Critic’s Choice for the week of February 5-11, 2003

A birthday bash for Bob, a coup for Cal Performances, a series of sonatas at Zellerbach, blended blues in Berkeley, and Venezuelans evoking disco at Bimbo's.


Hey mon! Come celebrate the birthday of the honorable Robert Nesta Marley O.M. (that’s Bob Marley for all you heathens) at Ashkenaz this Saturday. You can chant down Babylon and revitalize your inner Buffalo Soldier with the sounds of Groundation, a twelve-piece tribute band playing a livification to the artist also known as the Tuff Gong. Groundation’s four-hour set showcases over thirty of your favorite Marley tunes, so don’t worry ’bout a thing, because every little thing gonna be alright. Yes, Rasta! 510-525-5054. (Eric K. Arnold)


Merce Cunningham Dance Company‘s annual visit to Zellerbach Hall is a Cal Performances’ coup. Through octogenarian Cunningham’s far-reaching vision, the ensemble remains the most shocking and exciting act in the performing arts. Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, the ensemble offers world premieres and a heady dose of music by the late John Cage (Cunningham’s life partner), with different programs Friday (with guests Kronos Quartet) and Saturday. 510-642-9988. (Larry Kelp)


Sunday afternoon’s return of pianist Richard Goode provides ample reason for celebration. Simply put, the man has music in his hands. Goode’s Zellerbach Hall program includes two composers whose music inspires his most probing and moving interpretations: Mozart (Sonata in A minor, K. 310) and Beethoven (Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109). Byrd, Debussy, and Chopin round out the program. 510-642-9988. (Jason Serinus)


Otis Taylor‘s White African (Northern Blues) just won the W.C. Handy Award for Best New Artist, but it was Taylor’s groundbreaking album from 2000, When Negroes Walked the Earth, that first introduced this impressive multi-instrumentalist who blends folk music, singer/songwriter impulses, a strong sense of social justice, and scathing humor for his unique vision of the blues. Sunday at Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage. 510-548-1761. (j. poet )


“Cuchi, cuchi baby …” goes a tune by the Venezuelan Latino-alternative band Los Amigos Invisibles. Known for a retro-disco sound born out of the country’s oil-rich 1980s nightlife, Los Amigos are funksters who busted out in ’98 with New Sound of the Venezuelan Gozadera on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label. Given the state of their nation, this Friday at Bimbo’s they may be singing “Cha-cha-Chavez.” 415-474-0365. (Jesse “Chuy” Varela).

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