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Hard to Kill

A recent MTV Online editorial opined that heavy metal is "the dog bone buried in the background of pop culture these days." If that's the case, then Megadeth's singer, guitarist and residing conscience, Dave Mustaine, is undoubtedly one of the fiercest pit bulls digging around the pen. After all, this is a guy who formed the group out of spite back in 1983, after he was ejected from another little outfit called Metallica. Megadeth was Mustaine's way of saying "up yours" to his former band mates. In the loud-and-angry process, he became a founding father of thrash metal.

Mustaine's sneering vocals, smart, sociopolitical lyrics, double-time guitar attacks, and general pissed-off attitude have subsided somewhat since the landmark Megadeth efforts Peace Sells ... but Who's Buying (1986) and Rust in Peace (1990), but that doesn't make his band's direction any less interesting. Megadeth -- which now includes co-founders Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson, as well as drummer Nick Menza and guitarist Marty Friedman (both aboard since '89) -- continues to put on a forceful live show, always with a slight hint of unpredictability. (During an opening slot in Houston some years back, Mustaine viciously berated the crowd for sitting passively through the set.) While other former monsters of metal are rarely mentioned with a straight face these days, Megadeth is still screaming from the waste. On Friday, April 3, at the International Ballroom, 14035 South Main. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22.50. Coal Chamber and Life of Agony open. 629-3700. (Bob Ruggiero)

Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas -- Nathan Williams often speaks of the moment that cemented his decision to pursue zydeco full-time. He'd just returned home from a wake for Clifton Chenier, the accordion ace who pioneered the modern zydeco sound, when he had a vision: It was Chenier, telling him to keep on playing. With six releases and over a decade of touring to his credit, Williams has done just that. And while it hasn't been an easy road, the Louisiana-born student of Stanley Dural (a.k.a. Buckwheat Zydeco) has parlayed his talent into a deal with Rounder Records. Williams's greatest asset has always been his songwriting, but he's no slouch on the accordion. At 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 4, at the Grand Kids Festival, 1894 Grand Opera House, 2020 Postoffice Street, Galveston. Tickets are $3 (adults) and $2 (children). (800) 821-1894. (Alan Sculley)

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones -- A stylist who owes as much to John Coltrane, Chick Corea and the Allman Brothers as he does to bluegrass, Bela Fleck has redefined the banjo's vocabulary. He's dubbed his unorthodox mix of jazz and 'grass "blu-bop," and like Pat Metheny, he also incorporates rock elements, makes use of electronics and relies heavily on improvisation. Because Fleck routinely traverses several genres, his music goes over equally well with folkies, Phish-heads and Branford Marsalis fans. That in itself makes him an innovator. At 8 p.m. Saturday, April 4, at Aerial Theater at Bayou Place, 520 Texas Avenue. Tickets are $22.50 and $28. 629-3700. (Paul MacArthur)

 
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