Mellotrons, loaded dice, and a whole lot more.

What the devil? The Gnome took a break from lurking in sexy Internet chat rooms to do some Web surfin' last week, and he stumbled across a site devoted to the Mellotron, that tawdry '60s synthesizer that provided the swells and wails in many a King Crimson song back when Nixon was Prez. Ever curious, your knob-fingered correspondent perused the client list and found that a bunch of artists with Seattle ties have invested in these bulky, outdated instruments. It's not much of a surprise that Steve Fisk is a client (in fact, you'd almost expect him to be president), but Pearl Jam? Also caught retro-handed are Sky Cries Mary, R.E.M., and Truly. At least they're in interesting company; the list includes artists as far afield as the Rolling Stones, Nellee Hooper, Richard Thompson, Bon Jovi, and Fiona Apple. Um, it's the 21st century, dudes.

This shocking information sent the Gnome on a soul-searching journey— to Muckleshoot Casino! Nothing like a night of gambling in the company of suspicious-looking, gaudily dressed folk to take the mind off. Not to mention the conveniently located bars, most with cheery tropical settings. And what was your trusty music columnist doing while the soulful and upbeat band Next Movement played their Commodores-like hearts out and set the sunken dance floor on fire? Why, the Gnome listened in from a distance as he flushed dollar after hard-earned dollar into the toilets that are the Muckleshoot's electronic slot machines. The lesson was learned: Always stick to Black Jack or craps.

Broke, the Gnome was fortunate enough to receive a Saturday evening invitation to a free show in the lovely Jack Straw Studios space in the U District, where KCMU broadcasts its Live Room appearances. Your gnarled newsman peered in through the basement windows to watch Alien Crime Syndicate, who played loud enough that you could hear them down the street, except when the Mellotron-less band decided to try out a mini-acoustic set, which they told the smiley-faced host of the Live Room was their first.

Another first for Seattle will occur this week when two cover bands face off across town to answer the age-old question: Who has more staying power, the Pixies or the Cars? Seasoned Pixies cover band No. 13 Baby plays the Crocodile on Friday (opening for Alien Crime Syndicate, coincidentally), while an upstart group, Used Cars, will pay homage to Ric Ocasek and Co., appropriately enough at the converted garage known as the Breakroom. I guess it's just what the Gnome needed. You betcha!

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