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Riff Raff 

Wednesday, Feb 12 1997
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Disclaimer Riff Raff intends (in part) to provide Bay Area musicians and fans with a space for their news, stories, and anecdotes. This can include trivia such as lineup changes and breakups, as well as weightier concerns. Neither purchase information for band merchandise nor listings for upcoming shows will appear in this space, except at the discretion of the editors. In short: Riff Raff doesn't advertise. All other info is appreciated. Locals only.

Show Places Win It's barely February, and band manager Jay Siegan has already had one hell of a '97. At the beginning of the year, Siegan and his partners, Ralph Tashjian and Jole Turtle, signed a unique 60-day contract with local swingers the New Morty Show. The two-paragraph stipulation promised that Siegan and crew could get the retro outfit a record deal within two months, or the band could take their smoky sound elsewhere. In mid-January, upon the Morty Show's return from a stint in Las Vegas, the band headlined a near-capacity show at Bimbo's 365 Club. As promised, Siegan had senior vice president of Atlantic Records, Craig Kallman, in attendance. It was a no-brainer. "Basically," says Siegan, "[Kallman] came to Bimbo's and just flipped out. He loved it." Pending the signing of a 97-page contract with Atlantic, Kallman has requested that the band not book any shows through summer. "It's been suggested," hints Siegan, "that the Morty Show may be playing on this year's Lollapalooza tour -- the big stage." The Morty Show's cover of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" is already targeted as the band's first single. Is there the possibility of a collaboration between the New Morty Show and Kirk Hammett? Says Siegan, "Atlantic probably had an idea or two in mind when they decided to sign us." An unforeseen bonus of the New Morty signing involved Siegan's longtime favorite project, Undercover S.K.A. Certain Atlantic connections put him in touch with Slimstyle, a new swing/ska indie label out of Tucson, Ariz. "We signed the deal on February 3rd," says Siegan, "exactly 15 years, to the day, after the band played their first gig." It has been a long time coming for Undercover, but, hopefully, with a fresh record deal the sweet smell of success will not be far off. Young upstarts at Slimstyle have also been poking around the Bay Area's Blue Plate Special and Indigo Swing. (Silke Tudor)

List List End-of-the-year awards of any form for any genre are dicey -- self-absorbed like the Oscars, silly like the Grammys, or pathetically self-selecting, like most magazines' readers' polls. But we've always been a fan of the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop poll. It doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is -- an examination of rock-crit consensus, based on polling as many of the beasts, from dailies to fanzines, pretensos to pig-fuckers, as possible. Even when the poll's winners strike us as outre --like Neil Young's Ragged Glory, in 1990, or what seems to be Beck's sure win this year -- you have to concede that that's how the votes went down. Beck's Odelay is widely felt to be the presumptive winner of this year's poll. Beck was No. 1 on a pair of lists in the New York Times; was Spin's artist of the year; and topped both the critics' and readers' polls in Rolling Stone. More interesting is what the rest of the P&J top 10 will be: Tricky and the Fugees seem sure bets; but we wouldn't be surprised to not see R.E.M. Indeed, there seems to be little consensus on old-fashioned rock this year, unless the Smashing Pumpkins' singles from Mellon Collie end up charming critics. And will the Brian Wilson-inflected country pop of Wilco's Being There capture people's imaginations outside of the Midwest and Rolling Stone's offices?

For comparison purposes, here's a few year-end lists we've collected:
Spin's top 10: 1) Beck; 2) The Fugees; 3) Pulp; 4) S.F.'s Imperial Teen; 5) Girls Against Boys; 6) Tricky; 7) Rage Against the Machine; 8) Sublime; 9) Los Lobos; 10) Cibo Matto.

Rolling Stone's: 1) Beck; 2) Tricky; 3) Dirty Three; 4) R.E.M.; 5) Johnny Cash; 6) Wilco; 7) Screaming Trees; 8) Sebadoh; 9) the live Nirvana album; 10) The Fugees.

Melody Maker's: 1) Manic Street Preachers; 2) DJ Shadow; 3) Super Furry Animals; 4) Tricky; 5) Underworld; 6) Beck; 7) Suede; 8) Afghan Whigs; 9) Baby Bird; 10) Boo Radleys.

New Musical Express': 1) Beck; 2) Manic Street Preachers; 3) Orbital; 4) Super Furry Animals; 5) DJ Shadow; 6) Screaming Trees; 7) Nick Cave; 8) Tricky; 9) Rocket From the Crypt; 10) Sparklehorse.

The Pazz & Jop Voice hits the streets in NYC Feb. 19, and will arrive in subscribers' mailboxes and national newsstands soon after that. (Bill Wyman)

Pat on the Back After what must have been months of grueling research, the DNA Lounge has humbly announced (via press release) that it has discovered the Viper Room of San Francisco: the DNA Lounge. Hard data cited from the investigation includes the patronage of throngs of stars such as Rob Schneider (one of the DNA's owners), Kelsey Grammer (ever choosy of where he drinks), and, coming all the way from across town, Metallica. One wonders how the DNA Lounge will possibly retain such star power to ensure victory for its own prestigious award for '97. (Robert Arriaga)

Chump Change With fine country songs, rock 'n' roll energy, and a magnetic performance by fiddler Wanda Taters, the Buckets beat four other local acts at the second annual Grammy Showcase at the Great American Music Hall on Jan. 30. (The show is part of a national contest for unsigned bands sponsored by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.) That win earned the Buckets $500 and a free trip to Los Angeles for the second-round regional competition last weekend. Already the spoils look fatter than those received by S.F.'s Sunshine Club, national champs last year. Sunshine drummer Paul Comaskey says the band never saw the promised "label development deal," free studio time, or a live CD of its performance. "I hate to shit on the deal," says Comaskey. "But having said that, it was a great time." The Buckets, however, were "keeping the loser mentality" to avoid squashed expectations, said guitarist/singer Earl Butter before the band's L.A. trip. "If we win, we'll be tickled. If we lose, we'll be drunk." They lost. (Jeff Stark)

Rad RIP Last Saturday, friends and cohorts mourned the tragic death of pro skateboarder Kit Erickson -- killed the weekend before when Erickson hit his head while jumping a flight of stairs. The accident, rather than giving rise to feelings of caution in the skateboarding community, was cause for a tremendous party (complete with live music and a giant half-pipe) that would have perfectly suited Erickson, the founder of Generation Skateboards. A half-pipe that was built last year for the Cycle Messenger World Championships (CMWC) was set up inside the Maritime Hall, easily taking up a third of the 1,800-capacity room. While Lag Wagon and Hi-Standard supplied the tunes, pro skaters and cyclists caught air in tribute to the passing of one of their own. The Maritime, which developed a relationship with the skate-and-cycle community during the CMWC, donated its facilities for the event, and nearly every skateboard company in the country sent boxes of merchandise for a raffle. Proceeds went to Erickson's family. Said one skateboarder upon nearly touching the Maritime ceiling during a trick on the pipe, "This is exactly how Kit would have wanted it. A big fuckin' blowout -- with skates." Injuries were limited to one twisted ankle; $8,000 was raised for Erickson's family. (S.T.)

Nova Done They'd already moved from aggro punk to '70s-inspired rock. But another, more disturbing, change was on the way. Shock of shocks, Matt Jervis, lead screamer for the heavy-hitting Clarke Nova, wanted to actually sing instead of punish his vocal chords. Instead of making the morph, Jervis decided to dissolve the band a couple of weeks ago. "It's like listening to R.E.M. and saying, 'What if they had stopped after Murmur?' I just didn't want that to happen to us." Though it's over for the Nova, Jervis and crew aren't leaving without saying goodbye. Frank Kozik's Man's Ruin Records will release a posthumous full-length disc, called Superknot, in late summer. Meanwhile, Jervis is on the scout for players to flesh out his new project, recording older songs that he never brought to the band. (J.S.)

Rocks Off Anyone see the "Netcasts" of the final Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers shows on Feb. 6 and 7 at http://live.apple.com or www.mmn.net/? Anyone hear the live radio broadcast Feb. 7 on KFOG? Anyone else glad that we're finally rid of this "historic" series of Petty shows at the Fillmore? Was anyone under 30 even aware that it was happening? Consult the Chron for Joel Selvin's post-orgasmic sigh. (Michael Batty)

Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to mbatty@sfweekly.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly. No flack, please.

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