If one were to hover around the easternmost part of Congress Street on Wednesday, July 19, one might be convinced by checking out the marquees of the Rialto Theatre and Club Congress that it was 1968. If I were that "one," I'd be mighty confused, considering I'd yet to be born (though I imagine I'd still be wondering what the hell happened to the Greyhound Bus Station on the corner). But still, check it out: Blue Cheer is playing at Congress, and the Kinks' Ray Davies is doing a solo tour that stops at the Rialto the same night. A quick check of the date on my cell phone confirms it's indeed 2006, but my eyes are just as trustworthy as I thought they were--both of these shows are actually happening, folks.

So, here's Ray Davies, the leader of the band that--arguably on all counts--helped invent punk rock ("You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night" were both released in '64), advanced the cause of the rock opera (the first installment of Preservation came out in '73), and recorded some of the finest folk, country, proto-punk and pastoral pop songs to ever emerge from England, or for that matter, anywhere.

Ray Davies is one of the remaining original masters of the literary, pop-rock gem that can convey volumes in three minutes, both through cinematic lyrics and earworm hooks.

The holy quartet of the British Invasion: Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks.

But I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, am I? Let's let the song titles convince you: "Lola," "Waterloo Sunset," "Sunday Afternoon," "Stop Your Sobbing," "Death of a Clown," "David Watts," "Victoria," "Where Have All the Good Times Gone," "Picture Book," "Come Dancing," "Big Sky," "Tired of Waiting for You," "Till the End of the Day," "Shangri-La," "Muswell Hillbilly," "Destroyer," "Don't Forget to Dance," "Village Green Preservation Society"--hell, I could fill the rest of this column with the titles of great songs the guy's written. And, as somewhat of an aside, as I was typing that list of songs, I realized that each one evokes a particular and distinct feeling in me, that each one successfully conveys a mood, which is all too rare among songwriters so prolific. Well, songwriters who used to be prolific, anyway.

It might be hard to believe, but even though the Kinks have been on the back burner for a decade or so now (Ray and his guitarist brother, Dave, never got along so well, though it seems the fence is on the mend following Ray's being shot in the leg in New Orleans, the result of chasing a purse-snatcher, and Dave's stroke, both of which occurred in 2004), this year Ray Davies released his first proper solo album, Other People's Lives (V2). The great news is that he has taken his own advice from the album's "Is There Life After Breakfast": "Don't turn into a total embarrassment." There are a few misguided steps here, for sure, but for the most part, the album sounds like what a Kinks fan might hope for--a wealth of new Davies tunes that restores his reputation as one of the world's great songwriters.

Meanwhile, across the street, two of the original members of Blue Cheer--singer and bassist Dickie Peterson and drummer Paul Whaley--will provide a convincing argument that while Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath might have perfected the genre that became known as heavy metal, Deep Purple, Cream, Vanilla Fudge and Blue Cheer were its earliest proponents, combining the blues-rock riffs of the day with a power theretofore unheard.

Your chance to witness one of the finest songwriters of the British Invasion and beyond, along with one of the architects of heavy metal comes on Wednesday, July 19.

Ray Davies performs an all-ages show at the Rialto, 318 E. Congress St. at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35, available in advance at the venue's box office or at the door. Call 740-1000 for more info.

Blue Cheer performs at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., the very same night, with the Luminarios opening. Though the Congress show time is listed as 9 p.m., we've been assured that the sets will be timed so that those who want to catch both will be accommodated--enough so that Congress is offering a half-price discount to those heading over after the Davies show. Admission is $10, or $5 with a Ray Davies ticket stub. Call 622-8848 with questions.


The Hut has been working awfully hard lately to establish itself as the home base for rootsy, locally based Americana music--with a great deal of success--and this weekend, it attempts to drive that point home via the Hoedown at The Hut Desert Rock Festival. Ten local acts were scheduled to perform on two stages (as of press time, it's down to nine, as Creosote has had to pull out), for an all-day/all-night festival that'll keep your cowboy boots tapping, even as they avoid gathering the dust usually associated with such outings.

Things kick off at 3 p.m. with The Dusty Buskers, then continue with Cadillac Mountain (4 p.m.), The Spurloafers (5 p.m.), Feta and Shiraz (6 p.m.), Loveland (7 p.m.), Ghost Cow (8 p.m.), the currently empty slot formerly occupied by Creosote at 9 p.m., Greyhound Soul (10 p.m.), The Wyatts (11:15 p.m.) and The Little Morts at 12:30 a.m.

All this for a mere five bucks, no less. Hop to it on Saturday, July 15. The Hut is located at 305 N. Fourth Ave. For further details, call 623-3200.


I recently received an e-mail from a kind reader named Ian imploring you to go check out Los Angeles' Butt Trumpet next Wednesday, July 19. I pass his advice along to you despite the fact that the links he sent me to check out their music revealed a scatologically obsessed simpleton punk band--would you expect anything less from a band called Butt Trumpet?--that has obviously heard a lot of Descendents and G.G. Allin. Those links kept freezing up my computer, too.

If you miss the days of the stupid-fun '80s punk band, head to Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St. Get there at 10 p.m. to catch openers Drizzle and Dirteater. I can't tell you what the cover will be, but if you call 622-3535, they might be able to fill you in.


I know they sold nearly 2,000 tickets for their last local appearance, at Centennial Hall in November, but who knew that Phoenix-area emo-ish pop duo The Format, whose second full-length, Dog Problems (Nettwerk), arrived in stores earlier this week, had both the taste and drawing power to headline over the newly powerized but still bookish Rainer Maria? Their all-ages show, which comes to the Rialto at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 15, will also include openers Anathallo and Street to Nowhere, and will serve as a CD release party for the new disc. Tix are $16 whether you get 'em in advance at the venue's box office or at the door. For further details, call 740-1000.


Christmas comes but twice a year--this according to the twisted fucks of the Bloat collective, anyway, who every summer celebrate Christmas in July. This season's festivities include sets from The Beta Sweat, The Pork Torta and Winelord, as well as many surprises and special appearances the likes of which only the Bloat camp can conjure (yes, Gary Bear will take part in some fashion). Four bucks gets you through the doors of Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, July 14. If you must ask questions, the number to call is 622-8848.


Rest in peace, Syd.
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