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TELESCOPE'S NEW FOCUS

Stevie Grandmaison wants coffee. Needs coffee _ bad. The bassist for Deloris Telescope is standing in the St. Petersburg Times photo studio astonished that he can't just reach out and grab a cup. "I thought there'd be urns filled with steaming black coffee at every corner," he mutters with a smile. "Guess I been watching too many Superman re-runs. Clark and Perry never had to go far for coffee." It's 1:30 p.m. and the threesome that comprises DT _ Grandmaison, singer/guitarist Kacy Ross and drummer Ricky Wilcox _ looks weary. Ross, with his ever-present sleepy expression, rolled out of bed just in time to be 10 minutes late. Wilcox, wearing spandex bike shorts, is the closest to being chipper.

The easy rapport among these three guys is readily obvious. Always has been. Yet Deloris Telescope, a band that has been a fixture on Tampa Bay's alternative-rock scene for nearly a decade, a band known for its wild bar-stage antics, is hanging it up for awhile. A temporary split. The temporary might turn into permanent. The trio just doesn't know at the moment.

"Basically it's bar fatigue," says Ross, who founded the group in 1980 with other members under the name Blue .22

According to conventional wisdom, Deloris Telescope is calling it quits at the worst possible time. After slugging it out in nightclubs for years, the threesome say they've finally generated some initial interest from record companies. After a knock-out performance at this year's Southeastern Music Conference, a few labels requested tapes. The overall reaction: The tapes don't capture the magic of the stage show.

It's a condition that has plagued Deloris Telescope for quite some time. The trio's boundless stage act has always been consummately musical, but filled with quirky and often bawdy humor that has delighted audiences through the years. Ross is one of the few musicians in the bay area who can do wild moves on stage _ dropping to his knees, running out in the audience and the like _ without looking as if he got them from a rock-pose manual. The group's totally spontaneous act has stood in the way of its committing anything truly cohesive to tape.

More important, Deloris Telescope's three-headed muse is so diverse that the resulting sound _ sometimes rocking, sometimes funky, sometimes country, sometimes a whole bunch of stuff at once _ is impossible to pigeonhole. "Sometimes I think we're too good to get signed, and I don't mean that as a boast," says Ross. "They want to make a product out of us, something easy to grasp, and we will not conform. We've never conceded to that."

Still, there is a collective hope among the members that Deloris Telescope will make the next step and become a national recording act. "It's to the point where we need to find a producer, that one specific person who would find something in the band, deal with what we're doing and not try to mutate us," Wilcox says.

That, apparently, will have to wait until some time down the line.

AT A GLANCE

Deloris Telescope's farewell party at the ACL Club at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Webbed Feet opens. Admission is $4.

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