Critic’s Choice for the week of October 6-12, 2004

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


Got seven bucks burning a hole in your pocket and a thirst for some incestuous folk music? Check out the Mile High Club Friday night, as three bands swap members like swingers. The bearded baritone of Winfred E. Eye headlines over the sultry Beam’s French folk-pop sound, and the wistful Willow Willow girls open with their heavenly harmonies. 9 p.m. 510-654-4549 or (Eric Shea)


Guitarist and singer Don Burnham has been leading the Western swing revival long enough that he is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of his band, Lost Weekend, with a tour that comes to Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage on Saturday night. Carrying on the tradition launched in the 1930s by such greats as Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys and revived in the ’70s by Asleep at the Wheel, Lost Weekend is a labor of love, with Burnham’s crew always featuring some of the best Bay Area musicians who know how to swing. Joining him are pedal-steel ace Bobby Black, singer Melissa Collard, reedsman Phil Howe, fiddler Paul Anastasio, lead guitarist Mark Holzinger, bassist Bing Nathan, drummer John Brinck, and pianist Doug Harman, playing the best roadhouse dance music around. $17.50-$18.50, 8 p.m. 510-548-1761 or (Larry Kelp)


If you saw the Mamaz perform at the Oakland Box female MC showcase in March, you’d understand why UMA Productions’ Dovanna Dean describes them as artists who’ve found a happy middle ground between spitting venom and waxing spiritual, which is a difficult line to straddle in hip-hop. The tough one is Persia, who flosses like the boys and slaps you up for just being slappable. Sista Yamz forms the softer side, harking back to forerunners like Monie Love and Mecca the Ladybug with her smoothed-out flow. The duo will slug and soothe you this Friday at the Noodle Factory in West Oakland, where they perform along with headRush, Abbey Atkinson, and local DJs Kikoman and Trinity in a Crucial Oakland Box Emergency Fund-Raiser. These artists and activists aim to snag $100,000 by October 15, lest Oakland lose one of its hottest entertainment hubs. $10. 510-451-1932. (Rachel Swan)


Eva Ayllón is the reigning diva of Afro-Peruvian music in her homeland. She has more than twenty albums to her credit, and draws sellout crowds all over Latin America, Mexico, and Peru. Her smoky alto and dramatic stage presence are complemented by the smoldering groove of her touring band. This is her first Bay Area gig in five years, a must-see event for lovers of world music and serious divas. Saturday at Cowell Theater at Fort Mason in SF. $40-$45, 8 p.m. 415-345-7575 or (j. poet)


This Sunday, Oakland’s Josie de la Cruz Park (Fruitvale Ave. and E. 16th St.) will host a day-long dedication ceremony for the new Carmen Flores Community Center. Flores, who died a few years ago, was a tireless Chicana activist who worked in Congressman Ron Dellums’ office. In her honor, live music will be provided by her sons, Tony and Mio Flores, who are awesome percussionists — Mio currently plays with Los Mocosos, and Tony enjoyed a long and fruitful association with Bobby Womack. Free. 510-535-5631. (Jesse “Chuy” Varela)


Guitar god Richard Thompson is one of the few artists who lives up to his rep at every show. A founding member of Fairport Convention, he has gone on to an eclectic career that spans every genre of Anglo-American music, from classical to rock. Now he’s performing his lecture-performance-musical-free-for-all “1,000 Years of Popular Music,” a show guaranteed to delight and elucidate even the most jaded listener. Thursday at Bimbo’s 365 Club in SF. 8 p.m., $30. 415-474-0365 or (j.p.)


New Orleans tenor and soprano saxophonist Branford Marsalis is the man! Since partnering his Marsalis Music record label with Rounder Records, he has assembled a potent catalogue of music. Showcasing the talents of his own family and deserving outsiders like Joey Calderazzo and Puerto Rican alto sax whiz Miguel Zenón, he brings his caravan to Zellerbach Hall this Tuesday as part of Cal Performances. The showcase presents Branford with a band that includes drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, solo piano by Calderazzo, and Zenón with a quartet featuring pianist Luis Perdomo. 8 p.m., $24-$46. 510-642-9988. (J.C.V.)


Local experimental, cult, and guerrilla-style filmmakers combine their talents for this Saturday’s Independent Movie Night at the Ivy Room to benefit punk scenester and Green Party stalwart Jesse Townley, who is running for Berkeley City Council. Hosted by the über-crushworthy San Francisco Green Matt Gonzalez, this showcase of bizarre, original works includes two films by the cult figure George Kuchar — whose surrealist oeuvre heavily influenced John Waters — along with new shorts by underground filmmakers out to make their own really weird statements. DJ The Professor spins early ska, soul, and rocksteady from his vintage record collection, and Jesse will discuss his political platform. 510-524-9220 or (R.S.)


In the ’70s, the Natives ruled as house band at Berkeley’s Starry Plough, mixing rock and politics with dance beats and inspiring other musicians along the way. Led by singer George Pedersen, this most Berkeley of bands is reuniting as the ReincarNatives to perform the first Thursday of each month at the Plough, with the Latrelles opening this week’s show at 9:30 p.m. Along with Pedersen and his songs, the ReincarNatives feature bassist Chris Kee, lead guitarist John Havard, drummer Peter McGee Tucker, and Jeff Hobbs on horns and strings. $5. 510-841-2082 or (Larry Kelp)


The Alexander String Quartet and musicologist Robert Greenberg celebrate twenty years of collaborative lectures and performances with Saturday morning’s performance of Mozart’s Quartets in B-flat Major, K. 458 (“The Hunt”) and A major, K. 464 in St. John’s Presbyterian Church. First Greenberg expounds on the work, with the Alexanders providing musical examples; then the work is played in its entirety. $30, 10 a.m. 415-392-2545 or (Jason Victor Serinus)


Your average gangsta rapper looks like a sensitive girly-mon when compared to Medusa, an MC whose combination of hard-hitting womanist flows and bluesy, junk-your-trunk bumps is undeniably changing the tenor of underground hip-hop. No amount of mobb-style bile or bombast cuts any ice with this underground diva: After all, she’s best known for using her exalted gospel-choir voice to sing about her gangsta pussy. Medusa performs this Sunday at Slim’s for the Living Word Festival Afterparty presented by Youth Speaks and the Living Word Project. Also featuring local presidential hopeful Aya de León and the hot Pinoi rap duo Native Guns (MCs Kiwi and Bambu), this show marks the culmination of a week of spoken word, hip-hop theater, and free writing workshops. $12. 415-255-0333 or (R.S.)

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