Critic’s Choice for the week of May 26-June 1, 2004

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


Which Destroyer will play Bottom of the Hill Wednesday night? The grandiose rock monster of This Night? The whispery, MIDI-fried eccentric of new album Your Blues? Regardless, you can bet Dan Bejar will drop pop music references and enigmatic prose like Robyn Hitchcock with a bellyful of literary fiction and Creem when Destroyer appears with Mountain Goats (headlining) and Frog Eyes (backing up Bejar and opening) tonight. 9 p.m., $12, 18 and over. 415-621-4455. (Stefanie Kalem)


Carnaval mayhem overtakes the San Francisco Mission district this weekend, showering it with the spirit of the Caribbean and Brazil. The weekend-long celebration is highlighted by a spectacular parade on Sunday morning, but on Sunday night at the Gift Center Pavilion (8th & Brannan streets), Elba Ramalho, a samba queen from Rio de Janeiro renowned for her superlative singing and dancing, will make a rare appearance in a benefit for impoverished children in Brazil, along with Katia Moraes, Sonia Santos, Ana Gazzola, Maisa Duke, and Diana Booker (the daughter of Flora Purim). 8:30 p.m., $45. (Jesse “Chuy” Varela)


The beloved, bass-thwapping terror-funk band lives on, now embracing the delightful gimmick of playing an entire studio album straight through during its second set. Sunday night at Berkeley’s Greek Theater, Primus‘ 1990 debut, Frizzle Fry, gets the nod, in addition to a full first set of random originals. Les Claypool is still the man so far as alt-rock bass gods are concerned, so get out there and pay tribute. 8 p.m., $38.85. (Rob Harvilla)


It’s time to wine and groove this weekend, when the annual Carnaval celebration hits the Bay. Warm up for the SF parade on Sunday with Saturday night’s Ashkenaz show, when two of Port of Spain’s finest come to Berkeley. Trinidadian stars Crazy and Brother Resistance deliver their percolating soca, calypso, and rapso originals, backed by house band Jouvert ($17, 9:30 p.m.). It’s a can’t-miss event for Caribbean music fans, even if you’re not dancing in skimpy attire with a Carnaval band the next day. If you are, you might want to pace yourself, because Sunday night, Brazilian band SambaDá will be at the ‘Naz, shifting the musical focus ever so slightly to South America, but keeping the Carnaval vibes hot, hot, hot. Dub/roots reggae band Soul Majestic opens. ($12-17, 9 p.m.) (Eric K. Arnold)


You can also keep it on the (Shattuck) Down Low this weekend, with two noteworthy shows at the Berkeley lounge (whose bookings are starting to rival that of higher-profile SF clubs). Friday night, Boulder, Colorado’s boldest reggae band, Jyemo and the Extended Family, show you how to do the water pumping, the electric slide, and the kinky reggae, with neo-Afro-beat local faves Aphrodesia opening up ($7, $5 before 11 p.m.). The following evening, make room for Medusa. This talented singer, MC actress, and icon of attitude is “one bad sista,” and she has the Web site to prove it ( She’ll be appearing with her band Feline Science, playing songs such as “This Pussy Is a Gangsta” and “My Momma Raised a G.” Conscious crowd-pleasers Jahi & the Life open. $5-$15. (E.K.A.)


The Lilly Brothers were singing and playing mountain music before it was even called bluegrass. When they moved to Boston in 1952 and began collaborating with Don Stover, they helped touch off the folk and bluegrass revival of the ’60s. Everett Lilly is now almost eighty, but he still picks a mean mandolin with his sons and daughter providing stellar backup. Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. $17.50-$18.50. 510-548-1761. (j. poet)


Amigos Todos is the title of the most recent album from SF trumpeter Al Molina and his Latin Jazz Sextet. With a fine cast of resident players, his group now includes “Soul Sauce” man Curt Moore on traps and the ubiquitous Michael Spiro on percussion — joining them are Tod Dickow (tenor/soprano saxes), Matt Clark (piano) and Fred Randolph (bass). Al is a refugee from the 1960s Black Hawk days in SF, when Miles Davis blew his mind and made him take his horn seriously. A veteran of the scene with a warm tone and well-articulated riffs, he rolls through Yoshi’s in Oakland Monday night for his CD release party. 8 and 10 p.m., $10. 510-238-9200. (J.C.V.)


Dvoràk’s Piano Quartet, Bartók’s Quartet #4, and Hummel’s Piano Trio receive stellar treatment by musicians of the San Francisco Symphony in Chamber Music Sundaes’ final concert of the season. These Sunday concerts, held in St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, continue to be one of the highlights of the Bay Area music calendar. $18, $14 students/seniors, $7 under 18. 3:15 p.m. 415-584-5946. (Jason Victor Serinus)


Tiempo Libre is one of Miami’s hottest young bands, Cuban expats with a fierce devotion to their country’s roots music tradition and a burning desire to build on those traditions to create something new for today’s generation. The group hits the Bay Area on its first national tour Tuesday at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s in downtown Oakland. $10. 510-238-9200. (j.p.)


The only other time Professor Terry’s Circus Band Extraordinaire performed here, it was one of the most fun and artistically thrilling experiences to hit the Bay Area. Not to be missed, this alliance of some of the region’s best performing artists reunites Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. at the Freight & Salvage. The music, dance, and movement the ensemble displays is uncategorizable, drawing from many world roots sources as the performers bounce ideas off each other. The Professor is body percussionist Keith Terry, who hand-picked his circus band: Linda Tillery (singing founder of Cultural Heritage Choir), bassoonist Paul Hanson (Flecktones, Hieroglyphics Ensemble), violinist David Balakrishnan (Turtle Island String Quartet), trombonist Jeff Cressman (Santana, Pete Escovedo), bassist David Belove (Machete Ensemble and countless other great groups), banjo player and Appalachian clogger Evie Ladin (Stairwell Sisters), accordionist Rich Kuhns, and saxophonist George Brooks (whose own bands include Terry Riley and Zakir Hussain). Tickets are $17.50. 510-548-1761. (Larry Kelp)


In the magical land of criminally underappreciated singer-songwriters, high-pitched Canadian crooner Ron Sexsmith has his own fiefdom, where he whiles away the hours singing sweet, sad songs that’ll make you (or most rock critics, at least) weep with joy. Truth be told, his new record Retriever is pretty rad, and he’ll sample from it liberally Sunday night at SF’s Cafe du Nord. 8 p.m., $12. 415-861-5016. (R.H.)


Rick James, bitch. The man, the myth, and the legend responsible for that unforgettable fashion trend of cornrows and thigh-high leather boots (for men, mind you) is back. And he’ll be appearing live onstage with Lady T — that’s Teena Marie, for the L7 squares — as they perform their classic “fire and desire” on Memorial Day, during KBLX’s “Stone Soul Picnic,” which brings a veritable cornucopia of classic soul and R&B to Cal-State Hayward’s Pioneer Amphitheater. For the price of one ticket, you also get to see the Isley Brothers with Ronald Isley, the Funk Family Affair (featuring members of the Family Stone), and Cameo. Owww. $50-$73.50, (E.K.A.)

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