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I hope they don't take that as a challenge--but they probably will.

Bassist Kurt Ohlen of the Dalhart Imperials has left the group in a move that actually seems amicable: The co-founder of the Denver Rock-N-Rhythm Billy Weekend (whose 1999 edition is currently in the planning stages) is eager to tour, but his bandmates are unable to do so. "I have the luxury to try to do this thing full-time, and I'd like to pursue it before I don't have that luxury anymore," he says. "And unfortunately, the rest of the guys have too many real-world commitments--children, mortgages." As a result, Ohlen is in the midst of forming what he describes as "a really jazzy Western-swing combo," and he's looking for a drummer, a lead guitarist and a bassist eager to hit the road. Interested parties are urged to call 303-455-8408.

And now, an update on Thinking Plague, recently profiled in these pages ("The Power of Positive Thinking," January 7). According to band leader Mike Johnson, the Plague has been invited to perform this July at an event in Arles, France, called Festival MIMI. "It is really the only real, remaining European festival of any size dealing with the avant-garde that actually includes artists coming from the rock orientation," he says. "I hear we are to open for Massacre with Bill Laswell, Fred Frith and Charles Haywood of This Heat." He adds that the group will likely do a few warm-up dates in the Denver area just prior to heading to the Old Country.

By the way, Johnson noted a small error in the aforementioned article: The 1984 recording ...a thinking plague was originally issued on LP, not cassette. The cassette version didn't come out until 1986.

I'm ready for my beating now. On Thursday, January 21, Bernie Worrell & the Woo Warriors return to the Fox Theatre. On Friday, January 22, Hemi Cuda, featuring Hectics survivors Anike Zappe and Juli McClurg, bows at the 15th Street Tavern, with the Pin Downs; Chupacabra celebrates the release of a new recording at the Fox; John Brown's Body can be viewed for the first of two nights at Jimmy's Grille; and United Dope Front chills out at Round Midnight. And on Saturday, January 23, Gordon visits Lucky Star; Paul Galaxy & the Galactix orbit at the Cricket; and Celeste Krenz graces the stage at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, with Bob Tyler. Who would follow her anywhere.

--Michael Roberts

Backbeat's e-mail address is: Michael_Roberts@ westword.comMichael_Roberts@. While you're online, visit Michael Roberts's Jukebox at www.westword.com.

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