Critic’s Choice for the week of August 20-26, 2003

Pretty popsters from Portland, a perished Persian poet, soulful steel for Satan, and an African assault at Ashkenaz, among other acts.


From the cheeky name on down, no one smirks prettier than the Dandy Warhols, those photogenic alt-rock pranksters known for a coupla fluke radio hits (“Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth,” “Bohemian Like You”) and currently flaunting Welcome to the Monkey House, a sometimes-dopey and sometimes-gorgeous pack of synth-happy Duran Duran impersonations. Request “You Were the Last High.” At the Fillmore Tuesday night. 415-346-6000. (Rob Harvilla)


The Great Night of Rumi, a celebration of the life of the thirteenth-century Sufi Persian poet, graces Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage Saturday night, as Rumi’s mystical vision comes to life through spoken word, music, dance, and flute. With tabla, oud, and sarod accompaniment, dervishes from the Mevlevi Order join a host of presenters for a very Berkeley evening. 510-655-1425. (Jason Victor Serinus)


Pedal steel guitar player Robert Randolph honed his skills in the House of God Church, but he must play devil music ’cause it feels so good. Randolph and the Family Band just released their studio debut, Unclassified, a fiery combination of funk, soul, gospel, blues, and rock. Randolph plays incendiary licks on the pedal steel guitar and has so much energy onstage you’re afraid he might combust. It’ll be interesting to see if his charisma can carry the outdoor crowd on Saturday at the Chronicle Pavilion when the Family Band plays the Liquid Mix Tour with the Roots, Talib Kweli, N.E.R.D., O.A.R. , and other bands that don’t use acronyms. 925-363-5701. (Michael Gowan)


It’s not hard to understand the phenomenon that is the Gipsy Kings, quite possibly the most successful Latin/worldbeat band ever, even if they’re really from France. The group sings in the Gitane dialect, a language rich in flavor and high in tar. The melodic arpeggios and furiously percussive rhythms of the Kings’ music, which they call “rumba flamenco,” is utterly and impossibly irresistible, with a seemingly universal appeal. Furthermore, their takes on classic covers like “My Way,” “Volare!,” and “Hotel California” easily equal — and in some cases surpass — the better-known versions. They’ll be at the Greek Theatre on Sunday; bring your scarves and first-born children. 510-642-9988. (Eric K. Arnold)


One of the most distinctive and influential guitarists in African music, Djelimady Tounkara nearly blew the roof off Ashkenaz last year with Mali’s Super Rail Band (which he has led since Salif Keita went solo a couple of decades back). With his lilting but insistent guitar style and mesmerizing voice, Tounkara returns to Ashkenaz Thursday as part of the club’s month-long African Music series, this time leading a new band. 510-548-1761. (Larry Kelp)


San Francisco’s renovated Union Square may be a monstrosity of granite, but the upgraded sound system sure sounds good, especially when it’s spreading the music of the Bay Area’s best jazz bands: SFJAZZ has sponsored a free Thursday concert series there this summer. The innovative and ever-popular Mingus Amungus — with its bebop-meets-hip-hop takes on Charles Mingus’ intricate compositions — takes the stage as part of the series this Thursday. 415-788-7353. (M.G.)


Legendary pianist Oscar Peterson had a regular radio gig in Canada while still a teen, and was one of the first artists signed to Verve Records in the ’40s. Peterson’s lightning-fast technique, melodic invention, and bluesy soul are still in evidence after sixty years. His current lineup includes drummer Martin Drew and guitarist Ulf Wakenius. They’ll take the stage Tuesday through Sunday, one show per night (Thursday is sold out) at Yoshi’s in Jack London Square. 510-238-9200. (j. poet)


John Santos & the Machete Ensemble celebrate their 2003 Grammy-nominated Latin jazz album SF Bay this Sunday at the James Moore Theater in the Oakland Museum. Percussionist Santos will lead a stellar field of musicians that includes legendary timbales player Orestes Vilato (Santana, Fania All Stars). Much of Sunday’s set will be new material. 510-238-2200. (Jesse “Chuy” Varela)


If you’ve still got your mojo working after Saturday’s De La Soul/Hiero show at Cal’s Haas Pavilion and Goapele’s headlining slot at the Fillmore, come on down to the DNA Lounge for some late-night fun. De La DJ Maseo (“Plug 3/The one they call Baby Huey/The one that gets all the Buddy”) will be doing his own dang on the wheels of steel, along with OM records’ tech-house wunderkind Kaskade, SF hip-hop crew Da Joint, and Kerri Chandler, the innovator of the deep house sound. Visuals provided by Protoscape and Dr. Fractal. 415-626-1409. (E.K.A.)

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