Volume 41 Number 48

August 29 – September 4, 2007

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Class of 2007: J.Nash


SUPERLATIVE Most Likely to Get Nasty

QUOTE "I’m about to eat your ass like soul food."

If you’re looking for the future of hyphy, vocalist J.Nash is already there. Never mind that his versatile vocals link the two hottest Bay Area rap albums this year: Mistah FAB’s Da Baydestrian (SMC) and Turf Talk’s West Coast Vaccine (Sic Wid It). His own album, Hyphy Love (Soul Boy/Urban Life), is a genre unto itself, a fusion of hyphy and R&B that Nash calls R&Bay. Hailing from East Oakland’s Murder Dubs — otherwise known as the 20s and home to Beeda Weeda, who appears on Hyphy Love — Nash used to rap, but, he points out, "Everyone was rappin’, so I switched," employing skills learned primarily at church. Nonetheless, apart from a brief stint as a member of vocal group Rewind, he says, "I always messed with rappers, like Laroo and Keak."

Nash’s date with destiny, however, was meeting up-and-coming rapper FAB, who appeared on Nash’s 2005 out-the-trunk album, Real Man (Soul Boy), shortly before blowing up with Son of a Pimp (Thizz Ent., 2005). "I thought I was doing him a favor," Nash says with a laugh, acknowledging how much the association with FAB boosted his career.

FAB protégé Rob E also produced half of Hyphy Love, letting his hair down even more than on Baydestrian. These tracks are fleshed out with productions by heavyweights like Droop-E and Sean T, whose beat on "Hyphy Dancin’" transforms the sound with a throwback ’80s paint job, resulting in one of the disc’s most unique songs.

Lest anyone think Hyphy Love is all hyphy and no love, Nash delivers a number of excellent, more conventional slow-jam-style ballads, with a flexible tenor that moves up to alto and down to baritone. As an artist who writes his own material, Nash never suffers from the lyrical banality typical of contemporary R&B. Like R. Kelly, whose work he admires, Nash brings out the nasty. There’s something hilarious about hearing the line "I’m sucking on those big ol’ boobs" delivered with the agonized passion of a slow jam. It’s a much more realistic thought in a sexual situation than the usual "Hold you in my arms" crap.

Nash has already started to generate buzz thanks to a lo-fi video for his advance single, "Cupcakin," with J-Stalin, which has scored more than 35,000 hits on YouTube and has been cross-posted all over the Net. A second, more professional video for the more hyphy "Show You Love" has just debuted. Expect live shows in clubs around the Bay.

"Once you see me perform," Nash says with a rapper’s swagger, "it’s over. I got you. You’re going to become a fan." (Garrett Caples)

Class of 2007: The Dry Spells


CLUBS Bulgarian Throat-Singing and Bare Trees Appreciation Society, Analog Tape-Cutter Pep Squad

SUPERLATIVE Most Likely to Run Away from Grad School and Join a Band of Gypsy Violinists

How did four fresh-faced young women with freshly minted bachelor’s-degree diplomas from New York’s Bard College and a yen for Left Coast adventure end up making music amid the fog banks, dim sum depots, and Russian sweet shops of San Francisco’s Richmond District? Pure chance, thanks to guitarist-vocalist Adria Otte, a music and Asian studies major who gravitated toward the Bay Area after the foursome’s 2004 graduation, magnetized by the experimental music and the Asian American communities, pulling her Dry Spells bandmates — vocalist-guitarist Thalia Harbour, vocalist-violinist April Hayley, and drummer Caitlin Pierce — into her orbit.

"After graduating, we all had our freak-out, like, ‘What are we doing?’ " Otte, 25, says, just leaving her job at Meridian Gallery. The four met at Bard — Harbour was Otte’s freshman dorm neighbor, and Pierce dwelled just down the hall and had befriended Hayley — and formed the Dry Spells in 2002 and, as Otte puts it, "just played for fun because we were all supposedly serious students." But as academic distractions peeled away and they ended up in the same Richmond-area house, they began to buckle down and play seriously.

The Dry Spells’ diligence has paid off, with a self-released, self-titled, and semimastered EP. Beautifully recorded on tape by the Fucking Champs’ Tim Green at his Louder Studios, The Dry Spells echoes with reverb-y lyric guitar, plinging bells, a touch of droning melodica, and baklava-sweet harmonies that evoke the minimal post-punk of Electrelane and the maximal ethno-folk-punk of Camper Van Beethoven. The band may cite Fleetwood Mac and Fairport Convention as primary sources, but they’re neither as pop-y nor as reverent as those groups. Imagine, instead, indie-rock babes in the woods, a short 38 Geary ride from a mist-strewn Lone Mountain, kidnapped by Romany rovers in order to study the dark, dreamy arts of folk song.

Yet who knows what forms the Dry Spells will assume or what sounds they’ll adopt or adapt in the future? At a Café du Nord show in July, bassist Diego Gonzalez — with whom Otte, Harbour, and Hayley performed in kindred Bard grad Ezra Feinberg’s Citay — joined the group on stage. He stuck out like a sore thumb, I joke, though Otte assures me that he’ll likely remain a permanent member. And now Pierce has departed to work on a sociology doctorate at Johns Hopkins University — the EP, it turns out, was a rush job preceding her move. "We wanted something that sounded more organic," Otte says, "because we definitely come out of a more organic place." (Kimberly Chun)


Class of 2007: The White Barons


CLUBS Detention hall, Saturday school, Motörhead Appreciation Society

QUOTE "We’re all fuckin’ wasted. It’s one big van full of trouble, comin’ to a town near you."

"Yeah, I just rolled out of bed," Baroness Eva von Slut says when I give her a call at 2 p.m. the day after the White Barons’ show at Thee Parkside. Ah, the White Barons. The fuckin’ White Barons. They were a marketing machine of dubious T-shirt messages — rolled bills, razor blades, powder piles, and crossed keys — before they played their first show, and if I didn’t know von Slut from Thee Merry Widows, I might’ve been reticent to check them out: bands who have their swag down pat before playing out usually blow their nut before anything exciting happens.

Not so with the WBs. With von Slut on vocals, Baron Johnny One Eye and Nate von Wahnsinn from the Whiskey Dick Darryls on guitar and bass, respectively, and Baron Adam von Keys, formerly of All Bets Off, on drums, the group was pretty much a lock to achieve rock ‘n’ roll juggernaut status before playing a note.

Sure enough, when I caught them opening for the Dwarves during Noise Pop, though I thought I knew what to expect, I was laid out by their raw-boned punk ‘n’ roll brutality. I don’t mean to blow too much smoke up her ass, ’cause I’ll have to live with it when I see her around town, but von Slut’s got some goddamned pipes, like a ’65 Triumph chopper without mufflers, like Glenn Danzig if he drank more whiskey and weren’t three feet tall. Her vocals with the Barons are nothing like they are with the Widows: stripped of the comparatively genteel stylings of psychobilly, they range from a throaty wail to a flesh-peeling scream. Perhaps more surprising is that underneath the band’s power lurk solid hooks, as evidenced on this year’s Gearhead debut, Up All Night with the White Barons. The songs range from broken-hearted barnstormers like the opener, "You Never Were," with bassist Nate’s hilarious mongo-gorilla background grunts, to a battery of unapologetic drinkin’ and druggin’ party anthems — "Wicked Ways," "Champagne & Cocaine," and "How High."

So are the White Barons a one-trick-pony party band? Do you need a key bump and a shot of Jack to smell what they’re cookin’? I’d say no. In a town where people front so-called rock groups while sitting in chairs, where the vocalist’s outfit is often (intentionally) more memorable than the music, where freak folk acoustic scruffy beards in their grandpa’s shuffleboard action slacks have elbowed out the rock ‘n’ roll impulse, the Barons hearken back to a time when seeing a band live was like a good, honest fistfight, not a chess game with Noam Chomsky.

"Should I talk some shit?" von Slut says. "I would say the lamest thing about the SF music scene is some hipster-ass, girlfriend-jeans-wearing motherfuckers. That seems to have taken over — the most important thing is the image and the fashion.

"Man, we’re livin’ it. We’re livin’ the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. We’re down in the trenches. We’re making rock ‘n’ roll happen." (Duncan Scott Davidson)

WHITE BARONS Soapbox Derby preshow. Oct. 27, 8 p.m., call for price. El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF. (415) 282-3325, www.elriosf.com

“Rembrandt to Thiebaud: A Decade of Collecting Works on Paper”


REVIEW Dada artist Kurt Schwitters maintained that formal elements were second only to an art object’s ability to remain in flux — in spite of the static qualities inherent in his own work. No completed artwork could ever be fully finished but rather was kept open for future reinvention. In the current exhibition at the Legion of Honor, "Rembrandt to Thiebaud: A Decade of Collecting Works on Paper," which includes an approximately 5-by-7-inch collage by Schwitters, this constant plasticity of the art object seems to have come to the fore. Not only has the reception of such a variety of works — ranging from Michelangelo to John Baldessari, James Whistler to Richard Misrach — changed drastically since the inception of the art market, around the time of Rembrandt, but what might be considered an artwork and how its production affects this consideration has morphed as well.

The exhibition opens with a few 15th-century engravings by Albrecht Dürer, introducing us to hundreds of pieces from the largest collection of works on paper in the western United States via the golden ratio. This ideal is slowly dismantled throughout the course of the exhibit as it moves toward the contemporary, exemplified along the way by Yves Klein’s postage stamp, painted in his signature International Klein Blue. Matted and framed, this initially functional object has been elevated to the status of original artwork, which at this moment is perhaps more original than the Dürer multiple. Similarly, Edward Kienholz’s 1969 work For $146.00 was initially a direct illustration of the cost of the piece and has come to illustrate what the work is not worth today. Without making any physical changes, the transformative nature of the collection has led to an intrinsic modification of the artworks contained therein. (Ava Jancar)

"REMBRANDT TO THIEBAUD: A DECADE OF COLLECTING WORKS ON PAPER" Through Oct 7. Tues.–Sun., 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, near 34th Ave and Clement, SF. $5–$8, free for 10 and under (free for all Tues.). (415) 863-3330, www.thinker.org/legion

A fine ‘Mesh?


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

A defining characteristic of the US imperial program in Iraq, we are often told, is the resolute refusal to learn anything from history. True to the TV-weaned attention spans of our triumphant culture, history here usually means the past four years — at least before stretching to include the eerily identical adventures of the British Empire less then a century ago, let alone anything going back any further. But as Bush’s recent Vietnam-Iraq comparison suggests with trusty ass-backwardness, it’s not losing track of history that the current administration does so well as it is roundly and brazenly bastardizing it to suit present purposes — namely, the perennial ones of greed and power.

It falls to others without quite so much of a vested interest in conquest to actually learn from history, by which we mean something more than crudely customizing it to serve nefarious opportunities. This is part of the impetus behind Berkeley-based TheatreInSearch’s exploration of the earliest of Mesopotamian adventurers: an ancient Sumerian king of way back in the BC who comes down to us via 12 clay tablets draped in legend and myth, in the guise of history’s first superhero.

But what exactly can we learn from so historically remote a text? TheatreInSearch’s production itself seems unsure. As if to at once employ and distance us from our own contemporary intellectual and aesthetic lenses, director George Charbak’s free adaptation of The Epic of Gilgamesh (retitled here The Epic of Gilgamesh with a Long Prologue) frames the ancient hero’s exploits with certain knowing modern references, including a comical couple of Beckett-like pseudo-philosophizing gadflies (Michael Green and Elias D. Protopsaltis) and, more centrally, a seemingly all-knowing, modern-day narrator (Ana Bayat).

The narrator, addressing the audience like a museum docent, literally pulls the veil from the archaic literary figure — seated statue-like at the summit of a pyramidal series of steps at the center of set designer Kim Tolman’s clean, uncluttered gallery of ancient artifacts — while furnishing the title’s not overly long but definitely muddled prologue. Half ironical and half indignant over her semidivine subject (played with an at times penetrating boyishness by the soon walking and talking Roham Shaikhani), she asks her audience in somewhat mocking tones to study Gilgamesh as a specimen of outrageous hubris and mindless destruction.

Rather statically staged and inconsistently acted, the more dramatic scenes get some added lift from off-stage musical accompaniment by Larry Klein on the oud. The more successful humor in the play, meanwhile, arises not from the strained (and overly intrusive) vaudevillian posturing of the two philosopher-commentators but from smart use of the text’s repetitive language and its human situations.

The serious aspects of the play are less consistent. Certain characters lack adequate definition, while some scenes could do with some judicious trimming. If, as the play’s narrator suggests, superheroes from Gilgamesh to Rambo (to real-life superhero manqués like George W. Bush in his flight suit) represent nothing so much as a flight from history, with its attendant lessons and responsibilities, then they deserve only our scorn. But a superannuated superhero like Gilgamesh, confronting death as man and myth together, would seem to provide other opportunities.

In this respect, our narrator is far from a reliable one. Perhaps intentionally (though in truth text and performance are too confused to really say), her one-note "modern" perspective is itself being held up for critique, as if to demonstrate the pitfalls of too superior an attitude to barbarisms past and present. Either way, by the time of the accompanying epilogue, the narrator’s indignation and sarcasm devolve into little more than an awkward rant that closes the play without any sense that the journey in between has counted for anything.

When at the end the veil is again tossed over Gilgamesh, however, his posture is no longer erect, and his features bleed through; he leans desperately forward, his face just visible through the gauze, twisted into a frightened mask of everlasting perplexity. Shaikhani’s expression tells us infinitely more here than any expert could and in doing so almost saves the show single-handedly at the last moment. A neat feat that would have been for a fallen superhero.


Through Sept. 2, $12–$20

Fri–Sat, 8 p.m.; Sun, 2 p.m.

Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk.

(510) 262-0584

Heaven’s kitchen


As an unreconstructed autocrat of the kitchen, I was surprised to discover recently that two cooks working in the same space need not sting each other to death, like scorpions in a bottle — even if one of them is me. It helps, of course, if the space is adequate and the cooks have agreed beforehand as to who is making what. This is a matter of what lawyers like to call comity, which basically means trying not to step on other people’s toes, lest one’s own be trampled.

Two cooks were needed for our Mendocino idyll (complete with vegetable garden!) because the constituency of hungry people was larger than either cook was accustomed to providing for and included several small children who enjoy watching Hell’s Kitchen on Fox. If these children expected screaming matches and dismissal scenes mixed equally from scorn and tears, they must have been disappointed; our sounds were mostly agreeable ones, with the occasional foul word discreetly spat into a napkin, like a peach pit.

The feeding of children — even cheerful and well-mannered children who aren’t picky — left me humbled. How spoiled I have been all these years, running my little food fief with scarcely a hint of interference or meddling, stocking and cleaning it as I’ve seen fit, turning out a medley of dishes that have reflected my own evolving concerns about health, environment, and ethical responsibility with the full-throated support of my audience of one. When people agree about food, they are well on their way to agreeing about a great deal more, and agreement is a chief ingredient of that elusive state we often call happiness.

Children, it turns out, are subject to spells of intense, almost disabling hunger, which then have a way of subsiding after three or four bites of a burrito or some petrale sole, or half a Pop-Tart or a swig of organic lemonade or ball of chocolate-chocolate-chip-cookie dough from a ready-to-bake tray. Children, like birds, eat continually but lightly, leaving behind them a trail of half-consumed edibles with tooth marks, and it falls to the people in charge to collect these devalued but not worthless items and try to figure out what can be done with them. If the producers of "Hell’s Kitchen" need a fresh idea, I know a nice place on a hill overlooking the coast.

Paul Reidinger

› paulr@sfbg.com

Trust anyone over 50?


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER As the summer squeezes out its last warmish days, we can safely say that we’re glad for one thing: that with the end of the season comes those last nagging reminders of the Summer of Love, all that was great and good about hippie Frisky, the perpetually remarketable, oh-so-remarkable boomer musical legacy, and how radical it was that so many acolytes drifted here four decades ago to gobble acid and find themselves. Yet are we in the clear to say that we’re all a bit weary of the free-floating miasma of hype? By Jerry’s beard, it happens only every five to 10 years, when the once anti-establishment boomer establishment turns on, tunes in, and pats itself on the back yet again as the 25th, 30th, or 45th anniversaries roll around. I know an overweening sense of self-importance seems to be an intrinsic part of one’s duty as an American citizen, but has there ever been a more self-congratulatory generation than the one that birthed the Summer of Love? Can we now unofficially rename it the Summer of Self-Love? Can I be excused from the creaky, walker-bound group grope that will accompany the big five-oh?

Yep, hippie-bashing, at this queasy, war-wracked juncture, is a tired, predictable, oft-rightie-instigated contact sport that’s far too easy to indulge in. Still, has there ever been a wave of so-called progressives so determined to look back, so intent in repackaging their relics for resale? You can stuff mewling protests against ageism in your tie-dyed Depends. Boomer rockers have been so busy crowing from the rooftops about their accomplishments for so many years that they’ve failed to notice how incredibly bored youngsters — and even not-so-young ‘uns — have become with Grandpappy’s zillionth sing-along to "Love Me Do." Indeedy, nothing can ever compare to your old-time rock ‘n’ roll, your first trip, orgy, no-nukes protest, Jell-O wrasslin’ bout, ad infinitum. But must we still hear about it? This from the same gen, captains helming a capsizing music industry, that turned the phrase “classic rock,” that has insisted on recognizing every anniversary of ’60s-era recording classics, from the Beatles to Sly Stone to Jefferson Airplane to brrrzzzzzzz …

Grrrzzzdhoooh-ha! Oh, were you saying? By the way, when the music’s over — turn off the light, OK? I know hippies weren’t the ones to self-aggrandizingly dub themselves the Greatest Generation. And perhaps we’ve all come to expect far too much from our self-promoting, self-obsessed, yet always self-critical forebears. Yet when word of bickering between competing SF Summer of Love events in August began drifting hither — rumors that Summer of Love 40th Anniversary producer Boots Hughston tells me are simply that: rumors (“We’d been promoting Summer of Love for a year and a half. They had been working on the Hope and Beyond AIDS project in other countries, but this year they decided to change the name of the event — we have a lot of respect for them”) — it seemed like a little peace was in order. After all, the entire purpose behind the Sept. 2 event, Hughston explains, is to “remind people there are other things rather than taking over other countries and going to war over oil — like compassion and understanding. Why not remind people where it all began in 1967?” That’s why Hughston says Country Joe McDonald, Taj Mahal, Canned Heat, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and others are performing free, in between the spiritual and political speakers.

Good intentions go far with even crankaholics like yours truly. But how did the event — which could have used some younger, relevant artists indebted to the San Francisco Sound in its lineup (look for a sampling at this weekend’s Ben Lomond Indian Summer Music Festival) — come to fall on the very day most of its younger demographic might be burning elsewhere? “There is a strong synergy between us and Burning Man, you’re right,” Hughston says. “But you can always go to Burning Man, and you can’t always go to the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love.” He believes some burners will be leaving early to return for his 40th event. Smokin’.


Sun/2, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., free with flower

Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF



One of the most seriously wonderful folk-rock LPs to come down the pike of late has to be Marissa Nadler’s Songs III: Bird on the Water, out last year on UK’s Peace Frog label and recently picked up for US distribution by Kemado. It’s anything but a purist artifact — "The reverb probably gives it that haunting quality. It’s something I’ve always used in abundance on my voice to many people’s distaste," Nadler, 26, says with a laugh, speaking from outside Boston.

Alas, Nadler has often struggled with intense shyness in presenting her creations. "Maybe it’s a masochistic thing that I want to put myself through the pain of performing," the songwriter says. "But at no point is the first song easy." Ever considered Blues Brothers–style shades? "I’ve definitely thought about it," she confesses.


Wed/29, 9:30 p.m., $8

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF




Is this where today’s summer lovers are really headed? Bay Area and Los Angeles creatives like Entrance, Paula Frazer, and Mammatus converge. Fri/31–Sun/2, $12–$18 per show; $40–$45 three-day pass. Henfling’s Tavern, 9450 Hwy. 9, Ben Lomond. www.myspace.com/benlomondindiansummer


D-day for Bey? Fri/31, 7:30 p.m., $75.95–$143.57. Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakl. www.ticketmaster.com


Sweetwater stemmed? The Bay Area singer-songwriter bids farewell to the historic club with its last show, the day before it shutters due to a drastic rent increase. Fri/31, 9:30 p.m., $15. Sweetwater Saloon, 153 Throckmorton, Mill Valley. www.ticketweb.com.


Paws for LA’s feral chamber post-punkers. Fri/31, 9:30 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com.

Reasons for the season


FILM On any given day, on any given Muni, you’re likely to hear John Carpenter’s Halloween theme trilling out of some kid’s cell. Sprung from one gloriously terrifying, terrifyingly simple idea (in a word: babysitters!), the seminal horror series welcomes its ninth installment with Rob Zombie’s remake of the 1978 original. I can hear you, horror snob: "Ninth installment? Remake? Why the fuck would I wanna see that?" Well, really, it’s simpler than a razor-bladed Snickers bar:

1) Halloween sequels are generally enjoyable — and I’m not even talking about the attempts to hipsterfy the series with entries starring Josh Hartnett (1998) or a webcam (2002, which also featured Busta Rhymes delivering the immortal line, "Trick or treat, motherfucker!") I’m talking the shit that nobody ever watches, except us late-night cable addicts: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) and Halloween 5 (1989), i.e. the Danielle Harris–as–Michael Myers’s–long-lost-niece era; and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), starring a pre-Clueless Paul Rudd. Don’t get me started on Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), or I’ll be singing about Silver Shamrock long past Oct. 31.

2) The Carpenter universe allows for remakes. One of the director’s best efforts is The Thing (1982), a most righteous reimagining itself. In recent years, The Fog (1980) and Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) have been snatched up by a Hollywood that thinks nobody remembers the early ’80s. Halloween is his most sacred product, but it’s also his most unusual, taking on a life beyond the Carpenter canon. Michael Myers is a universally recognized movie monster, sharing Halloween Superstore costume-rack space with Freddy, Jason, and Austin Powers. If Tinseltown was molesting They Live (1988), we might have words. But Myers’s kill-crazy, supernatural blankness lets him roam different landscapes (Haddonfield, private school, the Internet) for different directors and remain reliably menacing.

3) Which brings me to Zombie. He’s a huge horror fan anyway, and if you’ve seen The Devil’s Rejects (2005) or House of 1000 Corpses (2003), you know he’s all about paying homage to terror cinema past. But he’s got his own style too — gruesome, jump-cutty, and nihilistic. He’s also inspired enough to cast Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Loomis (and Danielle Harris as Annie Brackett) in his remake. Hell, even Danny Trejo is in this thing. Is Zombie’s Halloween any good? Am I steering you wrong? I can’t even say, man. I’m seeing it the day before you do — right after I interview Zombie. Ass-backwards, yes. But it’s Halloween, a remake of my all-time favorite movie, not to mention my all-time favorite holiday. I’ll eat some razor blades myself if I have to. (Cheryl Eddy)

To read an interview with Rob Zombie, click here.


Opens Fri/31 in Bay Area theaters

See Movie Clock at www.sfbg.com

40th anniversary Summer of Love event



Summer of Love 40th Anniversary Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park, JFK at 25th Ave, SF; www.2b1records.com/summeroflove40th. THIS SUNDAY starting at 10am, FREE! This event features world-class musical acts and entertainment that represent the spirit and energy of the 1967 Summer of Love. The lineup includes such legendary, rabble-rousing musicians, poets and speakers as: Country Joe McDonald, Canned Heat, Michael McClure, Taj Mahal, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Wavy Gravy, “Hair Reunion” original cast, Ray Manzarek, ruth weiss, Scoop Nisker, and many, many more. Tune in, turn on, and drop by to join thousands in commemorating this historic event.

A complete lineup of the artists appearing is available here.

You can find out more about the Summer of Love 40th Anniversary event, including local accomodations, transportation, and auxiliary events here.