House of Tudor

Like low-hanging clouds on a warm Louisiana morning, Damon & Naomi's latest offering, Playback Singers, seeps into your clothes and clings to the hair on the nape of your neck. Before you know it, you're soaked through and through, but you're warm and oddly contented. You've been reminded quietly what it was that Nico had, and why all those bands five years ago thought "sadcore" should be the next big thing. Damon & Naomi perform at the Bottom of the Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 30, with A Night of Serious Drinking and Turpentine opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 626-4455.

For the first time since founding Can -- the experimental German fusion group that paved the way for electronic music in the mid-'70s -- principals Damo Suzuki and Michael Karoli are performing in San Francisco with a full band. The groundbreaking event inaugurates "ElectroMechanik," a new series that synthesizes experimental aural art with dance music by exploring the mechanics of sound. Atau Tanaka, from Tokyo's Sensorband, will also perform with RRR recording artist Thomas Dimusio using a MIDI-interfaced bodysuit that creates sound collages and visual projections through muscle contractions. Mark Spybey of Dead Voices on Air joins his formidable forces with dronology necromancer James Plotkin. And the b.o.l.t. lounge will feature an interactive installation of obsolete media that includes oscilloscopic devices and Pong! "ElectroMechanik" is produced by blasthaus and will be held monthly at Justice League starting Friday, Oct. 2, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15; call 789-7690.

One of the unexpected pleasures of any Billy Nayer Show CD or live performance are the twisted fairy tales sprinkled throughout the musical spectacle, like "Funta and Funtinte" and "Chicken Story" on The Ketchup and Mustard Man or "Christ" and "Mr. Satan ButterWolf" on The Villain That Love Built. Like the songs, these adult fables are refracted glimpses into the world in which frontman Cory McAbee resides. McAbee's collection of stories is nearly as endless as his wit, but until now he has shared only a few. Tonight, however, we find the musician turning storyteller, using the opportunity to test his tales on live humans. Accompanied by guitarist Jeff Pearlman, McAbee will spin sadistic yarns about flies, cars, flatulence, birthday puppies, and, of course, rabbits. McAbee and Pearlman perform at Hotel Utah on Saturday, Oct. 3, with Troia opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 421-8308.

Going to see the Vandals in 1998 is very much like going to see an '80s cover band. Sure, bassist Joe Escalante was there back when the Vandals were arguably one of L.A.'s greatest punk rock drinking bands -- second only to FEAR, I would suggest. But thing is, back then, bassist Joe Escalante was drummer Joe Escalante and no one had ever heard of Dave Quackenbush, the current frontman who hails from Fallen Idols. Still, they know the licks and they have the energy. If you're drunk enough you'll be singing "Mohawk Town" too loud to hear 'em play material from their last three albums. The Vandals perform at Slim's on Sunday, Oct. 4, with Goodriddance and Longfellows opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10-11; call 255-0333.

Twenty years ago, in Cape Verde, the musical director of the Flores do Mindelo carnival company discovered a 10-year-old girl with the natural voice of an earthbound seraph. He decided to polish her untrained purr. (It wasn't the first time Ti Goi was inspired to become someone's personal vocal coach; many years before he had seen a similar glimmer in Cesaria Evora.) After Francelina Dur/ao Almeida -- known to her playmates as Fantcha -- was prepared, Ti Goi presented her to "Barefoot Diva" Evora and the girl sang with every inch of her tiny frame. Fantcha and Evora became inseparable. When the diva made her notorious weekly bar tours of their island home, Fantcha trailed behind. She continued to study rhythmic technique with Ti Goi, but she learned to emote from her idol. When Evora finally put Fantcha onstage in Chico Serra's infamous Piano Bar, folks mistakenly thought such a voice must be the direct progeny of Evora's gift. When the young woman was invited to the States to sing with Evora, she decided to stay, working as a maid in Manhattan and singing in restaurants on the weekends. It's been nearly 10 years since Fantcha has recorded, but Criolinha does not play like the long-awaited lament one would expect. While members of Evora's band and her musical director have left an indelible stamp on the project, Fantcha's voice still sparkles as it did when she was a child. The album opens and closes with a stirring morna -- the lyrical, sad folk songs for which Evora is known -- but there is a sense that Fantcha is holding back. Her voice doesn't really open up until she is singing coladeiras -- lighthearted Cape Verdean dance music that emphasizes complex rhythms over lyrics. Which is just as well; we already have a mistress of the morna. Fantcha performs at Ashkenaz in Berkeley on Sunday, Oct. 4, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call (510) 525-5054.

-- Silke Tudor

 
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