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House of Tudor 

Wednesday, Aug 5 1998
There are a number of artists claiming to be the "Godfather of Ska," but Laurel Aitken is the real thing. Aitken -- born in Cuba in 1927 -- was one of five musical siblings including guitar virtuoso Bobby Aitken. In 1938 his family returned to their home in Jamaica, where little Laurel began performing calypso for tourists. At 15, he entered and won the "Opportunity Hour," an infamous talent competition held in Kingston's Ambassador Theater. Soon after, he recorded two pre-ska Jamaican shuffles for an Englishman named Chris Blackwell, making Aitken the first artist on a small start-up label called Island Records. He moved to England in the '60s, where blue beat and ska were becoming a staple in the West Indian club scene. His rowdy sing-alongs -- "Jesse James," "Pussy Price," "Fire in My Wire," and "Skinhead Train" -- were immediately embraced by mods and skinheads alike. The tune "Rudi Got Married" placed him, along with Prince Buster, at the forefront of the 2-tone movement. In the '70s, when Jamaican-based music turned toward politics and Rastafarian spiritualism, Aitken's giddy knee-up style fell out of favor, but devoted rudeboys preserved his legacy, hoarding the early recordings like war rations. When he came out of hibernation during the second wave of ska, he was pursued by everyone from the English Beat to punk firebrands like the Ruts. At 71, Aitken is happily riding the third wave, playing on occasion with Japan's Ska Flames, Germany's Busters, and the Toasters, here in the States. Tonight (Wednesday, Aug. 5), he's supported by ska supergroup -- no, that's not an oxymoron -- the New York Ska Jazz Ensemble (members of the Scofflaws, the Skatalites, and the Toasters) at Slim's with Blue Beat Stompers opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12; call 255-0333.

For those not privy to trends South of the Border, the fastest-selling artist since Selena is Plastilina Mosh, two ultrahip twentysomethings whose musical montages run somewhere in the neighborhood of Ben Folds Five, Ministry, Beck, and the Beastie Boys. Sadly, the initial exposure Americans will have to this dynamic duo is their first single, "Monster Truck," a kitschy, catchy alternative rocker that stops shy of the genius found on the rest of Aquamosh. The songs, which benefit from the producing talents of Jason Roberts (Cypress Hill), Rob Schnapf (Beck), and Sukia (Nickel Bag recording artists), flow from suave Hammond B-3 lounge numbers to piano jazz and riotous hip-hop tracks sung in French, Spanish, English, and Japanese. While musical cohesion may seem absent, the album is clearly in-formed by Plastilina's quirky taste in pulp culture -- Jaws, chupacabras, plastic blow-up dolls, and Pancho Villa's head. Plastilina opens for Esthero, a surprisingly funky trip-hop duo from Canada, at Bimbo's 365 Club on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 474-0365.

In 1950, inspired by a film, ruth weiss dyed her hair bright green. It suited her. She was a rebellious nymph who crisscrossed the country melding her jazzy poetry with bebop, and slept with whomever she chose. When she arrived in San Francisco, the center of the new bohemia, she sparred with Kerouac, Cassady, Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Ferlinghetti, winning their esteem and affection. She was the poetess poets wrote about. She was, according to Herb Caen, the "goddess of the beat generation." In 1996, she was immortalized in Brenda Knight's Women of the Beat Generation. For the live reading event "outLOUD," Speak Magazine -- a beautifully written literary art bimonthly based in S.F. but appreciated in New York -- brings these two women together again, along with Noir recording artist Marcus Shelby Trio, house diva Tyler Stone, and "Sista" DJ Polywog. The first of many such artistic fusions will be held at the CoCo Club on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 8 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 431-5396.

Warning: This is definitely not an evening for people of delicate constitution. The Genitorturers are an industrial-laden rock band, fronted by a stunning dominatrix named Geni who squeezes herself into a leather get-up equipped with an enormous strap-on dildo. While the band rages, Geni and her cast of professional doms execute genital piercings and enemas on a parade of willing victims. In the past, volunteers were taken from the audience, but recently Geni enlisted a group of trained slaves. Now, men in dog collars and gas masks receive liberal lashings; a woman in pasties and a G-string gets licked and beaten before reaping a double-hosed douche, nipple clamps, and a hot-wax shower; and another man wins a paddle beating, a crucifixion, and a thread that sews his lips together. That's the beginning. At midnight, the Aesthetic Meat Front will present an erotic cabaret incorporating buckets of blood, entrails, and animal heads. "Masquerade" presents the Genitorturers and Aesthetic Meat Front at Maritime Hall on Saturday, Aug. 8, with Rorschach Test opening at 10 p.m. and DJs Lucretia and EVL spinning. Tickets are $15 ($10 for "Masquerade" members); call 974-0633.

-- Silke Tudor

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Silke Tudor


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