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Gained in translation 

The Girls Gone Wild Rocks America Tour at Water Street Music Hall was lame in the extreme and a little embarrassing. It was more like Girls Gone Mild and Guys Gone Desperate. Sure I love, love boobs --- but on my own terms. I wanna earn 'em. It ain't a spectator sport. And I'm more than a little tired of the bleach-blonde bimbetteprototype that's supposed to turn me on.

So after wallowing with the trench-coat primate reprimanders, I headed over to catch Stinking Lizavetta with Gil Mantera's Party Dream and Sulaco. Stinking Lizavetta was long over with and I'm sorry I missed them. I kinda dig their angular, migraine-set-to-music prog rock. I'd heard raves about Gil Mantera's Party Dream. They were just getting off stage when I got there, and from the looks of the guy in the white shoes and speedo, I'm not sure I'm sorry I missed them.

But man, did I catch Sulaco. They are so loud it's hard to tell just exactly what they're doing. The bass was so erotically subsonic it had the physical effect Girls Gone Wild was supposed to have.

Scott H. Biram may be lost in Austin but he done got found at The Bug Jar two Thursdays ago along with Syracuse's Rocko Dorsey. Dorsey and his band, The Individuals, looked young, fresh (new gear, shoes, and everything), greasy, and, well kinda like a rockabilly band --- which ain't a bad thing. However, they didn't sound at all like a rockabilly band --- that ain't a bad thing either --- but filled the room with a buzzy kind of pop.

Biram is the kind of guy you don't laugh at all the way just in case he really is crazy. We all wanna be entertained, but nobody wants to get stabbed in the head with a screwdriver. He broke out some new material and played it like it was as old and wore out as his old Gibson, which incidentally had the tone of a Massey-Ferguson stuck in the mud. Biram closed out the set with a stark, dark, lonely, harp-and-vocal-only rendition of Son House's "Grinnin' In Your Face." The way he kept time by banging the Marine Band against the mic conjured images of a haunted chain gang, or a sadistic dentist... on a chain gang... with a screwdriver.

Tora, tora, tora! Japan invaded Rochester last week with shows from Electric Eel Shock and Shonen Knife at The Bug Jar. Warming up for EES' Wednesday show was Babayaga who, though obviously rooted low down in stoner rock, played with assorted grooves and tempos that really sounded cool along with the surprisingly and refreshingly discernable vocals.

Next up was Oxford, England's The Thieves, who played straight-up '70s-ish hybrid rock 'n' roll a la Cheap Hoop or Mott The Trickle or The Who before the hype. Everyone was there to see Electric Eel Shock but I think The Thieves were the surprise act of the night. He shattered his ankle running from hotel security in Los Angeles, but guitarist Hal rocked nonetheless with his bum leg propped on a stool.

Electric Eel Shock put on the same show they've put on the last three times they've been to town. And that was the problem. They were tight and wild, but it's time for something new. The whole band is genuinely nice and obviously thrilled to entertain. Their broken English commands and thanks were endearing. Things like "Rochester most important city!" were actually gained in translation.

The next night Shonen Knife kept up the Far Eastern attack with a sold-out show that included The Scarlets and Visqueen. And like The Thieves the night before, Seattle's Visqueen was the star of the night. The band played shaggy rock 'n' roll with minimal guitar flash and a singer whose Suzie Quatro swagger had Mailman Todd's heart all aflutter. OK, and mine too. Shonen Knife was cute and played the same song for an hour.

Last Thursday and it was the RPO with a mother-daughter duo (Eugenia Zukerman, flute, and Arianna Zukerman, soprano). Conductor Christopher Seaman warmed up the "Uncommon Women" show with music from Joan Tower (in which the music had Jack Webb chasing Felix The Cat in my head) and Sheila Silver. The Libby Larsen Piece (featuring the Zukermans), "Notes Slipped Under The Door," was clever in its premise --- a mother and daughter's communication through, you guessed it, notes slipped under the door.

And though Arianna Zukerman's soprano was rich and sweet, the piece seemed devoid of any melody --- or at least one that made sense. I know I'm a bit of a novice to this genre (and I'm working on getting better, I promise), but the tune just seemed to meander on and on like a kite with no string.

Slipped out mid-Mahler for the Eddie Israel 81st birthday soirée going on at the Clarissa Room. The joint was packed. The stage was packed. Israel floated cool between bandstand, well wishers, and bon vivants like a fedora'd diplomat. Here's to 81 more, my man.


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