While it is impossible for five-time Grammy-winning flat-picker Doc Watson to ever find an emotional substitute for his longtime touring companion and son Merle Watson — who died in 1985 in a tractor accident — he has certainly been blessed with the next best thing: Merle's son, a man who clearly shares the family gift. Third Generation Blues is a truly lovely, subtle collaboration between Doc and Richard Watson that demonstrates the pair's skill in the service of the songs they have chosen. The offhand, homespun feel of this recording rounds off Doc's tenor, weathered by the roads and years, giving standards like “If I Were a Carpenter,” “Honey Please Don't Go,” “Gypsy Davey,” and even Pat Boone's “Moody River” and Gershwin's “Summertime” a rich, warm burnish. At 76, Doc Watson has reduced the tour dates that take him from his ancestral home in the Carolina mountains from 200 to 20 shows a year, so we are very fortunate to be so often graced with his presence. Doc and Richard Watson perform at the Great American Music Hall on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 7 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $22; call 885-0750.
While I'm not someone who likes politics getting mixed up with my nudey entertainment, I can appreciate the need sex-industry workers have to draw attention to dangerous working conditions and the everyday abuse of turn-a-blind-eye authority. And I can really appreciate nearly a century of erotic movie footage. “21st Century Stripper Sinema” combines vintage clips of burlesque queens and stripteasers like Tempest Storm and Blaze Starr with contemporary videos created and curated by sex workers, live performances by “postmodern” strippers, and some naughty words from Daisy Anarchy. The show, which is a benefit for the Exotic Dancer's Union, will be Webcast live from the Bay Area Sex Workers Advocacy Network (www.bayswan.org) and will no doubt include highlights from the heated sex-industry-workers-meet-Bay-Area-politicos discussion held last week. “21st Century Stripper Sinema” will be held at the Roxie on Friday, Oct. 1, at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 751-1659.
On Malediction — the much-awaited debut from Botanica — you can almost hear the music frontman Paul Wallfisch must listen to in the early dawn as he struggles into fitful sleep: Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, maybe a little Leonard Cohen when he's feeling sweet, or a little Jacques Brel when he's feeling fancy. Wallfisch is certainly not the first to invoke this collection of bedtime specters, but he's certainly not the worst, either. In fact, for about 10 out of 15 songs, he does far better than his pedigree as Love & Rockets engineer, Gene Loves Jezebel producer, organ player for Congo Norvell, and pianist for NYC's gleeful world-music vandals Firewater would suggest.
Layered with eerie, dusty instruments, arcane religious epithets, and sinister sexual impulses, Malediction sounds like a darkened storefront hung with cryptic incantations and moon-dried viscera, but behind all the pungent strata are doorways that open onto bright, noisy penny arcades covered in neon, tinsel, and chrome. Contrasted with similarly minded artists, like Greg Garing and Jim White who draw from Appalachian wells, Wallfisch is a city boy with a decidedly pop-ular sensibility, and friends to match. Daniel Ash (Bauhaus, Love & Rockets), Kid Congo Powers (Gun Club, Bad Seeds), Daniel Glass (Royal Crown Revue), Bob Furgo (Leonard Cohen), Frankie Infante (Blondie), Ivan Knight (Stan Ridgeway), and Abby Travis (Beck, Elastica, KMFDM) all make their presence felt on Malediction. Alongside the loping, accordion-drenched sing-along “and the blood dries” in “True Crimes” sits the way-too-groovy organ power ballad “Big Thing”; riding above the sadistic burlesque grind of “The Castration Tango,” the merry-go-round funeral dirge of “The 14th Song,” and the delicate early-morning speak-easy sway of “And Then I Met Her” are “Big Big World,” a bombastic dance-floor anthem that would have better suited Love & Rockets' self-titled release in 1989, and “Fire,” a psychedelic rock opus that should be handed over to our own Engorged With Blood.
Even if Wallfisch is trying to please too many on one album, he is a highly gifted multi-instrumentalist, a wry lyricist, and an enjoyable vocalist (when he forgives himself for not being a baritone). He's also one hell of a live performer and, as he is joined by Travis, Powers, Knight, and Firewater guitarist Oren Kaplan on this tour, Botanica should not be missed at Bottom of the Hill on Monday, Oct. 4, with Martinis and Blacks opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 621-4455.
Before they were old enough to vote, the five Welsh lads in Super Furry Animals had appeared on television, in NME, and on the lips of every A&R leech worth his or her salt. The band's first album, Fuzzy Logic, was named one of the 10 best British albums of its time, and it received NME's Brat award for Best New Band (its was the first charting Christmas single in history to contain the word “fuck” no less than 52 times). The group's second fuzzy offering drew comparisons to both Frank Zappa and Blur in the same breath, but SFA still wasn't self-satisfied. Unlike a lot of young musicians who get early praise, the Super Furry Animals admitted they were still looking for their sound. So, like precocious kids with a new physics set, they leapt into the studio and emerged with Guerrilla, a futuristic palette of hi-fi pop, glamrock, Krautrock, techno, punk, and super silly furriness that is still, happily, evolving. Super Furry Animals perform at Bottom of the Hill on Tuesday (all-ages) and Wednesday (21+), Oct. 5 and 6, with Oranger opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 621-4455.