Cheeky, folky Meiko sasses San Francisco

Meiko Sheppard, a Southern belle whose self-titled release “Meiko” was just reissued on MySpace Records, isn’t afraid of getting salty.

Last week, amid a din of nightclub chatter, the diminutive brunette lashed out at the audience as two young guitarists were struggling to be heard at Hollywood’s Hotel Café.

Later apologizing for the outburst, she said, “I’ve been in the same situation before, on this very same stage, and I just think folks should show performers a little more respect. I mean, it’s not easy getting up there with just an acoustic six-string.”

Not only did she get her show-biz start at the Hotel Café, she’s also headed up its cocktail-waitress team for the past couple of years. 

The 26-year-old, who plays the Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco on Tuesday, says, “I had one particularly bad night where this guy tipped me a big fat zero on a $36 check, and I ended up asking him ‘Would you like to re-evaluate your tip, sir?’”

When he told her no, she went home and wrote a song in 10 minutes called “You Gotta F—in’ Tip.”

She hasn’t put it on a recording, though. Instead, “Meiko” — already a No. 1 album on iTunes — is brimming with keenly-observed hum-alongs like “How Lucky We Are” and “Boys With Girlfriends.” All are culled from her seven hardscrabble years in Hollywood.

“I always say that I’ve been living in L.A. long enough to hate it, then like it again,” says the Georgia transplant, who had only three songs to her name when she and her big sister Keiko first arrived.

Now, thanks to Hotel Café connections, her music has made its way into everything from “Grey’s Anatomy” to Slim-Fast commercials. (That was her chirping “Time Is on My Side” in a recent TV campaign).

Next on the agenda for the quarter-Japanese Meiko: Tracking down her “real” family, long-lost relatives in Tokyo.

She says, “I always knew that I was different, because there was no one in my small town that had any Asian in them at all.”

She recalls an incident in seventh grade in which she spoke during a presentation by World War II veterans addressing her class who used a derogatory word for Japanese.

“So I got suspended for disrupting a school function,” she says. “But, again, I felt like I just had to do it!”

If you go

Meiko

Where: Red Devil Lounge, 1695 Polk St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets: $8 to $10

Contact: www.ticketweb.com

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