Nuggets from the Golden State

Golden Nuggets and the Kitchen Sink

On a recent Friday afternoon at City Hall, the band Devo gave a free live performance (sponsored, naturally, by a car company). The musicians sounded like competent 50-year-olds playing songs that were truly inspiring two decades ago. That's about all you can hope for from a reunion show -- a peek at what the band was like in its prime -- although the crowd-surfing dog was a nice touch.

At least Devo was playing its synth pop songs in the fashion they were originally written in. Several years back, when Nancy Sinatra did a show at Bimbo's, she looked and sounded like a Beverly Hills housewife performing at a Holiday Inn. The Chocolate Watchband, one of San Jose's best mid-'60s garage rock outfits, had a similar problem when it reunited in 1999 for New York's Cavestomp festival. After suffering scathing reviews for its new material, the musicians asked local '60s guru Alec Palao to teach them how to play the old-fashioned way again -- with fuzzed-out guitars and blaring organ. The group's subsequent performance at Baypop 2001 was such a rousing success that the Watchband will return for another go at the third annual Baypop festival, playing Saturday, Nov. 16, at 330 Ritch.

Like many of the garage groups lovingly collected on Rhino's Nuggets box set, the Chocolate Watchband had a short life span and a contentious relationship with its producers. The act's lead singer, Dave Aguilar, even had his vocals erased from the Watchband's biggest hit, "Let's Talk About Girls." But that animus was nothing compared to the ire between the Electric Prunes (which shares the Baypop showcase with the Watchband this year) and their knob-twister. Soon after the group had a nationwide hit in 1967 with the psychedelic rocker "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)," English producer David Axelrod usurped it, using its name to record bizarre prog-rock records with studio musicians.

There are plenty of other good, non-reunion shows at Baypop, which runs at various venues Wednesday through Sunday, Nov. 13-17. Roy Loney, co-founder of S.F. blues-garage legends Flamin' Groovies, brings his new group, the Dilletones, to the stage for the first time, joined by the mod-informed power pop of the Maydays and the jangly bounce of John Moreman. This show also marks the final time that Moreman and guitarist Larry Winther will perform with the Orange Peels, at a gig with Sacramento's girlie fuzz-poppers Baby Grand. For a bit of a harder edge, there's the Sleaves, a soul-drenched rock combo fronted by ex-Persephone's Bees drummer Paul Bertolino. To get more information, go to www.baypop.com.

Everythingand the kitchen sink Pick up a music magazine -- or most any magazine -- and you'll find that the amount of actual content could fit in a thimble. In Spin, even an artist with the stature of Beck merits only a page of copy; a new act like Sahara Hotnights gets a mere couple of paragraphs. It's as if the marketing department decided that every article had to be digestible in the time it takes to make toast.

The local staff at Kitchen Sink (subtitled "For People Who Think Too Much") offers an alternative. The quarterly magazine -- the first salvo from Neighbor Lady Community Arts Project, an Oakland nonprofit dedicated to promoting the arts in the Bay Area -- features thoughtful essays on music, politics, culture, food, and sex. The writing is thoroughly captivating -- from Diana Cage's uncertainty over gel bras to Sierra Filucci's discussion of "lesbian boyfriends" to Nate Daly's ode to the reality TV show Cops. Also, the music articles are a cut above the usual "Here's a band I love" chatter, including charming interviews with indie rock legend David Gedge (Wedding Present, Cinerama) and space-minded hip hop artist Mike Ladd. And just to prove you can have it both ways, the magazine looks classy, with illustrations from such local comic artists as Laurenn McCubbin and Jesse Reklaw. In keeping with its civic duties, Kitchen Sink celebrates its first issue with a party on Friday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. at Ego Park Gallery, 492 23rd St. (at Grand) in Oakland, with music by Erase Errata and L.A.'s Young People and works from "Bay Area Now 3" artists. Tickets are $7-20; call (510) 823-8045 or go to www.kitchensinkmag.com.

 
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