This week, all of the events that look most promising to me happen on Thursday night. I couldn't choose between them, so you'll have to. It's been over 2 1/2 years since Dan Savage first appeared in the pages of SF Weekly. At the time, his irreverent advice column, "Savage Love," was the subject of quite a little controversy as local gay rights activists tried to drive him out of town for printing "Hey, Faggot" (however well-intended) in a seemingly heterosexual paper. There were angry letters printed in our pages and indignant articles printed in competing papers; there was even a little protest outside the SF Weekly building. It was all very exciting. The Weekly decided, rather than lose Savage, to run a disclaimer (however banal and obvious) at the bottom of the column explaining Dan's intentions; then we invited him to town for an intimate "meet the people" soiree. He arrived in a black-sequined evening gown and a feather boa on the arm of his hunky beau, a nice Chippendales number with long blond hair and a body so hard that you could bounce quarters ... um, well, you get my point. It's all a distant memory now; the activists have moved on to more important matters, and "Savage Love" has become an accepted and beloved part of the Weekly landscape (not to mention several other papers nationwide). After two years, it seems high time that the Seattleite take a break from his busy playhouse-directing and book-writing schedule to pay us a visit, and in what better capacity than to host the Wild Side-sponsored Savage Fetish Ball. Savage will choose random audience members with whom to demonstrate the entire process of a Wild Side personal ad, from the wording to the romping. He will also facilitate a "Santa in Drag" makeover contest and choose a guest columnist for "Savage Love." All this and Savage's rapier wit to boot. It's just too delightful for words. The naughtiness begins at 9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 19, at the Trocadero; call 536-8166 or 995-4600. ... The 11-piece big band Lee Press-On & the Nails plumbs much of the same Cab Calloway turf that Vise Grip & the Ambassadors of Swing have found so titillating, but while Vise Grip concentrates on the theatrical warmth of Calloway, Lee Press-On brings to the experience a somewhat sinister edge. He leers rather than beams at the crowd; his dark eyes smolder rather than twinkle; and he twirls onstage with a maniacal abandon that makes girls forget their mothers' warnings. The band is tight and danceable. It would be nice, however, if the next group that found inspiration in Calloway could also find a singer with some of his vocal resonance. Are you hep to the jive? Find out at 9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 19, at Slim's; call 522-0333. Sloe Gin Joes and Blue Plate Special open. ... Is it surprising that the core of the Old Joe Clarks is a husband-and-wife team hailing from a small town in Kansas with a population shy of 500? It is if you consider that most of the players involved in the San Francisco country scene are tried-and-true city folk; but it isn't surprising at all if you take half a minute to let the Clarks' debut, Town of Ten, settle into your pores like so much country dust. Ten spreads itself across a vast landscape of empty plains, unending skylines, and tawny underbrush. Still, the album manages to create an intimacy that only unlimited space can afford. The songs, penned by Mike Coykendall, are deeply soulful and somewhat melancholy, like those of Tarnation or 16 Horsepower, but the instrumentation found on Town of Ten is carefully simple and down-to-earth. When bass player Jill Coykendall works an unlikely clarinet or melodica into the porchside mix, it is done with such a light, thoughtful touch that the instruments seem perfectly at home in the company of the traditional banjo. Kurt Stevenson draws a sorrowful sweetness out of his fiddle, dobro, and lap steel, catching the heart without becoming maudlin. On Town of Ten, the Old Joe Clarks have established a musical symbiosis -- each instrument feeds into the other without anyone gobbling up the light. It is little wonder, then, that the trio opted to do without a percussionist. Instead of upsetting the delicate balance, Mike just kicks an old suitcase with his right foot and high hat with his left -- while singing lead and playing guitar, banjo, and harmonica. Says Mike, "It's nice. After the show we can just pack up all of our stuff in [the suitcase]." Check it out at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 19, at the Bottom of the Hill; call 621-4455. This is the club's Christmas party, so there's bound to be some free eats and drink specials. Paddlefoot headlines; Cynthia Issabella of Honeypot and Johnny Angel of Creeps in Exile open.
-- Silke Tudor