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Eye on the Scene

Raising Some Funds

French Broads singer/guitarist John Baker is heading to Alaska this summer for a charity bike ride to raise money for AIDS research, and he needs your help. To participate in the 560-mile, six-day ride from Fairbanks to Anchorage, sponsored by Pallotta TeamWorks, Baker has to raise at least $3,400 by July. The money will be used for research for an AIDS vaccine.

Baker, who owns a local bicycle tour company and describes himself as a bike geek, has firsthand experience with the ravages of AIDS; he did an internship with an AIDS service organization in Memphis while he was a graduate student. "I've seen what a miserable existence it is to live with that," he says.

But he also has other reasons for the trip. "I want to see Alaska before Bush turns it into a refinery," he says.

So far, Baker has raised about half of the $3,400 required for the ride. Anyone interested in contributing can reach him at [email protected] (all donations go directly to an account with Pallotta TeamWorks). For more information on the ride, check out the web site at

Going Abroad

The departure of East Tennessee's jazz ambassadors for the old country is imminent. The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra leaves on July 3 for Paris, where the first of seven gigs and three jazz festivals awaits them. As part of a package tour, the number of non-swinging citizens accompanying them is 38. With a Bon Voyage concert at the Bijou on Friday, June 22, the orchestra plans to raise a bit more per diem money and treat its home audience to a taste of the fine program they've been honing for the past year. As those who have heard the band at the Fairbanks and special engagements know, the KJO plays songs by the Basie and Thad Jones/Mel Lewis bands, Donald Brown, and the pen of leader, arranger and wild-working impresario trumpeter Vance Thompson.

Thompson described the program they'll play over there as "leaning toward original stuff, as Basie and Thad Jones have already been to Montreux and played their music." Humble humor from a man who has contorted himself and others to engineer a two week odyssey and vacation to France, Switzerland and Spain. The farewell concert at the Bijou begins at 8 p.m., $10 for the public, $5 for students. Tickets are available at any Tickets Unlimited outlet, or call 656-4444.

Local (sort of, anyway) CD Review

The Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13
Songs From The Recently Deceased (Uncle Goddamn Records)

What else could you possibly expect from a band with that name and an album with that title? Yep. It's the scourge of Landis, North Carolina (Where the heck is that?), The Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 with their delightful sophomore effort, Songs From The Recently Deceased (Uncle Goddamn Records).

The band certainly couldn't be accused of deceptive advertising. What you get is 18 merry little ditties about death, dismemberment and gender confusion served up by three small-town droogs dressed in their grandma's undies.

The real surprise is that the Queens use the shock/horror shtick to their advantage by gleefully poking fun at themselves, the goth subculture, the BDSM lifestyle and death itself. Lucky for us, the band has more in common with Al Lewis' "Grandpa," any Pink Flamingos character or beloved horror movie host Zacharly than they do with the modern-day hype overkill of Marilyn Manson and the rest of the shock babies in vogue among the Columbine crowd.

The band is clearly having a damn good time with their hellraising gimmickry, and you should too. Songs "Ghouls Just Wanna have Fun" and "I Was a Teenage Ghoulscout" are just plain fun, if'n you're in the mood for such tomfoolery.

And what's more, the band's music ain't half bad. The Queens' sound is based on good old rock 'n' roll with big influences from Alice Cooper and (who else?) The Misfits. The raw-power, garage-punk sound suits them well and is a refreshing change from the supposedly evil industrial quasi-metal you'll find on the extreme radio format. The Queens just took a swing through Knoxville, playing at 319 and other local shows are expected in the coming months. In the meantime, the CD is available from Uncle Goddamn Records, P.O. Box 666 (seriously), Landis, NC 28088.


Thursday: Olu Dara in Market Square with a Bonepony at Barley's rock chaser.

Friday: 90 Day Men with New Brutalism, Jerk with a Bomb, and Dead and Gone at The Pilot Light. Call it rhythmic post-rock with texture and energy.

Saturday: A Midsummer Night's Dreamat Pellissippi State.

Sunday: Watch Bands on the Run on VH-1. Forgive me but I wanna be just like Harlow.

Monday: Swearing at Motorists with Old Ironsides at Tomato Head. Gotta get some indie rock.

Tuesday: 319 Open Mic Poetry Readings at, duh, 319, hosted by the wondertwins of dark power Rus Harper and Kari Hoffman.

Wednesday: The Knoxville Watercolor Society show at The Art Market. Art's good for ya, like clean air and sunshine.

Emma "Unpronounceable" Poptart

June 14, 2001 * Vol. 11, No. 24
© 2001 Metro Pulse