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Riff Raff 

Wednesday, Nov 4 1998
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Suckers Normally we don't fall for cheap publicity stunts. But every once in a while some band -- well, it's usually the Gun & Doll Show -- manages to impress us with clever, if sometimes poorly executed, promotional gimmicks. (They once hired a plane to fly a Gun & Doll banner, and to promote their debut record they attempted to write "Bomb" in flowers on the side of a grassy hill.) More recent case in point: Last week we sighted three large black balloons and a small banner flapping outside the third-floor windows of our building, right on the edge of the China Basin Channel. The sign, advertising the band's upcoming Bottom of the Hill show, read "Gun & Doll Show, Nov. 7." We saw the band's large truck and decided to investigate. Down by the water we found Killian MacGeraghty wrapping a hefty rock with the loose end of 100 feet of kite string. "What are you doing?" we asked. "Making sure that no one takes it down," he said. And with that, he chucked the rock into the channel. (J.S.)

Mutations OPUS415 No. 4, a 10-hour new-music marathon curated by San Francisco's Common Sense Composers' Collective, promises the season's most eclectic and provocative gathering of aural adventurers this side of NYC's infamous Bang on a Can Festival. Dan Becker, founder and director of CSCC, says the idea behind the event is "to build bridges between all the different exploratory new-music communities in the Bay Area -- the academic, experimental jazz, and electronic. There are a lot of cool pockets here, but they often don't get the chance to check each other out. We want to try and help the scene become more of a scene by bringing together as many different styles as possible in kind of weird genetic mutations." Over the past three years -- first at Minna Street Gallery, then at ODC Theater -- the concerts were a great success, drawing hundreds of creative-music fans and fostering a real sense of community around a motley medley of sounds. This year's program -- which features the works of more than 25 composers -- at the Forum at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Saturday, Nov. 7, should meet similar success with its ear-bending range of internationally recognized and lesser-known local artists (plus three New Yorkers) who will be putting themselves way out there in ambitious and unusual formats. The daylong sound barrage kicks off at 1 p.m. with, well, a barrage of sound from the 45-piece Moe!kestra! The concert is scheduled to run in four sets, approximately 2 1/2 hours each, with five to seven showcases per set. Tickets and info: 978-ARTS. (Sam Prestianni)

It's My Nightclub and I'll Ramble If I Want To Sometimes, especially if no one else will do it, you have to throw your own birthday party. Last Thursday, Maritime Hall did just that to revel in three years of operation and what they consider a successful run against their rival, Bill Graham Presents, which operates the Warfield and the Fillmore. At the thinly attended "press conference" held before the actual party, owner Boots Hughston announced that the Maritime's 2B1 production company has held at least 800 shows and has expanded to include five different venues -- Maritime, Palookaville in Santa Cruz, the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, the Del Mar in Reno, and 319 in Chico. Hughston also touted a handful of CDs recorded at the Hall and said that the Maritime recently teamed up with the Southern California company Golden Voice, which promotes "alternative" rock shows like the Offspring. The deal will allow 2B1 to offer bands an eight-show package in California, which the Maritime hopes will remain an option for groups who choose not to take traditional tour routes. With all the new additions, Hughston could barely contain his optimism. "The future of the Maritime looks bright," he said. (R.A.)

Words That Rhyme Continuing the tradition of once-great folk publications Sing Out! and Broadside, which used to print the lyrics of important songwriters before their songs had even been recorded, this week Riff Raff proudly presents "Critic Song." The important composition, written and recorded by the fancifully lowercased singer/songwriter essence, was left for us last week by the same woman whose fabulous photographs we will continue to print in this space until we run out of pictures (or our editor kneecaps the project). (J.S.)

Critic Song
I didn't mean to hurt
your feelings
But there's something
that I wish you'd
understand
It's hard to be a rockstar
with no last name
After all, I'm just tryin'
to play the game

(whistle a little tune)

You were the first to
print my photo
Now they love me out
in Soho
I'm off to record my
big debut
When my bus rolls by I'll be waving at you
I'll send you snapshots from the road
With all my new looks and new clothes
I'll send the record when it's through
I'm looking forward to my big four-star review

(whistle another tune)

I wrote this tribute
To make you laugh
And for all of the nice folks
at the Weekly Riff Raff
'cause you're the stud
you're the man
you've discovered who I am
Thank You!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you
Big Smooch!!!

Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), and Heather Wisner (H.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to jstark@sfweekly.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.

About The Author

Jeff Stark

About The Author

Silke Tudor

About The Author

Heather Wisner

About The Author

Johnny DiPaola

About The Author

Robert Arriaga

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Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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