The House of Tudor

At 45, Gil Scott-Heron can indulge in the smile lines that mark the progress of his three children, but 25 years of unceasing social awareness has left its mark also: His thick hair has turned an untimely, grandfatherly gray, and his ever-willing frowns are etched into the dark forehead beneath his signature cap. After all, not a lot has changed since Scott-Heron fiercely proclaimed that the revolution will not be televised (except these days seditious factions seem to court mass media with a jingle already in mind). Still, there is an abundance of injustice, poverty, hatred, death, alienation, and stupidity to rail against, and few artists have managed the task with such fervor or underestimated brilliance. In the mid-'70s, with R&B artists sugarcoating ballads and marketable dance tunes, Scott-Heron turned his rich voice, his talent for reading between the lines, and his love of jazz rhythms and heavy blues into an aural affront, lambasting the apathetic blind eye of Washington. His unflinching poetry named names and pointed fingers while capturing the spiritual intangibles of urban grief. For those who heard him, he was an "expression of blackness" -- forceful and intellectually agile -- who chiseled the truth out of concrete and recorded it for posterity. His latest album, Spirits -- the first in 12 years -- spearheads an extensive TVT reissue series spanning 18 recordings. Scott-Heron performs at Kimball's East in Emeryville Friday through Sunday, Jan. 30-Feb. 1, at 8 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $20-22; call (510) 658-2555.

If you're stuck in the 1930s, or if you would name Cabaret as one of your favorite movies, "Aunt Lucy's Parlour Tricks" has got your top hat and cane polished. This decadent, twisted, humorous, classy, and promisingly bizarre variety show will be held on a monthly basis from here on out. Beth Mann, who comes to us via the Fringe Festival, hosts the first installment. Performances include the Cantankerous Lollies in an authentic, costumed cancan revue; Alex Gutierez as Ineeda Richman performing classic ranchera songs (oompah-oompah pop from Mexico about love, loss, and revenge); funnyman Scott Malone; and Suzy Ming the circus-trained contortionist. DJ Romanowski will spin classic jazz and blues in the early evening and soul and rocksteady after the show. "Parlour Tricks" will be held at the 111 Minna Street Gallery on Saturday, Jan. 31, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $10, or $5 with an extravagant costume; call 831-7681.

For those who have more modern tastes yet still aren't quite up to date, might I suggest the new monthly dance club "Back Catalogue," which is an '80s tribute hosted by "Death Guild" 's Melting Girl and "So What!" 's Lucretia. Sure, you can hear Ministry and Bauhaus almost anywhere, but where, oh where, can a person hear esoteric specialties like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Cabaret Voltaire, Attrition, and Clock DVA? Now you know. Opening night celebrates Wax Trax! Records -- the label that brought us industrial beauties like KMFDM, Revolting Cocks, Front 242, Coil, Front Line Assembly, and Acid Horse -- which means dance-floor stompers and big record giveaways at the Maritime Hall on Saturday, Jan. 31, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 289-6759.

And finally, for the terribly modern and ultrachic, "Baby Judy's" presents a "Tokyo salute to Brigitte Bardot, in the '60s, in outer space," which is the best description I have ever heard of Kahimi Karie -- just one of the superfab-French-speaking-Japanese-baby-doll-disco divas spun by DJs Deena Davenport and Alvin A Go-Go. Imagine chewing bubble gum on helium, covered from head to foot in sequins and fun fur. Now go! to the Stud on Saturday, Jan. 31, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $3; call 252-7883.

To clear your head of hedonistic revelry and material joys, the Irish Cultural Society invites you to church, where you might cleanse your soul with heavenly strings and lilting airs. The ninth annual Festival of Harps includes Irish harps, medieval harps, Bay Area harps, and some fiddling by Clariseach, Golden Bough, Maureen Brennan, and Laura Zaerr at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Sunday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25; call 392-4000.

Last thoughts from the House of Tudor: Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, on smoking: "Cigarettes are a reminder of your mortality. Each puff is a passing moment; each puff is a passing thought." ... Richard Buckner at the Bottom of the Hill last week, on no-smoking laws: "In Georgia, they have laws against sodomy, but people still do it."

-- Silke Tudor

 
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