Persistent rumors have it that in 1923, President Warren Harding died, not in the Palace as officially reported, but in the Shields' speakeasy, and was transported through the tunnel back to his suite to avoid Prohibition-period scandal.
The ground is still shaking, happily, around Café Du Nord, which hit its 100th in October. In the next year Carson hopes to create a coffeehouse/art space upstairs next to the club, where performers can show their work, then play a show upstairs at the Swedish American Hall which has hosted performers ranging from Cat Power to Michael Hurley or downstairs at the Du Nord. He also plans to install an elevator where the Du Nord women's room now sits, renovating the space so he can do the unique, one-off shows he prefers.
Carson is striving to continue nurturing the creative spirit of the Utah. "The difference between then and now is that everything costs so much. Our overhead here is so high, you can't fail," he says. Back in '90 when Gaer hired him at the Utah, he adds, "it wasn't a big financial nut to crack, and we ran it like a living art experiment. I really miss those days. It was fun!"
Backwoods Table of the Elements crustastic jams? The Durham, N.C., trio also joins Akron/Family at the High Sierra fest for a Mega-Akron set. Wed/2, 8:30 p.m., pay what you can. 21 Grand, 416 25th St., Oakl. www.21grand.org. Also Thurs/3, 9 p.m., $8. 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission, SF. www.12galaxies.com. Fri/4Sat/5, check Web site for times, $30<\d>$168. High Sierra, Quincy; www.highsierramusic.com
Kooky, crunchy spazz-tastic moves for kids? The SF band dons Baagersox guise for the first anniversary Lazerdance dance-off Thursday, then goes into seven-piece mode Saturday. Thurs/3, 10 p.m., $5. Knockout, 3223 Mission, SF. www.theknockoutsf.com. Also Sat/5, 9:30 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com
RETRIBUTION GOSPEL CHOIR
All-boy rock testimonials from Low's Alan Sparhawk? Tues/8, 9 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com