MR. ELIMINATOR: The Peppermint Man himself, Dick Dale, returns to the Club Congress on Friday, November 15, to play the heaviest gauge strings known to man, at speeds hitherto unbroken outside the bionic testing grounds. It's been a long time since the Del-Tones played the Rendezvous Ballroom: since, say, Frankie and Annette and the Beach Party movies and his first retirement in back in '65. Dick Dale's life since then has been a vague series of ups and downs, both in and out of the music industry. With the British invasion, Dale's nationwide popularity retracted to southern California, where the mythos of the King of the Surf Guitar has grown over the last 30 years, resulting in Dale's reemergence--albeit with a little help from pop culture.

Given the official nod by Beavis and Butt-head, a 58-year-old Dale, with trusty gold Stratocaster in hand, is now enjoying the same once-famous, then obscure cult-hero-reborn to alternative popularity status as the Man in Black, Johnny Cash.

As a former East Coast 13-year-old whose first introduction to Dick Dale and surf music (discounting the Beach Boys, of course) was the 1981 Agent Orange covers of "Miserlou" and "Pipeline," I can relate to the much-criticized younger generation searching out the real thing in this retro-crazed Age of Recycling. Dick Dale was as much of a surprise to me as David Bowie must have been to uninformed fans of Nirvana's cover of "The Man Who Sold the World."

Calling Up Spirits, Dale's most recent release, is his third release since rejuvenating his career in 1992, and his first release since Tarantino used "Miserlou" for the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Recorded live in a mere six days, Calling Up Spirits is Dale's debut on Beggars Banquet Records, the same label called home by (now-defunct) Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, Holy Barbarians, and Buffalo Tom. The record, touted as classic Dick Dale, boasts 13 tracks, four of which include vocals (something to look forward to in his live show) along with intermittent autobiographical stories told in the third person.

Given Dale's legendary status, his commitment to playing from the heart, and the fact that he recently played to almost a half-million fans as part of Holland's "Pop-Park" festival, perhaps it's unseemly to complain; but it occurs to me Dale's ticket prices have gone up about $2 per show ever since Pulp Fiction. At an average of two visits a year, it's starting to add up: This appearance is $11 in advance, $13 d.o.s., so get your tickets early. The Irving Claw Trio, followed by the newly re-vamped Chick Cashman and the Countrypolitans, open the show around 9:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Hotel Congress front desk, 301 E. Congress St. Call 622-8848 for information.

HOT PICK: Not necessarily a musical performance, but of interest to fans of X, Michael Blake will be performing at Borders Books and Music at 7 p.m. Friday, November 15. It's free and open to the public. Author of the Academy Award-winning Dances With Wolves, Blake will be performing scenes from his new book, Marching to Valhalla. So what is the X connection? In addition to his new book, Blake recently recorded End of the Century, 10 spoken-word tracks backed and produced by Tony Gilkyson, lead guitarist for late, legendary X. Also featured is former X-man D.J. Bonebrake on drums, Al White on the organ and Will MacGregor on bass. Unfortunately, he won't be accompanied by these guys on this particular occasion, but you still don't want to miss this unique opportunity to see Michael Blake perform live.

LAST NOTES: And at last, on Thursday, November 14, "Hawaii's Suntanned Irishman" Ernie Menehune makes a rare appearance at the Airport Lounge. Tickets are only $4, $2 for seniors. Also happening underground at 20 E. Pennington St. this Saturday, November 16, you can savor Tucson's very own Honeywagon for a measly $2 when they open for swinging Phoenix sensation, Curse of the Pink Hearse. Don't trip on the stairs. Call 882-0400 for details.

Big news at the Barrio Bar & Grill! Every Thursday Al Perry and his band perform up close and personal, with two rockin' sets starting at 10 p.m. Don't forget to inquire about the drink specials. The Barrio Bar & Grill is located at 135 S. Sixth Ave. Call 629-0191 for information.

Finally, at the Club Congress on Saturday, November 16, is a band that neither requires nor could withstand any further embellishment--Dread Zeppelin. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 d.o.s. Show time is 10 p.m., with tunes by Spyder promptly following. TW

--Jennifer Murphy
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