Youll Die of Pleasure!

A roots week during which you may discover the point of the Japanese porn film Empire of the Senses

Blues math: KEB MO' equals Robert Johnson plus Robert Cray, minus Satan. The man plays one truly spiffy acoustic guitar and is something of a technical wizard. But, like Cray, he somehow always comes off as safe and sterile, even when your ears tell you the man can play and has a lot of soul. There's no place for safe and sterile in the blues, but I can't deny the man his props when my head tells me he's a good'un, even though my instincts distrust his intentions (to be the male equivalent of Bonnie Raitt, perhaps?). If the notion of a shiny, happy bluesman doesn't bug you, check out Keb Mo' on Sunday night at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.

Final word: DOUG SAHM died of an apparent heart attack last week, which really, really sucks. Best known for his work with the Texas Tornados in the '90s and the Sir Douglas Quintet ("She's About a Mover," "Mendocino") in the '60s, Sahm's career predated the Quintet with work in various San Antonio greaser bands and thrived, artistically if not commercially, through the lean years of the '70s and '80s. He was Texas music royalty. My Lone Star State music-expert pal Steve Dean sent me an e-mail in the wake of the bad news, which eulogized Sahm better than I ever could. Read it and weep: "I think he was one of the most important talents ever to come out of Texas. He could do it all: country, blues, Tex-Mex, rock & roll, and more—all well. [He was a] soulful singer and guitar player and could talk a story as well as anyone. He recognized talent (his bands are legendary) and knew all the hits from '50s swamp pop to low-rider San Antonio strolls to hard Texas two-step honky-tonk. We always kidded him about his clothes, though—they were always wrong (part hippie, part cowboy, part '70s Camaro culture). Hell, he sat on Hank [Williams]'s knee as a child and recorded his first 78 at age 12. He fronted Chicano R&B bands, was one of the first with all that hippie country shit, and introduced Flaco Jimenez to the world. And who in the hell do you think came up with an idea as crazy as putting Flaco, Freddy Fender and hippie Augie Meyers in a country band, and then sold a million records with it? I believe every moment of his life he was living a dream that he never tired of. If there were four icons of modern Texas music, they should be Willie Nelson, Billy Gibbons, Stevie Ray and Doug Sahm. Now I know what that meteor shower was all about. Flags at my house are at half-mast."

Dale Watson at Abilene Rose, 10830 Warner Ave., Fountain Valley, (714) 963-1700. Fri., 10 p.m. $7; Joey Racano at Gallagher's Pub & Grill, 200 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, (714) 536-2422. Wed., 9 p.m. $3; Tommy Castro at the Blue Cafe, 210 The Promenade, Long Beach, (562) 983-7111. Sat., 9:30 p.m. $8; ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 704-2400. Sat., 7:30 p.m. $29.50-$39.50; the Smithereens at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-8930. Fri., 8 p.m. $17.50; Keb Mo' at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Dr., Cerritos, (800) 300-4345. Sun., 7 p.m. $30-$40.
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