God knows what I was thinking.
I'm no rap fan, I hate Candlebox, and I hate sports. I know even less about sports than I know about music. Yet for some reason, I allowed myself to be talked into going to that live MTV/All-Star broadcast thing at America West Arena last Friday night. And guess what was going on down there? Rap, Candlebox and the running theme of sports, sports, sports.

At least they had free beer, and they were handing it out in souvenir plastic cups that are sure to look great at yard sales for years to come. We stood there--myself, the wife and our diminutive, powerful friend Todd who makes a lot of money working for a not-very-funny late-night TV show out of L.A.--surrounded by men who looked like athletes. I could recognize no one, then Boyz II Men came on to drench the crowd with smooth vocal syrup. They looked more like frat boyz to me, wearing bright-red letter jackets. Then the boyz slipped off the coats to reveal basketball jerseys, and guess what team? Right on! The Sunz!

The best aspect of the show was the Alan Freed revuelike pacing of the whole thing, having bands play only a couple numbers and then make way for the next act. Unfortunately, the next act was a bunch of white boys calling itself Collective Soul, whose collective soul was about that of a Big Mac. We got out of there and did the sensible thing, headed with extreme prejudice for Newman's, the perfect dive. And talk about sublime entertainment. Every time a particularly lovely song would come on the juke, Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," for example, a suave gentleman in a baby-blue satin jacket would weave into the middle of the floor and do a bizarre, exquisite mime-dance along with it. He was quite drunk, and quite good. Though he didn't do any Boyz II Men numbers.

The rest of the weekend paled in comparison, though I did drive to a zoo in Payson, where I saw a baboon break-dance. At least I think it was a baboon; whichever strain of monkey has the red, bulbous buttocks--that was the one I saw. This Is the Modern World: Spinning Jenny, whose latest release is, in fact, called Piata Full of Bees, is stepping into the exciting world of modern technology by staking out a claim on the Internet. Users hooked into the World Wide Web can download photos of S.J., CD artwork, sound clips and lyrics, and really clever fans can access band members' personal financial records and other intimate, potentially damaging information. Only kidding. All you need is an SLIP or PPP account and a browser like Netscape or Mosaic or Lynx. (Knowing even less about computers than I do about music and sports, I can't begin to tell you what any of this means. I copied it from a press release.) You can send the band e-mail at sjenny @, and the address for the Web page is Got that? Or, if you want to do things the old-fashioned way, pick up the phone and call 921-8982.

Get Him While He's Hot: If you've been wondering where you can catch "Fiddlin' Sol" Rudnick, he's got a few ongoing gigs that you won't want to miss. "Fiddlin' Sol" serenades the lunch crowd at Pickles Deli on Mondays (call 241-1151), he's at Tony & Maria's Trattoria & Pizzeria Friday and Saturday nights (call 266-7173) and does his thing at Shoppers World on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (call 898-1500). "Fiddlin' Sol" is in the National Fiddlers Hall of Fame in Weisser, Idaho, and is a two-time Arizona fiddle champ. Be sure to request Sol's "Fiddle Magic," wherein the master does "special imitations of man and nature produced on the fiddle." "Fiddlin' Sol" Rudnick. Three words. Four strings. One bow. Simple.

Go See: I'm always suspicious when I see something billed as "a power-packed evening featuring an all-star lineup of top Valley entertainers," but in this case, it's no lie. You can see acts such as Donnie Dean Band, Nancy Gee, Patti Williams and Walt Richardson (not to mention a drum battle to the death between Jay Busch and Dave Cook). It all happens at Jazz and Blues Festival at the Rhythm Room on Sunday. Call 256-4842.

Life is all about choices, and you'll have to make one here: Also on Sunday--but about 180 degrees away musically--is the third annual Valentine's Massacre featuring Plinko, Section 8, Snap Crackle Drop and Those Meddling Kids. That's at Hollywood Alley in Mesa for only three bucks; call 820-7117.

Make that one more choice: Dead Hot Workshop will be at Congo in Scottsdale for the band's last show before hitting the road for a bit. Opening is Stomp Gospel. Yes, on Sunday. Call 945-3778.

A new group called Sugardaddy that describes itself as a "four-piece, fast-paced rock 'n' roll deal" (reach your own conclusions) will be at the Mason Jar on Friday along with Habit Breakers. Call 956-6271.

Texan Junior Brown, an absolutely stunning guitarist who sounds kind of like Jimi Hendrix playing Western swing, will be at the Rockin' Horse in Scottsdale on Wednesday. Not to be missed. Call 949-0992.

Zen Lunatics will bring their unique brand of entertainment to Minder Binder's in Tempe on Saturday. Call 966-1911.

Tickets are now on sale for the ultimate oldies act; Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are doing their Leddish thing in Vegas--only Southwest appearance!!--on May 12 at the MGM Grand Garden. To charge call 784-4444.

The Future of Country Charges Ahead: You should all be aware of the fabulous opportunity that slick, dull, multiplatinum country duo Brooks & Dunn is offering. For the fan who wants the ultimate in card-carrying membership, the official Brooks & Dunn Visa card is now available. And, according to the press release, not only does the card "carry the trademark Brooks & Dunn logo"--it damn well better--and extend "all the privileges of a traditional bank card," but it offers "sizable discounts on all Brooks & Dunn catalogue merchandise." There just aren't enough artists out there these days with that kind of touching consideration. I mean, not even the Stones have their own credit card, do they?


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