Critic’s Choice for the week of February 12-18, 2003

Funky soul, organic hip-hop, heavy indie drone, avant-garde jazz, Americana fiddle music, a Stravinsky soprano, and Mexican narcocorridos.


Throughout his seven funky decades, James Brown has been known by such monikers as the Godfather of Soul, Soul Brother #1, the Minister of New New Super Heavy Funk, and, most recently, the Hardest Working Man in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Of course he’s funky, but in case you haven’t noticed, he’s also an incurable romantic. Love has always been the engine which has powered the influential icon’s night train. Even “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” can be described as a love song of sorts. According to Brown, the Y chromosome’s achievements “wouldn’t be nothing without a woman or a girl.” Brown brings his seventeen-piece band to the Paramount Saturday, which could be the best V-day ticket in town. 510-465-6400. (Eric K. Arnold)


The organic hip-hop group Mission recently changed its name to Crown City Rockers (which sounds like a Clash song) due to legal issues with a certain rock group called the Mission UK. Thankfully, its groovy, b-boy-approved sound, reminiscent at times of the Roots and A Tribe Called Quest, hasn’t been altered. The group headlines La Peña’s urban soul/hip-hop showcase Collective Soul on Saturday. Opening acts Lunar Heights and Kits & Pits (featuring members of Freestyle Fellowship), plus the sounds of DJ Treat U Nice, make this the sureshot, fa shizzle’. 510-849-2568. (Eric K. Arnold)


With a name like Kinski, you might expect sweet lil’ ol’ indie rock sung by a svelte damsel who can’t look the audience in the eye. But this is some heavy, heavy shit á la Mogwai, the Melvins, or any other “M” band that drones real good. Between this band, Hot Hot Heat, and Iron & Wine, Sub Pop may just reinvent itself as the best indie label, again. Kinski plays the Bottom of the Hill next Wednesday with the Deadly Snakes and Oneida. 415-261-4455. (Katy St. Clair)


The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, led by extraordinary drummer and percussionist Kahil El’Zabar, has been blowing minds and pushing the envelope with their adventurous blend of post-bop, avant-garde, world-meets-jazz music since its formation in 1976. El’Zabar’s current cohorts are pianist and sax player Ari Brown, who brings a solid blues foundation to his ferocious improvisational flights, and sax man and composer Ernest “Khabeer” Dawkins, known for his work with his own New Horizons Ensemble. Monday at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. 510-238-9200. (j. poet)


Founding violinist of the David Grisman Quintet and new acoustic music pioneer in such bands as Turtle Island String Quartet, Psychograss, and Montreux, Oakland’s Darol Anger brings his new American Fiddle Ensemble to the Freight & Salvage on Tuesday. Playing Anger’s vision of Americana, the Ensemble is young fiddler Brittany Haas, guitarist Scott Nygaard, and cellist Rushad Eggleston. They are joined by Texas-reared singer-songwriter Danny Barnes. 510-548-1761. (Larry Kelp)


Mills College’s Sunday afternoon concert series spotlights the marvelous Abel-Steinberg Duo. After some heartfelt Tchaikovsky songs, featuring Julie Steinberg accompanying gifted soprano Sara Ganz, the Duo plays a work inspired by some of the songs, Stravinsky’s violin-piano transcription of his Divertimento on The Fairy’s Kiss. The second half features Shostakovich’s not-to-be-missed Sonata for Viola and Piano. Yummy. 510-430-2334. (Jason Serinus)


Currently topping Mexican regional radio with “Reina del Sur” (Queen of the South), a corrido folk ballad about a drug runner’s wife, the San Jose-based Tigres del Norte are controversial for both their narco-anthems and for being idols who sing out against injustice. This Sunday at the Oakland Convention Center (10th & Broadway) they roll through for a Valentine’s bash that includes Los Angeles de Charlie, Mojado, and Relàmpago Norteño y Banda Maguey. 510-595-5599. (Jesse “Chuy” Varela)

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