A tribute to the "James Brown of Nigeria"; Robert Pollard inaugurates the Year of the Liver

For almost four years, L.A.'s Afrobeat Down has dedicated itself to celebrating the life of Fela Kuti, the notorious "James Brown of Nigeria" who crafted the sound known as Afrobeat. Not content to be just a cover band, the group has written its own songs as well. AD's first album, 2004's Lamp of the Body, is heavy on the sax and rhythm section, but the only cover is a live version of "Gentleman." Afrobeat Down's Web site (www.afrobeatdown.com) reveals a growing network of American Fela disciples, from collectives like Antibalas to the singer Wunmi. S.F. Latin hybrid funkers Manicato (a band that features a father and son on vocals) and DJ Jeremiah will join Afrobeat Down in presenting "A Fela Kuti Tribute Shakedown" on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Elbo Room; call 552-7788 or visit www.elbo.com for more info. -- Tamara Palmer


Year of the Dog? Pshaw -- 2006 is already shaping up as the Year of the Liver: Keith Richards appeared surprisingly unwithered during the Super Bowl halftime show; ol' Guinness-for-blood Shane MacGowan is well enough to tour the U.S. with the Pogues; and infamous indie lush Robert Pollard, just two years shy of 50, is somehow both alive and rejuvenated as a solo artist, 14 months after pulling the plug on Guided by Voices' two-decade run of prolific tunesmithery and ungodly boozing. Of course, little has changed for the Ohio elementary school teacherturnedrock 'n' roller. He hasn't let go of either the bottle or, as his new, 70-minute From a Compound Eye demonstrates, his penchant for fuzzy, cockeyed, lyrically screwy, hit-or-miss songwriting -- for every grating, half-baked idea, there's a damn near perfect number like the mods-inspired "Dancing Girls and Dancing Men" or the gruff, grungy "Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft." That the record contains 26 songs might seem a bit excessive, but then again, as any dedicated Pollard fan who's ever witnessed Uncle Bob guzzle Budweisers while romping through his legendary multihour performances can tell you, too much is never quite enough. Drink it all in on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Independent; call 771-1421 or visit www.theindependentsf.com for more info. -- Michael Alan Goldberg

 
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