Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

The House of Tudor 

Wednesday, Apr 21 1999
When William S. Burroughs passed over, San Francisco had already expended itself on the memory of beat poet Allen Ginsberg. And since Burroughs wasn't a city resident at the time of his empyrean call, he didn't get much more than lip service in these parts. For obvious reasons, that really ticked off V. Vale, editor and publisher of the RE/Search volumes, and nearly a year later it's still pissing him off. Thinking better late than never, Vale has put together the "Bay Area William S. Burroughs Memorial Tribute," featuring nearly a dozen speakers who will share their personal recollections and anecdotes, along with rarely screened short films (inspired by and starring Burroughs), and, most notably, a rare opportunity to use a Dreamachine -- the 1959 invention of author and Burroughs cohort Brion Gysin, with British mathematician and Burroughs' then-lover Ian Sommerville -- which the Beat Godfather often apotheosized (in A Book of Dreams, The Job, Electronic Revolution, and countless interviews, including RE/Search). Over the last seven years, Dreamachine fabricator David Woodward has built hundreds of facsimiles for everyone from Beck and Iggy Pop to Burroughs himself (according to the hysterical Christian group Friends Understanding Kurt, Kurt Cobain's death can be attributed to the machine that Woodward built for him). The Dreamachine is rarely displayed for public experimentation (one of the last times was for LACMA's 1996 exhibition "Ports of Entry: William S. Burroughs and the Arts," during which folks lined up for hours for the chance to sit in front of the oscillating lights). Having had extensive experience with the Dreamachine, and some interesting variations incorporating aural tones, I can attest to the mind-altering kaleidoscopic effects. You may not experience movie-picture-like memories, but you'll definitely feel different at the San Francisco Art Institute on Friday, April 23, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 362-1465.

What happens when you combine the music of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass with 15 of the best newfangled surf bands? You get Surfin' Senorita, a seaside soundtrack for Laugh-In that will make you giggle and groove till margaritas spray forth from your nostrils. To celebrate the CD release, compilation contributors Herb and Pollo Del Mar perform amid South of the Border beach mayhem: Mexican hat dancing, Tijuana jail photo ops, adult-styled pinata beatings, a tiki boom boom room surprise, and 80-proof cantina specials can be had at the Hi-Ball Lounge on Friday, April 23, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8; call 397-9464.

Despite the fact that it took two years of obsessive fiddling for Elephant 6's Olivia Tremor Control to compile the 27 tracks found on its latest release, and despite the fact that much of the dadaist constructs interspersed between songs were culled from thousands of hours of old tapes and contributions from the "Black Swan Network" of associates on which listeners are encouraged to send in recorded descriptions of their dreams, and despite the fact that the album is so thickly layered you can hear everything that's passed through the Athens studio collective, including the kitchen sink, Black Foliage: Animation Music is a delightful, fanciful, '60s-styled psychedelic pop romp that can be enjoyed even without drugs or a Dreamachine. OTC performs at the Great American Music Hall on Friday, April 23, with Music Tapes opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 885-0750.

For the unknowing or forgetful, the legacy of Gram Parsons can be heard running through the music of the Eagles, the Blasters, the Mekons, the Lemonheads, R.E.M., and every No Depression act to emerge from this continent. At rock's most fragile age of 26 -- when Parsons OD'd on morphine and tequila near Joshua Tree -- Gram could be credited with having cut the first four slabs of country-rock. His three-month stint with the Byrds resulted in the influential Sweetheart of the Rodeo, which would have also featured the then-22-year-old young buck on lead vocals had Lee Hazelwood not held him to a contract for his International Submarine Band. His next venture, the Flying Burrito Brothers (formed with Chris Hillman when the two refused to tour with the Byrds in South Africa during apartheid), became a cult favorite among musicians like the Rolling Stones, and Parsons sat in during the recording of the Stones' pivotal Exile on Main Street, where he shared his intuition and learned to indulge his proclivity with Keith Richards. With his solo works, G.P. and the follow-up Grievous Angel, Parsons firmly embedded his "Cosmic American Music" in the landscape. Groups like the Scud Mountain Boys and Palace have faintly sketched the melancholy crevices borne by the wealthy, drug-addled boy who lost his citrus-tycoon father to suicide at 12 and his mother to alcohol poisoning at 18, but as heard on Cosmic American Music, Parsons remains the King of Country Rock Sighs. Every year, around the time of his death, bands gather near Joshua Tree -- where Parsons was illegally cremated (his road manager was arrested for stealing and burning the coffin) -- to pay tribute. But for those unable to make the trip down south, Mover lead singer Eric Shea has put together a local Parsons tribute and benefit. The first annual "Sleepless Nights" includes Mover, L.A.'s Beachwood Sparks, Dixie Star, Blood Roses, Sacramento's Sex 66, Four Fathom Bank Robbers, the Tyde, and the Decans. "Sleepless Nights" will be held at Slim's on Saturday, April 24, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8 and will benefit the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic; call 522-0333.

-- Silke Tudor

About The Author

Silke Tudor


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"