Say It Ain't Sloe In most cases, the death of a bar band is no great tragedy; a bunch of guys with no ambitions beyond free beer on Saturday nights and a chance to work on their chops in public calls it quits, and the world's no worse off. (In fact, sometimes it's better off.) But the demise of the Sloe Gin Joes counts as a genuine loss: The local rockabilly trio, who approached their chosen genre with rare wit, energy, and skill, and none of the typical pompadoured flash, play their final show at Berkeley's Starry Plough on Friday, May 8, after over two years in business. The rationale is bar-band typical: Drummer Mike Burns is leaving to pursue the proverbial Other Interests, while bassist Dez Mab will concentrate on his alternate band, the Demonics. "No great reason why," says guitarist and songwriter Frank Novicki, "it's just been a struggle for a long time." The band has tentative plans to reunite briefly to record a track for an upcoming CD tribute to the Blasters, another California rockabilly bar band with solid roots and a little something more. The Joes' planned cover? Culled from the Blasters' second, self-titled album: "This Is It." (Mark Athitakis)
Overheard: Dial M for Misinformed Lest there were any lingering questions about just how popular British folk-rocker Robyn Hitchcock is here in the States, here's the latest proof, overheard moments before the film-fest screening of Storefront Hitchcock, Jonathan Demme's documentary on the singer, at the Castro: "It's not about Alfred Hitchcock?" (Mark Athitakis)
Riff Raff's First-Ever Big Contest: Still Going As we announced last week (and the week before that), we're having a big name-that-dumb-quote contest. For the past five months we've closed this column with an inane remark made on a live concert album. All we want you to do is identify those remarks. (Hint: You can find back issues of the Weekly online.) The prizes are pretty spectacular already, and -- as we promised -- they are going to get better every week. The grand-prize winner gets a priceless night out on the town with Night Crawler and -- if you're fun or interesting -- a pleasant write-up in that column. As we said, first prize also includes pairs of tickets to any show in the next six months at the Great American Music Hall, the Bottom of the Hill, and the Fillmore. (Six tickets total!) And finally, we'll let you write your own Riff Raff item about whatever you want. (Accompanying this prize is another: an awesome session with the Riff Raff editors.) The second-prize winner gets a random assemblage of rock books, some kung fu movies and strange documentaries on videotape, and no less than 40 high-quality, top-of-the-line promotional CDs, most of them produced by international music conglomerates. The third-prize winner gets 50 of said CDs, a bunch of cheap promotional items lying around our offices, and a stack of Bay Guardians piling up in the corner. The winning entry will have the most matches between the 22 quotes that this space has printed and the names of the albums they came from. Get your entries to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly, 185 Berry, Suite 3800, S.F., CA 94107 (or jstark@SFWEEKLY.COM), BY MAY 15 AND WE'LL PRINT THE WINNERS THE FOLLOWING WEEK. (J.S.)
RIFF RAFF RIFFRAFF: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Karl D. Esturbense (K.D.E.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), Heather Wisner (H.W.), and Bill Wyman (B.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to email@example.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.