Sound Check

Go with plan B: Tina (sans B-Sides)

Go with plan B: Tina (sans B-Sides)

She's Leaving Home

TINA SCHLIESKE HAS called the breakup of the B-Sides "a breather," and a sign hanging in the Cabooze during the quintet's three-night farewell said, "See you in 200_?" But the finality of Tina and the B-Sides' last show on October 16 was palpable in the stray tears between jokes and jamming onstage. As Tina said, "This is a New Orleans kind of funeral."

Steel-voiced Schlieske and her country-soul band have been a ubiquitous live presence here for more than a decade, and I'll admit I took them somewhat for granted. But even the most passive admirer (or B-Side skeptic) couldn't help but be moved by a local-rock This Is Your Life episode commandeered with such verve and joy. At one point a crowd of Tina's family, friends, and ex-bandmates nearly overran the stage, but the tuxedoed singer didn't flinch, happy to let the evening boil over into chaos rather than simmer in sentiment.

Billed as a "free-for-all," the night gave Tina license to run through old favorites--the room sang every word of "Blue Sky"--before indulging in a series of what-the-hell cover tunes; they did AC/DC twice. Veteran bassist Jim Anton guested on Prince's "Sexy MF," and the obligatory Janis Joplin nod came later. (Tina was one of two finalists up to play the legend in the upcoming Gary Flader film Piece of My Heart.) The band wound down with the poignantly selected "You Can't Always Get What You Want"--this group has had its share of tough business breaks--but not before Tina told the crowd that tonight was proof that, sometimes, at least, you can. Exchanging kisses with her mates, she thanked her sister and bandmate vocalist Laura Schlieske, and told the crowd, "She taught me how to sing right, taught me to take vitamins. She even tried to teach me to love boys, but I guess you can't learn everything."

I guess it's fitting that perhaps the quintessential local live group managed to cut a solid new concert album, The Last Polka (Movement Records), months before packing it in. Taped in February during two nights at First Avenue, the double-disc set captures Tina in her live element, but closes with a fine, unreleased studio cut. Schlieske, who has one of those unpronounceable "Sch" names and plans to go solo as "Tina" in Austin, Texas, bids adieu to the B-Sides with "Leavin' This Town," growling, "I just can't go on pretending that everything's right." Too bad for that. (Peter S. Scholtes)


A Cow Comes Home

DESPITE REPEATED PANS in the national press, Minneapolis legends the Cows became one of the biggest punk draws in the Midwest by sticking to a brand of degenerate noise lunacy devoid of riffs or melodies--and just when alt-rock was going pop. Wearing hand-drawn Sharpie tattoos, women's underwear, and dollops of whipped cream, frontman Shannon Selberg wielded his little dented bugle with maniacal urgency, spitting lyrics fans are still trying to sort out. The group remained jagged right up until they went on semipermanent (and unofficial) hiatus last year.

Now living in New York City, Selberg says the tradition of maligning the Cows has carried over to his new band the Heroine Sheiks. "The press here makes a point of mentioning our shows on their calendars just so they can put us down," laughs Selberg, though that hasn't kept a buzz from reaching old fans.

The group's first EP, "(We Are The) Heroine Sheiks" (on Minneapolis's Amphetamine Reptile Records), continues along the path of the Cows' last album, 1998's Sorry in Pig Minor, with its structured cacophony punctuated by seemingly random horn bleats and Selberg's crazed free-associations. Buried in the EP is a little Herb Alpert-esque gem called "Swedish Fly," a tune completely out of whack with the preceding cloud of musical distemper. "I was just jerking around on my Casio and came up with that song," says Selberg. "It's got that salsa flavor, because that's the setting I used on the Casio: salsa."

Is it a flash-forward glimpse of Selberg at 60, gigging in a Vegas casino? "I suppose if I was old and worked in a warehouse and nobody knew about me or cared about me, I might do something like that," he confesses. "That might be fun. But that's not a showbiz goal for me. I aim for loftier things." (Holly Day)