If you've ever stumbled upon a random cluster of words you thought would make the best band name ever, you'll understand part of what excites San Francisco musician Sonny Smith about his latest project. Over a year's time, Smith came up with the names of 100 fictional bands—the Loud Fast Fools, the Beachticks, Prince Nedick and the Conks, to name a few. He then produced song titles, composed songs for each of the bands and enlisted 100 artists to design their album covers.
The resulting 100 Records project, which will show at FalseFront in conjunction with Disjecta, features the covers of all the albums and artist bios, plus a jukebox that plays their songs. Smith came up with the 100 Records concept while trying to write "the all-American novel" about his musician friends. He arranged a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, Calif., to produce lyrics and album covers for the book's characters, and the project transformed and took off from there.
Smith says he has always had trouble coming up with a name for his own band, but discovered he had a knack for naming groups that don't exist. "When everything's fictional, there's really not a wrong answer," he says. "The pressure's off and you can really let the creativity flow."
IMAGE: Sonny Smith
"Hit after Hit" and "So Long, Jack"
Bio: Helen Brown was born in Canada, raised by a religious cult in Georgia and blinded in one eye by a childhood baseball injury. She toured the country as a psychedelic folk singer with the band One Eyed Tramps before settling down on a mountaintop in Alaska. Throughout her career, she was known for fainting and stabbing herself with knives onstage.
About the music: "Crude and amateurish at best, these songs are appreciated for their sincerity and intensity of feeling."
IMAGE: Erica Magrey
"Apartment No. 9"
Bio: Hazel Shepp started singing as a patient at a mental hospital in Texas to entertain his fellow patients. He composed most of his material, however, in a psychiatric ward in San Francisco. In 2009, a documentary about him surfaced in which he is pictured, overweight and with feathers and mud in his hair, "singing while sawing firewood" and "taking his kids to school on a moped."
About the music: "Quasi-mystical with a tendency [toward] New Agey subjects such as hypnotherapy, extrasensory perception, fortune tellers, palm readers and channelers."
IMAGE: Ana Fernandez
Bio: In search of the "impossible" sound, Santa Cruz musician Lance Pallet hired and fired more than 50 band members for the Fuckaroos (short for the Fuck-ups Under Constant Kare After Riding On On Sea-waves) during the 1960s. Decades later, Pallet recruited his three sons and their friend into the band and managed to achieve the early vision. But the artistic success was cut short: A snorkeling accident killed the four boys and Pallet hanged himself soon after.
About the music: "Based on Beach Boys harmonies, but way weirder and more complex."
IMAGE: Miguel Palma
Bio: Canadian hockey player Erik Hillman recruited the Persians "the only way he knew how": from other hockey teams. The band members tended to fight during their performances, usually about hockey-related matters, and eventually "crashed and burned." Erik remained active on the lounge circuit for years before dying of a perforated intestine and peritonitis. Reportedly, there was a small fistfight at his funeral, but also many fond memories.
About the music: "Pointed satirical songs about black stereotypes."
GO: 100 Records at FalseFront, 4518 NE 32nd Ave., 781-4609. Opening reception 6-10 pm Thursday, Oct. 28, featuring a live acoustic set by the artist. Free. Fridays-Sundays, noon-5 pm, through Nov. 21.
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