Music Features

Family values

A first from Last of the Blacksmiths
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Forty years ago Rufus Wanta sent lyrics to one of the song-poem studios that were popular at the time. The record he eventually received from the company was, with its tacky torch-song treatment, a big disappointment. Call it poetic justice, then, that keyboardist Nathan Wanta uses words penned by his grandfather in a song written by his band, Last of the Blacksmiths. Read more »

Gimme my Prince

Gimme my Prince: Looking for a real rock star experience in a purple fog
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Iggy Pop spit in my face at one of the Stooges' sold-out shows at the Warfield last month. And I loved it. The crowning moment, however, came just before that, when he stared me down and mouthed the lyrics of "1970": "Beautiful baby, feed my love ... all night ... till I blow ... away," then slithered away from the seesawing mass in the pit. Read more »

Rhymes with work

Men are from Mars, Björk's Volta is for Venus
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johnny@sfbg.com

I have some Björk memories stowed on shelves and in crates. There's the signed copy of the Sugarcubes' "Birthday" 12-inch from the days of the group's English-language interview with Melody Maker, when Björk showed up late and apologized with the immortal first words "I was shitting" (a moment that all who mistook her for a cute elf should have noted). And I've got a great teenage Kodak shot of a friend who helped start riot grrrl long before she picked up a guitar, sitting on Björk's lap.

But whither Björk? Read more »

Fresh fruit from old punks

Jello Biafra and others pay tribute to icon Dirk Dirksen
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FULL CIRCLE Once upon a time, at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco, the Dead Kennedys blew the Clash off the stage. I think it was early spring 1980. I didn't pay much attention to dates in those days, but I remember this much — I was there.

On that night the DKs delivered their fat, funny broadsides with a joyous abandon that few bands of the era could match. Vocalist Jello Biafra — who finished his set drenched in sweat and wearing only his underwear's elastic waistband — was simply inspired. Read more »

Digital Venuses

UK pop starlets vie for America's heart of darkness
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Call them the new British bitch pack: barefoot soul shouter Joss Stone and her ascendant sistren, skankin' Lily Allen and torchy Amy Winehouse (Corinne Bailey Rae's exempted due to being a queen of nice and hazy sentiment and, well, yes, color). The Pipettes also deliver Ronettes-Supremes paeans but have yet to splash large beyond the UK. Read more »

MCMAF: Renewable source

Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival founder Jeff Ray surveys the dream and the damage
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Van Halen may have made it into the music record books for Most Ridiculous Tour Rider for their demand for M&Ms picked free of the turdlike brown numbers. But musician-director Vincent Gallo might make the rock hitmakers jump with his own Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival must-have. "I'm not going to show you his rider," festival founder Jeff Ray says wryly. "It's a little crazy."

"Oh, c'mon," I say, perched on a couch in the red and yellow office in Ray's Mission flat. Read more »

MCMAF: Renaissance man

A jolly good Vincent Gallo taps into his musical wellspring at Mission Creek
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> johnny@sfbg.com

If Vincent Gallo turned himself into pure music, what would it sound like? For now, I know how the Gallo I'm talking with sounds: enthusiastic, upbeat - occasionally letting loose an endearing rascally cackle - and extremely alive. Over the course of a great couple hours, he's raved rather than ranted, giving himself over to rapture while rapping about everyone from Joe Spinell (star of 1980's gory Maniac and bit-part actor extraordinaire) to Michael Jackson. Read more »

MCMAF: Months of somedays

After years of homelessness and substance addiction, the Chamber Strings' Kevin Junior returns to music making
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> kimberly@sfbg.com

When Month of Sundays (Bobsled), the second Chamber Strings album, was released in 2001, singer-songwriter Kevin Junior was hailed as a new pop savant of sorts - a ragged, rainy-day Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson's lost brother, last sighted wandering gray shores amid dingy drizzle and deep dissolution. So where has he been the past six years?

"I got kidnapped by aliens, basically," Johnny Thunders-look-alike Junior deadpans from his Chicago flat. Read more »

MCMAF: The Dilettantes

Taking love to the streets
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Meeting up for an interview anywhere in the Haight in the middle of a Sunday afternoon is a bit of a dodgy prospect. With every easily distracted tourist and bumbling acid casualty in the city making random zigzags through the neighborhood, finding a clear path on the sidewalk is enough of a challenge, never mind finding a quiet place to talk. But there I am, in a booth at Magnolia's, with the three songwriters of the Dilettantes, chatting away over beers without so much as a glance in the direction of all the scattershot energy reigning outside. Lesson? Read more »