IF THE BACKUPS on Route 50 haven't persuaded you to stay in town this weekend, maybe these record release (and record-in-progress) parties by local artists will.
Speidel, Goodrich, Goggin and Lille -- or the acronymic SGGL, since SpeidelGoodrichGoggandsoforth doesn't fit on the side of a modest cassette -- is a gentle anomaly these days: an acoustic, guitar-adept quartet that doesn't wear either sensitivity or post-grad angst on its sleeve. It has instead an easy assurance in its own enjoyment and its audience's, and a penchant for sly humor that takes the curse off what might otherwise be an unfashionable accessibility.
SGGL is also unusual for its remarkable vocals. All of them. Each of the four, who met as Taylor-made coffehouse stool pigeons at U-Va., can pick, write and sing; but in sufficiently individual styles that their alternating solo turns are refreshing. (The individuality is increasing because only one of the group -- Michael Lille -- has escaped taking on 9 to 5 responsibilities. Computer analyst Rusty Speidel, educator Tom Goodrich and attorney Michael Goggin have to fit their writing around work.)
United, however, their harmonies are astonishing, as demonstrated by the honestly un-remixed album "Headin' South," recorded live at the Birchmere. "Headin' South" mixes the wry (Lille's title track, for one), the warmly familiar ("Will the Circle Be Unbroken"), the rollicking (Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin' ") and the unrepentantly riotous ("Fulsome Pinball Blues," credited to "Michael Lille, Pete Townsend and Johnny Cash"). And John Hiatt fans will be pleased to discover that Speidel envelopes "Slow Turning" with vowels as Mr. Fantastic-elastic as Hiatt himself.
SGGL flourishes the new tape this weekend at the Birchmere ($11 Friday, $10 Saturday; 549-6919). Vicky Pratt Keating has warm-up duties on Friday.
ON THE NEW "Beyond Vanity," Baltimore-based guitarist Richard Taylor (this time without his old Ravers band) runs amok through the history of rock 'n' roll and for his own amusement, and ours, grabs mementos and leaves grafitti like some musical Kilroy. Rockabilly, R&B, "conscious folk," electric slide and amplified acoustic -- Taylor plays them all, with a lingering affection that's obvious even in the Reed-y deadpan Beat of "What the Breeze Cried." The most elaborate tribute is the most straightforward, "The Taming of the Rainbow," dedicated to guitarist's guitarist Roy Buchanan.
Taylor is celebrating the release of this hugely likable compendium Saturday at the 8 X 10 in Baltimore with the Paladins (301/625-2001).
Taylor's survey course in rock 'n' roll, incidentally, brings to mind the similarly fun-facts approach of former Washingtonian Richard X. Hayman, whose "Living Room" album has finally been remixed and re-released by Cypress Records. Hayman won't be performing locally until Aug. 2, when he'll be at the Bayou, but you may pick him up interviewing and talking about the album on WHFS-FM and other area radio stations this weekend.
HEARSAY IS STILL in the recording stage, actually (its Mad Dawg Records contract was the prize in the Battle of the Bands contest at Zaxx a couple of months ago), but they're working the kinks out of the material, and the edge is beginning to sharpen. Among the best of their new songs is "Siphon," an alternative-tooled smoker that shows off the chamois in Jeny Nicholson's voice and the almost athletic poise, muscular yet relaxed and blended, of Doug Kallmeyer's bass play.
Hearsay flexes its stuff Friday at the 9:30 club with Love Tractor ($9; 393-0930).
NEWKEYS ON THE BLOCK: Keyboardist Spencer Hoops has departed the Newkeys, so while the band is refiguring (Diane "Tokyo" Rosenthal is going to pick up some Key keys), guitarist Tom Lofgren and bassist Ronnie Newmyer are off next month for another working vacation with Nils Lofgren -- this one a make-the-train string of music festivals in England, Holland, Belgium and the new and improved single Germany. Also in the band are Nil's E Street colleague Max Weinberg and sometime Neil Young Blue Notes sideman Larry Cragg on guitar, keyboard and sax.
It'll be the first time in five years Nils has taken a band to Europe, where (like the Slickees and other Washingtonians) he has a much higher profile. However, it may be rising here, too, finally: He's reportedly close to signing a deal with Rykodisc.