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Monster of Accordion 

Wednesday, May 12 2010
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Mark Growden strikes a precarious balance between charismatic stylist and pretentious artist. He belts out melodies as if proselytizing from the mountaintops, and rocks an accordion like he's channeling Black Sabbath; his soundtrack-moody music ricochets from hell to the stars above. Such high drama stems from his roots in the S.F. dance and theater scenes, where he has worked with community leaders like Joe Goode Performance Group, the Crucible, and Alonzo King's Lines Ballet. Growden is also a preacherman's son. It's no surprise, then, that he turned to religion to fuel his return to the recording studio after an eight-year hiatus, with the release of Saint Judas. The infamous biblical traitor who sold Christ his crucifixion appears in Growden's vision as a complex figure worthy of redemption. Delilah, the treacherous vixen who sheared Samson's powerful locks, gets similar treatment. Both characters essentially behave as they must; given the imperfections in all of us, their actions are forgivable. Growden's new songs derive from wrestling with his own dark night of the soul. If you've been there yourself, you'll find his performance riveting. If not, darling, just call it ahht.
May 20-22, 8:30 p.m., 2010

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Sam Prestianni

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