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The House of Tudor 

Wednesday, May 26 1999
To the casual observer, all scooterists buzzing around town in stovepipe pants and wraparound shades might be part of a single supportive scooter league. Not so. As with any group of two or more people, there are conflicts in music, make, model, style, politics, and personality; what may seem like a little thing to you or me might be the difference between a Rally King and an S.F. Cavalier. Still, two wheels and natty lines are what make most scooterists slaver, so in the spirit of all-inclusive camaraderie the '60s-centric producers of "In N' Out" planned the first annual Northern California Mods Mayday Weekend -- four days of scooter culture and '60s bacchanalia that starts on Thursday, May 27, at 10 p.m. with a scooter ride led by the Vespa Club of S.F. from the Orbit Room to "Popscene" at 330 Ritch.

The exhausting weekend offers three more late-night dances -- "Darling," "Maximum R&B," and the "Mods Mayday Allnighter" -- with live bands and the best soul, psyche, and mod DJs this city has to offer -- as well as three more rides hosted by the Rally Kings, the S.F. Cavaliers, the Vulcans, and the Dana Scully Scooter Club; a "Mods Mayday Custom Scooter Show" sponsored by S.F. Scooter Center and First Kick Scooters; and a "Unity Rally" sponsored by the Northern California Scooter Council. Rides and daytime events are free, club events are $5-8; call 248-1937 for detailed info or see our Calendar listings under Events.

After more than five years, Slim's must bid an affectionate farewell to night manager Dennis Juarez, who has united with blues-crazy Laura Gillespie to produce a floating version of her 11-year-old institution: Lou's Red & White Blues Cruise. The three-hour musical tours around the bay will leave from Pier 43 five times every weekend starting Memorial Day weekend, which is typically a pretty busy blues holiday (Santa Cruz Blues Festival, the California Blues Fest held in Golden Gate Park). The first cruise leaves on Friday, May 28, at 8:30 p.m. with Al Von & the Allstars; Saturday, May 29, at 4 p.m. with Chris Cobb Band and at 8:30 p.m. with Delta Wires; Sunday, May 30, at 1 and 5 p.m. with Jackie Payne's Blues Band; and a special Memorial Day Monday with Pamela Rose at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for matinees and $30 for sunset cruises; call (888) 386-8497.

George Bernard Shaw called music the brandy of the damned. He would have found plangency in the compositions of multi-instrumentalist Mark Growden, who cheerfully careens between the devil and the nearest carnival of rye. His slightly unhinged world is scattered with dangerous squeaking fruit, cheerleader windmills, skulking karaoke beasts, angel trophies, and boxes filled with rumors and charms. Growden's disarming caprice makes its home in a dark, preternatural body of glockenspiel, trombone, spike fiddle, pedal steel, tabla, friction drum, cello, pipe caps, a homemade bass canjo, and his own gentle, mournful cadence. Mark Growden performs with Rube Waddell at Amoeba on Friday, May 28, at 6 p.m. Admission is free; call 831-1200. And at ODC Theater (3153 17th St. at Shotwell) on Saturday and Sunday, May 29 and 30, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8; call 863-9834.

In the past, while stacking praises on the tripes-and-keister of the Asylum Street Spankers, I have relied on the flourish of their live show -- the "sincere" medicine show wail of Pops Bayless, the way Christina Marrs swings from Bessie Smith howls to peekaboo coos, the rabid impressions of a seersucker-swathed kazoo player named Mysterious John, the knee-weakening croon of a dangerous reactionary named Wammo, the "Cool Pops" finger-snapping rasp of Stanley Smith, or Josh Arnson's vaudevillian warble. In keeping with the band's impassive busker's aversion to electricity, its first album, Spanks for the Memories, was recorded with only a single microphone; sadly, a straightforward recording of live acoustic musicians does not a live acoustic experience make. Its follow-up, Nasty Novelties, managed to capture the dock-workers' bawdiness of the 10-piece (Marrs grabbing her crotch and purring, "I got fat from fucking") but it didn't exhibit the Asylum Street Spankers' musicianship. The group's latest, Hot Lunch, may be too clean in sound and sentiment for some familiar fans, but as a home-seated listen it couldn't be more enjoyable. Piled high with tasty accouterments -- banjo, bongos, harmonica, washboard, gas can, crosscut handsaw, fiddle, violin, and mandolin -- Hot Lunch is elegantly garnished (classics like Nina Simone's "Blue Prelude" and Benny Goodman's "A Smo-o-oth One"), and filled with feisty new ingredients (UFO attacks, martini bars, and lovelorn NRA supporters). Asylum Street Spankers perform at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley on Friday, May 28, with Ben Bonham opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $13.50-14.50; call (510) 548-1761. And at the Great American Music Hall on Saturday, May 29, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 885-0750.

Joi is two young Bengalis raised in London's East Side with a gift for dissolving chunky backbeats into lush mosaics of South Asian instrumentation. Every club generated by the Joi Sound System has become a wellspring for the Bangladesh youth movement and a primary focus for the new Asian underground. The band's latest release, One and One Is One, is a seductive amalgamation of vocalist Susheela Raman, guitarist Vik Sharma, percussionist Bongo Paul, and a whirligig of techno, hip hop, and trance. Joi is joined by its contributing vocalist and musicians, and a dancer or two, at Bimbo's 365 Club on Monday, May 31, with DJ Cheb i Sabbah opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $9-10; call 474-0365.

-- Silke Tudor

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Silke Tudor


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