War of the Super Buses--The Confrontation: Last week on these very pages, you were promised the titillating lowdown on the ultimate grudge race to the death--the power-packed, diesel-only dirt on a new low in merchandising gimmickry. That's right, the toy replicas of the mighty touring coaches of country legends Billy Ray Cyrus and Hank Williams Jr., taking it to the hilt in a thrilling, off-road juggernaut.

And the considerable crowd of countrified onlookers didn't go home disappointed. Both vehicles took to the rough Arizona terrain with a wicked vengeance, barreling with extreme prejudice over anthills and twigs and navigating menacing rocks that towered up to seven inches high!

"Some Gave All" was the legend on the side of Billy Ray's vehicle, but that was apparently not enough to catch Bocephus' road hawg in its rearview mirror.

Cyrus' achy-breaky fans had their hearts broken big-time when the Billybus misjudged a pebble and did a complete 180-degree power spin, landing upside down in flames as Hank's coachosaurus full-throttled through the treacherous slalom.

Hank's daddy may have died in the back seat of a Cadillac, but the no-holds-barred performance of Hank Jr.'s toy cruiser proved automotive bad luck doesn't run in the family. Jamming into the winner's circle as storm clouds blew in overhead, the dust-covered road monster had done its boss proud.

Late Again: I meant to go see the Slims last Friday night. I really did. It's a great band, Connie's got a hell of a voice, and live dates have been scarce because of day-job commitments. So when I heard about the show at Sail Inn, I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, in midleap I ran into some friends and landed at a place named Casey Moore's Oyster House. In case you don't know, they have beer there. Lots of it. We started talking, and when I asked someone what time it was, well, let's just say it was too late. I did, however, get an excellent recipe for Xiang Su duck from my friend Alan. Don't worry, I'm not gonna get into it here (though it really is quite fascinating: a 300-year-old ritual involving a two-day process that demands suspending the bird--with head intact, if possible--numerous times, and plenty of internal and external hand-basting with a variety of, oh, never mind).

But if you get a chance to see the Slims in the near future, do it. Just stay away from Casey's beforehand.

God knows when you'll see the next copy of a new zine-mag titled Whirlpool (it's tough out in the DIY world), so I'd urge you to search out the just-published debut issue. 'Pool is a damn fine effort from three folks named Adam, Cate and Marlow--50-plus pages of everything you'd expect from an alternative-music rag, but done better than many. (Read: readable.) You'll find interviews with hip young acts like Chapterhouse and Velocity Girl, and plenty of live-show and album reviews. And there's a heavy accent on local music; this issue features a Q&A with Hodge Podge Lodge. Look for Whirlpool at local record stores such as Zia Record Exchange and Stinkweeds Record Exchange, or send a check ($8 for four issues) to P.O. Box 616, Tempe, AZ 85280.

Next Round, They're Buying Department: Congratulations to Beat Angels Brian Smith, Michael Brooks and John Norwood for scoring what Smith describes as a "five-figure" song-publishing deal with a Los Angeles-based company named Windswept Pacific. "It doesn't include the Beat Angels' songs," says Smith. "It establishes a relationship with a publisher so I can write songs and sell them to other people. Since the Alice Cooper thing [Coop covered the trio's tune "Sideshow" on his new album], they think they can bank on me. Little do they know!"

According to Smith, Windswept has placed songs in Oliver Stone films, and includes Quincy Jones on its roster of clients. Not only will the deal help the band get signed to a label, but the big bucks have already brought about a significant change in lifestyle for the somewhat financially challenged Smith. "I had this check when I got back from L.A., and I couldn't even open a bank account, 'cause I only had one ID. I was walking around with a check and no money in my pocket. It was laughable."

Don't Go See: Simply because you can't. The following acts have been canceled and/or postponed: John Mellencamp and Tiny Tim. And that is probably the last time you'll ever see those two names in the same sentence.

Go See: A little jazz in the night, courtesy of local saxman Tony Malaby. Actually, it's a lot of jazz in a lot of nights, in no less than four different configurations, all at Balboa Cafe in Tempe. On Friday, catch the T.M. Quartet featuring Chuck Marohnic. Saturday features the Malaby Trio featuring Mike Ward. Sunday brings us to the Malaby "Swing-a-Thon" featuring Dave Cook, and batting cleanup on Monday is the debut of the Tony Malaby Big Band. Call 966-1300 for showtimes and other details.

The Refreshments (who did a pretty stellar job opening for Dead Hot Workshop recently at Gibson's) are now doing an actual residency at Tempe's fabulous Yucca Tap Room. Every Sunday night at 9, the boys take the stage, and what a stage it is. What a tap room it is. What I mean is, it's dark and cool and a bit smelly in there, but mercifully off the beaten track of Mill Avenue, a place that seems like a grotesque Disney version of a busy boulevard. Call 967-4777 for info.

I can't vouch for what ex-Stray Cat Lee Rocker will be like, but local hillbilly rave-up faves Flathead and Grant and the Geezers are opening up for Rocker and his band Big Blue at Hollywood Alley on Sunday. I haven't witnessed a Geezers show yet, but experts tell me that to do so is the epitome of fun. Call 820-7117. Hey, what if Rocker joined forces with John Mellencamp and Tiny Tim to create the ultimate rockabilly/ukulele/farm-aiding power trio? Oops, guess I was wrong about the sentence thing.

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