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Sid Vicious-taught bassist Jah Wobble drops by; the Violent Femmes mark their 26th year of weirdo rock 

Wednesday, Feb 1 2006
If Sid Vicious hadn't once loaned Jah Wobble a bass to tinker around with, the world would have been robbed of one of its most adventurous players. Wobble's first gig was with Vicious pal John "Rotten" Lydon's postSex Pistols group, Public Image Ltd., which earned a bit of respect in the pre-alternative days of the early '80s. In the decades following, Wobble amassed a large discography, collaborating with artists like Can, Brian Eno, Bill Laswell, and Bernie Worrell. He's always defied the image of the silent bassist; his larger-than-life personality gets in the way of that. In fact, he's also developed his spoken-word poetry over the years, so expect a witty vocal component to what promises to be a bold exploration of low-end theory. Jah Wobble & the English Roots Band, with Tryptophan and Giant Haystack opening, will have a punky reggae party on Thursday, Feb. 2, at the Bottom of the Hill; call 621-4455 or visit for more info.

They just don't build bands like the Violent Femmes -- now in their 26th year! -- anymore. All those faux teenage angsty groups that clutter the current altrock landscape have nothing on Milwaukee's finest rock trio. Emo, shmemo: This group's enduring classics like "Gone Daddy Gone," "Add It Up," and "Blister in the Sun" still sound fresh and still fill a void for the lonely and neglected. Conveniently enough, the Femmes' recent release is a greatest-hits called Permanent Record: The Very Best of Violent Femmes, and it's as good a tool as any with which to get acquainted with the act in a hurry. The band is joined on this tour by the soulful punk outfit the BellRays, fronted by the amazing singer Lisa Kekaula, a lady versatile enough to rock with these boys and then turn around and guest on a dance single by club-music kingpins Basement Jaxx. It all goes down on Friday, Feb. 3, at the Fillmore; call 346-6000 or go to for more info.

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Tamara Palmer


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  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
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