Critic’s Choice for the week of August 24-30, 2005

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


Born in Brooklyn but raised in San Francisco’s grimy Fillmore District, Sugar Pie DeSanto is a relic of the garage-soul era: She cut her teeth recording on Oakland’s Veltone label, and was the first female singer to join the James Brown Revue. She may have garnered the name “Little Miss Sugar Pie” performing with Johnny Otis in the ’50s — back when she was a pretty, puckering young thing — but DeSanto has gotten streetwise and salty over the years. She performs Friday at Biscuits & Blues, with shows kicking off at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. $17.50 apiece. (Rachel Swan)


Dr. Loco’s Rockin’ Jalapeño Band celebrates fifteen years together Friday at Berkeley’s La Peña Cultural Center. Started (and still led) by Jose Cuellar — aka Dr. Loco, a transplanted saxophone-blowing San Antonio native who is also an anthropology professor — the group jams a down-home mix of Chicano music. From Califas Latin jazz, Tex-Mex squeezebox conjunto (the prof plays a mean accordion!), and San Anto’ brown-eyed soul, the band is seasoned, tight, and a dancer’s delight. $10, 9 p.m. 510-849-2571 or (Jesse “Chuy” Varela)


From the start, Bay Area singer Molly Holm had a fresh vision for melody and harmony, especially in jazz. And she found ways to bring in other world-music elements that sounded so right, you wonder why other singers didn’t think of it first. Over the years she has added the right touches to the original Bobby McFerrin Voicestra, minimalist composer Terry Riley’s Indian-jazz-fusion band Khayal, and even Zakir Hussain’s San Francisco Jazz Festival project. Now, in Friday’s all-too-infrequent visit to Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage, she’ll spotlight her own tunes, backed by a sympathetic band of friends on keys, drums, and trombone. While the focus is on jazz and pop, Holm smoothly integrates her deep understanding of Brazilian, Indian, Cuban, and African styles as well. $19.50-$20.50, 8 p.m. 510-548-1761 or (Larry Kelp)


Teens coming of age in the disco era didn’t have iconic thug celebrities like 50 Cent and Lil’ Scrappy to model themselves after — the sexpots du jour were all starring in Cooley High, or fronting such classic soul outfits as Lakeside and Tower of Power. But East Oakland’s pint-size “ghetto retro” crooner, Baby Jaymes, may be bringing back that era. After all, he’s one of the only artists who can “lightweight flow” alongside Oaktown heavyweights like Keak da Sneak and still look cute. He performs this Friday at Berkeley’s Shattuck Down Low with the all-girl R&B outfit London Street. $5, 10 p.m. (R.S.)


OMG, don’t black muscle shirts, platinum-blond highlights, and valiant attempts at R&B slow jams just make you swoon? Despite having to shake off umpteen billion detractors, the Orlando-based Backstreet Boys have managed to prove that syrupy studio-manufactured boy bands don’t always die off in a year. Even with Lil’ Bow Wow and Omarion hot on their heels, the Boys haven’t yet forayed into the celebrity has-been purgatory of B-movies and reality TV; they still have the thirteen-year-old girl crowd on lock. They perform Tuesday at Concord’s Chronicle Pavilion. $26.25, 7:30 p.m. (R.S.)


Despair not the dry days of late summer: Oakland Lyric Opera comes to the rescue with a celebration of African-American Love Songs and Lullabies. Soprano Angela Dean-Baham and baritone Martin Bell (both frequently heard in regional opera performances) join pianist Kristin Pankonin for a Sunday afternoon Musicale and Tea held at and cosponsored by the generous folks at Oakland’s acoustically wondrous Chapel of the Chimes. $18-$20, 2 p.m. 510-836-6772. (Jason Victor Serinus)


Mitch Marcus is one of those freak genius types. A virtuosic saxophonist and dynamic composer, he has a wide-open ear, a deep respect for jazz tradition, and a fearless creative spirit. Though he first made his name with outta-bounds genre-busters Japonize Elephants, the young bandleader’s latest music with the Mitch Marcus Quintet + 13 Big Band is clearly inspired by the polychrome orchestral legacy of Duke Ellington, via Charles Mingus and then some. Come celebrate the launch of his new album The 50% tonight at Yoshi’s in Jack London Square. Shows at 8 ($12) and 10 ($8) p.m. (Sam Prestianni)


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