Many years ago, while stocking the shelves of a bookstore, Richard Buckner discovered Edgar Lee Masters' 1915 Spoon River Anthology, a collection of free-verse epitaphs describing the bitter, unfulfilled lives of 244 dead residents in a small fictional town in Illinois. The simple American tragedies found therein spoke to Buckner and so he kept the tome, working from time to time on putting the monologues to music. With the dissolution of his recording contract with MCA, Buckner decided to make his leisurely reverie an actuality, crafting a one-track Americana opus that links 18 stories of tiny heartbreaks and personal catastrophes. Created with JD Foster and Calexico's Joey Burns and John Convertino, The Hill is most akin musically to Buckner's 1996 Devotion & Doubt, which gave the widest breadth to his highly emotive voice. Lyrically, Buckner wears Spoon River Anthology like a worn pair of slippers; if I didn't know better I'd have said he's lived the lives of Tom Merritt, Elizabeth Childers, Johnnie Sayer, Emily Sparks .... Buckner and Eric Heywood perform on Friday, Sept. 8, at Bottom of the Hill, with Mule's P.W. Long and Crooked Jades opening at 10 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 621-4455.
If there's one thing I've learned at "In Bed With Fairy Butch," it's that one should never underestimate the provocative quality of a butch stripper in mechanic's overalls. During "A Butch Bonanza," sex columnist, strap-on dildo expert, and host-with-the-most Karlyn Lotney invites all his favorite butch dancers to take it off while he doles out homespun advice and acts as indisputable matchmaker. As always, the crowd will be well-heated and well-lubed, waving dollars and taking numbers. And the strip-down will be followed by a slippery game of Singled Out, in which one of the dancers picks a date blindfolded. Men are welcome if escorted by female genitals. "A Butch Bonanza" will be held on Friday, Sept. 8, at the CoCo Club at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $8-15; call 626-2337 or 626-8805.
Assuming the identities of 10 white trash denizens from a Georgia trailer park, the comedy team of Doug Ba'aser and Michael Wanzie bring Cheez Whiz technicolor to the award-winning camp of playwright Lewis Routh. In Trailer Trash Bonanza! we are invited to explore the complex psychology of the survivors of the 1965 tornado that leveled New Drawl City Mobile Home Village and Putt-Putt Golf Course: Delilah Forkenberg, who lived out the storm crammed inside her barbecue smoker; Norma-Jean Schuster, whose controversial pink flamingo depiction of the Nativity scene causes a yearly hullabaloo; Maimie-Sue Breedlove, who creates walls out of aluminum foil; her husband, the Rev. Harold Breedlove, who believes tornadoes are holy retribution against lawn ornaments; Ethel-Mae Hyde-Park, who stuffs roadkill and collects guns; and Maxine McIntire, a former topless dancer, who "titillates" the community by parading around in a leopard-skin bodysuit. As the play unfolds, the typically complacent lives of our company are set on edge when a television tabloid film crew arrives to commemorate the storm that shook up Drawl City, and unwittingly discovers the secret behind the disappearance of Velveeta magnate Frank Forkenberg. Though hilarious and broad of stroke, Routh's creations quickly move from the realm of caricature into that of sympathetic and endearing humanity, offering resonance along with giggles. After its run at the Orlando Fringe Festival in 1999, Trailer Trash Bonanza! was voted best show of the year, stomping the tired tights of Cirque Du Soleil into the ground and selling out houses ever since. Trailer Trash Bonanza! makes its California debut at the Fringe Festival Saturday, Sept. 9, at 10 p.m. (and continues through Sunday, Sept. 17) at the Exit Theater (156 Eddy). Tickets are $8; call 931-1094.
If knees-up music like Sham 69 and Cocksparrer is your idea of rousing concertos, and phrases like "I glassed the bloody bastard!" and "Get yer knickers off!" sound like poetry, We're Goin' Down the Pub! is the sort of cultural enterprise for which you have been waiting. Through a montage of monologues, photos, videos, and music, the writing team General Public Showcase offers a decidedly clever tour through the dark recesses of British pub life, a job for which it is uniquely qualified, I assure. Pints are required. We're Going' Down the Pub! will be held Mondays at 8:30 p.m. through Sept. 25 at the Edinburgh Castle. Admission is free; call 885-4074.