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House Of Tudor 

Joe Strummer, Texas Terri, Autumns, Uz Jsme Doma, and Camera Obscura

Wednesday, Nov 3 1999
For years I have harbored an irrational, childish animosity toward Joe Strummer. See, at one time Strummer toured as a guitarist for the Pogues. That was nice; Strummer recognized an internal combustion in the Pogues that could sate those rambunctious post-punk hoodlums struggling with misconstrued alcoholism. And Strummer recognized the Pogues' phosphorescent source; in the 1988 video Live at the Town and Country, Strummer sounds more like a star-struck fan than a seasoned vet when he says singer/songwriter Shane MacGowan was a modern-day bard, the very heart and soul of the Pogues. So imagine my surprise when I arrived breathless and fervent at the doors of a Pogues show only to find Strummer standing behind MacGowan's mike. What treachery is this, I howled. "MacGowan kept passing out onstage," said someone who felt they were in the know. What did you fucking expect, I screeched. Anyway, my not-huge-Pogues-fan friend really enjoyed "Straight to Hell" played with accordions, and I seethed and seethed until, one day, I had my own breaking experience with a musician too drunk to play and my ire toward the whole Pogues-Strummer thing began to fade, which brings us to Rock Art and the X-Ray Style. Strummer has aged with grace. His new album with his new band, the Mescaleros, is a sometimes strident, more often soothing, combination of dub reggae and rock that should satisfy fans of Combat Rock-era Clash who have a love of Strummer's socially aware lyrics and gritty, unmistakable voice. Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros perform on Thursday, Nov. 4, at the Fillmore with the Pietasters opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $21.50; call 346-6000.

Even seven years sober, Los Angeles trashmistress Texas Terri growls and snarls like a woman on the brink of destruction. "I quit/ I'm giving up hope/ Get me a rope/ I'm throwin' a fit/ I'm over it," she sings over the Stiff Ones like a '70s punk queen hung out to dry. It should be predictable that, given enough stage time, Terri will whip off her shirt and drop her skivvies (if she's wearing any, which is rare), but with Terri it always seems like the first, and maybe, the last time. Punk rock should feel like that. Texas Terri & the Stiff Ones perform on Thursday, Nov. 4, for "Stinky's Peep Show" at the CW Saloon with Blue Period and Glamour Pussies opening at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 974-1585.

Hailing from Los Angeles and citing the Smiths and the Cocteau Twins as inspiration suggests the Autumns wouldn't be a barrel of laughs over a pint of beer and a game of pool. But their three-song EP Boy With the Aluminum Stilts affirms that their upcoming album, In the Russet Gold of This Vain Hour, will be as lovely as its name. Lush instrumentation, abstruse lyrics, and delicately puissant vocals will attract some comparisons to Radiohead for sales but early Killing Joke is closer to the mark. Intelligent, seductive, a little bit cruel, and terribly enamored with the '80s, the Autumns perform on Thursday, Nov. 4, at "Popscene" for 330 Ritch's five-year anniversary celebration starting at 10 p.m. Tickets are $8; call 541-9574.

Few groups can send me into epileptic fits of mad gibberish and head bobbing the way the Bulgarian wedding music of Yuri Yunakov can, but Uz Jsme Doma is one of the few. A collective of Czech rebels who dared to rock when rock was illegal, Uz Jsme Doma combines opera, rock, jazz, and kinetic Middle Eastern tempos to create aurally fixating madhouse collages. Their new double album, In the Middle of Words, swirls, looms, sneaks, and menaces, causing you to sing along, "Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Die!" even if what they're saying in Czech is something completely different. Since 1986, musicians in the Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia) have been afforded growing freedom, but Uz Jsme Doma still performs as if the band has something to lose, so prepare yourself on Friday, Nov. 5, at Bottom of the Hill with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Grand National opening at 10 p.m. Tickets are $8; call 621-4455.

Overlooking the sea at Land's End sits a 50-year-old Camera Obscura built by Gene Turtle from blueprints drawn by Leonardo da Vinci more than 500 years before. The lure of the camera is odd: It offers no image that cannot be seen with the naked eye, but in the darkened chamber of the camera, the experience is heightened -- spared the glaring light of reality the ocean is more vibrant and the scars on the chins of sea lions more palpable. Since the destruction of Playland, only diligence and care by a hard-working few has staved off the removal of the giant Camera Obscura from its Cliff House perch; now it is under attack again. To raise funds for the fight, the camera's preservation committee offers home movies and memories, as well as a screening of the 1932 film Freaks, which tells the tale of the Feathered Hen -- a beautiful trapeze artist whose mockery of circus freaks sealed her fate -- told as only a circus-clown-turned-director can tell it. The Camera Obscura benefit will be held on Saturday, Nov. 6, at Artists' Television Access at 8 p.m. Donation is $6-66; call 824-3890.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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