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by Luke Baumgarten and Joel Smith & r & & r & What do images of dirty, backwater asteroid-mining operations have to do with the acrid smell of French fry- and pad Thai-infused vegetable oil? In a word: CONSTANTS. The former is the Boston band's sound, self-described "space rock." The latter is the reek given off by the band's mode of transportation, a diesel school bus converted to run on waste vegetable oil.


As you might expect, Constants aren't space rock in that antiseptic, white, utopian sick-bay-aboard-the-Starship-Enterprise kind of way. This is grimy, spare, propulsive prog, the kind that'd likely be heard blasting out of a cargo freighter (or a commandeered bio diesel school bus) as it limps into some outer rim spaceport.


Their sound alternately drives and meanders, much like the band's tour ethic, which has been near, ahem, constant for months now. No word on whether the band accepts bottles of Canola oil in lieu of the door charge. Might be worth a try, though. -- Luke Baumgarten





Constants at Rock Coffee with Belt of Vapor, LIMBS, the High Holies, Tides and Nineteen Points of Nowhere on Friday, July 21, at 7pm. Price TBA. Call 838-1864.





One of the reasons there are so many truly lousy guitar players out there is because the guitar is so damn easy to play. With just three or four chords, any old dolt has access to just about every song in the folk and pop songbooks. The barriers to entry are exceedingly low.


LEO KOTTKE is one of those guitar players, though, who strikes other guitar players dumb. For 35 years, his intricate finger-picking style has been awing music fans and smashing preconceptions of what the acoustic guitar can do. His style is percussive, melodic, highly harmonic and -- since his recent collaboration with Phish bassist Mike Gordon -- highly danceable.


Aspiring players hearing him for the first time can only react in two ways: They either give up completely, putting their guitars away in their closets; or they leave their jobs, their families, their former ways and devote the rest of their lives to becoming as good as Leo Kottke. -- Joel Smith





Leo Kottke at Pavillion Park in Liberty Lake, Wash., on Saturday, July 22, at 7 pm. Free. Call 755-6700.





The Shop's hot for teacher Friday, with the return of Spokane native CAMILLE BLOOM. She grew up here, attended Whitworth and Eastern, and later plied the singer-songwriter trade in Seattle -- a moonlighting labor of love in addition to her teaching position at North Seattle's Shorewood High School.


Gradually, as her local fame grew and she grew tired of "the politics [and] bureaucracy" of high school education, she was coaxed into full-time artistry by an investor. In the kind of tragedy that makes for hard living in the present and great song lyrics in the future, the money fell through only after she'd quit her job. Bloom's lyrics and music are informed by the deep and uncompromising inner strength that allowed her to forge on, pursuing her art. Bloom ranges as far as possible from the Ani DiFranco school of songwriting: She won't beat you over the head with politics and wordplay. Content to tell her stories with a soft-spoken compassion and dogged determination, she's forceful without being violent. -- Luke Baumgarten





Camille Bloom at the Shop on Friday, July 21, at 8 pm. Tickets: $8. Call 534-1647.
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