Legend has it that the Indian holy man Bodhiharma, or Ta Mo as he's known, meditated in a cave outside the Shaolin Temple in the Henan Province of China for more than nine years before he was admitted inside. A hole that his piercing gaze drilled in the cave wall remains today as evidence for followers of Ch'an Buddhism, but even nonbelievers can bear witness to the marvelous legacy of physical discipline that Ta Mo taught the monks of Shaolin: a masterful combination of martial arts and Qi, vital energy born out of breath control and concentration. The 30 warrior monks who are trained to protect the new Shaolin Monastery in Henan (the first one was razed by Emperor Xiang XI after the monks proved their effectiveness during an invasion) follow a 24-hour regimen for their entire lives. Eye-bulging displays of strength, agility, precision, grace, and endurance are commonplace at the temple's Kung Fu Academy where the warrior monks train alongside 1,200 apprentices, but the monks' skills have rarely been seen outside the custodial walls, except during 1996's Lollapalooza. This rare show offered a brief demonstration of Shaolin Temple Boxing. Tonight's show includes the mastery of 18 classical weapons, Northern and Southern Shaolin styles of kung fu, and exercises of Qi-Gong (superhuman monks, impervious to pain, breaking big blocks of cement with little effort). The Mystery of Shaolin Kung Fu of China is brought to the Warfield on Saturday, April 4, at 3 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $27.50; call (510) 762-2277.
When Johnette Napolitano recorded Mexican Moon she wasn't whistling Dixie. When not twiddling with the sadly lacking Pretty and Twisted, the former singer of Concrete Blonde has used her position as one of L.A.'s two reigning rock matriarchs to bolster the career of favorites in the growing rock en espanol scene. Maria Fatal, a passionate rock quartet from SoCal, have been twice named the "Best Band Outside of Mexico" in La Banda Elastica, the leading publication on Latino rock in the States, and they are widely accepted as L.A.'s favorite Chicano group, but there is no doubt that they benefited from supporting Concrete Blonde while on tour. Now that CB's defunct, we find Napolitano and co-Blonde leader James Mankey producing Fatal's new CD, Pasiones, Torturas y Otros Misterios (Passions, Tortures and Other Mysteries), just released on San Francisco's Aztlan Records. Somehow, it's not surprising to hear that Fatal will be opening and acting as Napolitano's backing band for her upcoming solo show. Kinda makes you wonder who's benefiting from whom. Johnette Napolitano performs at the Great American Music Hall on Tuesday, April 7, with Maria Fatal opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12; call 885-0750.
-- Silke Tudor