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House of Tudor 

Proto-punk European street music and neo-cabaret, Hasidic reinterpretations of Ice-T, and a shot at Paradise

Wednesday, May 7 2003
A ramshackle madman with the soul of a bard, the wit of a surrealist, and the skill of a Gypsy, Jason Webley embodies that which is most alluring, absurd, and aurally splendid within the current tide of proto-punk European street music and neo-cabaret. Armed with a fiendish grin and a piano-keyed kanootch, the Seattle-based accordion player leaps from open bar to open arms, from carnival barker to ill-fated dreamer in less time than it takes for a barman to pour a shot of rye. Webley howls at the rafters with the courage and conviction of a long-gone sailor, and seduces the candlelight with melodies as delicate as a gossamer balloon; he pumps the bellows like a Romanian wedding singer and feathers the keys like a desert drifter. But no matter which of Webley's glistening cheeks you are offered to kiss, your participation in the society of spectacle is nearly certain. Whether it's Webley's dreamlike parlance that inspires you, or his extensive lexicon of strange vegetables and sad stories, or his peculiar faculty for inducing mass intoxication -- with or without alcohol -- or just the beautiful abandon of his music, you'll eventually find yourself spinning in circles, falling down in public, wiggling your fingers in foreign pits, lamenting avocados, pondering roots in salads and sex, jumping up and down, and dancing with all your enemies until they become something else again. My suggestion: Bring a fan, a friend, and a handkerchief. Jason Webley performs on Wednesday, May 7, at 21 Grand in Oakland with Accordion Plague (a horde of punks with button boxes) and the New Bobby Sextet (six turntables, one man, and a bunch of records by guys named Bobby) opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5-10; call (510) 444-7263. Webley also performs on Thursday, May 8, at Mission Records with Accordion Plague and the Tanglers at 4 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 285-1550. Later that night he appears at the Odeon at 10 p.m. with Go Van Gogh opening at 7:30 p.m., Chris Karney presenting "dinner theater" at 8:30 p.m., and Mark Growden performing at 11 p.m. Ticket price is negotiable depending on your timing; call 550-6994. And finally, Webley plays Saturday, May 10, supporting Against Me, Pansy Division, and Fifth Hour Hero at 924 Gilman's "Punk Prom" in Berkeley, with Panty Raid opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 ($4 with fancy duds); call (510) 525-9926.

Promises of a Skrewdriver parody band have been bandied about San Francisco since the early '90s, when the group's fervently racist frontman was killed in a "suspicious" car accident. (At the time, the remnants of the British National Front chose to blame Ian Stuart's death on the anti-fascist skinheads from the Revolutionary Socialist Party who periodically beat the crap out of them, rather than on Stuart's own proclivity for drunk driving.) But old-school punks, even those with an appreciation for early Skrewdriver and a passion for stirring the shit on the left as well as on the right, balked. Sure, they could sit around and discuss the merits of the act's first album, the indiscriminately misanthropic All Skrewed Up, which bore the hallmarks of Stuart's Rolling Stones cover band more than his political agenda, but no one was willing to risk the joke onstage. Until now. Comprised of former members of Operation Ivy, Schlong, Tokyo's Love Pigs, and a few other guys with strident senses of humor, Jewdriver will do for Skrewdriver what Dan Savage did for the epithet "faggot." Donning black robes, beards, and yarmulkes, the mostly Jewish tribute band transforms memorable ditties like "A Case of Pride" into "Pastrami on Rye," "Europe Awake" into "Get Up and Bake," "Boots and Braces" into "Jews Ain't Racist," and "All Hail the New Dawn" into a Chuck Barris tribute titled "All Hail the Jew Gong." If its reception at Gilman Street in March is any indication, Jewdriver is long overdue. For those not fully enamored of the thought of a full set of tailored Skrewdriver anthems, the band has also put together some Hasidic reinterpretations of Tom Petty, Ice-T, and AC/DC tunes, which it will play by request. I recommend you arrive early because, as the group sings, "It's a long wait in line if you want a kaiser roll." Jewdriver supports eXtreme Elvis on Saturday, May 10, at the Curve Bar, with Thunderbleed ('70s/'80s metal cover band featuring members of Fuck, Granfaloon Bus, and Beam) opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 896-2286.

While claiming post-punk revivalists like the Rapture and the Faint as primary influences, San Francisco's Paradise Boys present a first offering of unadulterated electro completely devoid of even the faintest hint of hometown grit. Like a Spanish cabana boy, the single "Gonna Make You Mine" is crisp, smooth, mildly petulant, adequately sleazy, and utterly irresistible on the dance floor, promising eternal nights at a disco where everyone looks great in white. Unsurprisingly, the union between DJ Jeff Fare and percussionist Bertie Pearson began in Barcelona, where they discovered each other at the same musical events night after night; improvised collaborations in Barcelona and Paris suggested their chemistry, but Fare decided to return home to pursue his career as DJ Jeffrodeeziak. Thankfully, Pearson knew better, and abandoned his studies in Paris for a shot at Paradise. More than any current single, "Gonna Make You Mine" conjures an innocent summer from my San Francisco childhood, when pre-pubescent girls could still sneak into the 18-plus clubs, and New Order, Gary Numan, Erasure, Soft Cell, and Talk Talk were loud enough to mask the palpitations of our racing hearts. The Paradise Boys support the Rapture on Tuesday, May 13, at the Great American Music Hall, with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and DJ Chris Orr opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $13-15; call 885-0750.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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