CZECH THIS OUT: Chances are pretty darn good that you've never heard a rock band from Czechoslovakia before, and chances are even better that you've never heard a band like Prague's Uz Jsme Doma anywhere.
Pronounced "oozh (rhymes with rouge) smeh dough-ma" (translated as "Now We're At Home" or "Now I Get It"), the band formed in 1985 in the small Czech border town of Teplice. Naturally, the Communist government didn't look too highly upon local rock bands, so live shows were virtually impossible. Concert organizers wouldn't reveal performance locations until right before the show--not unlike early American rave culture--and even then, police often shut the events down.
As time marched on, however, the political climate became more tolerant, and Uz Jsme Doma was allowed to perform more often. In November 1989, when the Velvet Revolution overturned Communist rule, the band members took full advantage of the situation by quitting their jobs and moving to Prague to pursue music full-time. Drawing on the immense backlog of unrecorded music the group had been performing for the last five years, Uz Jsme Doma recorded and released its first two albums in a matter of months. Since that time, the quintet has toured Europe and North America, and has just released its fifth album, Ears, on Skoda Records. The current tour, in celebration of the band's 15th anniversary, marks a seventh stateside appearance.
So what does Uz Jsme Doma sound like? Well, that's a tough one. Bearing in mind that the group's musical heroes are San Francisco oddballs The Residents, the band slides easily from horn-laden ska to abrasive art punk to noisy jazz-rock to '80s Cali New Wave à la Oingo Boingo, stopping, starting, lurching around changing time signatures, getting quiet, then exploding in your face like a bad car battery. Imagine what Rocket From The Crypt might have sounded like had the members grown up at the Knitting Factory, soaking up the sounds of John Zorn and his ilk. And on top of it all, word has it that the band's live show is downright astounding.
The musically adventurous won't want to miss Uz Jsme Doma take the stage of Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave., on Wednesday, June 7. Local avant-noisers Cortex Bomb open the proceedings at 9 p.m., and cover for this all-ages show is $5. Questions? Call 884-0874.
REGGAE REBIRTH: Once known for his slack (sexually explicit) dancehall style, a kinder, gentler version of reggae pioneer Yellowman returns to town this week after a two-year absence.
The singer, master of the toasting style that many credit with influencing modern-day rap music, always pushed the envelope with his sexy stylee, until he pushed a little too far and caught flack for being misogynistic and homophobic. He disappeared briefly due to a bout with skin and throat cancer, and seemed to emerge a new man. Now preaching positivism instead of punanny, Yellowman has shifted the scope of his subject matter in recent years to celebrate cultural roots, and currently tackles topics like spirituality and race--and even sexual harassment and AIDS prevention--in his music.
Catch the new and improved version of Yellowman and the Sagittarius Band at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 1, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Funky reggae locals Stuck In A Groove provide opening duties, and tickets cost $15 at the door. For more information, call 798-3333.
SAVOY SAVVY: The legendary blues-rockers of Savoy Brown cruise into the Naked Pueblo this week. Infamous for changing its lineup more than perhaps any other rock band, Savoy Brown still retains its founder and single consistent member, guitarist Kim Simmonds, who many place in the same league as fellow British blues-rock guitar masters Eric Clapton and John Mayall.
Savoy Brown performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, at Nimbus Brewery, 3850 E 44th St. (take the Palo Verde Overpass south, then make a left on 44th St. and follow the signs). Tickets cost $10 at the door, and you can call 745-9175 with any questions.
CATCH THE 'WAVE: Tired of too-tightly programmed radio? Give up on the eclecticism of pirate station Radio Limbo (103.3 FM) when it started to get too static-y and fizzled out at 10 p.m.? Well then, bub, you're in luck.
With money raised from a fundraising show back in December, the volunteers at Limbo have purchased a new transmitter with a signal much stronger than the previous one. The new equipment also allows the station to stretch its broadcast hours up until 2 a.m. most nights. If you're convinced that corporate radio sucks, do yourself a favor and tune in.
TAKING ROCK BY STORM: The 2000 edition of Monsoon Madness--the free, weekly, outdoor local music showcase brought to us by Kini Wade and the fine folks of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association--kicks off this week with a minor change in the proceedings: MM performances are scheduled for Friday evenings this summer, as opposed to the former Thursday slot.
Things start off with a bang as punk rockers The Knotts take the stage of the Winsett Performing Arts Center, 316 N. Fourth Ave., on Friday, June 2, along with The Elemenopees.
The rest of the June lineup is: Tricky Luz with the Bujinkan Yamaneko Demo Team on June 9; the Annie Hawkins Band with Fun With Dirt on June 16; Butter with New Moves on June 23; and Forgotten Lore with Jon Murphy on June 30. All performances run from 7 to 10 p.m. Performers interested in participating in the series can call 624-5004, ext. 18.
CORRECTION: Those of you trekking to Phoenix on Sunday, June 4, to see Nine Inch Nails ("Rocky Road," May 18), please take note: the venue has been changed. Originally scheduled for Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the show has moved to America West Arena, 201 E. Jefferson St. Ticket holders should call 1-602-379-7800 for more information.