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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

Freestyle Fellowship
Chris Cuffaaro

Freestyling: Aceyalone (right) of Freestyle Fellowship masters the microphone Sunday at the Cactus Club.

Heavily Anticipated:
Cubberley Center goes for nonprofit status

THE Cubberley Community Center will host a massive punk-rock show with Pansy Division, the Pee Chees, J Church and the Electrocutes on Jan. 31. The show is a benefit for the venue, but aren't all shows a "benefit" for the venue? Not when the benefactor is Palo Alto Soundcheck, which recently filed nonprofit status with the city of Palo Alto. Under the Palo Alto Soundcheck title, administrator and Cubberley booker Mark Weiss hopes to emulate similar nonprofit operations like the Wow Hall in Eugene, Ore., and Kuumbwa in Santa Cruz.

Weiss has put on 50 shows at Cubberley featuring talent like Medeski Martin and Wood, Charlie Hunter Quartet, Cake and the Queers. Cubberley's all-ages, no-alcohol and fair-pricing standards are welcome in a valley renowned for shunning youthful activities. The nonprofit status makes Palo Alto Soundcheck available for grants, donations and memberships. "Ultimately we're moving toward getting a sponsorship with the city of Palo Alto so we'll get the place for cheaper," explains Weiss.

Besides the behind-the-scenes maneuvering, Weiss is also planning a four-part jazz series for spring. Other genres like punk and ska are proposed for April or May. He hopes 20 shows will be in place for this year; the first is already a must-see. "There's definitely a market for it. The bands need it, the kids want it, the city seems to dig it," says Weiss. "Now it's all about trying to figure out how it fits into the nonprofit format."

The Donna Fives Experience

Speaking of the Electrocutes, its alter-egos, the Donnas, were the darlings of last weekend's sold-out Mr. T. Experience/Hi-Fives show at Slim's. The Donnas were doing bang-up business, selling out all copies of their debut LP. I hope recording guy Bart Thurber finessed the sound; the single "Let's Go Mano," with its tinny AM radio blast, was practically unlistenable. The Mr. T. Experience came out with a set of tightly wound punk-pop tunes about girls and guitarist Dr. Frank's woeful, so-called life. A few surprises: a cover of the Primitives' "Crash" (requests for Duran Duran went unheard) and two or three new songs, including "Here She Comes, There She Goes" and a very Knack-ish "I'll Be with You." One moment that struck me funny was hearing Dr. Frank utter a line from "Dumb Little Band"--"We've got a show even though no one's going to go"--to a sold-out audience. Will the self-deprecation that dominates MTX's thematic structure shift toward an excess of sex and success like Weezer? Naah, it'll never happen.

Freestyle Fellows

I've spent some time in this column capping on wannabe emcees who kick the party rhymes from '86 and pose in bootleg Cross Colours. Your presence is requested at the Cactus Club this Sunday (Jan. 19) for a peek into what true hip-hop culture sounds/looks/feels like. It's Aceyalone, the master of the microphone, venerable tonguesmith of Freestyle Fellowship. Also on the bill are the Mystik Journeymen, who can elevate live performances at the drop of a DAT. ... Mental Note: The Hi-Fives are not performing at the Usual Thursday (Jan. 16) because of a scheduling conflict. Crack and the Odd Numbers are. ... Crusty San Jose punk stalwarts Slip have broken ranks with their guitarist so they're looking for a new one, possibly two. Contact Gordy by email.

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From the January 16-22, 1997 issue of Metro

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