Riff Raff

Some Friendly Advice to All Baby Boomers From the Music Editor Concerning the 20th Anniversary of Elvis Presley's Demise Upon That Fabled Toilet, and the Inexorable Passing of Their Youth Let it go. (M.B.)

Lilyvolt Wilts Recently, singer/songwriter Kate Donnellon and her co-songwriter/keyboardist Steve Cohen had to admit that their swirl-pop ensemble, Lilyvolt, was not going to last through the end of the year. The sweet-voiced Donnellon cites the usual problems -- creative differences, mounting frustrations, the inevitable growing apart -- and says that the breakup has been as hard as losing a lover. Lilyvolt entered the San Francisco club scene three years ago with a strong, eponymous CD, produced by the Counting Crows' David Bryson. Since then, the quintet has kept busy, putting out numerous demos. In fact, the band had already recorded three songs for an upcoming album when they realized the tension within the group was too much to bear. But, according to Donnellon, the tunes had already generated some label interest (Riff Raff, in fact, heard about the breakup through one such interested party). "The songs will be played again," she says, "but in a different way." Donnellon and Cohen hope to have a new band together within the next two or three months; guitarist Michael Papenburg has already founded a guitar trio called the Mad Cattle Ensemble. There will be no final Lilyvolt shows. (S.T.)

How Soon We Forget Our Roots Riff Raff reader Emily Aronow sent in a letter, reprinted below. We stopped fretting over this sort of dilemma when we hit that magic drinking age, 21, but Emily's question remains a fair one. (Though we must point out: If the city were truly medieval, we'd all be married off by the age of 12 and far too busy lancing buboes to dance anyway.) (M.B.)

Can somebody please explain what the under-21-year-old is supposed to do in this city (besides leave it)? I love to go out dancing -- but alas, the only under-21 venue for shakin' it is the Get-laidium. Please realize that the under-21 set needs to have fun, and if we can't get it legally, we are going to get it illegally. Although I would rather go out dancing, it seems that the city's laws, or the club owners' preferences, would rather see me sitting at home snorting coke. It seems that there is no rationale for excluding people of all ages from the good clean fun that is dance. Why is this city so medieval?

Too Many Sides Hip hop's surgeon of beats is suffering an identity crisis. A source close to Dr. Octagon says rapper Kool Keith (aka Keith Thornton) and producer Dan Nakamura are struggling over who owns the rights to use the Dr. Octagon name. The duo released the album Dr. Octagon on Nakamura's own label, Bulk Recordings, last year. The hip-hop community immediately took to the deep, fat beats, Q-Bert's innovative scratching, and Kool Keith's spaced-out rapping. The English DJ label Mo' Wax scooped up the rights to release and remix the successful independent record in the U.K. and Europe. Then, earlier this year, Bulk signed a lucrative deal with the Geffen Records subsidiary Dreamworks, which rereleased the album domestically as Dr. Octagonecologyst. The signed agreement gave Dreamworks the rights to the album worldwide, excluding Mo' Wax territory. That's when the seedling argument took root. Now, our source says that Keith considers the record deals -- and especially the remixes -- a financial and creative affront. But Bulk's Toni Isabella says Mo' Wax, per the contract, can release whatever remixes it wants without Keith's stamp of approval. Furthermore, both artists are under contract with Dreamworks as "Dr. Octagon," and under that agreement, neither Thornton nor Nakamura has the right to go off and record with the name solo. Says Isabella: "Keith is and he isn't Dr. Octagon. He doesn't have the right to take the Octagon name. That would breach his contract with Dreamworks." Dennis Dennehy, a publicist for Dreamworks, had no comment on the situation (though his press release reads: "Dr. Octagon is Kool Keith, and hip-hop knew it all along"). Legal proceedings have been instigated by both sides. Riff Raff sees an argument over rights to the record by either party a moot point -- both Thornton and Nakamura should have realized that cashing the check meant losing the rights. Which of course doesn't mean they signed away the name; that's for the courts to decide. (R.A.)

McCarthy Era The Mission transformation continues. McCarthy's, a sprawling 3,600-square-foot bar that resides on Mission between 19th and 20th streets (the same block shared by the ultrachill, oh-so-beautiful people at Bruno's), has been owned by the McCarthy family since its opening in 1933. That is, until two weeks ago, when the space was officially taken over by Philip Berber and Leon Pak, the partners responsible for the success of Cha Cha Cha's on Haight Street. (Berber also owns Bitterroot on 16th Street.) According to McCarthy's new manager, Paul Robin, when the head McCarthy passed away, there was no one left in the family who was interested in running the establishment. Berber and Pak know a good thing when they see it. What with Bruno's a stone's throw away and the newly popular Elysium just down the street, this is bound to be the next Mission block to explode 16th Street-style. After only a couple of weeks, things at McCarthy's are no longer as they once were: Twentysomethings mingle freely with customers who have been drinking at the bar for over 50 years; DJ Toph and guests spin trip hop and funk in the back; the regular bartender (who got his first job at McCarthy's over 60 years ago) has finally retired from the libations game at the age of 87; and casual passers-by are beginning to trickle through the door -- something unheard of a month ago. "We haven't done any [promotion]," says Robin, "but a business takes on the humanity of its owners. We hang out with a younger crowd." Still, while the new owners of McCarthy's are hoping to bring life to the business, they are adamant about keeping the original name and the original clientele. "We are not trying to be exclusionary or upscale," assures Robin. In late September, the bar will be shut down for a six-week period, during which the building will be earthquake-proofed and "restored, not renovated" (in Robin's words). Based on old photos of the bar from the '30s and '40s, Berber and Pak plan on putting booths back in, refurbishing the woodwork, exposing the original tin ceiling, replacing the light fixtures, and reopening the kitchen. "It's more about looking backward than looking forward," says Robin, "part of a renaissance going on in the Mission." (S.T.)

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