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Punk impresario Dirk Dirksen remembered in two-night stand

Wednesday, Jun 6 2007
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Much like Hilly Kristal, the CBGB founder whose legendary haunt once provided a sufficiently grungy home to punk and New Wave icons, acid-tongued impresario Dirk Dirksen was a musical pioneer and a notorious hard-ass. Since the German-born promoter stumbled onto the San Francisco scene in 1974, Dirksen's North Beach nightclubs, Mabuhay Gardens and On Broadway, served as an early breeding ground for up-and-coming punk acts from near (the Dead Kennedys, the Contractions) and not-so-near (Devo, Black Flag).

Dirksen (1937-2006) was the Bay Area's self-appointed "Pope of Punk," often preaching to his unsaintly choir with incisive wit and a famously quick temper. He will be celebrated at a pair of upcoming tributes, dubbed "Dirkfests." Although some have grumbled about their exclusion from the festivities — most notably ex-Dead Kennedys guitarist East Bay Ray, who contends that his participation was first welcomed and then abruptly denied — the shows, organized by Contractions bassist Kathy Peck, will boast stacked lineups of On Broadway and Fab Mab regulars from the late '70s and early '80s.

Thursday night's show at Slim's, hosted by V. Vale of "The Counter Culture Hour" and one-time DNA Lounge manager Spencer Coppins, will feature the Pearl Harbor and the Explosions, the Toiling Midgets, the Lewd, the Sea Hags, and the Rubber City Rebels, among others. The tribute will continue the next night at the Great American Music Hall, where another former Dead Kennedy, Jello Biafra, will preside over a bill including the Avengers, the SF Mutant Non-Allstars, the Contractions, and special guest Ness Aquino, the original owner of the Mabuhay Gardens. All proceeds will benefit Dirksen's final expenses and the preservation of his formidable collection of punk memorabilia.

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Rossiter Drake

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