Critic’s Choice for the week of July 13-19, 2005

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


Rising teenage stars from Raparations and B.U.M.P. Records take the stage at Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza Saturday, along with hot local groups like the Rasta-influenced Fiyawata and Richmond’s popular duo the Frontline, the emcees who pioneered that yodel-ish siren sound that has already become clichéd in regional hip-hop. Sponsored by Let’s Get Free — an organization dedicated to curbing the tide of youth incarceration — the aptly titled “Not Down with the Lockdown” concert also features Company of Prophets, BoogieShack, DJ Treat U Nice, and others. The free show kicks off at noon. (Rachel Swan)


Tuareg nomads once wandered the desert between Algeria and Mali, fighting a decades-long war for autonomy. One of their most powerful weapons was the music of Tinariwen, a group of young people who traded their Kalashnikovs for electric guitars to create a protest music influenced by Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, and Morocco’s younger musicians. The result blends rock, blues, and traditional desert rhythms for a powerful trance-inducing sound that’s at once ancient and modern. Tonight at SF’s Great American Music Hall. $25, 8 p.m. 415-885-0750 or (j. poet)


One of the highlights of this year’s SF Fillmore Festival was the East Bay’s own Tito y Su Son de Cuba. Kicking down authentic son montuno (as pioneered by icons like Arsenio Rodriguez), Tito Gonzalez turned it out with Fito Reinoso as special guest. A seasoned veteran who sings and plays Cuban tres guitar, Tito and his band celebrate two years together with a cool new self-titled CD and a gig Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Oakland Peruvian seafood joint La Furia Chalaca (310 Broadway). 510-451-4206. (Jesse “Chuy” Varela)


Pete Escovedo celebrates his seventieth birthday tonight through Sunday at Yoshi’s. Born in Pittsburg and raised in Oakland, he started playing percussion professionally at the California Hotel Mambo Sessions with Carlos Federico, and quickly progressed from the Escovedo Bros. Band to sessions with Santana, Azteca, Pete & Sheila, and other miscellaneous projects. Now living in Los Angeles, Pete is bringing the family — Sheila E, Peter Michael, Juan, Zina, and Juanita — for a hometown birthday bash. 8 and 10 p.m. each night (2 and 8 p.m. Sunday). $20-$24; $15-$20, kids $5 at the matinee. 510-238-9200 or (J.C.V.)


In the fledgling Bay Area outfit Santero, vocals are delivered by two singers, Scheherazade Stone and Liliana Herrera, whose voices can morph stylistically wherever the music takes them — namely, a fusion hybrid of Afro-Latin electronica, roots reggae, and hip-hop rhythms. The quintet celebrates the release of its debut CD, Arawaks & Maroons, with an all-ages dance concert Friday night at Berkeley’s La Peña Cultural Center. And while the singers inject social and personal commentary into the lyrics, Santero’s instrumental mix is equally important, thanks to emcee Erick Santero, turntablist Mr. E, and DJ RasCue. $12, 9 p.m. 510-849-2568 or (Larry Kelp)


When former UC Berkeley Students for Hip-Hop organizers Dmadness and VNA DJ’d their first club gig together in Chinatown, they found themselves in a room so small and poorly ventilated that sweat would collect on the ceiling and drip back down on them. The feeling of so many bodies packed like sardines in a hot club — transferring pheromones while shimmying to classic hip-hop and funk beats — produced something akin to love: Dmadness and VNA were hooked. Recently, they’ve launched the Good Life Wednesday night hip-hop weekly event at Luka’s Taproom (2221 Broadway Ave. in Oakland), which regularly features hot waxslingers from the Town such as Pam the Funkstress, DJ Backside, and Local 1200. This week’s guests are Digital Underground’s famous producer Fuze and the dancehall DJ Chimay, who reps for Lenwahsound. The event gets crackin’ at 8 p.m. and costs nothing. (R.S.)


The only Summer Mozart Festival in these fifty states kicks off Sunday at Berkeley’s St. John’s Presbyterian Church, as George Cleve and soloists present a most civilized program: Symphony No. 31 in D major, Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola in E Flat major, Overture and Dances from Les Petits Riens, and Divertimento No. 2 in D major for Flute, Oboe, Bassoon, Four Horns, and Strings. $28-$48, 7 p.m. 415-627-9145. (Jason Victor Serinus)


Although she has released only one solo single (the heavenly dancehall-inflected “Sweet Angels”), singer Joyo Velarde is a veteran of the Bay Area music scene, having supplied backing vocals to numerous tunes by her hubby, Lyrics Born. In addition to busting out People are you readddddyyyyy on “Callin’ Out,” she can also be heard on “Balcony Beach,” “Bad Dreams,” “Over You,” and “Love Me So Bad,” to name a few. Blessed with a strong, multi-octave voice and classically trained in operatic techniques, Joyo has become a superfunky soul diva over the years. In anticipation of her upcoming debut album, she’ll be stepping into center stage Thursday at SF’s Boom Boom Room along with Oakland’s Jennifer Johns and DJ Socrates. $8 at the door. (Eric K. Arnold)


Bossacucanova stands at the forefront of Brazilian electronica, with compositions that blend classic bossa nova with subtle electronic beats and samples that provide a gentle yet relentless dance pulse. This merging of jazzy acoustic instruments with sci-fi space noise is intergalactic as well as intercontinental. Saturday at SF’s Great American Music Hall. $25, 9 p.m. 415-885-0750 or (j.p.)


The incredibly talented Blitzen Trapper offers an endearingly sloppy concoction of dreary alt-country, snazzy electronics, folk-y stomping, quirky tinkering, and dreamy lyrics — you’ll hear a country twang here, a synth gurgle there, indie-rock discord here, Beck-approved manipulations there. The imaginative Portland, Oregon sextet gracefully experiments with Genre Ghosts of Christmas Past and comes out with something entirely its own. You’ll love it. Tonight at the Make-Out Room in SF with the Moore Brothers. $6, 9 p.m. (Jenny Tatone)


Marcia Griffiths is a straight-up reggae diva whose career spans the eras from roots to dancehall. She is best known as one of the I-Threes, the legendary backup singers for Bob Marley and the Wailers immortalized on the tune “Three Little Birds,” and has continued to notch hits, including the line-dance anthem “Electric Boogie” and several combinations with “The Stopper” Cutty Ranks. On her latest album, Shining Time, she again features Mr. Ranks, as well as Mr. Boombastic (Shaggy) and Jamaican crooner Beres Hammond, who joins Griffith atop the bill for the San Francisco Reggae Fest Thursday at Ruby Skye — the first time the swank SF venue has ever featured reggae. Jimmy Cozier opens, and DJs Linden B, Jah Warrior Shelter, and Massive Sound Int’l along with MCs Tony Moses and Sharron Levy will be warming up your ears for the main events. $30. 510-599-1645. (E.K.A.)


After Paul Mooney left home in his wee years to join the Charles Gody Circus, who knew he’d grow up to write some of the most imaginative race satires this side of Blacula? Famous for gigging with Richard Pryor and inventing such characters as In Living Color‘s prickly Homey the Clown, this Oakland-raised comedian blends the eccentricities of Dave Chappelle and Amiri Baraka. He’ll perform Friday through Sunday at Kimball’s East (6005 Shellmound St., Emeryville). Tickets cost $30; call 510-658-2555 for info. (R.S.)

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