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Rock 'n' Roll Adventure Kids cook up lotsa fun

Wednesday, Feb 14 2007
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Some musicians carry the weight of the world on their guitar strings. What with this war and that relationship problem, there are plenty of wordsmiths channeling misery into hook-ready melodramas. And then there are the bands that'd rather heat up some hot dogs, make up some nicknames, and hit folks with a good hard slap of humorous garage punk.

Berkeley's Rock 'n' Roll Adventure Kids run with the latter pack. These boys preach the good word of cockabilly music — or hillbilly country punk made by city kids and punctuated by lots of hootin', hollerin', and cockadoodledoos. RRAK are a strong-as-liquor, love-it-or-hate-it proposition. That bargain includes whiplash-fast tracks with lyrics you'll have memorized by the second chorus and a frontman who hurtles into the crowd until he's stirred up a primal frenzy.

On a recent sunny Saturday, though, the only thing at boiling point is a pot on a camping stove. RRAK are showing off a concrete fort called Mad Mark's Castle at Albany Bulb while making a batch of those aforementioned hot dogs. Present at the cookout are brothers Marcos Ribak (aka BBQ Wolf, the guitarist) and Billy Ribak (aka Doc. Ballstein Wolf, the drummer) and Daniel Martins (aka "Battleship" Wolf, the bassist, who also plays with the band Battleship). While his brother mans the meat, Marcos explains the significance of the processed foodstuff, which is also the title of an RRAK song. (Sample lyric: Hot Dogs! Wo ho ho ho ho ha ha WAAAW ho ha ha!) "Our Grandpa Albert liked to eat hot dogs all the time. He's dead now, but he lives on with us through eating hot dogs, and that song's for him."

Adds Billy, "He encouraged us to play music. Our folks, maybe they didn't encourage us so much because they had to live with and hear the music." But their parents did foster creativity, he says. "When our mom left the house to prepare dinner, she'd say, 'Play when I'm at the market, so when I get home you can help me unload the car.'"

Brevity is indeed a key factor in the Kids' music. Here's a band with impatient energy, who've never played live longer than 35 minutes (although last fall I saw them perform twice in one day, their excitement never faltering), and who write songs that last the length of a shouting match. They've birthed anthems about boogie-boarding, strawberries and girls, and a little crowd-pleaser called "Panties" that's an ode to a friend who keeps girls' undergarments for safe sniffing. Each of these gems — previously only available on vinyl but out this month on their debut CD, Live on Bezerkeley Radio — is maniacally catchy, especially with Marcos peppering his tales with giddy asylum babble.

Of course, there's a history of madness in the garage-punk family. Over the past decade such underground heroes as the Immortal Lee County Killers, Bob Log III, and even the Coachwhips used dizzying speed and demented blooze to crank a crowd toward heart-attack levels of hyperactivity. "The purpose of our band is to spread joy to people," explains Marcos with a grin. Just like the party links they've topped with spicy mustard, the Rock 'n' Roll Adventure Kids prove that the best things in life make straightforward standards real tasty once again.

About The Author

Jennifer Maerz

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