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House Of Tudor 

Rokia Traoré; Dead Moon; Leatherface; Chico Cesar

Wednesday, Aug 9 2000
Being a member of the Bamana, descendants of a Malian warrior clan, Rokia Traoré is not constrained by the shrill griotte tradition of her country that passes musical customs along hereditary lines. Her music -- soft, sensual, and accessible to Western ears -- is a departure both in substance and sound. Backed by the balafon (wooden xylophone), kora (25-string harplike instrument), ngoni (lute), guitar, and delicate percussion, Traoré sings about community, emancipation, death, and caste issues in a tender but stoic voice that belies her 5-foot-4 frame. Rokia Traoré performs on Wednesday, Aug. 9, at the Velvet Lounge at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $12; call 788-0228.

Punk rock is getting pretty long in the tooth and, despite all those fresh-faced skate brats, it won't be long before real proponents of the genre consist mostly of grandparents. Just remember, Dead Moon got there first and kept playing. A veritable legend in Europe, the band still plays a roughneck mix of '60s garage, '70s punk, and timeless hard rock (those Dead Moon tattoos will never go out of vogue). Its latest record, Destination X, is no exception to its rule -- grainy, garrulous, unpretentious, and unrepentant, it's pure, delicious, voice-straining DIY. Dead Moon performs Thursday, Aug. 10, at Bottom of the Hill with the Slaves and the Lies opening at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 621-4455.

Re-emerging after a seven-year hiatus, Sutherland, England's Leatherface has taken a less political stance on Horsebox; the fist-pumping personal protests match the whiskey-and-gravel vocals of lead singer Frankie Stubbs with the emotional muscle of his often poetic musings. Like the best oi! bands of old and unlike what usually passes for punk rock these days, Leatherface is galvanizing without being simplistic and redundant. While each song bears a distinct personality and a relentless, riotous urgency, only Stubbs could make lyrics like "He bought you flowers/ I bought you a drink/ You can't drink flowers/ But flowers can drink" sound both dire and defiant. Leatherface makes your heart beat as fiercely as your boots when the band supports Avail on Saturday, Aug. 12, at Bottom of the Hill. Dillinger Four opens at 3:30 and 10 p.m. The all-ages shows are $8; call 621-4455.

Armed with silly hair, outrageous costumes, and a disarming smile, Chico Cesar has taken the Brazilian airwaves (both television and radio) by storm, becoming one of the principal characters in the new wave of musica popular Brasileira initially spearheaded by the likes of Gilberto Gil and Gal Costa. As a child prodigy born to an uneducated farm worker and a washerwoman, Cesar innocently adhered to the bouncy, infectious accordion-driven melodies of his native state of Paraiba, a sound considered unsophisticated among the aural literati of São Paulo. But Cesar was irrepressible. It wasn't long after he won a scholarship to a boarding school run by German nuns that Brazilian superstars were clamoring to sing his compositions. Few artists were able to capture the giddy effervescence innate to Cesar's work -- a playful collision of reggae, funk, Afropop, and Brazilian folk, influenced as much by Donna Summer as Salif Keita -- so he began singing himself. Chico Cesar performs along with Rita Ribeiro at the last installment of the Stern Grove Festival season on Sunday, Aug. 13, at 2 p.m. A pre-show talk will be held at the Trocadero Pavilion at noon. Admission to both is free; call 252-6252.

To clarify an item from last week's column, the Baypop festival is in no way associ- ated with Poptopia. Sorry for any confusion.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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