In Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore proved that there's far less fear in Canadian hearts than in those of US citizens. They're sure not afraid of giving themselves silly band names. Loverboy? The New Pornographers? How about the Buttless Chaps, who are about, oh, say, five hundred times better than their name? The Victoria, BC quintet swerves from a synth-soaked Mojave 3 to a lush version of classic New Wave, suggesting that there's either a split right down the middle of the primary songwriter's record collection, or a split down the middle of the bandmembers (you know, with half the band shouting out "Blancmange!" while the other hollers "Uncle Tupelo!" sometimes for hours on end). "I have heard the term 'record collection rock' before," says singer Dave Gowans, who possesses an endearingly awkward baritone that evokes Lloyd Cole or Lawrence Hayward (Felt, Denim). "I am a record nerd myself, and own several Blancmange albums. We don't try to cross-genre intentionally. ... Sometimes it is the combination of instruments that push forth that sound." Indeed, some of the most effective songs on the band's new album, Love This Time, are the ones that toe the line between the band's primary notes: "Kinda Empty" is a perfect combination of its rootsy and synthetic sides, a seven-layer burrito of electronics feeding the tale of "just another road-weary traveler"; and the title track comes off like Grandaddy covering Human League -- the eternal push-me-pull-me of humans vs. technology played out by a human girl (guest vocalist Ida Nilson) in love with a robot. "I think humans and technology are both losing," Gowans says, "and both very scary things for the planet."
The Buttless Chaps play the Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, tonight, with Continuous Peasant (headlining) and PartyLine (first up). Cover is $5, show starts at about 9:30 p.m. 510-444-6174. -- Stefanie Kalem
More than fifty thousand hours of licensed day-care experience can't be wrong. Dawn Fry's book Dawn Talk outlines her patented program for interfacing with children. Try it on for size with Fry at Change Makers for Women (6536 Telegraph Ave., Oakland); $10 per family; to RSVP, call 925-209-0809 (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... Vikings are vicious in Susan Westerlund's new historical fantasy novel, Fury, whose assassin heroine -- nicknamed the Angel of Death -- is ordered to slay her own sister. Cross swords with her at Altamont/Goodenough Books (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). ... Think the Liberty Bell says it all? Think again, says UC Berkeley multiculturalism lecturer Carla Blank, who discusses Rediscovering America: The Making of Multicultural America 1900-2000 at Easy Going. It's a guide to hotspots of feminist, tribal, and other "lost" histories of the USA (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). ... Party like it's the Year of the Monkey at the El Cerrito Public Library, where a Chinese New Year storytelling session precedes a concert of choral and folk music by the East Bay's own Dragon Singers (Sat., 11 a.m.). ... Spank that simian again as the Albany Library blends its own ten-year anniversary celebration with Lunar New Year high jinks: Come for cake, balloons, and the scarlet-satin aerodynamics of Wayne Huey's Red Panda Acrobats (above) (Sat., 2p.m.). ... Pus and parasites, convulsions and compulsions: Dr. Dean Edell, known to Bay Area viewers from his years of TV medical advice, signs his new reference book Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Healthiness at Cody's Fourth Street (Sat., 7 p.m.). ... Now that we are targets in a religious war, the wisdom of Berkeley's theology scholar Huston Smith is food for thought. Author Phil Cousineau interviews Smith about secularity and spirituality at the First Congregational Church (2345 Channing Way, Berkeley; entrance on Dana); $10 donation requested (Mon., 7:30 p.m.). ... Being blind, deaf, or paraplegic doesn't mean you can't still fly that rainbow flag. Bob Guter, John Killacky, Danny Kodmur, Michael Perreault, and Blaine Waterman will read at Black Oak from the new collection Queer Crips: Disabled Gay Men and Their Stories (Mon., 7:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus
Ladies! What do you see when you turn out the light? Can't tell us? Are you sure that it's yours? Do you ever head down the road to inner peace, only to be detoured at the G-Spot Roadside Attraction? Want to combine the two for fun and enlightenment? Certified hypnotherapist Karin Lichter invites all women to find joy and experience freedom through Erotic Meditation , Saturday night from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Change Makers. It's a workshop to allow women to get in touch with their lower (orange) chakra, but, says Lichter, it can be "something tactile. It need not necessarily mean something sexual." The Erotic Meditation class costs $15 in advance, $17 at the door, so preregister at 510-548-6451. Bring something you hold dear, such as a doll or pillow. Change Makers is located at 6536 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Visit ChangeMakersforWomen.com or call 510-655-2405 for more information. -- Stefanie Kalem
He Gives Us the Fingers
The "flamenco fury" of Paco de Lucía is back in town
In 1980, when Paco de Lucía spent a Friday Night in San Francisco with Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin, the resulting album captured a milestone meeting of guitar gods. This weekend, Cal Performances brings de Lucía back for Saturday and Sunday Nights in Berkeley. With support from a five-piece band, he will unleash his now world-famous "flamenco fury" on the East Bay (thankfully, he is not actually angry with us). De Lucía commands such open-jawed respect and foot-stomping adoration because he seems to have the soul of a Gypsy, the mind of a mad jazz scientist, and the hands, quite possibly, of an invincible fingerpicking android. To celebrate the release of Cositas Buenas, his first new album in five years, de Lucía and his band will rip their way through Zellerbach Hall. His soulful sound is bewitching. Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m., Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley. Tickets $24, $36, and $48. Info: 510-642-9988 or CalPerfs.berkeley.edu-- Jonathan Kiefer
At press time, De Lucía's visa status was unclear. Please check with Cal Performances for updates.
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