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Makin' the Scene 

Hillbilly Idol is beating the winter blahs with a big fat wooden stick. The band is slated to play two prestigious showcases in Southern climates: February 13 Hillbilly Idol will perform at the Nashville Extravaganza Showcase; March 19, it's off to Austin for the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference.

"What we do there, we'll see," says guitarist Paul Kovac. "We'll go down with the intention of kicking some butt."

In Nashville, the band has a prime vista from which to kick tail: 10 p.m. Saturday night at Robert's Western Wear, BR5-49's home base near the Ryman Auditorium. Ditto for SXSW: 9 p.m. Friday at the Broken Spoke.

Gradually, Hillbilly Idol is carving out a place for itself on the Americana circuit. Its Town & Country is No. 24 on Gavin's Americana chart, and some national distributors have shown interest. Kovac says the band is learning just how hard it is to attract attention, when everybody and their dog can--and does--put out a CD. "It's so easy for a small record to get lost in the shuffle."

The Americana genre may not be as lucrative as the one pimped by boy bands with calcium-rich cheekbones and designer facial hair, but it's plenty crowded with bands who've discovered the riches of the twang and the warble. "I certainly don't place judgment on it," Kovac says of the new cowpokes. "People come to where they are by a lot of different roads." He adds, "It's not like we're purists, born in Hank Williams's backseat or anything, but we're honest."

Before they head to warmer climes, the Idols play Rick's Cafe in Chagrin Falls on Friday, February 5.

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Amara took home the first-place jug of Mountain Dew at the Odeon's High School Rock Off on January 30. The Solon/Gilmour Academy band finished ahead of Accelerator and Giant 12, which took second and third, respectively.

For earning the top prize, Amara received $350 and will open for a national act at the Odeon. Accelerator got $200. The sixteen finalists will each record a song at MetroSync studios that will appear on a Rock Off compilation.

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Jeff Varga is making last year's benefit concert for the Make-A-Wish Foundation an annual event. This year the event moves to the Barking Spider Tavern. Local artists scheduled to appear at the Sunday, February 7 show include Heard Bound, Mark Arlia, Ed Huddleston, Rich Spina, Billy Sullivan, Kevin Richards, and Mark Criscione. The benefit runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Varga recorded his performance at the Diamondback Brewery last year and released it as a live album, So How Y'All Doing!?!

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The home version of the public-access music show The Psychic Shopping Club is now available. The club celebrates the release of a one-hour best-of video and eighteen-song CD at the Maple Grove Inn, Friday, February 5. The 14th Flr., Public Display of Infection, and the Floyd Band will perform, and Madam Na will dispense free twenty-second fortunes.

The show airs on Channel 53 at 6 p.m. Fridays and Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. For Psychic Club info e-mail head-Psych Malcolm Ryder at malcolm@APK.NET.

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UNDERCURRENTS '99 IS ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS FROM BANDS AND SONGWRITERS WHO WISH TO PERFORM AT THE MAY 20-22 SHOWCASE. SEND A THREE-SONG CASSETTE, BIO, PHOTO, AND $15 TO UNDERCURRENTS '99, P.O. BOX 94040, CLEVELAND 44101-6040 BY MARCH 1. THIS WILL BE THE SHOWCASE'S ELEVENTH YEAR.

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ROSAVELT WILL PLAY WILBERT'S BAR & GRILLE FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, REPLACING LATE-SCRATCH JOSHUA KADISON. ROSAVELT'S CHRIS ALLEN SAYS THE BAND IS PUTTING THE FINISHING TOUCHES ON A CD TITLED TRANSISTOR BLUES, WHICH SHOULD BE AVAILABLE IN LATE MARCH ON THE WILBERT'S IMPRINT.

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BOB MARLEY ENTHUSIASTS' TAMS WILL BE SPINNING THIS WEEKEND. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, THE REGGAE LEGEND'S BIRTHDAY WILL BE CELEBRATED AT THE ODEON BY VICTOR ESSIET AND THE MANDATORS AND THE BLACK MARKET REGGAE BAND. SUNDAY MORNING AT 11, THE PARKVIEW NIGHT CLUB HOSTS ITS FOURTH ANNUAL REGGAE BRUNCH WITH CARLOS JONES AND THE P.L.U.S. BAND. AT 3 P.M., MARLEY HISTORIAN ROGER STEFFENS WILL SPEAK AT THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME.

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IN OTHER BOB NEWS, THE NORTHSIDE HOSTS A DYLANFEST WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10. AMONG THE MUSICIANS PAYING TRIBUTE TO DYLAN ARE JOE SMITH, JENNIFER MAURER, AND KIP AMORE. FEBRUARY 10 IS ALSO NORTHSIDE CO-OWNER MIKE OWEN'S BIRTHDAY.

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THE TELLERS HAVE CHANGED GUITARISTS. OUT IS DEREK DEPRATOR, IN IS BOBBY J., WHO ALSO PLAYS IN DISTEMPER AND USED TO PLAY WITH THE GOD SQUAD AND THE GORBELS. THE NEW LINEUP WILL DEBUT AT THE GROG SHOP FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5 AND AT CEDARS IN YOUNGSTOWN SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6.

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THE DAY BEFORE THE KING'S X SHOW AT THE FLYING MACHINE, GUITARIST TY TABOR WILL APPEAR AT PSALM 150/CORNERSTONE BOOKS & GIFTS IN STRONGSVILLE, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8 FROM 6o30 to 9 p.m. Tabor will sign stuff and play an acoustic set with the Galactic Cowboys, who open Tuesday's show with Screaming Head First.

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