Leave it to a quirky candy company from Amsterdam to do what the music industry has systematically failed to do: find unusual talent and support it. The Mentos Freshmaker Tour -- which, admittedly sounds kind of silly, but really will be quite good -- is tied to the release of a series of inspired compilation CDs that include 48 exhilarating indie bands who play everything from Scottish-influenced folk to fiendish punk. The club tour, which is scheduled to stop in seven major U.S. markets and Amsterdam, was booked by music fans who watched live concerts broadcast over the Internet, then voted for four bands from each region. Somehow, this fearless act of creative democracy worked, and we ended up with a rockin' stomper of a show. Furious IV are the snappy power-pop darlings from San Diego whose music will add steam to Stewart, an upcoming film by Crumb director Terry Zwigoff. The Paperboys hail from Vancouver, where they have become favorites in the genre known as stomp, a form of Celtic-flavored rock that uses fiddle, flute, mandolin, banjo, accordion, keyboards, bodhran, and guitars. The superinfectious sound of the seven-piece anarchist collective Tijuana No! was born and bred south of the border, where their feisty hybrid of salsa, ska, and punk rock has piqued the attention of Breeder Kim Deal, Fishbone's Angelo Moore, and Kid Frost, all of whom appear on TN's upcoming album Contra-Revolution Avenue. And, finally, there is Los Infernos, four lowriding, badass, punk mo-fos from the Inland Empire, where meth labs are as rampant as food stamps. Los Infernos have been compared to everything from Reverend Horton Heat to the Blazers, but, for my money, if you can conjure the sexy back-alley sound of the Misfits' "American Nightmare" and then remove the little white boys from the picture, you've got the idea. It's too good to be from this decade. The Freshmaker Tour hits the Great American Music Hall on Friday, Feb. 27, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5, with a Mentos wrapper (it's a promotional thing, see); call 885-0750.
According to myth as told by Ovid, Diana -- the virgin goddess of the hunt, childbirth, and wild places -- found herself bathing in a dark forest pool with her attending nymphs when a young hunter named Actaeon stumbled upon her. At the sight of Diana's divine, naked form, Actaeon fell hopelessly in love. Enraged, the goddess transformed the foolhardy hunter into a stag and his dogs ripped him to pieces. This tender account of unrequited love is the taproot from which A Divine and Universal Venison does spring. The Theater of Memory explores eros through the telling of Ovid's myth, combined with sympathetic poetry by E.E. Cummings, Tess Gallagher, and Jelaluddin Rumi; music by 17th-century Italian Baroque composers Claudio Monteverdi and Giulio Caccini; and sapient musings by Giordana Bruno, a 16th-century Italian philosopher who was burned at the stake for his "love theory" and "phantasmic manipulations." Venison will be held at Venue 9 on Friday, Feb. 27, with kora (West African harp) player Alan Perlman opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6-10; call 626-2169.
Living up to her promise as the next world songstress a la Cesaria Evora, Afro-Peruvian vocalist Susana Baca takes her rightful place as headliner on the Global Divas Tour, which also includes "The Mrimba Queen of Zimbabwe" Stella Chiweshe and Mexican-American songwriter Tish Hinojosa. Just as Evora was the inspiration behind Luaka Bop's The Soul of Cape Verde, so Baca was David Byrne's inspiration for The Soul of Black Peru, and, also like Evora, her self-titled American debut finds Baca on the brink of international success, late in life and huge in voice. The album, also recorded for Luaka Bop, showcases the sultry talents of Baca as she sings classic Peruvian poetry with sophistication and passion. The Global Divas arrive at Zellerbach Auditorium in Berkeley on Sunday, March 1, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $14; call (510) 642-9988.
With yet more positive vibrations to spread, Finley Quaye is a 23-year-old optimistic visionary of Ghanaian and Scottish ancestry who blends soul, dub, roots, pop, and rocksteady with Sam Cooke-ian vocals and Jimmy Cliff style. His blissful, contented musings and progressive musical contagion have even made in-roads with the once very cynical, chest-carving Iggy Pop, who has collaborated with Quaye. Quaye performs at Bimbo's on Tuesday, March 3, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 474-0365.
-- Silke Tudor