After traveling the world for decades, sharing stages with countless would-be progeny, Dick Dale, the unchallenged "King of Surf Guitar," finally named his successor. Henceforth, Shigeo Naka will be known as the "Prince of Surf Guitar." Over the last 10 years, Naka and his trio, the Surf Coasters, have recorded more than 20 albums for major labels Columbia, BMG, and Victor, garnering the attention of famed British dub producer Adrian Sherwood; their music has proliferated through numerous movie and video game soundtracks; and the Coasters have been named Japan's top instrumental group. Of course, many American surf fans haven't even heard of the new Prince of Surf Guitar because ours is a very insular nation, and the Surf Coasters have not yet come to visit our island. After a recent visit to Japan, Ferenc Dobronyi, of local surf-rockers Pollo del Mar, took it upon himself to set up a tour, as much to gratify his own voracious need for stateside surf tunes, I think, as to inspire his sandy-toed compatriots. The effect will be the same regardless of motivation: Fret boards will wilt under Naka's fingertips and waves will rise out of the west, threatening to engulf all of Haight Street. It's time to trade in your baggy shorts for some motorcycle leathers; this is what it sounds like to surf the apocalypse. The Surf Coasters perform on Thursday, April 15, at Amoeba Music at 6 p.m. Admission is free; call 821-1300 or go to www.amoebamusic.com. And later that night at Thee Parkside with Teenage Harlets, Nubs, and Juvinals opening at 10 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 503-0393 or go to www.theeparkside.com. And on Saturday, April 17, as part of West Coast Live being recorded at 12 Galaxies starting at 10 a.m. Tickets are $15; call 664-9500 or go to www.12galaxies.com.
There are those who place the origin of belly dance in the harems of the Middle East, where women were kept together, sequestered from male life. The form was thought to strengthen muscles for childbirth and provide relief from tedium, but despite the dance's earthy genesis, bellies were not likely revealed during its earliest incarnation. (Flesh was really not in fashion.) Still, it is easy to imagine that the women watching appreciated and supported one another in all their curvy, pouchy splendor. Through the centuries, even as performers came to court with jewels glinting in their navels, the dance remained a stronghold for the unadulterated female form. It was only a matter of time, though, before someone like Britney Spears came along. Over the last few years, belly dance -- the one-time bastion of aging liberal housewives -- has shimmied into the mainstream through music videos, advertising, and, finally, exercise classes. And now belly dance has a sugar daddy. Miles Copeland -- the masterful managing hand behind the Police, the Bangles, and Sting's lucrative union with Jaguar -- believes the Bellydance Superstars and the Desert Roses could be "the next Riverdance." Seriously. He's already got sponsors -- Motorola, Capezio, Estée Lauder, and Paul Mitchell to start -- and a product line called "Belly Star," as well as a successful Lollapalooza tour behind him and a troupe documentary on the way. He envisions a world where belly dance acts sell out halls throughout the country year-round while an ever-revolving cast maintains a residency in Vegas. Copeland thinks America is ready, and he should know. His Mondo Melodia and Mondo Rhythmica labels are among the largest distributors of Arab artists in the United States; the idea for Desert Roses was born from the reactions of American audiences to those tours that had dancers. The troupe has been carefully groomed by Copeland and assembled from some of the best dancers in the country; to gain further support from the belly dance community at large, each tour date features a local performer. It could be a dream come true for every woman who has ever gyrated over a plate of baba ghanouj, as long as the woman is slender, chesty, and conventionally attractive. Surprise! The Bellydance Superstars and the Desert Roses perform on Saturday, April 17, at the DNA Lounge at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20; call 626-1409 or visit www.dnalounge.com.