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The House of Tudor 

Wednesday, Jul 7 1999
If the poppy seedpods and turn-of-the-century sedatives don't give away Jill Tracy's predilection, her song titles might. Certainly, "Evil Night Together," "The Fine Art of Poisoning," "Just the Other Side of Pain," and "Doomsday Serenade" suggest some gothic leanings, and lyrical references to bergamot tea, blood boiled to an opalescent blue, holy books and legerdemain, and tiptoeing through carcasses and bones are blatantly medieval, if not positively poetic.

Most of us have come to the conclusion, despite all the prattle about eternal youth, that goths age pretty poorly. The melodramatic imagery, so charming against a 15-year-old pallor, usually wears like cheap lipstick and bobby socks on anyone over 25. But Jill Tracy has made an exquisite, even luscious record. Featuring Tracy's new band, the Malcontent Orchestra, Diabolical Streak plunges into an epicurean cushion of double bass, violoncello, timpani, bassoon, percussion, yaili tambour, and, of course, Tracy's molten ivories. Tracy has become a wise and graceful melancholy baby with a dexterous sense of humor. Her voice swishes through velvet curtains with a coquettish wink and sidles up with vaudevillian surety. She wraps you with a smoky coo, and as you soften under that sophisticated smirk you realize too late she's tied you to the third rail while the cobwebs descend and the sea fills with blood. Jill Tracy celebrates her CD release party with Malcontent Orchestra, a traditional French puppet performance by Marionette a la Planchette and hurdy-gurdy player David Miles, the exotic mysteries of Sita Rose, and the acrobatic feats of Double Dog Dare Mini-Circus at Cafe Du Nord on Wednesday, July 7, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 861-5016.

In Southern dirt-track turf, a bantam rooster is a scrawny, foul-tempered chicken good for little but scraps and cockfighting. In East Lansing, Mich., Bantam Rooster is a lean, wicked garage-blues duo good for little but scrapping and blowing your music-starved, lily-livered mind. Drippings from the Oblivians, the Makers, Thee Headcoats, and early Pussy Galore leave cracklin' tracks across Rooster's The Cross and the Switchblade, but the crazy-eyed twosome wins: To make such a tremendous clamor with nothing more than skins and a gee-tar (and the occasional organ soliloquy) is nothing short of a pig-flying miracle; and to rip across the stage like a pair of angry Tasmanian devils on trucker speed deserves the awe and ardor of every two-fisted drinking gal within 75 miles. When the locusts fly, it is the Bantam Rooster that will inherit the Earth, starting at the Covered Wagon on Thursday, July 8, with Gimmicks and Zodiac Killers opening at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 974-1585.

There is a nationwide movement, with sturdy roots in the Bay Area, to make Oct. 22 a national day of protest against police brutality and repression (what some youth movements refer to as the "criminalization of a generation"). The Stolen Lives Project -- an association between the October 22 Coalition, the Anthony Baez Foundation, and the National Lawyers Guild -- collects names, statistics, stories, autopsy reports, police reports, and photos of victims and their families whose lives have been damaged by police aggression. For those who can't speak for themselves, the Web site speaks volumes: To make Oct. 22 a reality, Lost Goat, Apeface, and Yaphet Kotto are playing an all-ages benefit. There will also be speakers from the coalition and a large, moving mural with names compiled by Stolen Lives at 379 40th St. in Oakland on Friday, July 9, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $5; call (510) 923-1230.

When the Keith Haring exhibit came to town, the presentation of the bright, fervent works took more time and thought than the creation of many of the canvases themselves. The viewer was engulfed in strobe lights and disco while tooling through Studio 54 with Grace Jones and Andy Warhol. Subway trains rushed by. Traffic lights bounced off concrete and steel. Grade school photos and high school diaries curled and faded in the heat. The bold, kinetic forms that were meant to be seen on the sides of passing trains suddenly leapt to life. The only intrusion came in the form of the euphonious strains of a string quartet playing in the atrium below.

This will not happen during "RGB," a full-submersion opening for Bill Viola (thought to be the pre-eminent creator of video- and time-based art). Viola's 16 room-sized installations will be complemented by environments created by blasthaus: The "Technoasis" in the grand lobby promises explosive visuals, Dolby Digital surround sound, and DJs Mocean Worker, Galen, and Sutekh; and the "Be Calm Transit Lounge" offers an audiovisual narrative with DJs, live performers, and multimedia artists. Viola's exhibition (up through Sept. 12) opens at SFMOMA on Saturday, July 10, at 9 p.m. The museum will remain open until 2 a.m., but dancing continues in the atrium until 4 a.m. Tickets are $15-20; call 789-7690.

Nestled in a beautifully dilapidated corner of Oakland, the new, weekly "Swamp Boogie" offers heel-kickin', rebel-rousin' music, hell-hot jambalaya, an amazing tap-dancing bartender in a tux, the Impromptu Pots and Pans Bayou Orchestra, and a huge back patio that will remind you of rope swings and lightning bugs. The first hoedown features the Faraway Brothers with Ed Ivey, Eric McFadden, and Paolo Baldi, plus Backstep with Dennis Wilmeroth on harmonica and banjo, Bill Lackey on guitar, and Glen Olsen on washtub bass, at Eli's Mile High Club on Sunday, July 11, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $6 and include barbecue; call (510) 655-6661.

-- Silke Tudor

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Silke Tudor


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