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The Wedding Present; Bands Wanted(Talent Helpful, But Not Required); Oops

Wednesday, May 17 2000
The Wedding Present Weddings are generally boring. Or, rather, they're boring to write about -- how the New York Times consistently stomachs scribbling about the pâté available at the nuptials of some Park Avenue daughter-of-doctors working in "marketing" and a Yale-bred "entrepreneur" boggles the mind. But then, those folks don't get a soul legend like Johnny Otis presiding over the ceremonies.

On May 7, Alec Palao and Cindy Vorte, owner of Berkeley vintage clothing boutique Stop the Clock, were married in San Bruno. Every major city has a person who acts as the institutional memory of its music scene, and British expatriate Palao is San Francisco's. As the West Coast consultant for the massive reissue label Ace Records, he's dutifully documented the '60s-era Bay Area bands that slipped through the cracks for his beautifully produced "Nuggets From the Golden State" series, not to mention hosting regular gigs with a host of local bands, and taking the occasional gig spinning for "Bardot a Go Go."

Given that, Palao says, "I wanted a rock 'n' roll wedding." So he got one. Johnny Otis, who watched R&B mutate into rock 'n' roll firsthand, and scored his biggest hit in the late '50s with "Willie and the Hand Jive," drove down from his home in Sebastopol to act as the officiant. Also in attendance were the Dead Kennedys' and Jumbo Shrimp's East Bay Ray, members of regional '60s cult act the Chocolate Watchband, and the Beau Brummels' Sal Valentino. The ceremony also featured a reunion of Palao's own punk-pop band the Sneetches, who hadn't played together in seven years. He sat in on bass with the Chocolate Watchband as well, and will continue to play with the band in Europe on his rock 'n' roll honeymoon.

Bands Wanted (Talent Helpful, But Not Required) We got a distressing phone call recently. This is not a unique thing around here -- a few months ago, we were besieged with voice mail messages from a disjointed local who had, he said, just finished a tour of Europe, set himself on fire for some reason or other while there, and, assuming that self-immolation in all its forms is somehow newsworthy, had been thus inspired to create a daylong festival at the Maritime Hall ("Fifty bands!"), and was wondering whether we would like to see the scars.

No, we would not.

But we've received an even more distressing call.

Of course, it came from MTV.

Hypercaffeinated and eager to please, a flack from MTV Networks in New York rang us up and told us about a great new project they're working on. Described as a combination of Road Rules and The Real World, MTV's latest idea is a reality-TV series that would follow a band as it toils on the road and does typical band-type stuff, though the series would probably edit out the mundane band-type stuff like getting hung up on by club bookers and buying strings at Guitar Center. Which is fine -- after all, exposure on MTV shows like The Real World has had a huge role in breaking important and successful musical acts like ... like ....

Anyhow, said flack was looking for bands the network could use for its new show, and one of the places it was looking was San Francisco. And she was hoping we could steer MTV toward bands that either featured "people of color" or were "co-ed," and could we recommend some? It's an idea we might almost consider get-ting behind if we felt it remotely resembled an enthusiasm for gender and racial equality, not to mention, say, good music (come to think of it, isn't Sly & the Family Stone long overdue for its own Behind the Music episode?). All we heard, though, was a giggly enthusiasm for covering all the right demographics simultaneously. We declined to help out, in a polite sort of way -- in other words, we didn't say the idea was crass and disingenuous -- explaining that while, yup, we do pay attention to local bands, we don't act like managers and agents and perform acts of advocacy for them, sorry.

Sounding a little bit hurt and confused, the flack bid her farewell. Feeling somewhat bad about this, we've decided to breach our usual code of ethics and perform an act of advocacy for local bands: Multiracial or not, co-ed or not, please, please don't set yourself on fire.

Oops Last week's item on the CoCo Club's final rock show mistakenly said the event was occurring at, well, the CoCo Club. It was at the CW Saloon; we apologize for the error, and promise to spend more time learning how to read fliers.

Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to Mark.Athitakis@sfweekly. com, or mail them to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.

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Mark Athitakis


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