SATURDAY

“It’s our centennial,” says Tom Helf proudly. “In dog years.” True, the band Helf plays drums for, Cravin’ Dogs (pictured), has achieved a milestone that, even by canine math, is an impressive feat. Most bands aren’t on the scene long enough to be measured in butterfly time. So the group is celebrating its stick-to-it-iveness with what Helf describes as its “showcase summer gig.” Also being showcased is the Dogs’ latest CD, Roots Rock Paper Scissors, an impressive collection of hummable, danceable, engagingly smart tunes. Helf quietly drops the name of Roots Rock mixing genius and Bruce Hornsby sideman Doug Derryberry, who will be sitting in with the group on keyboards and mandolin. Derryberry may also hang around for Last Train Home, whose True North is also one of the best albums of the last year, a disc you can keep on endless repeat all weekend. I’ve been singing the praises of the amazing family band Cecilia so long and loud that I’m now forbidden to continue the hype fest (though I still intend to buy stock in whatever label releases its CD). Suffice it to say that the group is headlining. While each band is worthy of the top spot, Helf has no problem going first. “It’s nice to open,” he reveals. “You get to see the other bands and relax. At this point, our grandiose delusions of MTV stardom have waned some,” Helf notes with a chuckle. “I think fans of each band will like the other two bands.” Indeed, fans of melody, energy, musicianship, and intelligent songcraft couldn’t ask for a better bill. At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 29, at the State Theatre, 220 N. Washington St., Falls Church. $10. (703) 237-0300. (Dave Nuttycombe)