The House of Tudor

For Brandon Cruz, it was an unlikely road from being the child star of The Courtship of Eddie's Father to frontman for Dr. Know and, you might think, one not easily documented. Not so. Cruz's twisting, possibly twisted, career comes together in one delightful package released by Taang! Eddie Is a Punk includes a touching narrative penned by Cruz, which accompanies his early duets with co-star Bill Bixby, a punk-inspired remake of the theme song, and several early Dr. Know songs. Dr. Know with Brandon Cruz performs at the CW Saloon on Friday, Jan. 15, with Damnation, Union 13, and Decline at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 974-1585.

After 15 albums and 50 singles, Deke Dickerson -- formerly of Untamed Youth and the Dave & Deke Combo -- is finally able to strut his comfortable vocal style and peacock fingering on the first solo project of his career. On Number One Hit Record! Dickerson's signature double-neck Mosrite guitar is joined by Collins Kids guitarist Larry Collins, Bill Haley's Comets sax player Joey D'Ambrosio ("Rock Around the Clock"), Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys pianist Carl "Sonny" Leyland, Wayne Hancock steel guitar player Jeremy Wakefield, and the legendary vocalist Claude Trenier. Deke selects hysterical jump-blues, hillbilly boogie, and country swing tunes that'll make you guffaw. Deke Dickerson & the Ecco-Fonics perform at Bottom of the Hill on Friday, Jan. 15, with Wilson Gil & the Willful Sinners and the Buckets opening at 10 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 626-4455. Also, at the Starry Plough in Berkeley on Saturday, Jan. 16, with Jeff Bright & the Sunshine Boys opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $6; call (510) 841-2082.

Chances are a first-time passenger on a Japanese commuter train would be completely bewildered by the number of adults perusing what Americans consider comic books. Reading manga, the print version of anime, or Japanese animation, is a widely accepted pastime among the Japanese. People of all ages and educational backgrounds delight in caricatures of muscular motorcycle thugs and large-eyed girls with strangely colored hair who star in historical dramas, political thrillers, philosophical adventures, mysteries, horror stories, and steamy romances. But despite (occasionally) adequate subtitles, cultural distinctions keep Americans from fully appreciating the elegance and intricacies of Japanese animation. Until now. For years, Bay Area librarian and anime-loon Gilles Poitras has maintained an extensive Web site at www.sirius.com/~cowpunk/ as a companion to favorite films and television episodes like Vampire Princess Miyu, Urusei Yatsura, and the like. This month, Berkeley's Japanese-centric Stone Bridge Press released Poitras' The Anime Companion: What's Japanese in Japanese Animation, an encyclopedic guide to cultural details seen or heard in anime. Ever wonder at the connection between sexual arousal and nose bleeds; or why women giving birth, students taking exams, and sushi chefs all wear the same headband; or what the favorite food of the aquatic supernatural creature Kappa might be? It's all in here, along with 500 other entries on food, culture, landscape, mythology, history, sports, fashion, and war that will make your anime experience more than just big tits and flesh-eating race cars. Poitras gives a lecture, "Anime and Manga: The Art of Japanese Animation and Film," at the Exploratorium on Saturday, Jan. 16, at 10:30 a.m. Admission is free; call 561-0363.

Who could have guessed that the next mighty torrent in rock 'n' roll would spring from the same soil that nurtured the lip-glossed flaccidity of Abba and the Cardigans? We have barely regained our composure after an inclement attack by Sweden's Hellacopters. Now our grateful rocking corpses are to be further ravaged by the Hellacopters' IKEA-loathing countrymen: the Backyard Babies. Like the 'copters, BYB has a penchant for the unsanitary environs of iron girders and exhaust fumes originally savored by MC5 and the Stooges, but the grease under BYB's fingernails is just a little bit sexier than that of their compatriots. The tales of sexual excess and druggy abandon that litter BYB's latest album, Total 13, seep out of guitarist Dregon's pores like sweat. He's the perfect American rock 'n' roll rebel -- with good skin and a quaint accent for onstage patter. Dino and Luigi present Backyard Babies at the Cocodrie on Saturday, Jan. 16, with Dragons and 440 Six Pack opening at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 986-6678.

As one of the forerunners of politically conscious West Coast punk rock, Vancouver's D.O.A. claims a career that has spanned two decades -- their transforming Disco Sucks arrived in 1978 -- but unlike some similarly minded American agitators, frontman Joey Shithead didn't stop at playing benefits in Communist countries, running for office, and starting his own record label. A quick listen to the band's latest release, Festival of Atheists, makes you think punk rock doesn't have an age limit after all. D.O.A. performs at Maritime Hall on Sunday, Jan. 17, with Bimbo Toolshed, American Heartbreak, and Phoenix Thunderstone opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-12; call 974-0634.

-- Silke Tudor

 
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