(Central Saloon) Someday people will realize that Elvis tributes are not a good idea. Why? Because they're always the same, and not just because they're all about Elvis. Inevitably there's the Fat Elvis, the Sexy Young Elvis, the Gay Elvis, the Woman in Drag Elvis, and the Dead Elvis. Add to that the guy with a good voice and his earnest costume culled from Value Village, and you've got heartache and heartburn all night long.--Kathleen Wilson

( DJ Nasir's Black Sheep events are becoming a favorite tradition among those of us who aren't so fond of the holidays. By the time night rolls around, we're ready to let it all hang out. Thank god we've got somewhere to go and be among like-minded folk. Best of all, it doesn't cost a penny. --Courtney Reimer

FRIDAY 11/26

(Paramount Theatre) Take a voice without a brain or a heart, and you've got something just south of Mariah Carey. So it's the complete man that the Soundgarden-loving public wanted, and they got it. Completely catchy, completely self-confident, and completely reliant on the voice to save the half-imaginative songs. That's the complete Chris Cornell: Not necessarily important, but always beautiful. --Nathan Thornburgh

(I Spy) Yes, he still plays music--his retro songwriting and poppy vocals make him something like a second-tier Elvis Costello. Like Costello, Marshall Crenshaw found a niche in the new wave and punk world by packaging stark, truthful lyrics in catchy, melodic tunes. And although he's always been just a cut below, Crenshaw is in Seattle this week and Costello isn't, so his show is recommended.--Nathan Thornburgh

(Fenix) Here we have what promises to be Sky Cries Mary's last gig of the millennium. Fittingly, as the end of the world draws near, Sky Cries Mary are coming full-circle. Once again cast off from the mainstream (they left Warner Brothers), once again with a new guitarist, and once again playing some Seattle club, they're both deserving and dreading another shot at national recognition.--Nathan Thornburgh

(Tractor Tavern) A gig like this tears me apart: Swing is not my favorite, but you'd have to be a fool not to appreciate the fact that Seattle's Jimmy and his five friends are getting dressed up just for you, with a horn section so firm you could pinch it and get slapped for being fresh.--Nathan Thornburgh

(Century Ballroom) After spending several years working with respected, well-known artists such as Leonard Cohen and k.d. lang, Perla Batalla has gone the solo route, producing Mestiza, an amazing showcase for her deeply evocative voice. Batalla's Hispanic heritage informs her soulful singing style--those looking for something truly wonderful and unique will not be disappointed by her performance.--Kathleen Wilson

(Showbox) Maktub continue to show their muscle by booking the Showbox yet again--they've gotten more gigs at the Showbox in the last month than most Seattle bands will get in their brief lifetimes. Seattle fans may be lapdog loyal, but they can also tell if a band is cracking the same jokes or playing the same set list. But lead singer Reggie Watts has played music from all corners, and will continue to move the Maktub sound backwards, forwards, and from side to side.--Nathan Thornburgh

(Crocodile) Honestly, I used to be on top of this, but now I've completely lost the ability to remember which is Olivia Tremor Control and which is Neutral Milk Hotel. Throw Apples in Stereo and Elf Power in there and I get even more weary. Damn you Elephant 6!--Kathleen Wilson

(Green Onion, Portland) You've got to hand it to Dexter Grove. They've played 900 gigs since 1995, just the two of them, one on guitar and vocals, the other on congas and bongos. It's oddly reassuring to know that some folks are still pouring their lo-fi hearts out to the whole damn country for just the price of admission.--Nathan Thornburgh

(Duffy's, Portland) Although she's from New York City and her name sounds like she belongs on I Love Lucy, Judith Edelman is yet another folksy artist who claims the Celtic influence; she even sounds like she's got an Irish accent on some of her more lilting tunes. Fortunately, Edelman knows how to mix her faux-Celticness with real-life lyrics and a direct, almost piercing voice.--Nathan Thornburgh

(Lock and Keel) This Thanksgiving, I'd like to give thanks to both Cuntry Joe and Paul Diamond Blow for soaking my write-up with their own brand of over-the-top filth. I promised my goshdarned mother that I would send to her what I wrote for this week's issue, and I'm sure she'll be thrilled to read that good ol' Cuntry Joe & Slitliquor will be performing tonight at the Lock and Keel with Paul Diamond Blow & the Ace Diamond Bimbos, in what promises to be an evening of music as tender and subtle as the band names themselves.--Jason Pagano


(Showbox) Campy and self-conscious, with Laetitia Sadier doing her best Astrud Gilberto impersonation, Stereolab set their own scene. The real issue is, do you feel like part of a comprehending elite when you listen to their ironic music and fancy song titles, or do you just want to slap them? Unless you're a hopeless hipster jerk or an old-school rocker, it's probably a combination of both: Stereolab's hipness is both soulless and compelling at the same time.--Nathan Thornburgh

(Breakroom) Nothing wrong with a little D&D set to head-bangin' Oly rock played by two guys who got to open for the Who. Unless of course you're serious about the D&D. Then we got a problem. --Kathleen Wilson

(Ok Hotel) Eureka Farm's shouting vocals, which are distractingly arty on their sophomore album, The View, should work better in a live setting. Behind the experimental noodlings are solid, moving songs. Also notable are Weezer's Pat Wilson and Mikey Welsh, performing as Special Goodness. Despite having had some radio hits, Weezer are actually a good band, and this kind of low-key setting should bring out the best in them. --Erin Franzman

(Paramount) You might be a redneck ifÉ your big break comes on a Top 30 country single named "Kiss Me in the Car." That's how it happened for John Berry, who is, in the words of one of his album titles, "better than a biscuit." But that's not necessarily that good, is it? At this point in his career, John Berry is nothing more than what you would get if Jeff Foxworthy and Phil Collins had a honey-voiced love child.--Nathan Thornburgh

(Meany Hall) In a Latin country with a strong-armed president of Japanese descent and a huge Indian-supported rebellion, Peru's black population doesn't get a lot of lip service, and their culture is mostly ignored. But Susana Baca, born in a black barrio outside of Lima, is reviving and reinventing Afro-Peruvian music. Mixing African rhumba, Spanish classical styles, and Andean melodies, Baca's songs are both deeply focused on her own people and immediately accessible to others. It's a combination that first compelled David Byrne to introduce Baca to an international audience; it's a combination that makes Baca the best world music act to show up in Seattle since Earshot. --Nathan Thornburgh


(Rose Garden Arena, Portland) Well, Lynyrd Skynyrd are just lucky to be alive after all the car and plane crashes, and their greatest moment in the last 10 years was when they were named honorary colonels in the Alabama State Militia. As for ZZ Top, they are my pick of the show--they are as tight and driving as ever, and have updated their sound considerably on their new album, XXX. --Nathan Thornburgh

SUNDAY 11/28



(Graceland) See Stranger Suggests.

(Ballard Firehouse) Blues and Gospel rocker Leon Russell worked as everything from studio pianist to songwriter to producer, helping the careers of Phil Spector, Dylan, Clapton, the Stones, and others before finally becoming a headliner himself in the '70s. But it never quite came together for him, despite the fact that he's got the mind, the voice, and even the crazy hair to have been a rock icon. He's giving stardom one last chance in the '90s, but of the many who have launched comebacks from the Ballard Firehouse, few have succeeded.--Nathan Thornburgh

(Breakroom) Papa M's publicity materials note that "quite often, hip indie kids play Six Degrees of David Pajo," much like the rest of us play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. David Pajo has had his ambient little fingers in a ton of indie pies: Slint, the For Carnation, Tortoise, and Stereolab have all toured or recorded with Pajo. And now comes Papa M, unmistakably Pajo: Rock put through a trance filter, cleaned of all its hard edges and non- guitar instruments, slipping unnoticed into your bloodstream. --Nathan Thornburgh

(Crossroads Shopping Center Market Stage) Do the harmonies of a cappella music bring you joy? Does polyphony make you weep? Well then read no further, because the rest of this paragraph contains nothing but mean-spirited criticism! Don't miss this chance to witness the inevitable disaster that will occur when the ever-talentless wasteland known as open mic collapses upon itself under the unbearable strains of amateur a cappella music! Hear three hours of a cappella hits sung by random people who happen to show upÉ at the mall. It's "the only open mic event in the Northwest devoted entirely to a cappella music," and for good reason. --Jason Pagano

MONDAY 11/29

(Glass Factory, Portland) Despite a name that reminds me of Jon Cryer in Pretty in Pink, the Ducky Boys and their foul-mouthed friends play Oi! and street punk, which is officially Tough Music. Can they eat cans and shit nails? Would they kick your grandmother's ass? The Ducky Boys are from Boston, but are they tough like rock-smoking Southies? The answer isÉ hell no--the real question to ask is, do these bands sweat and bleed for you onstage? They do, and from the moment they plug in their shitty guitars to their last off-pitch howl, they believe they're criminals, and you will too.--Nathan Thornburgh

(The Scarlett Tree) The Scarlett Tree bills itself as "The North End's Oldest and Best Rhythm & Blues Room," and as I'm too young to argue, I'll just assume that the appearance of Special Guest is dead-on proof of their oldest-ness and best-ness. Special Guest, as everyone knows, was raised by Romulus and Remus in Atlantis before relocating to Mt. Olympus, where he was often seen playing the lyre on his unicorn. Then, of course, came the famous leprechaun incident, which left Special Guest penniless on the streets of Gotham, where he turned to rhythm & blues. And the rest is history. Some folks say his story is apocryphal, but I'm sure every word is true. --Erin Franzman


(Jazz Alley) Like Uma Thurman's thumb in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Marky Mark's beefy amour in Boogie Nights, Maynard Ferguson's freakish lips are the source of all his power and fame. They may not look like much, but Ferguson's lips can play the highest notes that have ever been accurately played on the trumpet. High notes are not necessarily good notes, because Ferguson spent almost two decades making cheeseball covers of the themes to Rocky and Star Wars. It's only fitting that now, as he's losing the ability to hit those high notes, Ferguson is going back to his roots: Big Bop Nouveau is the most exciting straight-ahead band he's had since back in 1965.--Nathan Thornburgh

(Showbox) See Live Preview.


(Fenix) In the summer of '84, when the English Beat were all the rage--and I was deep in my Mod period--I got a cockatiel with a yellow stripe on his head for my birthday. Naturally, I named him Ranking Roger, after the charismatic co-frontman of that band. Every bird book I've ever read said that a cockatiel's life span is 10 years, max. Well here it is 1999 and the real Ranking Roger is coming to Seattle and can you believe it, the goddamn bird version of the man is still ALIVE! However, he now lives with my parents, as 15 years of screeching "Hello Roger!" is more than anyone should have to take from a single cockatiel.--Kathleen Wilson

(Showbox) Recently signed to Chicago's impeccable Sugar Free label, Birddog is one of the Northwest's best singer/songwriter outfits--and I say outfit because you never know if you're getting a man or a band when this Portland act heads up I-5. Ghost of the Season is the title of the new album, and it's a stunner that should win Birddog the larger notoriety he or it deserves.--Kathleen Wilson

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