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San Francisco's Impalers Pursue the Groovy Over the Gritty 

Wednesday, Feb 20 2008

Next month's Midnight Boom is the third album from London duo the Kills, whose seedy, deconstructive blues have a sensual cool most bands can only wish for. Built around handclaps and rudimentary beats, their new songs lean toward the dancefloor while remaining caustic and insular and still regurgitating the darkest parts of the Jesus and Mary Chain. Everyone is invited to remix the first single, "U.R.A Fever," at, though you'll be hard-pressed to come up with something as neat as the original's dialing phone. The song is short and sour, as is the second single, "Cheap and Cheerful," another feat of bad vibes and badass refrains ("I want expensive sadness"). Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince come our way as guests of Popscene's Valentine's Day Massacre on Thursday, Feb. 14, at Rickshaw Stop at 10 p.m. Advance tickets have sold out; call 861-2011 or visit for more info. — Doug Wallen

Though Seattle cult faves the Briefs insist they're not breaking up, that hasn't prevented singer and guitarist Steve E. Nix from starting his own damn band, the Cute Lepers. As their name indicates, Nix & Co. spread a severe form of snotty pop sickness, embracing the Briefs' tart and tuneful punk and then infecting it with extrapotent strains of melody. The seven Lepers then attack the stage with clapping female backup singers, tambourine-shaking male cheerleaders, and more jittery energy and sweat than a caffeine addict with malaria. The resulting pandemic is two parts punk, one part Mod, one part Motown, and all fatally fun —- so cancel that doctor's appointment and catch Leper fever at Annie's Social Club on Friday, Feb. 15, at 9 p.m. Admission is $8; call 974-1585 or visit for more info. — John Graham

San Francisco's Impalers may pursue the groovy over the gritty, but don't mistake their smoothness for lack of authenticity. The seven-piece reggae armada boasts a lineup culled from veteran outfits, and they're successful enough to soon tour Europe, including an insane ten shows in Germany, where their debut album, Blood, Rum & Reggae, is out on Scorcha Records. Released stateside on Axe, the record offers such affable instrumentals as "Uppercut" as well as the cautionary tale "I Vampiri," on which singer Cindy Chi warns, "She's gonna get you, boy" as syrupy guitar and shiny horns blossom beneath. There's some Stax soul in there, meaning Sharon Jones fans won't be disappointed. The Impalers celebrate their CD release with the Struts and Police & Thieves on Friday, Feb. 15, at Café Du Nord at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $10; call 861-5016 or visit for more info. — D.W.

Most supergroups aren't nearly as good as the drugs used when dreaming them up, but Stockholm Syndrome is the dank. The talented quintet of singer-songwriter Jerry Joseph, Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools, Sheryl Crow drummer Wally Ingram, Gov't Mule keysman Danny Louis, and ace local guitarist Eric McFadden formed four years ago when longtime friends Joseph and Schools wanted a side project to collaborate on when not playing their regular gigs. Nearly a year after two benefit concerts in San Francisco to aid Ingram's recovery from throat cancer, Stockholm Syndrome returns for two nights with Dirty Sweet and My Revolver opening. Expect two hours of sweaty, loud rock 'n' roll on Friday, Feb. 15, and Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Independent at 9 p.m. Admission is $20; call 771-1422 or visit for more info. — Andy Tennille

The line between genius and madness is fine, porous, and in the case of San Francisco cult band Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, serrated and blood-soaked. Born out of the considered nonsense of Dada, the serious farce of horror, the crazymaking sophistication of prog rock, and the orchestrated abandon of metal, SGM laughs in the face of absurdity, hypocrisy, and the imminent apocalypse. The quintet's third album, in glorious times, aims to eviscerate the complacent masses with its demonic affect: picture a soundtrack to Dante's Inferno or Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights. And yet for believers, this music brings peace to the unquiet soul. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum appears with Estradasphere and OvO on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Great American Music Hall at 9 p.m. Admission is $17-$19; call 885-0750 or visit for more info. — Sam Prestianni

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John Graham

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Doug Wallen

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Andy Tennille


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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.

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