Find herein a six-pack of information nuggets. They're bite-sized--and the NBA owners haven't locked them out.

Nugget 1: Denver's Soak is playing the name game. According to longtime Soak drummer Donnie Maul, the group was formed in 1994 and subsequently went to the trouble of trademarking its appellation in Colorado. Then, three years later, a Dallas band also called Soak tried to trademark its name nationally following its signing to Interscope Records. When the Lone Star combo discovered the conflict, its lawyers contacted their opposite numbers in the Rocky Mountains and offered to buy the rights to the handle for $10,000. Initially, Maul and his bandmates (vocalist Troy Williams, bassist Tony Pettofrezzo and guitarists Aaron Garcia and Jason Goodman) weren't sure if they were interested in such a deal; after all, they'd worked hard to build a mailing list (it's now 900 fans strong) and were in the planning stages for a new CD. But they eventually accepted the offer and came up with a new name of their own: Vido Sun, a reference to Maul's beloved grandfather. But a funny thing happened on the way to a five-figure payday. Interscope dropped the other Soak, leaving the Texans short of funds. "They still want the name," Maul says, "and now we have a verbal agreement on $3,000. But we haven't seen any contract on that."

Fortunately, the men now known as Vido Sun aren't all that upset by this turn of events. "We've had some personnel changes over the years and some changes in our sound to go along with them," Maul notes. "Things have really come together for us over the last six months. So maybe it's good that we did it anyway." The band is debuting its new disc on Saturday, December 12, at Herman's Hideaway, and while it's being billed as Soak's CD-release party, Maul confirms that Vido Sun is the moniker on the album's cover. "It doesn't make any mention of Soak at all," he says, adding, "I'm sure it'll lead to some confusion for people who've known us as Soak, but we hope it won't be too bad."

Especially since the odds of them actually receiving any cash for making the switch are getting smaller by the day.

Nugget 2: Ralph Gean, one of the area's most eccentric performers, appears on not one, but two recordings set for release in the not too distant future. First up is a sampler being assembled for Hierarchy, an independent imprint overseen by Boyd Rice, Denver's most cheerful satanist (Q: Did you hear about the dyslexic devil worshiper? A: He sold his soul to Santa). In addition, Gean will be at the center of a full-length followup to A Star Unborn, or What Would Have Been If What Is Hadn't Happened: The Amazing Story of Ralph Gean, issued on World Serpent Records in 1997. The latest offering will be split between archival material and fresh songs Gean cut with help from a supporting cast that includes the Apples' Eric Allen and instrumentalists from the Perry Weissman 3. Once both platters are available, Gean hopes to play live in cities such as San Francisco, where he appeared this past May. During that visit, Gean stayed with none other than Dead Kennedys founder/former Boulderite Jello Biafra. "He came out to see me at the Lion's Lair in October of 1996 and we formed kind of a friendship," Gean says. "It was very nice of him to open his home to me."

Old punks are the nicest punks.

Nugget 3: Young punks have their uses, too. The members of the Hate Fuck Trio and the Blast-Off Heads are on the bill at the 15th Street Tavern on Friday, December 11, and between the hours of 8 and 10 p.m., they'll also be serving as guest bartenders. Make mine a double.

Nugget 4: DJ Chonz, the winner of this year's Colorado DJ Competition, and Francois Baptiste of 3 Deep Productions have joined together to produce Radio Bums, a new Internet radio program. The show, which shares its name with a group fronted by producer/DJ Hakeem Abdul Khaaliq, is dedicated to what Baptiste calls "true hip-hop." To discover what that means, click over to www. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon, Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sundays from 3 to 5 p.m.

Nugget 5: Yes, Howard Stern actually did start his tenure with KXPK-FM/96.5 (the Peak) on November 30--and he wasted no time laying down the law.

As recounted in the November 26 edition of this column, Denver Tribune Radio had signed Stern to appear on KKHK-FM/99.5 (the Hawk) last summer only to nix the pact days before his much-anticipated debut. According to reliable sources, Stern had made a gentleman's agreement not to badmouth Tribune over this matter as long as its staffers didn't do anything that might have prevented him from hooking up with another Denver station--a bargain Tribune kept. Stern, however, spent part of the 30th presenting a particularly impolitic version of the situation, and although he didn't specifically mention either Tribune or the Hawk, he made it clear at whom his barbs were directed. "I hate those guys," he said. "They never even gave us a chance. I should have sued them because of what they did to my reputation. But no court in this country will take me seriously."

This exchange was about as interesting as Stern got during his first week on our thin air. I heard him conduct several rambling conversations with minor celebrities such as Corey Feldman and Sherman Hemsley (yawn) and listened without having my nose turn blue as he gushed over a porno "actress" who'd promised to have sex with one of his listeners. But I was surprised to discover just how dull much of his program is. The lack of structure means that Stern and his crew spend insufferably long stretches in search of something funny, and what they find is seldom a laugh riot. Then again, maybe I'm the only one who was unable to find the hilarity in jokes about Michael J. Fox's case of Parkinson's disease or a dial-a-date candidate who repeatedly used the words "niggers" and "spics." What a stick-in-the-mud I am.

Nugget 6: The news about radio isn't all bad, though. KVCU-AM/1190, run under the auspices of the University of Colorado-Boulder, has been accessible to the vast majority of listeners only since November 4, but it's already made its presence felt. Some of the jocks sound a little rough around the edges, but their styles are a fabulous antidote to the slickness that saturates the commercial frequencies. Moreover, the music that they're playing has been consistently intriguing and daringly eclectic. One set I heard included, in order, Hayden, Hank Williams, Portishead, Eric B. & Rakim, DJ Spooky and the Minders--six worthy acts that deserve to be heard.

The outlet doesn't seem like a startup, and for good reason: It's been operating for years as a carrier-current station that few people could hear. (One DJ told me with becoming earnestness, "It's so great now that we have listeners.") But KVCU is still deserving of special praise. Is it too soon to declare AM-1190 to be the best music station in the Denver-Boulder area? Hardly.

And now, some bonus nuggets. On Thursday, December 10, the Jeromes, co-starring promoter Doug Kauffman, join the Heat and the Damn Shambles at the Bluebird Theater, and the Jonny Mogambo Band puts out a new CD at Brendan's. On Friday, December 11, the Snatchers fall into the Speedholes at the Lion's Lair; the Gagan Brothers get ga-ga at Cricket on the Hill; Clown, Rocket Ajax, Sick and Sketch compete in a battle of the bands at Oil Can's; Tom Tilton's Holiday Quintet jingles bells as part of "Steinway and Stained Glass: A Holiday Jazz Concert" at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 1615 Ogden; Clever, from Omaha, runs on brainpower at the Bluebird, with the Phunk Junkees and Blister; Turnsol scrubs Soapy Smith's; and Rainbow Sugar joins the Letches and Koala at Monkey Mania, 1st and Lipan. On Saturday, December 12, Sci-Fi Uterus is explored at the Mercury Cafe, and guitarist Marc Antoine vamps at the Casino. On Sunday, December 13, DJ Jody spins at Boulder's Soma, 1915 Broadway. On Tuesday, December 15, Martha's Wake fuels up on L.S. Diesel at the Iliff Park Saloon. And on Wednesday, December 16, Hamster Theatre keeps the wheels turning at the Mercury. It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

--Michael Roberts

Backbeat's e-mail address is: While you're online, visit Michael Roberts's Jukebox at

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