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Riff Raff 

Wednesday, Nov 18 1998
The Check -- and the Fragile Master Tape -- Is in the Mail On Nov. 9, the Kingsmen, authors of the mush-mouthed party classic "Louie, Louie," scored a victory for composers' rights. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld an earlier decision by Pasadena's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that canceled the Kingsmen's contract with Gusto Records, and Highland Music, who'd collectively stiffed the Kingsmen out of royalties for over 30 years. The Kingsmen filed their lawsuit in 1993, asking that they be given what they'd signed on for in 1968 -- 9 percent of the song's profits, licensing fees, and ownership of the master tapes -- and won the case in the 9th Circuit earlier this year. Riff Raff's always happy when musicians get the money they deserve, even if it's for a tune you don't so much sing with as slur along to. But we were doubly amused by this tidbit from the 9th Circuit's opinion, filed on April 10, which displays how much respect the defendants had for the "Louie, Louie" master tapes:

[The] Defendants' excuse for not returning the Masters promptly [to the Kingsmen] ... was a professed concern for not shipping the fragile tapes in a manner that would expose them to rough handling or extreme temperatures that might jeopardize their safety. However, when the district court finally ordered the defendants to deliver the Masters forthwith, defendants simply put them in a cardboard box and shipped them via standard UPS, despite the plaintiffs' willingness to make any reasonable accommodations to ensure the Masters' safety during shipping and storage.

More news as it develops. In the meantime, we'll be here in the office playing frisbee with our stash of rare Elvis Presley Sun singles, and making sure our copy of the Beatles' "butcher block" Yesterday and Today album gets all the direct sunlight it needs. (M.A.)

In Memoriam Saxophonist Glenn Spearman was one of the Bay Area's veteran composer/improvisers, as well as an inspirational mentor to countless local musicians. When he died on Oct. 8 after a battle with colon cancer (he was 51), the local creative-music community came together in mourning at a beautiful memorial church service in Berkeley to celebrate the man and his music. In an effort to pay further tribute to Spearman's legacy, and to help raise funds for his family (Spearman is survived by his wife, son, and three daughters), dozens of his former collaborators will once again gather -- this time on the Beanbender's stage -- to perform both his compositions and poetic musings. Featured players include Rova Saxophone Quartet, Kash Killion, Matthew Goodheart, Oluyemi Thomas, AACM alum J.D. Parran, Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia, and Spearman's bandmates from G-Force, the Double Trio, and the American Jungle Orchestra. Poets Don Paul, Jack Foley, and Ijeoma Thomas will also appear. The concert takes place on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 8 p.m. at the Berkeley Store Gallery Annex (home of the Beanbender's creative-music series), 2295 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Sliding-scale donations from $20 are requested. Call (510) 235-6586 for more information. (Sam Prestianni)

No Joke After nearly 10 years of subversive comedy, capricious cabaret, and fine fresh juice, Josie's Cabaret and Juice Joint has sadly announced that it will close its doors on Jan. 3. The cozy Castro venue, which opened in 1990 with a benefit for then-Board of Education hopeful Tom Ammiano, has been the frequent stomping ground of comedians and performers such as Marga Gomez, Scott Capurro, Lia Delaria (whose show recently opened on Broadway), Rhodessa Jones, Betsy Salkind (who appeared on The Tonight Show last week), Lipsynka, and Varla Jean Merman. While owner Ron Lanza says that Josie's has been an absolutely wonderful experience for both performers and staff, his attention has been diverted recently by the Fillmore District, where he hopes to open a comedy cabaret under the auspices of Willie Brown's promised club revival in the area. To memorialize Josie's history with great guffaws, Lanza has called upon all his old friends to do farewell performances: This month, Marga Gomez performs The Same Old Shit, a collection of her funniest work from seven years at Josie's; Idris Ackamoor and Rhodessa Jones present I Think It's Gonna Work Out Fine, a musical review loosely based on the lives of Ike and Tina Turner; and the Kinsey Sicks, America's favorite dragapella beauty shop quartet, promise an abundance of fanciful hi-jinks. In December, Varla Jean Merman will present her hysterical Christmas show Holiday Ham. As it's only fitting that the man who opened the club closes it down, Tom Ammiano will perform stand-up two nights in a row in January. If we have to say goodbye, at least it'll make us chuckle. (S.T.)

We Found That essence Not So Rare Continuing our master plan to create the authoritative photo gallery of "provocative" local singer/songwriter essence until the end of time (or at least until our photo file's exhausted, and trust us, that won't be happening any time soon), we bring you yet another clip-and-save memory of her lowercased-ness. Yeah, we're confused too: We didn't think a whimsical leopard-skin-patterned cap and post-Pippi Longstocking braids were big these days. But such creative fits of fashion pique are the reason why she's an artist with a record contract and songs appearing on Nash Bridges, and we're, um, not. More next week. (M.A.)

Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Mark Athitakis (M.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), and Heather Wisner (H.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.


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