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The entire matter has been a tremendous headache for Morris, but she remains optimistic about MusicFest 97, which is free to the public and includes a car show, a beer garden, and various arts and crafts booths. (Vendors interested in participating can call the RMMA at 623-6910.) Morris adds that she will deal with Carter's actions in court. "I'm planning to file a lawsuit against him for personal harassment," she says. "I don't know all the rules about slander and things like that, but there's no question that harassment has taken place."

In the meantime, Carter has circulated letters inviting "former [disenchanted] members" of the RMMA to gather at the Book Mall, at 32 Broadway, on Tuesday evenings to help establish a "reform committee" intended to "bring the RMMA back into compliance with its legal and original bylaws and mission." He swears that by doing so, he is not engaging in a vendetta against Morris. "I mean no harm to her," he says. "I'm confronting her as a life lesson."

Local recordings fever: Catch it!
On her second CD, Farewell Bend, singer-songwriter Nancy Cook performs tasteful folk music aided by the contributions of violinist Gordon Burt, hammered-dulcimer player Bonnie Carol and several other Colorado names. The degree of professionalism is quite high on cuts like "We're Only Dancing Tonight," "He Calls Her Beautiful" and "Shadow on the Wall," but there's not a lot in the way of variety; "All the Way Down," which sports the bounciest arrangement here, would qualify as a ballad on anyone else's record. If you're one of those people who can take only so much sensitivity, you're advised to go elsewhere (Sharedog Records, P.O. Box 2402, Frisco 80443). Unclean, a sharp-sounding CD from Rorschach Test, a band that moved from Denver to the Pacific Northwest a couple of years back, demonstrates the keen commercial sense that has always served lead singer James Baker (formerly Jimmy Utah) so well. The musical style is industrial rock midway between Nine Inch Nails and White Zombie, and the lyrics are perfect representations of downer America: Witness the couplet "Congratulations, you've just won the right/To a meaningless, minuscule life," from "Wheel of Misfortune." The Test doesn't get a passing grade when the tempos dip--"Heaven Can Wait" sounds like recycled Pink Floyd. But when Baker is revved up, as he is on "Song for the Other Me," "Monster" and a dopey remake of Berlin's "Sex," he's good, nasty company. Fame has somehow eluded these guys thus far, but it's not been for a lack of trying (CMR Corporation, 360-705-1578).

Strange Monkey, which checks in with the CD Ebola Shindig, exemplifies one of the dilemmas I face in reviewing self-produced discs. This quintet is a rock band, pure and simple, and even though its members (Mark Turner, Alan Hodde, Captain Tim, Johnny G and Danny Durham) play competently, they do so in such a familiar way that there's practically nothing to say about them. After listening to these ten songs, only "Siamese Twins" stuck in my head for more than a second or two--and it did so solely because of the timeless chorus, which consists of four repetitions of the line "You got Siamese twins joined at the butt." Shrug (Strange Monkey, P.O. Box 36307, Denver 80236). R.O.R.X.: The Tenth Annual Reggae on the Rocks, a compilation released by Boulder's W.A.R.? imprint, was reviewed in these pages by contributor Joshua Green a while back, but in my opinion, it's worth another mention. As those who attended the August 1996 concert know, the lineup was first-rate, and while not all of the artists who played are represented here, the ones who are--Burning Spear, Israel Vibration and Black Uhuru--turn in top-drawer performances; I especially liked Spear's "Peace" and "Marcus Garvey," which are punctuated by stinging horns. The sound quality is noteworthy, too, making R.O.R.X. far more than a souvenir. Rather, it's proof that many of reggae's pioneers continue to work at a very high level (available in area record stores).

The self-titled cassette by Littleton's 100 Grand isn't going to get any technical raves in Stereo Review; I had to turn it up to a deafening level merely to hear it at all. But the music itself had much to recommend it. D-Bone, whose previous solo effort, Crazy, received a decidedly mixed review in this space earlier this year (Feedback, March 27), benefits immeasurably from singer Darlene, whose relaxed, soulful crooning on "Welcome" and "Dreamin" cut right through the technical limitations. "Don't Bite the Bullet," with vocals by (I think) D-Bone is considerably more forced. Next time, more Darlene, please (100 Grand, 430 East Mineral Court, Littleton 80122). Jimmy LaFave isn't a Denverite; he's a prototypical Austin dweller. But local music scenester Mark Shumate is such a LaFave fan that he formed Bohemia Beat Records (distributed by Rounder) for the sole purpose of bringing the singer-songwriter to a larger audience. A listen to LaFave's latest disc, Road Novel, opens a window onto Shumate's enthusiasm. With his scratchy voice, intelligent lyrics and love for the sort of rock and roll that doesn't hide its country roots (as well as the brand of country that's not afraid to rock), LaFave calls to mind a C&W Bruce Springsteen. "You'll Never Know" starts the album in fine style, "Vast Stretches of Broken Heart" would do Joe Ely proud, "Into Your Life" is prime hillbilly soul, "Home Sweet Oklahoma" is dusty and desolate, and "Long Time Since the Last Time" is roadhouse rock the way it was meant to be. Make Shumate happy--give LaFave a spin (available in area record stores).

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts