After 47 years, we are still held in the alluring sway of Hank Williams' short four-year recording career. Everyone from Ray Charles to Don Ho to The The (not to mention the multitude of lo-fi neo-country acts that have emerged over the last five years) has covered his tunes, attempting to milk from his words the pure emotive experience of his music. The results have been mixed, and often pale in comparison, but that shouldn't stop a person from singing his tonsils out in celebration of Williams' 77th birthday. For a full decade now, local musicians and casual admirers have gathered to celebrate the brief life and expansive vocation of the young songwriter from Mount Olive, Ala., during the Hank Williams Birthday Karaoke Tribute. The booze will be flowing and lyric sheets will be flying with classics like "Cold, Cold Heart," "Howlin' at the Moon," "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You)," "Crazy Heart," and "Lonesome Whistle." Musical accompaniment will be supplied by the Rounders, whose lineup -- Bobby Black of Asleep at the Wheel, Hank Maninger of Wild Combo, Joe Kyle of Hot Club SF, Ricky Quisol of Atomic Cocktail, and JB Allison of Jean Sheppard -- is sure to help you sound at least as good as you think you sound singing in the shower. So, wear your heart on your sleeve and please set aside "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive," the last single Williams recorded in his lifetime, for last call on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at the Elbo Room at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 552-7788.
It might be said that Dennis Wilson was to Brian Wilson as Neal Cassady was to Jack Kerouac: That is, Brian wrote about it while Dennis lived it. In his new book, Dennis Wilson: The Real Beach Boy, author Jon Stebbins explores Wilson's life of drugs, alcohol, women, waves, and Charlie Manson. To celebrate the book's release, Stebbins will talk about Wilson and show never-before-seen video footage of the Beach Boys at work and play; live musical interpretations of the band's classic tunes will be performed by the Bouncedowns. The show is on Thursday, Sept. 14, at the Roxie Cinema (3117 16th St.) at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Admission is $7; call 431-3611.
Throughout the '80s, Alice Cooper maintained his cult status with appearances in horror movies and on the lips of those shameless enough to still look on the '70s with fondness. But it stood to reason that if the king of shock rock could just hang in there -- through the ravages of alcoholism, the gravity of age, and the dress-down horror of grunge -- the pendulum of discrimination would eventually swing back in his favor, and the kids would demand spectacle. Welcome to Brutal Planet, Alice Cooper's somewhat silly look at a future world going to the dogs. Thankfully, an Alice Cooper show does not require that we take his words seriously, so long as he does. And he's taking it seriously enough to trot out the big guillotine and perhaps a snake or two, and if we're really lucky, early songs like "Eighteen" and "No More Mr. Nice Guy." Alice Cooper performs on Friday, Sept. 15, at the Warfield at 8 p.m. Tickets are $26.50-32.50; call 775-7722.
The film adaptation of Charles Busch's play Psycho Beach Party stays pretty close to the script. Replacing ritual pubic hair shaving with murder, we follow the tale of Chicklet, a wannabe surfer girl with multiple personalities (think Gidget meets an S/M Sybil) as she wends her way through sand and carnage. It's a humorous combination of '50s psychological thriller, '60s beach movie, and '70s slasher, starring Thomas Gibson from Eyes Wide Shut, Matt Keeslar from Scream 3, Nicholas Brendon from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and, yes, Beth Broderick from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. What else could you ask for? A fantastic nouveau-surf soundtrack? It's got that, too. Los Straightjackets, the masked men from Nashville, make an appearance, as do sci-fi Alabamans Man or Astroman?, the Halibuts, the Fathoms, the Hillbilly Soul Surfers, Four Piece Suit, and the fabulous Ben Vaughn. We're talking millennial surf music that will make your hair fall down and shorts ride up. In celebration, Los Straightjackets perform at Slim's on Saturday, Sept. 16, with PBR Street Gang and Mark Growden's Electric Piñata opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 255-0333. Man or Astroman? performs at the Great American Music Hall on Saturday, Sept. 16, with Mooney Suzuki and the Spoozys opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12.50; call 885-0750. Psycho Beach Party opens on Friday, Sept. 22, at the Bridge Theater (352-0810) in S.F. and the Shattuck in Berkeley (510-843-3456). Call theaters for ticket prices and regular show times.
No doubt, desert rock is a frame of mind, not a locale. This Man's Ruin Showcase ought to prove it. Eyehategod and the Suplecs hail from New Orleans; Alabama Thunder Pussy comes from Virginia; Drunk Horse lives and breathes in our own back yard; and the Natas are fucking Argentines. All reside in that sweaty, booze-saturated crack between Black Sabbath and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but Alabama Thunder Pussy wins the unframed cocaine mirror with the Hell's Angel eagle painted on it. The Man's Ruin Showcase will be held on Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Justice League at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 440-0409.