GIGS GALORE

Austin, Texas' Fabulous Thunderbirds are a sad shell of their old, bluesy selves. They sounded tinny and trite, and their signature song, "Tuff Enuff," was delivered most wimpily.

The Marshall Tucker Band, however, delighted the gathering with extended takes of their finest: "Fire on the Mountain," "Searchin' for a Rainbow," "Heard It in a Love Song," "Can't You See," et al. That sweet blend of textures--amplified steel and sultry flute along with full-throated vocals--was most satisfying to those of us reaching back in time. Twenty-three years and 18 albums later, this group of pros pounds it out still.

Alas, it's sad to report that .38 Special, the show capper, can't boast the same ethic. With a cardboard cutout of main bandman Donnie Van Zandt subbing for the real rocker (who was out with a hoarse voice, we were told), the group flat misfired. By their third tired tune, many in the crowd sought egress, some wondering aloud how the Suns fared and others worried about taking their buzzes to bed early enough to be fresh for work on Wednesday.

Can you say "old

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