Guidance from Gretchen

an advice column for hapless music lovers

I work with onions a lot. They make me cry when I cut them into tiny pieces. What can I do to stop the waterworks? --WEEPING IN WALLA WALLA

P.S. Know where I can see an Elvis impersonator?

Try cleaning and cutting them under a steady, but environmentally friendly (read: moderate) flow of water from the tap. Or pretend like you have a cold and breathe through your mouth. In regard to your Elvis pangs, I direct you to Commonwealth Convention Center here in Louisville for Eddie Miles' Salute to Elvis. It happens on New Year's Eve, December 31.

Santa tracked soot all over my Oriental rug a couple weeks back. What should I do? -- TINY TOT FROM TALLAHASSEE

Dear Gullible: Get thee to 600 West Jefferson, first floor. Take that naughty Northerner to Small Claims. Oriental rugs don't grow on trees, you know. (Or maybe Mr. Sooty-Pants thinks they do up on the North Pole.) Damn Yankees. Damn Yankees? They're playing at Louisville Gardens on January 7.

Thought your readers would like to know about my trick for reusing those annoying subscription reply cards that fall out of new magazines. Just take a big black marker, and write "Happy Birthday" over the print. Voila! Inexpensive cards! -- AESTHETICALLY-CHALLENGED IN ATHENS

Dear Cheapskate: Leave me off your Christmas Card list, please. If you ask me, what you need is a good dose of top-notch contemporary R&B. Can you wait until January 9? That's when Bobby Brown ("My Prerogative"), TLC ("Ain't Too Proud to Beg"), Mary J. Blige ("Real Love," "Sweet Thing"), and Shabba Ranks ("Wicked in Bed," "Lover Man") come to Freedom Hall on an impressive bill. Call it a crash course on new jack beats.

My miniature poodle, Poodle, piddles on my parquet floor. What can I do? I'm at the end of my wits, where my wits are frayed -- 'fraid of being lost forever. By the by, where in Louisville can I hear good blues in January? -- Pittsburgh Pun-dit

Dear Pathetic: Rub his nose in it. I mean really tease him about it. Tell his friends he urinates on the floor. Knit a sweater with a scarlet "U" on it. And get down to the First Unitarian Church behind the Louisville Public Library at Third and Broadway for the Homefront Show, January 9. It features Catfish Keith, Pen Bogert and the Jones Brothers featuring Brenda Jones. It starts at 7:30 p.m., and costs $5 for members, $7 for non-members, and $2 for children.

: I've found a way to beat those hot-steering-wheel-in-the-summertime blues. Save those empty toilet paper role cores and carefully put a lengthwise slit in them. Use empty candy wrappers or other bright pieces of paper to decorate the roles, gluing them on with a dot of Elmer's. Then slip them over your steering wheel. You'll never touch a hot wheel again! And whatever happened to Youssou N'Dour? -- Ingenious in Idaho

Dear Idaho Falls Idiot: N'Dour will bring his wonderful voice and African pop sensibility to the Kentucky Center for the Arts on January 9. Youssou will join the Louisville Orchestra for this SuperPops concert in the Whitney Hall. Call 584-7777. And regarding the modification to your AMC -- that's the tackiest idea I've ever heard.

: My therapist says I need to reconnect with my childhood. I thought I'd start with that old Monkees lunchbox I carried to school every day before Timmy Kriegwolf stole it from me. Do you know where I can find my lunchbox? -- Dysfunctional in Dubuque

Dear Dolt: The Monkees were crass coattail riders of the Beatles. Get with the program -- The Beatles program at the KCA on January 9. Impressive folks like Nils Lofgren, Los Lobos, Buddy Guy, Kathy Mattea, Dr. John, Mark O'Connor, the BOBS, Professor Jeebs, and the New Island Social and Pleasure Club (actually, not like those folks, those folks exactly) are celebrating the sublime songwriting skills of John, Paul and George (and sometimes Ringo) with "The Beatles Songbook." The show will cost you $25, a bargain considering the talent involved in this spectacle.

: I'm a singer in a rock 'n' roll band, and I'm having trouble keeping my voice strong for an entire show. After two songs (and four Early Times on the rocks, and six Chesterfields) my vocals start giving me trouble. Whassamatta? -- Clueless in Columbus

Dear Vicemeister: Go back to vocational school. Staying on your present path will put you either in Ten Broeck, Boot Hill or a blues band (gasp). If you must, MUST stick with music, it means water only, and no cigs. Join a barbershop quartet to reacquaint yourself with the basic joys of making music. Check out the 3rd Annual Winter Parade of Barbershop Champions on Saturday, January 9 at Memorial Auditorium for a sample. All the seats are reserved, balcony tickets cost $10, main floor tickets $12.

: What can you do about candy drool on your guitar pickups? -- HYGIENIC in Hoboken

Dear Dad: You have two real choices: 1) Wear a bib, or b) switch to chewing tobacco and join a punk band in L.A. Moshing crowds like nothing better than to be spat upon; it's a gesture of fondness. They especially like it if you can hit them in the forehead in such a way as to leave a brown swastika-like smudge. On an unrelated note, come down to the Whitney Hall in the KCA next Sunday. The SNCC (Students Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) Freedom Singers will mark Martin Luther King's birthday with a concert of freedom songs on January 10, and it promises to be a good 'un. Call 584-7777 for the information you need.

: My baby does the hanky panky. Is this normal? -- Mony in Munich

Dear Heloise: Done in moderation, the hanky panky can be fun, healthy, and great for whittling away those fat rolls around the hips. Just be sure he wears a helmet to avoid accidents. For an expert opinion, I recommend seeing George Thorogood, of the Destroyers (no, not the Hamptons Destroyers, the Long Island Destroyers). He'll be in Louisville at Coyote's on January 11. Hanky panky aficionados under 21 but at least 18 can attend this $15 show. George is the fellow that sings like you and me, and plays blues guitar like you and me can't.

: I want to be in the hip crowd. How should I dress? What's the hippest music in the land? -- Highwaters in Hotlanta

Dear Weathervaneglorious: True hipsters wear no clothes, in sort of an Anti-fashion statement. Nude bars are all the rage; if you don't believe me, check out the trendy nightspots on Third Street Road. The hip music is, of course, country. For one of country's newest stars, go to Coyote's on January 13. You'll see John Michael Montgomery, and he'll probably be naked. Coyote's is part of the Hurricane O'Malley's conglomerate at 133 West Liberty Street, downtown.

: My girlfriend keeps borrowing my credit card, and using it for trips to faraway places with her male friends. I'm sure she's not fudging in the fidelity department. What bugs me is she doesn't keep the receipts from the hot tub bars she enjoys so. How can I teach her the fundamentals of tax records? -- EZ1040 in Echo Bridge

Dear Asset: Take her to see the Spin Doctors. Besides being a marvy live band with a psuedo-retro sound, the Spin Doctors travel with great literature on the tax codes in their smokey, tokey van. While you're enjoying the extended jams, your fiscally frivolous girlfriend could bone up on record-keeping. The Spin Doctors are at Macauley Theatre January 14. Tickets are $16 in advance, $17 day of show. Call 584-7777.

: Will you marry me? -- Begging for Betrothment in Beantown

Dear Gassy: No. But I may like you better if you get me tickets to the Patty Loveless show at Coyote's on the 15th of Jan. I may not, but I may.

: That curious three-year-old daughter of mine got into my Soldier of Fortune stuff, and now the napalm she spread all over her body won't extinguish. What should I do? -- CARELESS SMOKER IN SEATTLE

Dear Einstein: I checked with the local fire department officials in my town, and they were flat-out stumped. Try writing the Defense Department to see what they used during past conflagrations in Asia. In the meantime, keep your daughter away from the curtains; they could catch fire if you're not careful. And if you're in Louisville on January 16, make a point of stopping at Tewligans Tavern to see the Urge. The Chicago band opened for the R.C. Mob a couple of months back and won a lot of devoted fans.

: What's black and white and red all over? -- JOKESTER IN JAMESTOWN

Dear Demon: I don't have time for your silly games. The Kronos Quartet, a quirky string quartet, is coming to the Macauley Theatre on January 17. They play Hendrix like no other classically trained string quartet around. And that's saying nothing. Nevertheless, Kronos is cool cutting-edge classical with a pop music over-and-undertones, a sparsely-populated genre if ever there was one. A newspaper? A skunk in a blender? A zebra who ate a grenade for lunch? A Humphrey Bogart film seen through rose-colored glasses?

: What's the polite thing to do when the President of the United States upchucks his sushi on your penny loafers? And who is this Anson Funderburgh character? -- KUZYAMA IN KYOTO

Dear Uneasy Trade Partner: Wipe it off using a vinegar and water solution. Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets featuring Sam Myers is one of the hottest blues bands in da woild. Funderburgh is known for his restraint on the electric guitar, and Myers is known for his big voice, his harmonica bandolier, and his pull with the honeys. By amazing coincidence, Funderburgh and Co. are playing at Jim Porter's Good Time Emporium on January 20th. Doug Wright and the Nomads are opening the show.

Dear Incredible Gretchen: Please settle a bet for me. My wife says the Skipper from Gilligan's Island was right-handed. I say he was a southpaw. There's a lot of money riding on this. -- TRANSFIXED IN TEXAS

Dear Dippy: Wrong column. But may I suggest the Megadeath concert at Louisville Gardens on the 29th of this, the first month of the calendar year? If Megadeath's incredibly loud, incredibly fast recipe for heavy metal is not your cup of tea, then go to the show for the Stone Temple Pilots, a (relatively) more melodic rock foursome from L.A. They pen quaint ditties like "Dead and Bloated" and "Naked Sunday." Beats a date with Mary Ann any day.

: I think Louisville's music scene sucks. None of the bands here have any BALLS. If I want to hear hard rock with a misongynistic bent, where can I go except the Toy Tiger, and the last time I went there, they just had a stupid bear wrestling geeks in sweat suits on stage. What's a guy gotta do to bang his head in this sorry town? -- BRAIN CELL-BEREFT IN BUECHEL

Dear Manly Man: I have just the show for you. They're called Cosi Fan Tutte, and they ROCK! They're one of those German bands who crank out the decibels, and the lead vocalist can sing higher than a bicyclist with slippery pedals. (Think about it.) Their grungy tunes were written by a certified wild man named Wolfie Mozart, and the show is being brought in by a production company called the KOA (not to be confused with the KAOS, Paducah's hard-hitting metal quintet). Cosi Fan Tutte fans have a rad habit of dressing in suits and dresses for the shows, so don the dorky duds for this one. It's at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, that weird looking building downtown on Main Street that looks like something from Star Trek. Cosi plays at the KCA from January 29 through the end of the month, so get ready to rock.

: I have a man I need washed out of my hair. Any suggestions? -- LONG-TRESSED IN LAGRANGE

Dear Itchy: Margaret Simpson wrote in with this suggestion: "Try a lemon juice and pumice soap formula. Or, shave your head. A bald head beats a bad man any day. Unless, of course, you have a man like mine who is bad AND bald." If that doesn't get the desired results, have a friend with a knack for falsifying documents draw up a fake AIDS test report showing a positive development. Works every time, just like a song from Nancy Wilson invariably eases your blues away. You got the blues? Ease them away on January 30 at Louisville Gardens with the very woman, Nancy Wilson. The jazzy vocalist will be getting some help from the Louisville Orchestra on this gig. Try calling 584-7777 for tix.