Critic’s Choice for the week of August 29-September 4, 2007

This week we recommend Frankie Valli & Co., Beyoncé, Melvin Seals, local up-and-comers, and classic reggae.

Web deck:

xOld Guys Don’t Cry x

You can’t go very far these days without tripping across what’s arguably a full-fledged Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons revival. Last year’s Jersey Boys, a musical based on this Garden State outfit’s life story, snagged four Tony Awards while Valli flexed his acting chops in The Sopranos, playing a Brooklyn mobster who went the way of Adriana and Big Pussy. And now Rhino Records has released Jersey Beat: The Music of Frankie Valli, a four-disc box featuring Valli’s trademark falsetto front and center on hits like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and “Working My Way Back to You.” It’s really no surprise given how these Rock and Roll Hall of Famers have continued to milk the success that allowed them and their West Coast brethren the Beach Boys to be one of the few American acts regularly storming the charts during a ’60s heyday that also encompassed the dominance of British Invasion acts. And now here they are. Thursday, August 30 at Wente Vineyards in Livermore. 8 p.m., $79/$129. — Dave Gil de Rubio

xFaux-Feminist R&B x

Equally adept at chunky dance numbers and slick, perky ballads, R&B superstar Beyoncé is one of the few mass-marketed pop divas whose talent actually matches her Hollywood good looks and tabloid-ready shenanigans. Plus she’s on the saltier end of the diva spectrum, as evidenced in hits like the searing (and screeching) revenge number “Ring the Alarm,” the startlingly boastful “Upgrade U,” and the faux-feminist anthem “Irreplaceable.” In this year’s B’Day, Beyoncé threw several unfaithful boyfriends on the street and denied others their bed privileges. Even her more seductive songs sound domineering and scornful. Still, there’s something refreshing about her tarty new persona, especially since it contrasts so starkly with the self-sacrificing woman she played in 2005’s “Cater 2 You.” A former protégée of Tony Toni Toné frontman D’Wayne Wiggins — who’s become the East Bay’s analogue of Motown executive Berry Gordy — Beyoncé still has solid ties to the Bay Area; Friday’s concert at Oracle Arena is, in many ways, a homecoming. The show, which also features the suddenly ubiquitous smooth-jazz vocalist Robin Thicke, goes down Friday, August 31 at 7:30 p.m. $59.75-$150.75. — Rachel Swan

xJams Live On x

In 2005, a decade after Jerry Garcia’s death, his longtime organist Melvin Seals launched JGB Band as a tribute act that jammed on well-known songs from their fifteen-year collaboration in the Jerry Garcia Band, plus Seals’ own compositions. Melvin Seals & JGB play for the dance and jam crowd Friday at Ashkenaz in an all-ages show. Along with Seals, the band features singer-guitarist Stu Allen, bassist Marty Holland, and drummer Sam Howard. Opening is Jolly Gibsons, a new act featuring New Orleans and jazz-R&B pianist Jennifer Jolly and guitarist Steve Gibson. 9:30 p.m., $17 advance/$20 door. 510-525-5054 or — Larry Kelp

xNot Almost

Famous x

Throughout its first fifty years, Blake’s on Telegraph passed through a series of stages — restaurant and bar, jazz club, renowned blues tour stop — before arriving at today’s iteration as a local music proving ground. The club offers a stage to a wide swath of bands with few other places to play, and a cheap venue for fans of all ages to discover their next obsession: It’s the perfect arrangement for Friday night’s lineup, featuring little-known psych-rock band Wave Array, ascendant instrumental duo Silian Rail, and indie singer-songwriter Alex Karweit. Local music lovers live for this. 9 p.m., $10-$12, — Nate Seltenrich

xReggae Harmonies x

Reggae legends the Mighty Diamonds — Donald “Tabby” Shaw, Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson, and Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson — may be the only close-harmony trio of the late ’60s still performing with all-original members. Their debut, Right Time, is as good as anything Bob Marley ever cut, and Shaw’s songwriting and high, keening vocals, full of soul and sufferation, mark one of the high points of reggae’s golden age. The harmonies still sound as sweet as ever. Wednesday September 7 at Ashkenaz. 9:30 p.m. $15 door/$10 students. 510-525-5054 or — j. poet


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