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Rube Waddell

Seldom do band, band name and venue fit together as snugly as San Francisco trashcan roots trio Rube Waddell at No tsu oH. The band's namesake was one of the greatest pitchers at the turn of the 20th century. He was also nuttier than a tall glass of horchata. Were he alive today, eminent baseball historian Bill James has written, Waddell would much more likely have been languishing in an asylum rather than leading the majors in K's. Consider the evidence: Southpaw Waddell was almost always drunk, whether his Philadelphia A's had a game or not, even if he was pitching. (It was said that drink had no effect on his fastball but did play hell with his fielding.) Many times Waddell had to be dragged away from marble games with street waifs to make it to the yard on time. He also earned some unusual balk calls, as he was wont to halt his wind-up and dash off the mound to chase a fire wagon he heard rumbling and clattering past. His long AWOL stretches he would attempt to explain by bribing A's honcho Connie Mack with a long string of catfish. He was married simultaneously to numerous women and saw nothing wrong with throwing the ball at base runners, a tactic he explained by saying, "That's 'out' where I come from."

The band that bears his name inhabits this spirit. Combining bluesy, Transylvanian, Austrian, Indian and country influences in a manic lowest-of-lo-fi blend, rumbustious Rube Waddell sounds like Fat Albert's band jamming with R. Crumb sitting in. Tom Waits's trashiest trashcan symphonies come over as polished as Toto compared to this San Francisco Mission District threesome. Xylophones, washboards, harmonicas, Value Village guitars and tin-can percussion sound very much like the soundtrack to Rube Waddell the Philly A's life. And where better than the found-object-furnished, surreally low-rent No tsu oH to catch this freakish trio?

 
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