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House Of Tudor 

Horror-hop DJs, soup-spewing actresses, and prickly peared singers

Wednesday, Oct 17 2001
The classically trained voice of mezzo-soprano Odetta began to burrow into more dusty depths when she turned to folk music in 1949. First heard on 1954's The Tin Angel, Odetta's voice enters through the bottoms of the feet and coils around bone and soul, nestling in the warm places where aches grow. (According to Bob Dylan, it was her voice rather than Woody Guthrie's that inspired him to play folk music.) Two years after receiving the National Endowment for the Arts' Medal of the Arts from President Clinton, the now-70-year-old Odetta is releasing a tribute to Leadbelly, the artist to whom she is most often compared. Odetta performs on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley (2345 Channing Way) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18.50-19.50; call (510) 548-1761.

Even aside from his odd gothic-hesher trappings, DJ Swamp is not your typical turntablist. He smashes shit. He cuts himself with broken vinyl. He licks his needles. He performs Morse code versions of "Louie Louie" using nothing but his pitch control, cross-fader, and the electric hum of current flowing through his system. He bends records with one hand while scratching with the other. He stacks vinyl six records high on his turntable and yanks out the lowest record in a postmodern version of the tablecloth trick, all without missing a beat.

After working as Beck's touring DJ for more than six years and starting his own record company, DJ Swamp has released his first solo album, a collection of tracks Beck deemed too dark for his own repertoire (which makes me think Beck may have lost his sense of humor). Never Is Now is pure horror-hop harvested from the same sort of tongue-in-cheek sadism and ingenuity that must have been at the root of Evil Dead. While DJ Swamp often leaves audiences at scratch competitions gape-mouthed and immobile, he shows restraint on his album, skillfully constructing a bed of weird sounds that supports his darkly ridiculous rhymes. And while his purely instrumental pieces have a polished obsidian sheen, the vocal tracks are not lost in the glare. DJ Swamp supports the B-Side Players on Friday, Oct. 19, at the Justice League with the Arsonists opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15; call 440-0409.

During the filming of The Exorcist, maniacal director William Friedkin chilled the bedroom studio set to freezing and fired guns at erratic intervals, just to keep the cast physically and psychologically on edge (as if the script didn't already have that effect). The resulting work is one of the greatest horror films of all time, one that filled my childhood with night terrors and icy sweat. That Linda Blair was denied an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1973 -- despite the film's 10 nominations -- is a pea soup-spewing disgrace. With Friedkin's careful guidance and a constant supply of chocolate milkshakes, the 12-year-old television model was able to perpetrate one of the most physically grueling demonic possessions ever put to film. (A body double was used for only 26 seconds of the film -- when Blair's character decks a priest and when she shoves a 2,000-year-old dipstick where the sun don't shine.)

Unfortunately, this film was to be both Friedkin's and Blair's crowning achievement, which is not to say there will be a lack of material for tonight's "Linda Blair Live!" extravaganza. In addition to a screening of the 2000 reissue of The Exorcist, the audience will be treated to highlights and anecdotes from Blair's 28-year career, which has included such fine flicks as Roller Boogie, Bedroom Eyes 2, Chained Heat, and Sarah T: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic. But that's not all: In a stage show titled "The Linda Blair Witch Project" (not to be confused with Blair's own The Blair Bitch Project), Connie Champagne, Trauma Flintstone, Arturo Galster, and Matthew Martin will celebrate the true hags of horror. Finally, Blair will sign her new book, Going Vegan. "Linda Blair Live!" with The Exorcist will be held on Friday, Oct. 19, at the Castro Theater at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22.50; call 863-0611. A portion of the proceeds benefits PAWS.

Flames shoot from her head, prickly pear cactus grows from her spine, and the Bleeding Heart of Jesus pulses inside the chest of Astrid Hadad. But such abnormalities are nothing next to the daggers that metaphorically leap from her eyes as she performs a classic Mexican ranchera about a woman whose love overcomes common sense and the broken bones caused by her husband's hand. By combining the aural exotica of divas such as Carmen Miranda and Astrud Gilberto, the peculiar theatrics of Nina Hagen, and the artistic aesthetic of Frida Kahlo, Hadad and her 20-piece orchestra create elaborate musical revues reminiscent of another era. Still, there's no mishearing the vociferous irony of the modern age: Hadad's strident attitudes toward sexual politics and border relations share the spotlight with her pineapple hat, her Statue of Liberty headdress, and her exploding sombrero, rendering everything absurd and a tad surreal. Astrid Hadad performs on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 19-20, at Brava Theater Center (2789 24th St.) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $26-30; call 392-4400 for tickets.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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