Jimenez, Cooder Raise the Roof at Fund-Raiser

A political benefit without endless speechifying? Sound incredible? You bet, especially when the evening's entertainment consists of accordionist/vocalist Flaco Jimenez, his airtight backing trio, and slide guitar virtuoso Ry Cooder.

Swangin' from Junior Parker blues to Jim Reeves country to Spanish, English and instrumental versions of the Tex-Mex two-steps and waltzes for which Jimenez is justifiably most famed, this ad hoc aggregation skinned it back for 90 minutes Saturday night at Music Machine.

Highest highlight--there were many--of the first of the two sold-out shows to raise funds for Santa Monica city councilman David Finkel (who's running for a municipal judicial post) was the gorgeous, lipstick sunset rendition of Cooder's wrenching migrant ballad, "Across the Borderline."

Noted actor/sometime musician Harry Dean Stanton dropped in to croon a trio of dolorous tunes that he sang prettily enough, but at funereal tempos. A minor quibble in what was otherwise a string of major hits.

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