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Smoke Damage

Jim Pirtle's slipshod nicotine habit spells the end of an era for No tsu oH, but he hopes to rise from the ashes

Scuttlebutt Caboose

No tsu oH's not the only funky venue to run afoul of city codes lately. Washington Avenue's Creative Autonomy Collective is hosting a benefit on June 29 with auctions and live music to help raise the money to bring their building up to snuff. So far Ugly Spiritshas confirmed, and they're hoping to add Freedom Sold and other bands to the bill…Local rapper Big Mello, born Curtis Davis, was killed in a car crash on June 15. Mello lost control of his car and hit a support pillar on the South Loop. He had just finished Done Deal, his first album in six years…For a hilarious telling of an encounter with Houston soul/country wild man Roy Head, check out Randy McNutt's new book, Guitar Towns: A Journey to the Crossroads of Rock 'n' Roll. A salacious Head manages to cause trouble over a pancake breakfast at a far northside IHOP, much to the embarrassment of the author…Got your crush groove on? Do you be illin'? Can you be described as "swass" or "funky-fresh"? If the answer to any of those questions is a resounding "Word up!" then you will want to chill at Fresh Hip-Hop, a one-night exhibition of hip-hop mementos -- track suits, fly Adidas shoes and rap LPs -- from the Kurtis Blow-Afrika Bambaataa era. In order to ensure freshness, all of the items will be sealed in one of those "AS SEEN ON TV!" vacuum bags. The exhibit is Friday, June 28, at 110 Jackson Street…An audibly relieved Robert Conran, the ill-fated subject of last week's Racket, called from INS jail to tell Racket he has seen a doctor. Conran will be losing a kidney, but we all have two of the suckers and the doctor doesn't think the cancer has metastasized… When you think of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, you don't think of music. But soon the T. rex bones and model oil rigs will rattle to the sounds of rock, jazz, zydeco, salsa and oldies. The Mixers, Elixirs and IMAX concert series starts June 28 with swing/jazz combo Blue Monks, and continues every Friday through July 26. The Zydeco Dots are up next week, followed by Grupo Ka-Che, the El Orbits and Yvonne Washington. Ten bucks gets you admission to the show, an IMAX ticket and a crack at the cash bar.

The June 28 Mando Saenz/Hayes Carllshow at the Continental Club is an inspired booking. These are the best two twentysomething singer-songwriters in town. Catch 'em now so you can say later that you saw them way back when…Big-voiced local blues legend Jimmy "T-99" Nelson has a brand-new album out called Take Your Pick. Duke Robillard guests on guitar, and several other members of Roomful of Blues also appear. In addition to being the only man alive who can approach the late Big Joe Turner as a blues shouter, Nelson is one of the best songwriters in the blues. Take Your Pick is available at Nelson's Web site, www.jimmyt99nelson.com…Confession time: Racket's favorite song of the moment is Outkast's "Land of a Million Drums." There's nothing wrong with that on its own, but the tune in question is from the Scooby-Doo soundtrack and features lines like "Kinda tired from a long night of hangin' out with Shaggy." Embarrassing, but true.

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