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Music Showcase, Take Three

Nominated in Reggae/Ska
7:45 p.m. The Great Room at Wazoo's

THE HECTICS
The question of how many songs are on the new Hectics CD, Everything I Need, throws singer/guitarist Juli McClurg for a loop. "I don't know," she concedes, sounding surprised. "Let me count them." As it turns out, the long-player, which bears the 360 Twist imprimatur, contains sixteen Hectics songs, all of which are marked by ebullient playing and the type of energy that even McClurg's fellow punks can seldom muster. The three-piece, whose membership is completed by singer/guitarist Anika Zappe and drummer Dan Tafoya, needs to be seen in concert to be believed, which is why the players have taken to the interstates. "We went out with [the now-defunct] Element 79 in February, and we played all over: New York City, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Lawrence, Kansas. And it was great. We never had that much fun." The band will be in parts unknown for a significant part of September, too, but McClurg insists that this should not be interpreted as a longing on the part of the Hectics to leave Denver permanently. "I don't think it matters where you're from. If you're really adamant about putting out records and going on tour, you can do it anywhere. It's not going to hurt you." With the Hectics picking up radio airplay in such industry meccas as Los Angeles, it's certainly conceivable that labels will begin dangling deals, but McClurg isn't holding her breath. "If some big record company came along and threw a check in front of us--and the chances of that happening are about one in ten million--we'd be tempted. But right now, we're really happy to be doing it"--she snickers--"for the love of music, man."

Nominated in Punk

HELLCATS
To Chuck Hughes, guitarist, vocalist and main man for the Hillbilly Hellcats, the highway is the right way to promote his band. "I have toured over 24,000 miles, going east from Boston all the way down to Miami. We've also done the West Coast twice, and hit most of the major cities in between." Finding personnel willing to put the rest of their lives on hold for the love of rockabilly hasn't been easy, but Hughes thinks he's finally found two people with enough commitment between them to do the job. "Lance Bakemeyer, our original bass player, left his day job, and he's willing to tour now. And we just found a new drummer, Tim Theis, who we think can come close to filling Taz Bentley's shoes." Bentley, the drummer for Tenderloin, lent his talents and his name to Rev It Up With Taz, a Hellcats CD that was spun on nearly 200 radio stations and appeared for three weeks on the CMJ album charts, "which is a pretty decent accomplishment for a totally independent band not on anyone's label," Hughes contends. He has a treasure trove of new originals that he says "stretch the boundaries of Hillbilly Hellcats music. There's at least one with a Latin groove and another with a surf sort of vibe." He's looking forward to recording them, and has gotten so good at tackling all of the marketing chores himself that he doubts he'll do much contract shopping. "We're not going to sit around waiting for a deal. We'll just Ani DiFranco it and spend our time worrying about making the best music we can."

Nominated in Rockabilly/Roots
9:15 p.m. Blake Street Baseball Club

SHERRI JACKSON
The talented Ms. Jackson is not one to mince words. In talking about her presence on the bill of the Furthur Festival, a sonic carnival built around former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir and Mickey Hart, the violinist, guitarist and singer-songwriter says, "I was a token--the female minority fiddle player." But, she adds, "it was fun, and I learned a lot. If it had been a year, it would have been frustrating, but since it was just June, July and August, I could handle it. And I stood out. The tour got mediocre reviews, but most of them were like, 'The highlight was...'" Critics have been just as kind to Sherri Jackson, her first CD for Hybrid Records, a new independent attempting to muscle its way onto the musical landscape, and radio stations gave enough airplay to one of her ditties, "Maple Tree," that it charted in Billboard magazine, the industry bible. That she visited every radio outlet she could helped her in the latter regard, but she confesses that doing so wasn't the most fun she's ever had. "You'd show up somewhere, and there'd be one or another promo geek who would chauffeur you around to the station, where you'd do the meet-and-greet, and then you'd get back into the rental car and get lost three or four times trying to find where you're supposed to meet everyone for dinner. And after you'd finally eat, then you'd go right back to the airport and catch a plane to the next place. It was really draining." After a date at the Bluebird Theater on September 27, Jackson and her band (drummer Brian McRae and bassist Glenn Esparza) will in all likelihood hook up with another national act and hit the circuit again. She will take with her scads of excellent songs and some diverting Furthur Festival memories. "There were a lot of humorous stories--like Bob Weir forgetting lyrics that I had just learned ten minutes before. But luckily, I had the words written on my violin. It made me wish I played a cello. I could have fit hundreds of songs on there."

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