As far as I know, no one has ever pushed the tension between Serious Art and seriously taking the piss quite so far as the Sun City Girls. Part devoted ethnomusicologists and part bohemian pranksters, brothers Alan and Richard Bishop, coconspirator Charles Gocher, and an unstable cast of accomplices have perfected (over 20-odd years and more releases than even they can count) a kind of monkish total immersion in dilettantism. Because it’s constantly changing form, their music is notoriously difficult to describe, but in a nutshell it’s “world music”–that is, music from all over the world, thrown together in a busy, jammy collage that sounds a bit like a toolbox taking a tumble from the top shelf of a closet. Their current long-term project, begun in 2000, is a series of 12 albums (and counting) called “Carnival Folklore Resurrection,” all available through their Web site (; they’ve also released five videos so far this year, and for this tour they’re alternating musical performances with screenings collectively called “Cloaven Theatre.” Each screening features a different selection of footage from the Sun City Girls’ field-recording jaunts, world travels, concerts, studio sessions, and so forth; here (on Thursday) they’ll show scenes from one of their many sojourns in southeast Asia and answer questions from the audience; Oxes open. The Friday show is a conventional concert–relatively speaking, of course. Weather opens and Neung Phak plays second. Thursday, May 6, 9:30 PM, and Friday, May 7, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Toby Dodds.