By Cory Sklar
By Alee Karim
By Christina Li
By Dave Pehling
By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
It was a cold, dismal, casual-beige-Gap-sweater day here in San Francisco when the Billy Nayer Show's leader, Cory McAbee, packed up his electric tea kettle and sweet pink rice cakes to head for new digs in the Windy City. Sure, Chicago is just a shuttle away from the other half of BNS Productions, Bobby Lurie, who resides year-round in New York City; sure, the sincerely offbeat art scene in Chicago, which converges at a comic book store, immediately recognized genius in its midst and offered itself accordingly; and sure there's a beautiful, lace-covered birdhouse in which McAbee has been invited to reside with an angel, but still .... All smugness and weasel-heart joy aside, McAbee knows that the Bay Area loved him first and we'll love him last, and that is why the Billy Nayer Show has come to town carrying on its back a very considerable gift: Volume 1 of the Billy Nayer Chronicles, a fully illustrated book that looks over BNS's glorious past (three movies, three CDs, two singles, 12 hand-painted club cards, and countless performances) and its eminent future (a new CD coming out in late winter and a feature-length film to begin production in New York any day now). The book also offers delights that might otherwise have gone unglimpsed -- a gorgeous, slightly disquieting, graphic novella called Mr. Waterman's Rabbit, an extraordinarily funny comic strip called Billy the Kid, and a collection of touching fables involving fish, a fox, a sake bottle, and a deadly poisonous evergreen shrub; for superfans (as if there are any other kind) "Mr. Satan Butterwolf," "Christ," and the "ABCs" are also here, looking resplendent in pen and ink, making it easier to sing along on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at Bottom of the Hill and making one wonder what could possibly be in store for Volume 2. Keeners and Lenola open for the Billy Nayer Show at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 626-4455.
After 15 years and 10 albums, Dead Can Dance dissolved into ether, leaving Brendan Perry alone with his dark, silt-damp voice and his melancholy musings. On his solo debut, Eye of the Hunter, Perry still travels through astral planes and shipwrecks with archangels, death, and sin, but the arcane language of Dead Can Dance has been replaced with very personal, forthright tales told in the musical setting of a roadside monastery rather than a cathedral. The pious will yearn for Lisa Gerrard's ethereal howl to lift Perry out of the earthly sphere, but these are the reflections of a lone traveler laid bare, and it's a journey worth taking at least once. Brendan Perry performs on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 17 and 18 at the Great American Music Hall with Kristin Hersh opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20; call 885-0750.
Comparisons to Chris Isaak seem impossible to avoid given Mark Fontana's breezy, matinee-idol vocals and Gary Brandin's sultry slack key guitar, but while Isaak typically chooses Hallmark card disconsolation, the Blue Hawaiians write exotica love songs for a true bête noire. Alto sax and Hammond organ add to the foreboding à la Morphine, and a swaggering Nelson Algren lyricism polishes it. On their debut, Savage Night, we find dangerous, original enticements keeping easy company with choice covers of Mancini's "Experiment in Terror," Waits' "Jockey Full of Bourbon," and Hazelwood's "A Cheat." Poor Isaak always had the players, but not the taste. Blue Hawaiians open for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Friday, Nov. 19, at the Warfield at 9 p.m. Tickets are $21.50; call 775-7722.
When Fear most recently appeared at the Cocodrie, Lee Ving played the beginning of the show from the back of the stage, near the drum riser, with his head down and a long graying ponytail swinging across his back, thoroughly confusing fans. Ving's center-stage anxiety may have been the result of a past San Francisco show where fans spit at him, then rioted when Ving stormed off the stage like a girl. But the Cocodrie proved to be something else altogether. By the third song, Ving was front and center, pitched over the crowd like a rock 'n' roll demigod as the growing pit sucked everything not bolted down into the vortex. It was all flailing arms and legs, naked torsos, pumping fists, storming boots, and crazy kids hanging from the rafters. No one watched Fear; they felt it, along with the sweat dripping off the ceiling. It was like the old days. Really. Perhaps again? Please. Fear performs on Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Transmission Theater with Streetwalking Cheetahs and Phoenix Thunderstone opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12; call 861-6906.
Looking like a female Stiv Bators and sounding like a narcotic-perdurable Janis Joplin, Texacala Jones made a reputation for herself playing with the Gun Club and fronting early cowpunk denizens Tex & the Horseheads, whose riotous amalgamations were once produced by John Doe. Her new band, the T.J. Hookers, finds Jones somehow tinier, prettier, and bluesier, in an Exile on Main Street-picking-its-teeth-with-barbed-wire sort of way. Their self-titled debut features an unbelievable cover of Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar," an arousing AC/DC-in-a-breeding-corral grind called "It's Midnight," a spaghetti-western-on-speed ode to Johnny Cash, and a cover of Quincy Jones' "In the Heat of the Night" that reveals Jones' disturbing talent for singing like a choir girl and a gravel-munching bull rider within the same refrain. Texacala Jones & Her T.J. Hookers support Mark Curry on Saturday, Nov. 20, at the CW Saloon with Ding Dang opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 974-5906.