April’s still for fools

Up first, an item from The Smoking Gun.

Seems that R&B superstar Akon, at a gig in upstate New York last summer, got a pretzel thrown at him from someone in the crowd. He demanded retribution, and the audience fingered a 15-year-old boy and hoisted him onstage. Akon picked the boy up and hurled him back into the crowd, and a video of that was uploaded to YouTube. In December, local authorities pursued charges of child endangerment.

Akon, a.k.a. Aliaune Thiam, the Senegal-born son of an African percussionist, had fashioned a career as the R&B version of Merle Haggard, a prison-hardened tough guy with a mile-long rap sheet. Which turned out to be mostly, as they say in the biz, horseshit. So the New York cops investigating the child-endangerment charge discovered.Most music journalists swallowed Akon’s bad-ass bio hook, line and sinker. The exception, according to TSG, was Washington Post writer (and former Bee music critic) J. Freedom du Lac, who wrote in March 2007 that “some of [Akon’s CV] sounds like the stuff of creation myth.”

So hats off to Mr. du Lac, for being the only scribe in the country to get even a whiff of a rat, while everyone else just retyped the canards in Akon’s label bio.

Speaking of rodentlike behavior, I’d been jonesing for some mutant rockabilly on Saturday, something along the lines of a geriatric minor legend I’d seen once in a bowling-alley bar. He was all hopped up on truck-driver whites and Kessler whiskey and was twitching through covers of ancient Sun-label hits in front of a surly gaggle of equally inebriated Okies. Why I wandered into the True Love, then, is a mystery.On the stage was Satellite, a four-piece local act fronted by Gordon Hanley, a cherubic, choirboy-voiced man who also played electric bass. He was joined by keyboard player John Takanikos, guitarist Zach Dubins and drummer Dustin Ryan.While the intensely melodic strains coming from Hanley’s mouth hung in the air like quickly evaporating wisps of fog, they were supported essentially by Takanikos’ piano, because Dubins had turned his guitar down to the point where it was virtually inaudible, and Ryan wasn’t exactly hammering out a backbeat.

It wouldn’t be fair to criticize Satellite; the phrase “wrong match of band and venue” comes to mind. Whether or not the True Love’s upstairs room is conducive to non-solo performers, something happened that made the band balk, and the result was tentative; with more volume and a shared commitment among band members, Satellite might have closed the sale.

After listening to studio recordings at the band’s Web sites (www.satellitesongs.com and www.myspace.com/satellitesongs), I’d guess that Satellite’s Gwyneth Paltrow-friendly sound might do well somewhere where the band can turn up. Especially the guitar.

Simon Ennis followed with a set at least as two-fisted bad-ass as Satellite’s was, and the headliner was underrated Los Angeles surf-pop artist Adam Marsland, who also played at R5 Records on Sunday afternoon.