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Postmodern genre-busters Japonize Elephants stir up a theatrical gumbo

Originally spawned in the fecund fields of Bloomington, Ind., Japonize Elephants From Zorlock Land of the Lost recently found its second home in the swamps of the East Bay freak scene, cozying up with fellow postmodern genre-busters such as Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. On its third and latest album, 40 Years of Our Family, the virtuosic nine-piece sounds as if it were the house band at the Musée Méchanique -- that is, if the time-traveling fun house at San Francisco's Cliff House were set on a riverboat floating down Old Muddy, circa 1928.

The Elephants present the ultimate pleasure cruise for rootless concertgoers with a hankering for old-time shenanigans. Using a wealth of instruments -- banjo, tin whistle, spoons, washboard, violin, xylophone, trumpet, accordion, saxophone, mandolin, glockenspiel, and various noisemaking gizmos -- the ensemble produces a cornucopia of exotic yet familiar soundscapes. Picture Moulin Rouge meets The Wizard of Oz, Kurt Weill in a Las Vegas strip club, Cab Calloway at a bluegrass hoedown, Frank Zappa in a Hollywood musical, or Wile E. Coyote at a Gypsy wedding fete.


Wednesday, July 17

Married Couple opens at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $7


Blue Room Gallery, 2331 Mission (between 19th and 20th streets), S.F.

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Anything fun on the global farm is fair game for the Japonize Elephants' theatrical gumbo. Hot sauce is included, and square dancing's required.

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