For me, the ethereal panhandle-wail of Paula Frazer conjures surreal childhood memories of one feverish night spent watching Shirley Temple movies on a scratchy black-and-white 10-inch screen. For countless hours my world had been reduced to a muggy fog of sweat and restless shivering until this strange, otherworldly voice reached through the brume of sickly heat and soothed me with a sweet, melancholy calling. The siren was not Temple, of course. In fact, she who was dressed in a chicken suit may have been only a figment, but if the voice was real, it was certainly Frazer's angelic predecessor. Frazer's band Tarnation celebrates their long-awaited second release, Mirador (on Reprise Records, not 4AD), Friday, April 4, at Slim's at 9 p.m. Credit must go to the largely mainstream label for recognizing Frazer's dreamy quality and for still allowing her to plumb her darker, more disturbing depths. Tickets are $5-7; call 522-0333. Big Blue Hearts and the Bellows open. A second, more intimate party will be held on Monday, April 7, at the Make-Out Room at 9 p.m. Tickets are $3-5; call 647-2888. ... Circuss Redickaless -- that reckless band of miscreants headed by the inedible ringmaster Chicken John -- will embark on their fourth national tour starting April 8. Since the life of a circus freak on the road in the Midwest is never certain, this may be your last chance to marvel at Dammit the Amazing Wonder Dog, thrill at the jousting skills of the Hard Times Bicycle Club (holder of two Guinness Book world records), or croon with the Organ Grinders From Hell. This very special send-off party includes a motley version of Hollywood Squares. Expect 30-foot-high scaffolding, junk neon, a truly obnoxious host, and underground luminaries including some of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Unfortunately, I can't reveal the location, but here's a hint: It will be held in a large, wonderful warehouse in the Mission District; the folks hosting the event also helped out with Defenestration; and the last event was produced by Cheb i Sabbah (if you read Night Crawler, you'll know where). You have to find it by Friday, April 4, or Saturday, April 5, at 10 p.m. Good luck. ... Lee "Scratch" Perry is easily the most enigmatic figure in the history of dub reggae. His is a story too long (nearly 40 years) and too bizarre (by comparison, George Clinton is well-grounded) to chronicle in this space, but here are some interesting aspects of the madman's genius: 1) Perry has produced more than 1,000 sides. 2) Perry can make a four-track sound like it has 24. 3) Perry often wrote with Bob Marley and was largely responsible for the formation of the Wailers. 4) In public, Perry has worn various accouterments, including pinstripe flares, elephant-cuff bell-bottoms, tie-dyed tank tops, Van Halen patches, SS caps, Queen T-shirts, booties festooned with broken glass, Roman Catholic vestments complete with miter, headbands spun of cassette cartridges and playing cards, and his birthday suit. 5) Johnny Rotten, the Clash, and the Beastie Boys all cite Perry as a major inspiration. 6) Perry's personal cosmology includes Christian, African, Arthurian, Jamaican, musical, sexual, cabalistic, and scatological references with some tirades on extraterrestrials and poultry thrown in for good measure. 7) "Chicken Scratch" Perry likes poultry, but he has been known to sing about seafood. 8) Perry once said, "Words make up the world. By saving words, we'll save the world." 9) He also says, "God is art. The only thing I know is God." 10) And, "It's easy to give the public what they want, but best to give them what they need." 11) Decades ago Perry and Marley wrote a song that envisioned a Lollapalooza-style festival: "The Wailers will be there/ The Damned, the Jam, the Clash/ The Maytals will be there, Dr. Feelgood, too/ No boring old farts." 12) Perry has over 50 aliases, including "Pipecock Jackson," "The Upsetter," and "Super Ape." 13) Even today, in the world of super DJs and trip-hop megastars, Perry is considered one of the most innovative reggae producers/artists of all time. 14) He turns 61 this year. 15) The show at the Maritime Hall on Friday, April 4, and Saturday, April 5, at 8 p.m. is his first and only U.S. appearance in over 17 years. Tickets are $22-25; call 974-0634. Mad Professor and the Robotics open. ... What more needs to be said about Man ... or Astro-Man? If you don't go to this show you are going to miss a night more fun than a bucket of fried chicken and a one-way ticket to Fantasy Island. Even if you don't absolutely love sonic-space-surf with punk rockers and Godzilla, you will enjoy this show, promise. MOAM? plays at Bimbo's 365 Club on Tuesday, April 8, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-12; call 474-0365. The Pulsars open.
-- Silke Tudor