Somewhere between his contributions to five Byrds albums and his work with the Flying Burrito Brothers (on everything from drums to banjo), Gene Parsons radically affected the sound of the Eagles, Metallica, the Rolling Stones, Arlo Guthrie, and Led Zeppelin. Nowadays Parsons makes a living from his Mendocino home, by producing the string-bending device he and Clarence White invented to turn the electric-guitar sound into one of pedal-steel. When Parsons isn't busy toiling in his steam-powered shop or wrenching on his motorcycles, he sings songs with his wife, Meridian Green, daughter of folk legend Bob Gibson. Parsons and Green sound the way porch swings feel: breezy and unassuming, with lots of history and warm laughter. Gene Parsons and Meridian Green perform on Sunday, Sept. 1, at Cafe Du Nord with Mover opening at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 861-5016.
Last September, after months of arduous rehearsal and hours of phonetic study of foreign lyrics, Mono Pause finally appeared onstage in its latest incarnation: the Thai pop band Neung Phak. Only Phak's female singer -- the irrepressible Diana Hayes -- boasted a hereditary connection to the material (despite her Pennsylvania rearing), but musical proclivity more than compensated for ethnic reality. In fact, the distance between the facts and the infatuation is what made Neung Phak's music -- a combination of twee-voiced pop, cartoon jazz, Thai traditionals, and avant-electro palpitations -- an aural pleasure worth repeating.
Oddly enough, soon after the sonic globe-trotters stepped from the stage at that show, someone told them about a similarly styled Los Angeles group called Dengue Fever. An Internet search revealed more than an infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes: Dengue Fever is the brainchild of Farfisa organist Ethan Holtzman and his guitarist brother Zac (ex-Dieselhed), in collaboration with saxophonist David Ralicke (Beck/Brazzaville), bassist Senon Williams (Radar Brothers), drummer Paul Smith, and Cambodian pop star Chhom Nimol. (Before relocating to Long Beach last year, Nimol was often invited to sing for the king and queen of her native soil -- a task that left her with lavish formal gowns and a knowledge of traditional Khmer dancing.) While I may prefer Hayes' flossy vocalizations to Nimol's shriller pitch, and Neung Phak's shimmering tones to Dengue Fever's salty riffs, I can't help but enjoy these originative, shape-shifting musicians, especially considering how, live, they've chosen to re-create the wild '60s compilation Cambodia Rocks! in its entirety. You might ask yourself if it's some bizarre miracle of creative kismet or just a wall-eyed coincidence that two West Coast groups decided separately but almost simultaneously to explore the world of Southeast Asian pop, but it's probably better to just revel in the easy-listening innovation. Dengue Fever performs on Sunday, Sept. 1, at the Make-Out Room with Little Fuzzy opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 647-2888.