Program Notes 38

No one ever has disputed Robbie Gennet's piano prowess -- his eight-hours per night practice regimen doesn't hurt, nor does the fact he began playing at age six -- but that alone isn't enough to satisfy his dreams of pop stardom. With earlier songs such as "Niggle's Parish" and "Jones," Gennet sounded a bit too much like Elton John. On his new CD, Harum Scarum, Gennet solves that problem by moving all around the stylistic map, from Band-style roots rock to Oscar Peterson-meets-Henry Crowell-type pounding. This is hardly to say Gennet, age 25, is anywhere near the level of John, Peterson, Crowell, or the Band -- yet. Gennet and his group perform tomorrow (Friday) at Squeeze.

The pop cosmos seems to be making new efforts to discover stars from outside the well-known universe. Rather than waiting for the industry to approve and disburse worthy artists, critics and fans -- even the labels, to an extent -- are aiming their telescopes into unlikely nooks and crannies and finding bright, underappreciated talents. An obvious example is Daniel Johnston, a crafty and insane (severe manic-depressive disease) Texas DIYer whose home tapes have been a source of delight for years. His new album, Fun, is on a major, and while a tour and most other promotional projects are out of the question because of his illness, the record, produced by Butthole Surfer Paul Leary, finally should bring Johnston widespread national attention. Hasil Adkins, a West Virginia rockabilly progenitor known for his alcoholic tendencies, a man who lives in a tarpaper shack and records in an old mobile home, also is being celebrated by the music press in a big way. Now it's Jack Logan's turn. Residing in a small town called Winder near Athens in Georgia farm country, repairing swimming pool pumps by day and recording in his living room, Logan was the subject of a July 14 New Times profile in which I raved about his 42-song CD Bulk. Tomorrow (Friday) Logan appears on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. The following day he plays a concert at CBGB in New York City, his first major live appearance.

Though they made news by landing a deal with Massacre Records and are a strong presence in Broward County, Naked Rhythm has found the going tougher in Dade, partly because the thrashing band hasn't performed a show in the county in two years. That changes tomorrow (Friday), when the Rhythm celebrates the release of its fatbox CD with a show at Marsbar in Kendall, where, of course, loud-fast rules.

Did you know that many people do not have houses, apartments, or even tarpaper shacks to live in? They are called "homeless people." According to the promoters of the Benefit Music Fest (Saturday at 9:00 p.m. at Nocturnal Cafe in downtown Fort Lauderdale), some people still are unaware of the seriousness and vastness of the homeless problem. Said promoters believe that staging homeless children reading their own poetry might make it more clear that homelessness involves real suffering and true tragedy. Just in case, though, they also are presenting Jack Off Jill, Livid Kittens, the Goods, Black Janet, Diane Ward, Milk Can, Kreamy 'Lectric Santa, and others playing acoustic music. Proceeds (admission: a three-dollar minimum) go to the Salvation Army Homeless Lodge of Broward.

Butthorn of the week: The giant industry machine behind Marilyn Manson. Last week the Mansons finally got their big break, and, so far anyway, no one's doing squat to take advantage of it. Things have gone fairly well in the wake of the release of the group's major-label debut and its tours with Nine Inch Nails. Critics around the nation tend either to love or to hate MM's locally well-known mix of NC-17 stage theatrics and growling hard rock, and such reactions always generate press. (It's bands that provoke a lukewarm reaction that mostly get ignored.) Now, just as the national buzz was beginning to fade, Jacksonville police have selflessly volunteered to help boost MM's push for stardom. The band has been on a headline tour of Florida recently, with Jack Off Jill opening. One tour stop was at Club 5 in Jacksonville (technically in Florida, but, jokes MM manager John Tovar, it may as well be in Georgia for its Deep South ethos), where Mr. Manson and Jack Off Jill's one-named Jessicka were arrested during what police describe as "an undercover adult entertainment investigation." From the police report: "During the concert [Mr. Manson] pulled down his pants exposing a simulated black penis and began to rubb [sic] it. He squeezed it several times and squirted an unknown liquid on the crowd. He continued to play and...pulled down his pants exposing his buttocks and made no attempt to pull his pants up." The cops claim Manson was warned by the club before the show not to do naughty bits. He was charged with a misdemeanor, "violation of adult entertainment." Meanwhile, Jessicka was booked on a charge of "offering for lewdness." The cops say that during the Jack Offs set, she "invited a member of the audience to come up on stage so he could show his penis. She continued to encourage this subject to expose his penis until the subject pulled his pants and underpants down exposing his penis. After exposing his penis he began to pull on it as if to masturbate." Members (sorry) of the two bands, MM's national publicist, and the tour's road manager all declined comment. Rest assured the silence won't last long.

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Greg Baker