-received appearances in town so far this year, and that group's MC, Doseone, will return with another of his projects, Themselves, along with partner Jel, whose thick, lo-fi beats make most sound rudimentary. Just out, The No Music (2002, Anticon) throws the light on Doseone's positive and dexterous flow, without the dark, dense atmospherics of his work in cLOUDDEAD.

Just in case it's dark you seek, though, Alias is also on the bill. His solo debut, The Other Side of the Looking Glass (2002, Anticon), is remarkable in that he's responsible for nearly all the sounds on it, save a co-writing credit (Doseone), production on one song ("Mayonnaise"), and a sax break (his 12-year-old brother, Ehren Whitney). Sporting dubbed-out beats and spooky drones, Other Side has much in common with the claustrophobic work of cLOUDDEAD.

Themselves and Alias appear at 9 p.m. on Monday, October 14, at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave. Clue to Kalo will open. Admission is $7. Call 884-0874 for further details.


BONEHEAD ALERT: Tucson's Funky Bonz, who have been getting drunken collegiate types to shake their collective bootay for a decade now, have just released a new four-song EP, Make It Funky (2002, Mobettagigs). While the band has certainly been through a lineup change or two over the years, aside from vocalist Brent Kort and saxophonist Tom Kennedy, the disc sports a brand-new roster of members: guitarist Andres Ramirez, bassist Fernie "Snoop" Lopez, and drummer Mike Hoeffner. And it seems to have rejuvenated the band somewhat, too. The arrangements found here, especially on the title track, are more subtle than probably anything the Bonz have issued previously, while still retaining the underlying groove that got the kids out on the dance floor in the first place. Elsewhere, "Come a Long Way" is a slinky slice of funk that culminates in a heady, freaky guitar workout, while "Weed From Around the World" is a Chili Peppers-esque, wordy ode to all things ganja-related that only a collegian could love (and which appropriately cops the riff from Cheech and Chong's "Earache My Eye").

Funky Bonz perform a CD release party at 9 p.m. on Saturday, October 12, at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St. For more information call 622-3535.


COIN OF THE REALM: A favorite of waning actor/director Kevin Costner, who hired him as music supervisor for Dances With Wolves and used his songs in The Postman, Tucson's John Coinman will hold a CD release party this week, for his new release, River of Fire (2002, Arroyo Verde).

The new disc is more fleshed out than what we've come to expect from Coinman's previous stark singer-songwriter incarnation, likely due to the production from James Intveld, who also contributes guitar, bass, and mandolin, as well as songwriting credits, to the proceedings. What remains intact, in spite of the decidedly Americana sound of the album, is just how evocative of the Southwest Coinman's songs remain.

John Coinman performs a rare gig at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 11, at Cushing Street Bar & Restaurant, 198 W. Cushing St. Advance tickets are available for $12 at Antigone Books, Brew & Vine, CD City, and Enchanted Earthworks, or online at www.dotucson.com/tickets. For more information call 440-4455.


ON THE BANDWAGON: Having been ceremoniously and acrimoniously ousted last year from The Allman Brothers Band, whose sound he helped create and define over the span of three decades (he wrote such classics as "Blue Sky," "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," and "Ramblin' Man"), guitarist Dickey Betts stepped out on his own with an album that added Chicago blues, New Orleans R&B stomp, jump-swing, and jazz chords to his already established palette of Southern rock styles. He'll bring his characteristically fluent but tasteful guitar work to town, with his current band, this week at 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 15, at Backstage, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road. Advance tickets are available at all Zia Records locations for $15. Questions? Call 733-6262.

Featuring the uniquely gorgeous harmonies of vocalists Sarah-Jane Moody, whose voice recalls a less cloying Victoria Williams, and Amy Bertucci, New Mexico's The Dolly Ranchers' new release, Escape Artist (2002, Chaos Kitchen), ranges from plaintive, high lonesome balladry ("Drink Me") to frenetic bluegrass workouts ("Middle Girl Slim"), fragile waltzes ("Cholula") to sparse, finger-snapping honky-tonk ("Train Bridge"), all to impressive effect. They'll perform, along with locals Caliche con Carne, at 9 p.m. on Thursday, October 10, at Las Sinfronteras, 137 E. Congress St. For additional info call 623-8935.

Dynamic roots-driven garage punks Dead Moon rarely tour the States, preferring to perform before worshipping crowds of Europeans. (And really, who can blame them?) The trio has been releasing albums since 1987, all of which, in a nod to fellow Oregonians The Kingsmen, were cut from the same lathe as that band's classic "Louis, Louis." Check out what you've been missing when Dead Moon appears, along with the Knockout Pills and Negative Spaceman, at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, October 16, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is $6. Call 622-8848 for further details.

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