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Ain't Nothin' but a 'G' Thang

We try not to throw the G-word around lightly, but once in a while it's good to get crazy and call things by their real names. But we'll go ahead and use the better-known nickname for local visual artist Koak, whose art show at Caffe Pergolesi definitely qualifies as "genius" (see story here). Alt-country duo Blackstrap (a.k.a. Megan and Cooper) helped celebrate Koak's opening last Saturday with a set of Americana covers, ranging from Mississippi John Hurt and Jimmie Davis to Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash--good taste, yes, but even better instruments: Meg plays the accordion and Cooper gets down on the saw. Genius! Missed it? Catch them opening for The Devil Makes Three at Henfling's on March 12 and 13.

Meanwhile, over at the 120 Union Cafe (which, by the way, finally got its beer and wine license--genius!), local piano charlatan Matthew Embry introduced us to Helen Caldicott, Howard Zinn, a mammalian scourge and two stoner detectives, all of whom animate his pleasantly sophisticated classical circus sideshow. It'd be nice to just get it over with and tattoo "genius" across his forehead, but I'm pretty sure most people who see him perform get it right away, with or without the branding. And while we're getting crazy, let's go ahead and drag Sambada and Solcircle drummer Gary Kehoe into the genius fray, where, by God, he belongs.

The Mystery of the Ultimate Reality Dating Game Show

We put Scooby and the Gang on the case last Tuesday night to sniff out the ostensibly amorous proceedings at the Rio Theatre. The producers called it the Ultimate Reality Dating Game Show, but as long as we're calling things by their names, we'll go ahead and refer to it as the Narrowly Avoided Train Wreck Benefiting the St. Francis Soup Kitchen. In retrospect, we should have sent the "stoner detectives" of Matthew Embry repute, for they would certainly have enjoyed, in a "what in the crap is going on in this universe?" kinda way, the slightly surreal, often excruciating and sometimes hilarious series of foibles that led up to an unbelievably satisfying conclusion.

Here's how it went down. The Great Morgani greeted the audience as they filed inside. In the lobby, big hug booth guy offered--you guessed it--hugs. Onstage, opera singer Lizz Hodgin as the, er, "fat lady" sang ... "The Star Spangled Banner"? Yes--wearing a horned Viking helmet and a conical chest plate, and with no introduction. Straight into itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny bikini-and-feather clad Latin dance cabaret Tropicalismo, bearing enough skin to make Velma and Shaggy both blush and drool--zoinks!

Finally, our host (and the evening's savior) Noel Murphy introduced the '70s-style dating game show with flair to spare, despite miscues and crabby stage directions shouted at him as if from nowhere, but--jinky!--closer inspection revealed a diminutive figure dressed all in black, presumably the show's producer, who struggled to maintain some semblance of organization and, more importantly, control. She was herding the contestants this way and that, whisper-shouting at the sound and lighting techs, and even coaching the host, who seemed to have been given a different set of stage directions than anyone else, midshow.

After three sets of matchmaking hijinks, the three winning couples were assembled on the stage to choose between the Romantic Date, the Adventure Date and the ever-enticing Mystery Date. When the giddy contestants chose the Mystery Date, it was kinda funny that Murphy hadn't even been clued in to what, exactly, the date entailed. It was even funnier when the show's mysterious producer, now for some strange reason wearing a Groucho Marx disguise, got up onstage and flailed her way through an explanation that the Mystery Date was some sort of combination between the other two dates, and then finally admitted that she hadn't actually worked out the details of the Mystery Date because she didn't think they would pick it. Right, because it's only the most exciting option. Who's gonna pick that? The winning contestants, that's who. And when she ordered them to reconvene and choose again, they decided on ... the Mystery Date! At which point Murphy took over, made up a Mystery Date and called it a night, which was wrapped up with a lovely performance by the Palomar Ballroom Dance Team. Jinky!

Mike Connor

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From the March 3-10, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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