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Soundbites

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MANLY THINGS

Since the band last visited us, nearly 10 months ago, things have been on a steady upward trajectory for Philadelphia sextet Man Man. Let's count their blessings, shall we?

1.) Man Man is one of the brightest names on the suddenly red-hot Ace Fu Records roster, which also includes such upstarts as Annuals, The Dears, DeVotchKa, Illinois and Secret Machines.

2.) Word of mouth has it as one of the best live bands out there today, but be warned: Face paint is de rigeur. As are found-percussion jam sessions.

3.) Earlier this week it was announced that Man Man had landed a coveted slot opening for Modest Mouse--whose latest album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart--starting later this month. Can't get much better exposure than that.

4.) Oh, and then there's the music, which culls a risky listener's record collection, one that is heavy on Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart and the Boredoms, with a special nod toward gypsy and klezmer music, then spins it out as something a bit more accessible. These are pop songs under a carnival barker's tutelage, indie-rock's answer to Frank Zappa, with creepy little-girl choirs and drunken, sea chantey-esque, wordless sing-alongs.

So, while you may not be hearing Man Man on KFMA anytime soon, it's also not likely that you'll be able to see much longer it in a venue as small as Solar Culture Gallery, where it'll be performing this week.

Man Man performs on Saturday, April 7, along with opener Golden Boots, which starts at 9 p.m. Admission to the all-ages show is $8. Solar Culture Gallery is located at 31 E. Toole Ave. Call 884-0874 for more information.


THUNDERING HERD

Country music fans looking for a road trip should mark off Thursday, April 12, through Sunday, April 15, on their calendars. That's when the annual Country Thunder music festival hits Florence, Ariz., with two stages' worth of big-time acts.

Slated to perform this time around are Trace Adkins, Jo Dee Messina and Lorrie Morgan (all on April 12); Reba McEntire, Randy Owen, Blake Shelton and Tanya Tucker (April 13); Big and Rich, Gretchen Wilson and Cross Canadian Ragweed (April 14); Montgomery Gentry, Phil Vassar, Neal McCoy and Trick Pony (April 15); as well as scores of others.

Since Florence isn't exactly overflowing with plush accomodations, attendees can either choose to drive home each night, or, if you aren't afraid of what you'll smell like after a few days in the hot sun, rent a campsite, which will run you about $100 to $125 for four days.

The festival takes place at Canyon Moon Ranch, 20585 E. Price Road, off Arizona 79, in Florence. Advance tickets cost $35 to $150 for a single-day pass, or $129 to $450 for a four-day pass. They'll be more at the gate. For all the info you could ever want, head to countrythunder.com, where you can even sample music by the performers. If you still have questions, call (262) 279-6960.


EMO, PHONE HOME

Setting: A team of corporate executives sitting around a board room table.

Boss: "We've gotta sell these Virgin mobile phones, and we've got to do it now. Who's our target demographic?"

Underling #1: "Well, sir, college students seem to talk on the phone an awful lot."

Underling #2: "That's true. And they've got a seemingly endless supply of disposable income."

Boss: "But how do we tap into this lucrative market?"

Underling #1: "Well, sir, they seem to like rap music."

Underling #2: "That's true. And our research shows they like rock, too. And something called emo."

Boss (on intercom): "Jenny, get me an intern in here to explain what the hell emo is."

And thus, the 2007 Virgin College Mega Tour was born.

The tour, which features the awesome Talib Kweli (he's the rap guy), Sugarcult (rock) and former Something Corporate singer/songwriter/guitarist William Tell (he's the sensitive emo guy, not the arrow-in-the-apple guy), will roll into the UA Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd., at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10. Advance tickets are available at the venue's box office, by phone at 621-3341, or online at UApresents. They are $15 and $20 for students, $20 and $30 for the general public. For more info call 621-2782.


INCREASE YOUR BUSK SIZE

If you've strolled down Fourth Avenue in the last year or so, chances are you've been serenaded by a pair of scruffyish dudes in Western wear, sawing on a fiddle, strumming a mandolin, blowing into a harp and singing their way into your hearts via speedily rendered versions of old-timey tunes. Well, that duo is called The Dusty Buskers ("the band that fits on a bike") and this week it will not only perform at an actual indoor venue, but also premiere a new short film/music video, "Sail Away Ladies," which documents life from a busker's point of view. Also on the bill are the fabulous rockabilly sounds of Al Foul, who started his musical career busking, as well. (Now, if we can only get Doo Rag to jump onboard ...)

It all goes down at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 7, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is $3. Call 622-8848 for further details.


CIVIL UNION

You'd be forgiven if you tossed Seems So Civilized, the latest album from Carrie Clark and the Lonesome Lovers, into the hi-fi, hit "play," and thought "Long Black Coat," the opening track, sounded an awful lot like the Cowboy Junkies. It's got that sultry, smoky, late-night torch-song vibe that the Junkies are known for, after all.

But keep listening and you'll soon realize this Seattle trio has a lot more tricks up its sleeve. "Adeline" is a jaunty little countryish number that kicks up a bit of dust, and then it's on to "Josephine," a piano cabaret tune that suggests Clark has been listening to Nellie McKay. Luckily, Clark's voice is well suited to such genre-hopping, and her band is versatile enough to tackle the material at hand.

Carrie Clark and the Lonesome Lovers perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Sunday, April 8. Michael John Serpe opens at 9:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more info call 798-1298.


TOOTS SUITE

The story of Toots and the Maytals could double as a brief history of reggae music itself. The group began in Kingston, Jamaica, in the early '60s, playing ska music, which preceded reggae. In 1968, with the release of the single "Do the Reggay," it gave a name to a new, slower version of ska embraced the world over. The group has worked over the years with such legendary producers as Leslie Kong, Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, Prince Buster, Byron Lee, and Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, and has given reggae fans such classics as "Pressure Drop" (later covered by the Clash), "Monkey Man" (covered by the Specials) and "Funky Kingston," among dozens of others.

Need more proof that Toots and the Maytals is a giant in the world of reggae? Do yourself a favor and buy a ticket to its show at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10, at the Rialto Theatre. Neon Prophet opens the all-ages show. Advance tickets are available for $22 at the venue's box office, online or by calling 740-1000. They'll be $24 on the day of show.

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