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R.I.P. DJ Dusk, 1974–2006

DJ Dusk, a.k.a. Tarek Captan, a much-loved local club DJ, was cut down by a drunk driver two weeks ago. Dusk had residencies at Rootdown and Descarga, and also organized parties with Prima Lux. Besides his family, friends and fans, Dusk’s bereaved includes the 70-some children he worked with at the Mar Vista Community Center, where he volunteered for the last 10 years.

As if to prove the kind of music lover we lost, an absolutely incredible event Dusk had planned before his death will go on. The Old School Rules party promises to be a historic, cross-generational celebration of the art of the hip-hop DJ — although now it will be as much a celebration of Dusk’s life as of the music he loved so dearly. All proceeds go to help Dusk’s family.

So here’s the scoop: Friday, May 12, hip-hop’s founding fathers, Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa, perform, along with pioneering DJ Jazzy Jay, Cut Chemist, Haul and Mason, and Blu Jemz.

As Dusk’s Prima Lux partner Dru said, “His passing right before this party is, in a way, ironic. It was his brainchild. He was as huge a hip-hop head as any, and he planned to bring the creators of hip-hop down.”

Thank you, DJ Dusk. (Kate Sullivan)

Club So-Ho, 333 S. Boylston St., dwntwn.; $20 advance, $25 at the door; 21 & over. Tickets at Turntable Lab (424 N. Fairfax Ave.) and Blue Chips (5505 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park). www.myspace/haulandmason

THURSDAY MAY 11

Keren Ann at the Skirball Cultural Center

Shut up for a minute, and let the throbbing inside your temples subside. Allow your breath to catch up from the climb over the mountain, and watch the maddening city slide downhill far below you. Calm yourself and listen to the silence until the constant ringing in your ears finally dies away. Only then will you be in the right place to detect the faint signals emanating from that ghost-whispering balladeer Keren Ann. The Parisian pop singer has released several collections of gently intoxicating chansons sung in English and French, most notably (and most recently) with last year’s romantic Manhattan travelogue Nolita. Her evocation of the landmark Chelsea Hotel on the somber reverie “Chelsea Burns” is so melodically beguiling that it would be just as haunting if it were arranged with a reggae bounce or sped up to a punk rock tempo. Even when she’s backed by a small electric trio, as she will be tonight, Keren Ann always manages to conjure up some intimate spaces filled with glassy, fragile beauty. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd. (310) 440-4500. (Falling James)

 

 

FRIDAY, MAY 12

The Fall at the Knitting Factory

Although the Fall have historically been lumped in with the punk and post-punk movements, it wasn’t until recent years that the Manchester band actually played with a punk-like attack and delivery. In the early ’80s, lead contrarian Mark E. Smith declaimed his cryptically dense, elusively allusive rants with their sardonic, Harlan Ellison–esque song titles (“Lie Dream of a Casino Soul”) over a rusty, rattling bed of angular Beefheart guitars and junkyard percussion. On last year’s Fall Heads Roll (Narnack), Smith’s trademark sneer-talking sounds more mush-mouthed than usual — like he was shot up with Novocain — and buttressed by a newfound surge of garage-punk power on “Pacifying Joint” (with its fuzz guitars and even fuzzier vocals), the Hitchcockian merry-go-round tilt of “What About Us” and the epic “Sister Ray”–style sprawl of “Blindness.” Smith mellows somewhat on the acoustic-based “Early Days of Channel Führer” and the “History Lesson, Part 2”/“Poptones” jangle of “Midnight Aspen,” but in general this kindly old curmudgeon is just as delightfully cantankerous as ever. (Falling James)

ABC at the Key Club

Both ABC and Def Leppard were super-glossy reactions to the dour, industrial-decay surroundings of their native Sheffield, England, in the early 1980s. ABC have essentially been singer Martin Fry and a gaggle of hired hands for years now, and onstage compromises are all too evident lately (live horns replaced with cheesy keys, for one), but there’s no taking away from their catalog of Motown–via–Roxy Music hook-heavy tunes and Fry’s sumptuous tone. Luckily Fry’s Ferry/Bowie bird’s-wing bangs and lounge-crooner swagger age gracefully, and the man’s appreciation of just being able to perform again (he’s experienced career-stalling health problems over the years) is endearingly palpable. Too often written off as new-wave candy, ABC in fact walk a brilliant line between prog-pop ambition and radio-ready necessity — drop by for a reminder. (Paul Rogers)

Slow Music at El Rey Theater

Given the general tight-assed predictability of most current rock presentations, this night of improvisatory electric music performed by a weighty-as-in-chops bunch of veteran progressive musicians is a way-admirable and potentially enthralling event. King Crimson ax divinity Robert Fripp is joined by the mighty Fred Chalenour, who’s the bassist for Curlew and was so ingeniously modern in Wayne Horvitz’s equally hefty Pigpen; R.E.M.’s open-eared guitarist Peter Buck darts into the fray; current R.E.M. drummer and this project’s organizer Bill Rieflin (also ex-Ministry, KMFDM, Revolting Cocks) does the piano sounds, synths and percussion; former Pearl Jam/David Bowie man Matt Chamberlain is the drummer; along with Hector Zazou, the formidable French new/non-genre composer who’s worked with Jon Hassell, Harold Budd, Ryuichi Sakamoto and numerous noteworthies on the contemporary classical scene — he’ll play synths and computer. They’ll create music spontaneously, roughly contained within an ambient/textural/environmental area. The band will be listening closely and carefully, and the audience is encouraged to do the same. (John Payne)

 

Bobby “Blue” Bland at the Hollywood Park Casino

R&B balladeer Bobby “Blue” Bland, who transformed and expanded the idiom with an incomparable series of albums during the late ’50s and early ’60s, is much, much more than a run-of-the-mill singer. With his ultra-dapper wardrobe, exquisitely coiffed conk, swinging big-band blues arrangements, and full-throated, explosive mixture of romance, rage and gospel spirit, Bland became — much like Jimmy Scott and James Brown — an idol to black America, a performer whose music seemed to touch listeners at a depth quite beyond the reach of most of his colleagues. A highly sophisticated stylist, sure, but Bland always brought a sense of earthy immediacy to his songs that kept even his smoothest croon visceral and tough — and while the pipes are not what they used to be, Bland’s consummate mastery and communicative power remain fully intact. (Jonny Whiteside)

Ane Brun at the Hotel Café

Norwegian songwriter-guitarist-singer Ane Brun’s new A Temporary Dive (V2) is that rare musical surprise where a flagrantly dour and ponderous tone strangely works a backward magic, the listener arriving at the end feeling liberated for all the pain. Its intimate songs of departure, finality and emptiness are gingerly finger-picked as coldly airy shades of electronic ambience drift by, while Brun’s cracking warble flashes a wryness that seems to take the bleakness of her words to task — an interesting effect. In these parts, you don’t get far by bumming people out so deeply, yet Brun has received high acclaim in her home country, including the Norwegian Alarm Awards for Best Pop Album 2005, the Norwegian Spellemannsprisen (Grammies) for Best Female Artist 2005, and a nomination for best Norwegian song of the century. (John Payne) SUNDAY MAY 14

Bubba Sparxxx, Juvenile at House of Blues

Like a certain Detroit rapper, Georgia native Bubba Sparxxx was cast in hip-hop’s Great White Hope role in the late ’90s. Whereas Eminem was trash-mouthed and clownish, Bubba was a poetic, smooth-talking natural, sensitive about his cracker status yet worried fellow rural Southerners would think his tendency to rock Polo shirts pretentious, and these complexities were beautifully blended on the Timbaland-produced sophomore trump Deliverance. On the new The Charm, an embittered Sparxxx sputters rather than flows, and the whiff of crunk-come-lately and excess cameos are especially beneath him. No worries — a mere bump in the road from an MC whose best work lies ahead. Bounce king Juvenile, busy raising money for Katrina victims (his own crib was destroyed, too), still found time to make Reality Check, to which many azzes will be backing up. (Andrew Lentz) TUESDAY, MAY 16

Daedelus at Little Temple

Alfred Weisberg-Roberts is Daedelus, the Rascal Scooter of dance music: He’ll increase your mobility no matter where you are! This appearance at Little Temple marks his return from a triumphal Japanese jaunt during which he premiered tracks from the album Denies the Day’s Demise. What he calls “a strangely raucous affair” includes being backed by a band with Chess Smith of Everbody and Ben Wendel of Kneebody; the Lite-Brite laptop antics of Monome; breathily tuneful Australian trio Clue to Kalo; the folk crunk of Hrishikesh Hirway (née the One AM Radio); deejaying by Dublab masterminds; and live T-shirt silk-screening by Hit & Run, churning out commemorative Daedelus shirts. Well, you needed something to replace your old, ripped “I Am the Man From Nantucket” tee, didn’t you? (David Cotner)

Regina Spektor at El Rey Theater

This quirky New York–based piano balladeer has been playing live shows in support of her album Soviet Kitsch (named in tribute to a childhood spent in Moscow) for what seems like forever: Though she released it herself in 2003, Sire picked the disc up the next year and gave it a wider commercial push, which meant she had to hit the road. Major-label bosses — they speak in numbers. Finally Spektor’s got some new material to play: Next month, she’ll release Begin to Hope, a set of tuneful art-pop gems that should appeal to Nellie McKay’s crowd without offending fans of Sarah McLachlan (thanks to a cleaned-up production job by David Kahne, who helmed the latest by her buddies in the Strokes). Catch her tonight for a long-awaited preview. (Mikael Wood)

 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 17

Dirty Sanchez at the Key Club

Flamboyant, shameless and spicier than an orphus full of jalapeños, Dirty Sanchez ain’t for the timid, and they definitely ain’t for music snobs. But the trashy trio, whose sound meshes fembot new-wave beats, Moroderesque disco structures and wacky/witty X-rated lyrics, are more than a naughty novelty act. They’re known for silly club rub jams, but for real fans it’s all about the live show. Consisting of mustachioed stud Mario Diaz, queen bitch du jour Jackie Beat (NYC-to-L.A. transplants) and beatsmith Barbeau (the club DJ), the always outlandishly costumed group are part performance art, part comedic train wreck and all fierce entertainment. They’re celebrating the release of their new Hypnotic self-titled full length, and — with openers Avenue D — this one should be a real del scorcho. (Lina Lecaro)

THURSDAY, MAY 18

Alice in Chains at the Roxy

Artistically, this reunion of Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney and Mike Inez is pointless. Item: Ax god Cantrell has a serious solo career. Good albums, great in the few times he plays live. Heavy, jangly, depressed — sounds like . . . Alice in Chains. Item: Cantrell, who was half of the AIC vocal team, can doom-croon as well as good old self-destructed Layne Staley. No need to replace him with William Duvall of Comes With the Fall, who sounds like Ian Astbury, so why not get Astbury if you’re gonna bother? Oh yeah, Ian is Jim Morrison. And in the Cult again. Well, at least it’s not, as rumored, Phil Anselmo. Item: What happened to Cantrell’s projected team-up with Glenn Danzig? So: This is pointless artistically. Emotionally...? (Greg Burk)

Charlie Musselwhite at Temple Bar

Blues-harmonica elder Charlie Musselwhite wields his instrument with deadly accuracy, throwing down sharp-toned flurries and long, low notes that strike at the heart like a well-aimed harpoon. It’s an ingrained skill that he essentially could not help but master, as the very geography of his upbringing — born in Mississippi, attaining majority in 1950s Memphis, then drifting north to Chicago — found him making stops at every classic locale along the traditional American blues route, and he made the most of each step along the way. From a teenage alliance with Bluff City master Furry Lewis to Chi-Town sit-ins with that blue heaven’s dazzling constellation of stars, he absorbed much more than technical facility, and since the release of his 1967 debut, Stand Back!, Musselwhite has never faltered. Don’t expect him to start now. (Jonny Whiteside)


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