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Downtown Train: Tom Waits sheds the crust for the musical score of 'Woyzeck.'

Local Motion

North Bay music scene falls into place

By Greg Cahill

The reigning king and queen of North Bay bohemia--singer and songwriter Tom Waits and his wife and longtime collaborator Kathleen Brennan--received a rave review last week in the New York Times for their score to a new adaptation of Georg Büchner's eccentric 19th-century play Woyzeck, running through Nov. 19 at the Harvey Theater of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The play, which isn't the first time Waits has teamed up with director and designer Robert Wilson, is a tale of jealous love cloaked in dark humor and German expressionism.

Earlier this year, Waits released songs from the play under the title Blood Money (originally titled Red Drum, which as every good Stephen King fan knows is "murder" spelled backwards), as one of a pair of CD releases (the other was Alice)--his first since 1999's breakthrough recording Mule Variations. Blood Money's songs recount the plight of the fictional Woyzeck, a poor soldier driven mad by medical experiments and an unfaithful wife. The songs are best described as Tin Pan Alley meets the Weimar Republic, a dense, textured, rhythmic work replete with tarantellas, lullabies, and waltzes.

No word on when Woyzeck will be staged on the left coast or what those "crusty romantics," as the New York Times has dubbed Waits and Brennan, will be up to next.

Star Power

The Blue Star Music Camp on the shores of Lake Michigan provides a week-long retreat for children ages nine to 18--including at-risk teens--to study music, songwriting, voice, drama, and dance. Longtime Marin County rocker Jimmy Dillon was so impressed by the program that he started a North Bay version with sessions in San Anselmo and Petaluma. And Dillon's high-powered friends were so impressed with the concept that they agreed to help out.

As a result, the upcoming Blue Star Music Camp West auction and fundraiser will feature autographed Telecaster guitars donated by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and bluesman Robert Cray. "To say Blue Star Music Camp West is simply an avenue for youth to learn how to play an instrument is a gross understatement," says Dillon, who has toured with the likes of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. "Blue Star Music Camp West offers young people an environment to explore self-expression, develop musical skills, and gain confidence through setting and achieving goals. As thrilling as it is to watch these young people enjoy their introduction to the arts, the real thrill is the knowledge of the intangibles the students will acquire.

"Confidence, increased self-esteem, empowerment, teamwork, pride, and a new form of personal expression are just some of what the students take away from their experience at Blue Star Music Camp West."

Lucky bidders are going to take away a couple of star-powered Teles and a few tales to tell. The Blue Star Music Camp West fundraiser will be held Sunday, Nov. 16, at 8pm at Sweetwater Saloon, 153 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley. Tickets are $15. Call 415.388.2820 for details.

Hot Stuff

The cool autumn nights usually signal a chilling on the North Bay music scene. Not this year. Rather, the action around the region last weekend and in coming weeks seems to spell an auspicious start for the season.

On Friday, Joan Osborne served up a sultry show comprised largely of soul covers from her latest CD, How Sweet It Is, and with Ivan Neville of the New Orleans R&B dynasty on keyboards, it was sweet indeed. On Saturday, Eyes Adrift and Mike Watt rocked the house at New George's (see story, page 33).

And there's more to come. A second show has been added Nov. 15 for a headbanger's ball featuring Y&T and Montrose at the Mystic Theatre. Post-punk rockabilly greats the Blasters, with the original lineup intact, return to that Petaluma venue on Nov. 30. Felix & Louie's in Healdsburg hosts a Who's Who of North Bay Jazz on Nov. 20 as the Khalil Shaheed Quartet lead an all-star jam marking the restaurant's second anniversary of jazz concerts.

Meanwhile, look for British pub-rocker Dave Edmunds to shake things up at Sweetwater on Nov. 17, while Jazz is Dead--with fusion drummer Billy Cobham, Kenny Gradney (Little Feat) on bass, T. Lavitz (Wide Spread Panic, Dixie Dregs) on keyboards, Jeff Pevar (David Crosby, Phil Lesh & Friends) on guitar--should raise the roof of the tiny nightspot on Nov. 21 with their explorations of the music of the Grateful Dead.

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From the November 7-13, 2002 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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