House of Tudor

Lowe maintenance, boat rocking, howling agony, and a garden ablaze

Since the Imp of Bizarre and Pitiable Reunion Tours came into power, we have become callous to the indignity of 55-year-old men singing songs they wrote at 16; we have accepted 20-year-old promo photos and swallowed embarrassment in the form of nostalgia; we have even tried to imagine the parody as intentional. But staring at the self-possessed, silver-haired visage of Nick Lowe on the front of his new album, The Convincer, one sees how it could be, how it shouldbe. Here is age and dignity incarnate. Never mind that Lowe once produced Elvis Costello, the Damned, the Pretenders, Ian Dury, and the Redskins, or that his caustic wit earned him the title "Basher." Nick Lowe is an elder statesman, and his music and his dark suit reflect it. Smooth, elegant, and languid, The Convincerrounds off a trilogy that began with 1994's Impossible Bird, which inspired covers by Johnny Cash, Rod Stewart, and Diana Ross and was followed by 1998's impeccable Dig My Mood. The grace and sophistication of these records may be the result of Lowe's abandonment of youthful, musical snobbery, as he puts it. Flip tartness has been replaced by soulful vulnerability and smarmy assuredness by a genuine poise -- both coming, perhaps, from the realization that the older you get the less you know and the less it really matters. Nick Lowe performs on Wednesday, July 17, at Slim's with Austin DeLone opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $22-25; call 522-0333.


Since it's nearly impossible to get an entertainment license in San Francisco, Odeon Bar proprietor Chicken John has decided to produce a show just offof San Francisco. Inspired, perhaps, by the floating stages of the Moskva River in Moscow, "Rock the Boat"will be anchored under the balcony of Kelly's Mission Rock, where local landlubbers may remain within an olive's throw of fresh cocktails while the evening's performers combat seasickness and sea gulls. On deck, the ships will feature the poetic stylings of Attaboy & Burke, the Devo-y seaphistication of Mongolounge, the tiki tones of DJ Otto Von Stroheim, the brassy madness of Extra Action Marching Band, the surfaholic revelry of the Mermen, and the cheap thrills of the Naked Fire Babes. $teven Ra$pa hosts "Rock the Boat," a benefit for Chicken John's playa project, on Thursday, July 18, at Kelly's Mission Rock at 9 p.m. Ticket price is a donation; call 626-5355.


Clearly weaned on the Gun Club and the Birthday Party, the Bay Area's elusive Black Cat Music creates the sort of plaintive, broken-down, minor-key, punk blues that makes me want to throw all my possessions through a top-story window and hop trains across Wisconsin. As the title suggests, the group's last album, Hands in the Estuary, Torso in the Lake, is as jagged, desolate, and hopeful as a young girl who has fallen in with the wrong crowd. On tunes such as "The Dirty Penny," Brady Baltezore howls and slurs over Travis Dutton's Skynyrd-inspired guitar riffs, and I couldn't be more grateful for the agony. For its only Bay Area show this summer while working on its new album, Black Cat Music performs Thursday, July 18, at Slim's with Bluebird and Holy Kiss opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 522-0333.


"O for a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention," wrote Shakespeare in Henry V, to which Beavis would have replied, "Yes, yes, yes, fire, fire, fire!" Fire is the entertainment equalizer -- no one, however high or temperate, can resist it -- but, in the Bay Area, where you can't spin a torch without hitting a fire twirler, you have to offer really good blazes to get noticed. "Fire Garden"'s 20,000 square feet of tarmac, filled with sculptures, cauldrons, and fountains of flame, is a very good start. The event's epic Tesla coils and half-mad knights in medieval armor having sword fights under a canopy of lightning are better yet. All of these flickering items, along with belly dancing, pyro performances, film projections, insect fetish fashion shows, and DJs, should not be missed. "Fire Garden" will be presented on Friday and Saturday, July 19-20, at Golden Pacific Brewery (1404 Fourth St. in Berkeley) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-15; call (510) 601-6269.

 
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