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The House of Tudor 

Wednesday, Aug 27 1997
Long before David Byrne plunged into the I Wish I Were Latin segment of his solo career, he had been nurturing his love of authentic ethno-aural compositions. He rejoiced at the fledgling alliances between Latin, African, and Indian soul, Anglo sensibility, and urban chops. As technology wrapped its electric-blue tentacles around the planet, music's next step became clear to (and cheap for) him. Nearly anyone can learn to sample, and more and more people can afford to record. For musicians, the separation between Madagascar and Riverside is becoming negligible. Still, as a musician, Byrne seemed able to appreciate this natural collision, but unable to express it. His most fantastic work came in the form of projects that he selected for his new record label, Luaka Bop (see Wrong-Eyed Jesus by Jim White, the Blue in the Face soundtrack, the entire Adventures in AfroPea series, Cornershop, Zap Mama, and Paolo Braganca), up until the release of his own Feelings. On his new album, Byrne makes full use of the cut-and-paste aesthetic of which he has grown so fond. He didn't just bring other musicians' samples to his songs, he actually brought the songs to other musicians. On Feelings, Byrne works with Morcheeba in London, the Black Cat Orchestra in Seattle, Devo in L.A., Joe Galdo (producer of Anjelique Kidjo) in Miami, Hahn Rowe and C'n'A in New York, and Paula Cole wherever. The result is a full palette that resembles the multicolored mood wheel found on the inside of the album's jewel box. Country and western, jungle, Cajun, Indian, Latin, Brazilian, ambient, punk, goth -- it's all in there, curled around Byrne's inexplicable awareness of man's place in the world. It's not quite genius, but it's good enough to contend with Byrne's latest muses: Chico Science, Illya Kuryaki, Bjsrk, Portishead, Beck, and Cibo Matto. Byrne performs at the Warfield on Thursday, Aug. 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20-22.50; call 775-7722.

Inspired by a collective nocturnal hallucination of Mrs. Thurston Howell III, the founders of "Baby Judy's" decided to throw a Labor Day weekend High Society Party. Besides the eclectic musical revelry supplied by DJs Alvin A-Go-Go and Miss Deena Davenport, treat yourself to a simultaneous beauty salon and palm reading by Bryon Rockafeller; a nouveau-new wave slide show installation by Jill Trump; a sick-and-twisted coat check by Tony Vaguely-Onassis; and go-go dancing by Nigel Astor, Ghis Vanderbilt, Flynn von Bulow, and Matthew Whitney. Miss Birdie Bob Watt-Carnegie will act as a greeter for any blue bloods inexperienced in the art of slumming. The spirits of Elsa Maxwell, Diana Vreeland, and Cary Grant shall be on hand at the Stud on Saturday, Aug. 30, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $3; call 252-7883.

For more than 600 years, the Khans of Pakistan have been lauded as the ruling family of qawwali, an ecstatic form of Sufi devotional music that has been steadily gaining popularity in the West as the world shrinks and musical genres begin to fade. More than anyone, the recently deceased Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan -- the elder statesman of qawwali -- has nourished the fusion of East and West; first through his early work with Peter Gabriel, then through his work with Eddie Vedder, and finally through his willingness to tour the West performing pure qawwali for an uninitiated populace. With his appearances, devotees of "The Pavarotti of Pakistan" came to know the power, if not the meaning, of qawwali songs, and to admire other members of the musically gifted Khan family. The Good Karma Festival brings together 24-year-old Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, the nephew who acted as Nusrat's vocal counterpart for many years and the musician most likely to continue Nusrat's legacy; Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat's father, who worked with Nusrat from the beginning of his career, and who now serves as his son's vocal counterpart; and 33-year-old Ustad Badar Ali Khan, Rahat's cousin, who has already released 22 albums in his native Pakistan. (Rahat plans to work with Western jazz artists, and likens the ceaseless energy of qawwali to "that electrical bunny on television.") While the sacred words invoked during this performance will be lost on most people, the beauty and might of the music won't -- can't -- be. According to Rahat, the language barrier can serve to the music's advantage. "There's a lot more dancing and so forth here, whereas back home, people tend to sit and listen more closely to the words." Yes, indeed, American audiences are known for getting pretty wild at a smokin' qawwali gig. The Good Karma Fest will be held at the Berkeley Community Theater on Saturday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22.50-35; call (510) 644-8957.

On record, Doo Rag reside somewhere between Tom Waits and Rube Waddell. Their live show, however, is more akin to a boho version of the Thrill Kill Kult. Girls get naked; men get shaved; sheet metal gets worked; birthday candles get burnt; everybody falls down. Doo Rag don't need the gimmicks -- the deliciously danceable backwater beat set by Thermos "Chocolate Joe" Malling is perfectly complemented by the junkyard slide mayhem of Bob Log III -- but the boys get antsy. In fact, it seems that no sooner than a roomful of casual observers becomes sucked into the duo's garagelike swampland, then Doo Rag decide to light someone's hair on fire. If you're not prepared, it can be quite distracting. Good music; flaming head; good music; naked chick. Perhaps you can understand the dilemma. Adding to the schizophrenia, Doo Rag have hooked up with Bebe & Serge, a surrealistic karaoke team that put the BS back in Bebe & Serge. While they would like to point to Brigitte Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg as inspiration, it more likely sprang from a spoiled carton of Mocha Mix. Doo Rag perform at the Kilowatt on Saturday, Aug. 30, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. I recommend the Saturday show, when the Demonics and the Crosstops (otherwise known as the best trucker-rock band this side of tornado country) open. On Sunday, Zen Guerrilla and the Gel Caps open. Tickets are $7; call 861-2595.

-- Silke Tudor

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Silke Tudor


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