ON THE LOCAL MUSIC front, it's the good, the bad and the Wammies. Make that the double whammy.
THIS IS THE WAY IT ENDS?: Only a year old, the baby BBQ Iguana is threatening to turn belly up and roll over, though not for lack of interest. Sometime between about 6:30 and 8:30 last Saturday, between the hard-core matinee and the scheduled evening show featuring the Russian rockers Gaza, a person or persons unknown apparently drove a vehicle into and then crowbarred open the steel doors of the 1413 P St. nightclub/artspace and took off with about $15,000 worth of musical equipment.
The thieves not only made off with the 24-track mixing board, the 16-track deck and the equalizers, they literally ripped out monitors, mikes and cables, leaving frayed wire and damaged sockets. "They didn't take any of the art," says Iguana owner Bill Stewart. "They were serious felons -- they were only interested in serious felony items."
Stewart, who has had a series of bureaucratic hassles over licensing the club (he is not, it must be said, a man with infinite patience for triple carbons and red tape), says he may just take this as a sort of signal from Higher Authority to chuck the whole idea.
Besides its funky warmth and its welcoming of cutting edge and less-known bands and local artists, BBQ Iguana served as Stewart's recording studio; he recorded wife Alice Despard's "Alice D." solo effort and the forthcoming Hyaa! album along with various local groups there. The club was already booked through July, which may cause some havoc among local bands: Considering that Stewart only agreed to pick up the Saturday matinee of three New York bands at the last minute as a favor when the Safari Club developed electrical trouble, maybe some other venues could try to absorb some of Iguana's committments.
Stewart says he'll decide within the next month whether to stage some sort of benefit to defray expenses, depending in part on what the insurance company says. In any case, losing Twist & Shout and Iguana in a matter of weeks is really a double whammy.
THE GOOD NEWS IS that Washington new world technopoppers Big Bang Theory have been signed to the Paradox/MCA label, which also carries such eccentric talents as Richard Barone and the Roches. The band will be produced by Glenn Rosenstein, boardman and master for such bands as Talking Heads, Tears for Fears, U2 and Ziggy Marley. Recording is scheduled to begin Aug. 1 either in Memphis or Muscle Shoals, suggesting a jolting up of the R&B soul that lies beneath much Third World dance music. (It's good that they've discovered the warm heart of their sound; their original demo, produced by Fixx-er Cy Curnin with local wiz Dude Sless, had an ultracool edge that was arousing without being fully engaging -- like the models in men's cologne layouts.)
Big Bang, if you've missed them, is the more sanguine offshoot of the cooler synth-salsa trio Baba Jinde -- frontman/lyricist Sam Spencer, big man bassist Thomas Townsend and akimbo drummer Angel Luv -- plus singer/keyboardist Victoria Grace and solid-body guitarist Michael Shupp. Their music is both of the world -- conversant with high technology and effective in its use of "artificial" instrumentality -- and above it, philosophically one-world and unabashed.
KEEP THE FATH: It's the final weekend for voting on the Wammie Awards (see box elsewhere in this section). Meanwhile, for you guitar groupies, multi-award nominee Michael Fath has been signed by Guitar World to write a regular monthly column called "World Guitar" to discuss various cultures and styles and their influence on rock 'n' roll. Who says rockers aren't intellectual?
MIDNIGHT SUN BELT: Do they have Dixieland jazz in Sweden? Sure, just ask the Stockholm-based Nyhetsbandet octet, which opens a three-night stand Saturday at Georgetown's M Street Saloon ($5; 338-4900).
Nyhetsbandet translates simply as the News Band, and for equally simple reason -- the band's members are the anchor, reporters, weatherman, cameraman and sound engineer on the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation's "Rapport" program; they took up Dixieland as an antidote to the dischords of daily developments. They've played the National Press Club, the World Bank and the Swedish Embassy, but this time they're willing to face the real world (which is always dangerous in Georgetown).