Isaac Green & the Skalars know that the giddy, frolicsome, bouncy rhythm of ska belongs to the young and flat-chested. Happily, they've tempered that approach by blending genuine soul with their skank. By paying homage to the oldies -- the Memphis soul of the Marvelettes' "Beachwood 4-5789" or the rocksteady beat of Coxsone Dodd's "I Love You" -- the Skalars painstakingly calm the dour censors that monitor our adult good sense. Impressed by the refined harmonies and the instrumental expertise, we then find ourselves sweaty and winded, caught unawares by the insidious beat. Soon, we are primed for original songs like "High School," "Phat Steak," and "Spoiled Brat," which speak directly to that hypersensitive, goofy adolescent napping in our hearts. Musical integrity and sophistication for the group fall under the providence of Green, but it is the sprightly charm and dusky voice of Jessica Butler that make the Skalars the seductive, modern-day answer to the Skatalites. The Skalars open for the Marginal Prophets at the Last Day Saloon on Thursday, Jan. 22, at 9:45 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 387-6343.
O Bobby Burns! He was a man lauded by revolutionaries and championed by communists; an inspiration for Steinbeck and the reason we must endure the singing of "Auld Lang Syne"; he was the poet who converted the "luve" of every two-bit romeo into a red, red rose and transformed drinking into a noble and magnificent vocation. Is it any wonder that he can bring a tear to the eye of any Scotsman, no matter how far from home? Celebrate Burns Night in grand style at the largest of such events held in California. Poetry and song penned by Burns, a lovely sheep's stomach filled with hearty goodness, and bagpipes galore will be offered at the Edinburgh Castle on Saturday, Jan. 24, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 885-4074.
At 15, Phoebe Legere was squatting in abandoned buildings of Europe and playing an accordion. At 16, she was in New York City, where she made use of her stunning 4-1/2-octave voice in an underground electronica outfit called Monad. That gig, surprisingly, led her to the New England Conservatory of Music and Vassar College, where she studied jazz. After winning the Jerome Foundation Grant for Emerging Playwrights, she began working on the first in a long line of recordings that turned her into the highly lauded cult diva she is today. She has appeared in Mondo New York (stealing the show by singing "Marilyn") and in Toxic Avenger II and III (stealing the show by giving head to her well-meaning but deformed superhero boyfriend). She's played Carnegie Hall and every seedy nightclub with a microphone. She has been featured in Playboy and The New Yorker and in a stage production of Jean Genet's The Balcony with Spalding Gray and Willem Dafoe. She is a gifted musician (she could play 15 instruments at last count) with an esoteric intellect and a visage that would give a 22-year-old Brigitte Bardot a run for her towel. And why haven't you heard of her before? Because she doesn't do it for money or fame (it must be the European influence), she does what she does because she can't quite help it. She will perform numbers from her latest compulsion, Last Tango in Bubbleland, a collection of elegant pop songs and campy Parisian tangos, at the Cafe Du Nord on Monday, Jan. 26, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 861-5016.
-- Silke Tudor