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Dubbing it down; cemetary gates

Wednesday, Aug 29 2001
The original drum 'n' bass Dub reggae started by accident. One night in 1967, Jamaican DJ "Ruddy" Redwood went to a party, intent on playing a hot-off-the-presses tape of the Paragons' "On the Beach." He soon discovered, however, that the engineer had forgotten to put the vocals on the track. It didn't matter in the end; the audience went crazy anyway. Redwood told sound-system impresario Duke Reid about the excitement the song caused, and Reid began adding the simple backing "instrumentals" to singles as B-sides. Over time, the sound evolved into "versions," vocal-cleansed tracks that other DJs sang over, and then into dub as we know it today, with heavily produced effects, echoing vocals, and thick drum and bass.

The Bay Area's primary source for live dub, the weekly club night "Dub Mission," started with equal serendipity. In the late '80s Sep Ghadishah began DJing at KUSF-FM, playing mostly indie rock and experimental sounds -- until she came across Tackhead, a group consisting of British producer Adrian Sherwood and three members of the house band for the hip hop label Sugar Hill.

"Tackhead combined an interest in dub and production with hip hop," Ghadishah says via phone during a break from a New York trip. "For me and a lot of other people, they were a portal back into dub."

Ghadishah immersed herself in the sounds of Sherwood's On-U label, which in turn led to the works of older artists like King Tubby and Bim Sherman. "It was like working back from a branch to the root of a tree," she says. When she began playing dub on her radio show, a funny thing happened: Listeners called up to ask where they could hear the tracks live. Realizing that there wasn't an outlet for the music, she started "Dub Mission" in September 1996 at the Elbo Room.

Five years later the event is still going strong. Ghadishah credits the club's owners, a supportive, open-minded community of fans, and her fellow DJs, J. Boogie, Maneesh the Twister, Vinnie, and Ludichris, with the night's success. "This wasn't a lucrative gig when we started," Ghadishah says. "They all just really loved dub and wanted a chance to spin it."

Now the riddim comes full circle, as Sherwood performs on Sunday, Sept. 2, at the club's fifth anniversary party. For his first local show in over four years Sherwood will spin a live mix of old, unreleased On-U tunes and upcoming new tracks, with vocal help from Ghetto Priest. Ghadishah and the other resident DJs will play as well. Tickets are $12 before 11 p.m.; call 552-7788 for info.

Baby's in black and I'm feeling blue The uniform for your typical goth music fan tends to be a bit dour. Wearing black is more an imperative than a choice for them; ruddy cheeks must be covered with makeup until they're ashen. Unfortunately for much of the Bay Area goth community, this look has taken on a new significance of late.

On Aug. 2, one of the most beloved and respected members of the local goth scene, Athena (aka Paris Julie Rupard), passed away from liver failure. The 40-year-old longtime area resident had been an instrumental part of the goth world for nearly a decade, both as an attendee at and promoter of popular events like "Sanctuary," "Winter Gone By," and "Bound."

"She was one of the first promoters to blend S/M and goth," says Mike Iampietro, who spun records at Athena's events as DJ Voodoo. "She was one of the most influential and prolific people in the goth scene as long as I've been here, which is eight or nine years."

A year ago, Athena fulfilled a lifelong dream of operating her own venue by starting up the Lost City 23 Club in Brisbane. Finally, there was a place for the undead to call their own, to revel in gloomy tunes from Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, and Ministry, to wear black bustiers and rhinestoned cowboy boots. Wait, cowboy boots?

Unlike some of her peers, Athena was open-minded -- and savvy -- enough to book rockabilly, western swing, and metal nights along with the usual goth showcases. "She didn't see or care about divisions in music or people," Iampietro says. "She didn't care what people wore or what music they liked."

"There was nobody quite like her," Iampietro continues. "She was completely attitude- and judgment-free, even with competing club promoters."

Sadly, she also had a history of liver problems. In 1995 doctors gave her only six months to live. But by using alternative medicines she soldiered on -- until this July, when she fell ill.

Athena's fiance, Raffi Lotem, hopes to be able to "keep her projects and dreams alive." He's presently running Lost City 23 Club in Athena's stead. For information about events, call 467-0486 or go to

About The Author

Dan Strachota


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