Skid Marks on My Heart It's purely coincidence that country crooner Neko Case shares a birthday (Sept. 8) and birthplace (Virginia) with the late Patsy Cline, but Case's similarly heart-sore delivery and vintage arrangements are an intentional divergence from new country. The child of nomadic parents, Case straddled the Canadian-American border for years, drumming with Vancouver punk trio Maow before assembling a cast of Canadian indie musicians including former Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet guitarist Brian Connelly and Softies singer Rose Melberg for boy-girl alternative country combo Neko Case & Her Boyfriends. Between the lonesome and lusty originals on their debut album, The Virginian, the band covers “Honky Tonk Hiccups” without irony, and puts a boogie-woogie spin on the Everly Brothers' “Bowling Green.” Add 'em to a bill with the fried chicken-hucking, limbo-dancing punk hillbillies Southern Culture on the Skids, and let the hoedown begin. The Crosstops open at 8:30 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $12; call 255-0333.
Campaign Trail Ron Taylor's firsthand knowledge of homelessness began when he suffered a severe injury and lost his truck-driving job, then his family. Taylor lived on the streets of Santa Monica until he was able to find work and shelter; when the city started cracking down on homelessness, the newly minted advocate ran for a city council seat despite the fact that he was still essentially broke. In the 75-minute documentary Taylor's Campaign, filmmaker Richard Cohen weaves Taylor's run with a personalized portrait of homelessness, following people through days of bottle collecting, dumpster diving, and hassles with police rousters and shelter waiting lists. Santa Monica's scenic beaches and upscale malls provide a stark contrast to makeshift homeless encampments, and interviews with solvent social Darwinists (sample: “If people can't support themselves, maybe they shouldn't exist”) border on alarming. This sorry situation will certainly look familiar to local viewers, although there are moments of comedy and genuine decency in the video, which Martin Sheen narrates. It screens at 7 p.m. at the Delancey Street Screening Room, 600 Embarcadero (at Brannan), S.F. Admission is $7; call 552-FILM.
On the Mark Beastie Boys keyboardist Money Mark is used to going it alone — the quirky selection of grooves on his full-length solo album Mark's Keyboard Repair picks up where the Ill Communication brothers left off — but with his more recent Mo' Wax release Push the Button, Mark does more than just noodle around. Push the Button is a weirdly endearing collection of musically far-flung tunes that rely as much on acoustic guitars as samples, from the Sprockets-like parody of drum 'n' bass in the title track to the loopy, sing-along sweetness of the pure pop ode “Too Like You.” The fourth Beastie, as he is sometimes known, takes advantage of his connections with “Hand in Your Head,” a hustle-worthy number featuring guest appearances by Sean Lennon and Jon Spencer drummer Russell Simins (see Saturday). Mark plays with Japanese electronica trio Buffalo Daughter, the sometime Dust Brothers collaborators and Grand Royal family members who have a penchant for American pop culture detritus (listen for commercial samples) and a talent for tweaking English, as evidenced by their album Socks, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. The show begins at 9 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus (at Chestnut), S.F. Admission is $15; call 474-3606. (Money Mark and Buffalo Daughter will also play in-store sets at Amoeba Records on Haight Street; see Club Listings, Page 54, for details.)
Up, Up, and Away! Try not to look surprised if a businessman in the next phone booth over re-emerges in tights and a cape; he's probably just one of the superheroes participating in the Community Spacewalk, a 24-hour South of Market happening. In fact, anyone who ever harbored superhero aspirations is invited to join in this “living comic book”; a superhero soap opera will unfold into the wee hours and comic book imagery will be displayed across the walls of San Francisco buildings. Over 300 artists and performers (including the usual Burning Man and Cacophony Society suspects) will be making art and prankstering around in colorfully outre processions; local businesses have created and will display art along the course. Walkers armed with maps will make their way through an urban maze of attractions, becoming part of the soap opera and encountering as they go the Silent Radiowave Rave (dancers can only hear the music over their own personal headsets) and the 3 A.M. Tip-Toe Procession, a very quiet gaggle of clowns, stilt-walkers, and flag-wavers. It begins at noon (and concludes at noon Saturday with the Roving Stone Soup Reception) in South Park (Third Street between Brannan and Bryant) and occurs throughout SOMA, from Mission Bay to Market and from First Street to Sixth Street, S.F. Admission is free; call 677-3261.
Blues Explosion! Don't take it personally when Jon Spencer instructs you to “throw your hands up in the air and … kiss my ass, because your girlfriend still loves me,” even though your girlfriend does, and there's nothing you can do about it. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is the devil's music, as promulgated by Elvis, James Brown (see following item), and the Cramps' Lux Interior: It inspires twitching hips and inappropriate touching. It goes well with drinking and smoking and taking the Lord's name in vain. Spencer, the former frontman of Pussy Galore (and a regular family man, incidentally), gets away with this and hoary rock cliches like city shout-outs and repeated exclamations of “Blues Explosion!” because he, drummer Russell Simins, and guitarist Judah Bauer are good at shaking down old-fashioned Delta blues with punk abandon and funk's nastiest grooves. They've enlisted assistance from talented friends, too, including Beck, old-school bluesman R.L. Burnside, and Andre Williams, who produced their new album, Acme. London Moog synthesizer specialists Add N to X open the show at 9 p.m. at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary (at Fillmore), S.F. Admission is $15; call 775-7722.
Get on Up Soul man James Brown is so funky he launched Bootsy Collins, so righteous he played a preacher in The Blues Brothers, so cool he headlined a show with Coolio, so groovy he was honored by both the American Music Awards and the Grammy folks right after he got out of jail. The Godfather of Soul got started with a gospel/R&B group that came to be known as the Famous Flames; after their breakup, he formed the J.B.s with Collins and horn player Maceo Parker. The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business grunted and sweated over 100 R&B and Billboard hit singles including “Papa's Got a Brand New Bag” and “I Feel Good” without breaking No. 1, and watched as successive generations emulated his sex machine style of showmanship (Prince, anyone?) and sampled his riffs in the latter part of his 40-year career. Brown's got a brand-new 25-piece backup ensemble of musicians, singers, and dancers called the Soul Generals, with whom he played the opening of Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted him in 1986. Brown and the Generals will do it again at 8 p.m. at the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium, 1111 California (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $35-65; call 255-0333.
Ararat West Peter Balakian's best-selling book Black Dog of Fate is part autobiography, part history lesson. Balakian's account of his all-American boyhood in '60s New Jersey segues into his growing awareness of his Armenian roots and the terrible toll exacted on his family by the Turkish massacre of Armenians at the turn of the century. Throughout the book, Balakian makes reference to traditional Armenian food and its importance to a culture that once suffered from its deprivation. The Armenian Food Festival offers a primer on just such dishes, serving kufta (a meatball within a meatball), rice pilaf and the dolmatheslike rice-stuffed grape leaves, shish kebab, desserts, and cheese boereg, a savory turnover. Khatchig Jingirian Jr. provides live traditional music in the evening, and inspired chefs can browse through the Armenian cookbooks in the gift boutique. The festival begins at noon (also on Sunday) at the St. John Armenian Apostolic Church, 275 Olympia (off Laguna Honda), S.F. Admission is free; call 661-1142.
Hang Time It's been too long since we've seen someone juggle parasols with his feet and get crazy with a hula hoop, but that's about to change, thanks to the upcoming appearance by 25-member troupe The Hangzhou Acrobats of China. The internationally acclaimed company, which was founded 40 years ago in a resort town of the Zhejiang province, is known for rich costuming, an eye-opening array of physical maneuvers, and complex tricks involving potentially sharp or suffocating props: plate spinning, silk hanging, flower jar juggling, chair balancing, and so on. A magic show is part of the bargain — the performance begins at 3 p.m. at the Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Admission is $16-25; call 472-3500.
When Kathie Met Haiti Kathie Lee Gifford has caused undue public suffering with her patriotic musical performances and her fierce, inescapable perkiness, so it's only fair that Gifford herself was reduced to tears following a confrontation with anti-sweatshop crusader Charles Kernaghan. Two years ago, Kernaghan made headlines for exposing the low wages and bleak working conditions facing underage Honduran laborers who manufactured clothes for Wal-Mart's “Kathie Lee” label. This year, Kernaghan is spearheading the “Call for Corporate Disclosure/The People's Right to Know Campaign,” which asks big chain stores to disclose the locations of and labor conditions in their factories overseas. Labor, religious, student, and community coalitions (locally, the California Fair Trade Campaign, among others) have thrown their support behind his effort, which is still in the public-education phase. Kernaghan discusses the campaign at 7:30 p.m. at New College, 777 Valencia (at 19th Street), S.F. Admission is $6-15; call 255-1946.
The Boogie Man John Lee Hooker is an octogenarian now, so there's no guarantee that he's going to feel like getting up and belting one out at the “Best of Friends Party,” celebrating the first year of his blues club the Boom Boom Room, the 50th year of his gritty trademark album Boogie Chillun, and the recent release of his new CD The Best of Friends, which features contributions from Hooker pals like Los Lobos, Bonnie Raitt, and Eric Clapton. Everyone who's performed at the club since it opened has been invited to come and do a number in Hooker's honor: The party's rough guest list includes Oscar Meyer's Blues Beat, Faye Carol, Frankie Lee, Brenda Boykin, and a slew of others. As the new CD and Hooker's recent performances with the touring Fleadh festival prove, he's not entirely out of commission, but if he skips his party or passes on performing, guests can always give the growly, howly Boogie Chillun another spin and take their chances with the new CD and an autographed photo giveaway at midnight. The party begins at 8 p.m. at the Boom Boom Room, 1601 Fillmore (at Geary), S.F. Admission is free; call 673-8000.