Artful Noise 

Punk meets Asia at Gilman

SAT 11/12

After his band Skankin' Pickle disbanded in 1996, Mike Park founded his own "punk rock mom-and-pop," Asian Man Records. He runs the label out of his parents' garage with a staff of three employees -- including his mom -- and a single phone line. Park's DIY business style ensures that Asian Man stays true to the punk ethic: "I do this for the love of music, not for capitalist gain or status recognition," he says.Among Asian Man's punk-rock brethren are the local slapstick band Clarendon Hills and the indie-pop group the Skyflakes. Despite Clarendon Hills' purported fascination with death and dismemberment (if you read the band's online bio, you'll find the similarities between this scrappy Berkeley outfit and the '80s thrash metal group Slayer are uncanny), the bandmembers are a likable, quirky bunch, best known for performing guerrilla shows in BART stations, park gazebos, and Cal campus breezeways. In contrast, the Skyflakes are a darker yet more bubble-sweet band, whose girlish singer and frothy guitar lines belie the sordid themes of their songs. They may look like a Filipino version of the Partridge Family, but Skyflakes vocalist Tricia Saria Ramos sings about suicide, dropping acid, and "little ants lifting pieces of their dead friends."

When you put Park, the Skyflakes, and Clarendon Hills on a bill with the noisecore solo act Pete the Genius -- who combines keyboard melodies with spastic drumbeats -- you get one hell of a show. You might also get more Silly String and superballs than even the Rock 'n' Roll Adventure Kids could handle. Granted, the bands keep mum about what tricks they have in store for their benefit show Saturday at 924 Gilman, which will mark the release of Park's debut solo album, For the Love of Music,and also raise funds for famine relief in North Korea. But if there's one thing we can predict, it's that hipness will play second fiddle to artful noise. 8 p.m., 924 Gilman St., Berkeley, $5. Bring nonperishable foods to donate to a local food bank.-- Rachel Swan

11/19-11/22

To Die For

Lit Happens

A firm hand matters in The Calligrapher, a debut novel by London Times columnist Edward Docx in which a womanizing scribe meets his match. Meet Docx at Diesel (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... Suicide bombing is so macho, say its proponents -- this and other ways of making men into war machines absorb Guggenheim scholar Leo Braudy, who discusses his From Chivalry to Terrorism at Cody's Southside (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... It beats TV: Wednesday-morning storytime at Borders Milpitas brings made-up billy goats and princesses to life, with free treats for tiny listeners (Wed., 10 a.m.). ... Does it run in families, or what? Ellen Waterston -- who has addiction problems -- fled an addicted husband with her three kids, one of whom later developed addiction problems. Waterston reads from her memoir Then There Was No Mountain: A Parallel Odyssey of a Mother and Daughter through Addiction, at Black Oak (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... Hip-hopper Shannon Lacy hosts an open-mike poetry and jam session at Rafael's Restaurant (301 Nebraska St., Vallejo). For details, call 707-704-6856 (Thu., 9 p.m.). ... Push it back, push it back, waaaay back: Meet some Oakland Raiderettes at Borders San Ramon, where they're signing the 2004 Raiderette calendar (Sat., 3 p.m.). ... Yao Ming's mom measured 6'4", his dad stood 6'10", and today the Houston Rockets center stands 7'5" -- but he never stands still for long. Former Harvard Crimson cartoonist Oliver Chin reads from The Tao of Yao: Insights from Basketball's Brightest Big Man, at Eastwind (Sat., 3 p.m.). ... Electric Kool-Aid acid tests are ancient history, but the late Ken Kesey keeps on inspiring the young and the restless. Some surviving Merry Pranksters join Kesey cohort Ed McClanahan at Cody's Southside to celebrate Kesey's Jail Journal and Spit in the Ocean #7, the first of which was penned by the novelist while behind bars for pot possession in San Mateo County; the latter is a tribute whose contributors include Larry McMurtry and Hunter S. Thompson (Sat., 7:30 p.m.). ... A program at the African American Museum and Library explores the legacy of muralist Arthur F. Mathews, whose turn-of-the-last-century works adorn Oakland (Sat., 2 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

FRI 11/21

Wall to Wall Horn

In medieval times, musicians played a woodwind called the chalumeau, probably an evolution of pipes played by shepherds. It wasn't until the early 1700s that a German instrument maker gave the chalumeau a separate mouthpiece, added two keys, and made the third and fifth harmonics available, creating the first clarinet. It was a long ride from there to Benny Goodman, and a lot has happened even since the King of Swing made his reed "Sing, Sing, Sing." A lot of that innovation will be in one room this weekend when Beth Custer's Clarinet Thing and the Edmund Welles Bass Clarinet Quartet play the Jazz House (3192 Adeline St., Berkeley). Custer's quintet will blow on original tunes and arrangements of jazz classics; Welles' group features Cornelius Booth, a recent refugee from the wilds of Eugene, OR. Admission is on a sliding scale from $10-$20; call 415-846-9432 for more information.-- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 11/21

Comfortercore

Alt-folk blankets the Plough

Minneapolis-by-way-of-small-town-Illinois outfit the Winter Blanket specializes in a sort of relationship-centered, full-band indie folk, a kind of Midwestern (and therefore snowier-sounding) Mojave 3 and Iron & Wine. But for its newest release, the seven-inch EP Music for Ghosts, the band pays tribute to the late "Everybody's Talkin'" singer-songwriter Fred Neil with "Ghost of Fred Neil," which starts out like Nick Drake but soon blasts into exhilarating Wedding Present territory. The B-side has a couple of Neil covers, "Little Bit of Rain" and the more obscure "December's Dream." Throughout the EP, as with the Winter Blanket's two full-lengths (both produced by Low's Alan Sparhawk), the vocals of Stephanie Davila and Doug Miller mix like sugar and dark rum, hers girlish and light, his deep and idiosyncratic. The quartet plays Friday night at the Starry Plough (3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley), opening for Sensations (with Greg Loiacono of Chico pop hippies Mother Hips) and Norfolk & Western (led by wistful Portland folkie Adam Selzer). 9:30 p.m., $7. Info: 510-841-2082. -- Stefanie Kalem

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