Critic’s Choice for the week of September 5-11, 2007

We recommend folk-rock, Celtic duos, Virginian hip-hop, and multilingual retropop.

Folk Shindig

New York City’s Ollabelle is a polished folk-rock ensemble that smoothly blends gospel, bluegrass, country, and blues into a pleasing pastiche marked by winning harmonies and fine ensemble picking. The band is charming, but a bit sedate. More edgy are local openers the Finches. Fronted by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs, a singer with a perfect folk voice, a fragile trill that’s both country and bluesy, childlike and womanly, the band can cast an unsettling spell. Impressionistic lyrics are full of loss, regret, and mysterious encounters that remain unexplained with meandering arrangements that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Thursday, September 6 at the Great American Music Hall in SF. 8:00 p.m., $15. 415-885-0750 or — j. poet

Celtic Virtuosos

You’d never guess from the title of the duo’s new CD, Zephyr in the Confetti Factory, but the award-winning Jamie Laval and Ashley Broder are one of the best Celtic duos to play the Freight, which they do on Thursday. They take the form and stretch it into new styles, where both Laval’s violin and Broder’s mandolin take the lead, weaving in and out of each other in delightful duets. Laval is winner of the 2002 US National Scottish Fiddle Championship, has performed for the queen of England, played on Dave Matthews’ Some Devil, and been featured on film soundtracks. Broder is two-time winner of the Western Open Picking Championship, and collaborated with Mike Marshall on mandolin method books. But the music they play together is even better. 8:00 p.m., $18.50 advance, $19.50 door. 510-548-1761 or — Larry Kelp

Pusha Men

Compared to, say, New York, Houston, or Oakland, Virginia isn’t exactly known as a hotbed of hip-hop talent, yet Virginia Beach duo Clipse is easily one of the hottest groups in the urban rhymeosphere. Childhood friends of fellow Virginian Pharrell Williams, Malice and Pusha T benefited from the multiplatinum producer’s tracks on 2002’s Lord Willin’, which spawned “Grindin’,” the pro-dope dealin’ anthem (and certifiable guilty pleasure. Their sophomore release, 2006’s Hell Hath No Fury, proved that while the two rappers may not be politically correct — or have any redeeming social significance, for that matter — they get ill on the mic, with sick-ass flows for days. If you like your hip-hop raw, edgy, and bassy, and don’t take issue with overt cocaine references, that’s all that matters. See them live this Thursday at the Independent with Pacific Division. 9 p.m., $25. — Eric K. Arnold

No ‘Free Bird,’ Either

The members of Oakland group Never Ending Party first got together last October to play Creedence Clearwater Revival songs at a Halloween party. They got along well, decided to pen some rough-edged garage rock of their own, and recently released their second seven-inch. It’s just crazy enough to be true. Friday night they play a free First Friday show at the Stork Club with fellow Oakland bands Pony Come Lately and Household Drugs, plus San Francisco’s Joshua Gabriel. Just don’t go expecting any Creedence. 9 p.m., free. — Nate Seltenrich

Cole Rising

Before hooking up with hip-hop titan Kanye West, Keyshia Cole was a disciple of Tony Toni Toné frontman D’Wayne Wiggins, who discovered the R&B starlet when she showed up on his doorstep a few years ago in the wee hours. They recorded one track; Wiggins listened to it while cooking breakfast a few hours later, and realized that Cole had chops. He went knocking on doors in the neighborhood, asking if anyone knew her, and so a star was born. Known for her salty come-ons, revenge ballads about how she shoulda cheated, and the intentionally anachronistic American Idol-ready tune “Love,” East Oakland native Cole returns to the Bay Friday, September 7, with fellow R&B singer J. Holiday. The show kicks off at 9 p.m. at San Francisco’s Mezzanine club and costs $40-$50. — Rachel Swan

Clarinet Trios

Trinity Chamber Concerts scores bonus points in a mostly quiet week with a delicious evening of classical trios by Brahms, Mendelssohn, and Mozart. The unusual trio — clarinet, viola, and piano — comprises Tom Rose, principal clarinetist of the Music in the Mountains Festival; Darcy Rindt, former principal violist of four regional symphony orchestras; and Lynn Schugren, especially noted for premiering new works. While Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio was written for this particular instrumental combination, Brahms Trio. Op. 40 was originally scored for horn, and has been transcribed by Rose. The two Mendelssohn concert pieces originally called for clarinet, basset horn, and piano. Saturday, September 8 at Trinity Chapel, Berkeley. $12/$8. — Jason Victor Serinus

Terror Antidote

Just as frothy as the drink it’s named after, the twelve-piece Pink Martini is a multilingual outfit led by effervescent vocalist China Forbes. In drawing from the band’s latest release, the critically embraced Hey Eugene!, expect the enchanting Forbes to be warbling in English, Spanish, or Arabic all while her bandmates easily shift gears from cabaret and jazz to retropop and rumbas. And not unlike shows played in far-flung locales from Cannes to London, expect plenty of dancing in the aisles of the Paramount on Tuesday, September 11 at the Paramount Theatre. 8 p.m., $39.50-$75. — Dave Gil de Rubio


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