House of Tudor

Live, the Gourds appear as they did on their shit-kickin' debut, Dem's Good Beeble -- just four good ol' boys from Austin wailing away on mandolin, accordion, banjo, and bottom-end Gibson guitars. The lyrics may touch on the surreal at times, but the Gourds are not ones to let good words get in the way of a good time. Performing for a crowd is about knee-slappin' and sweat-swabbin' -- even if it means playing an Appalachian-soaked version of Snoop Doggy Dogg's "Gin and Juice." Like Dem's Good Beeble, the Gourds' sophomore release, Stadium Blitzer, was recorded on a ranch in Comfort, Texas, with songs gathered from words written on co-singer/songwriter Jimmy Smith's living room walls. Ribald accordion and plucky horns complement boisterous ditties like "LGO" and "I Ate the Haggis," but for the most part it's a different kind of drunk. It's an early-morning drunk, one that has seen you through the fireside cavorting of midnight into the porch-swing introspection of dawn. It's sad, sodden, and lonely, and whether the topic of conversation is weather, work, libation, love, or neighbors, the magic hour has been permanently stained by Kevin Russell's "Lament." The Gourds play at Amoeba Music on Wednesday, July 1, at 6 p.m. Admission is free; call 831-1200. They also appear at the Starry Plough in Berkeley on Wednesday, July 1, at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $5; call (510) 841-2082. Finally, they play at the Great American Music Hall on Thursday, July 2, with Richard Buckner opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $9; call 885-0750.

There are men in the world (and a few women, too) who cannot even be in the same room with a Victoria's Secret catalog without breaking into a cold sweat. There are others who, having reached a certain level of maturity, spend hours leafing through the pages (usually while sitting on the john) judiciously considering the advantages between demi lift and natural contour. (To the latter, I say, there ain't nothing like the real thing.) While not everyone will be invited to gawk openly as models from La Venus lingerie sidle through an intimate jazz-club setting wearing exclusive Italian cuts, there is nothing stopping you from attending the afterparty, where DJ Frankie will be spinning cool grooves and the models will be allowed to swill some champagne. It just takes a little imagination at the Up & down Club on Wednesday, July 1, at 10 p.m. Admission is free; call 677-9099.

While no fireworks display can compare with those in, say, Italy or Mexico, the San Francisco Chronicle's Fourth of July Waterfront Festival sports one of the largest displays on the West Coast. This year's theme, "Golden Dream," is a $200,000 toss-up to the 150-year anniversary of the gold rush. Cheesy theme, but good color scheme. As usual, there will be several stages along the waterfront featuring live music all day. Highlights include the BAMMIE-Winners Stage: Liar, Box Set, Strictly Roots, Kinetics, Mr. T Experience, and Lee Press-On & the Nails, starting at 1 p.m. Pier 39 Stage: Manifest Yesterday at 2 p.m. Anchorage Stage: Bill Evans at 2 p.m. and Jumping Buddha Ensemble at 4:30 p.m. Ghirardelli Square Stage: SoVoSo at 4:30 p.m. Aquatic Park Stage: Cheeseballs at 1 p.m., Norton Buffalo at 4:30 p.m., and Airmen of Note (United States Air Force marching band) at 8 p.m. Identical fireworks shows will be launched from Aquatic Park and from floating barges midbay at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 4. Admission is free; call 777-7120.

Live theater can seem a hefty commitment these days, when it feels like ATMs just take too darn long. Thankfully, the folks at Popcorn Anti-Theater subscribe to the soundbite school of dramaturgy. In their capable hands no thespian offering need take more than five minutes, which means you can fit five plays in the space of a half-hour and if you don't like any particular one of them, it's over before you can get bored. If that isn't enough to stimulate your superhighway psyche, Popcorn's monthly series is set outdoors, in a streetcar graveyard lit by burning torches. Popcorn Anti-Theater will perform at the yard at 24th and Third streets on Sunday and Monday, July 5 and 6, at sunset (approximately 9 p.m.). Tickets are $5; call 695-9100.

For those who still feel the sting of Sinatra's passing, "Rat Pack Mondays" offers swinging songs from Frank, Dean, and all their friends -- along with some other folks DJ Maestro thinks Sinatra would have approved of. Though young, promoters Jamie Rosen and Chris Chiarello grew up on the East Coast, saturated in Sinatra lore. Says Rosen, "I woke up every Sunday morning as a boy to the sound of my old man playing Frank. He had a hell of a voice. There is no doubt Frank got laid." "Rat Pack Mondays" will be held every Monday at the Cellar for as long as needed, starting at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 441-5678.

-- Silke Tudor

 
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