Critic's Choice for the week of August 8-14, 2007 

We recommend the Broun Fellinis, Festival Opera's Our Town, Mark Olson, Patti Smith, Mel Martin's All-Star Benny Carter Centennial Tribute Band, and All Teeth and Knuckles.

Brothers from Another Planet

Probably the Bay Area's best example of jazz edging toward psychedelia, the Broun Fellinis were firm endorsers of the term "Afro-futurism" long before it became trendy. The group's saxophonist David Boyce — aka Black Edgar Kenyatta — created an alternate universe for the group to inhabit, both to tie the Fellinis' music back to his personal mythology (Boyce says he wanted to reconcile his 21st-century self with his 3rd-century self) and completely mystify the general public. "I developed this country called Boohaabia," explains the saxophonist, characterizing the place as "Moorish Spain before the Moors got kicked out, combined with any of the ancient dynasties of the first four pharaohs." With the help of Fellinis drummer Kevin Carnes (aka Professor Borris Karnaz) and bassist Kirk Peterson (aka the Redeemer), Boyce developed a whole Boohaabian lexicon, which added an extra dimension of funkiness to the group's music. Though Broun Fellinis only perform a few times a year these days (as opposed to fifteen times a month back in the '90s), their live show is still utterly compelling — a mix of sample-driven funk grooves, bobbling scraps of melody, and even the occasional spoken-word poem. Broun Fellinis play Jupiter in Berkeley on Saturday, August 11. The free show starts at 8 p.m. (Rachel Swan)

Going Wilder

Festival Opera deviates from the tried and true this week by staging the West Coast premiere of Ned Rorem's new opera Our Town. Based on Thornton Wilder's play of the same name, with libretto by J.D. McClatchy, the four-performance run in the Dean Lesher Center for the Arts features the wonderful Marnie Breckenridge as Emily Webb and tenor Thomas Glenn as George Gibbs. Saturday, August 11 through Tuesday, Aug. 14. 8 p.m. Tickets are $26 to $100. 925-943-SHOW or (Jason Victor Serinus)

Heartache Blues

Heartbreak has been fodder for many a great musical experience, and for Mark Olson, the same is true. With the 2005 dissolution of his marriage to fellow singer-songwriter Victoria Williams still fresh in his mind, the former Jayhawk spent the next year bouncing around Europe and the United States writing songs. The result is his first true solo release, The Salvation Blues, a collection of songs soaked in country-rock and folk nuances and informed by the pain resulting from a busted-up relationship. Featuring contributions from Williams and former bandmate Gary Louris, Olson's latest is worthy of his work with the Jayhawks and the Creekdippers. Sunday, August 12 at the Cafe du Nord in SF. 7:30 p.m., $15. (Dave Gil de Rubio)

Century Jazz Bash

Local sax hero Mel Martin is one of San Francisco's most versatile players, with a résumé that includes stints in Latin and progressive rock bands, but it's as a straight-ahead jazz player that he excels. His new CD, Just Friends, was cut live at Yoshi's in Oakland in 1994 his pal and mentor Benny Carter on alto sax. To celebrate Carter's hundredth birthday, Martin has assembled the seven member All-Star Benny Carter Centennial Tribute Band, a group that includes Roger Kellaway on piano and sax men Harvey Wainapel and Charles McNeil. Every one in the band knew and played with Carter during his long and varied career, so the music will be full of joy and passion. Wednesday, August 15 at Yoshi's. 8 p.m., $20; 10 p.m., $12. (j. poet)

Dance Dance Revolution

There was a time when getting the indie kids to dance actually meant something. Then came the dance-punk explosion of the early '00s, wherein the intentionally uncool masses opened their hearts to barely cooler musicians playing gritty postpunk songs with big beats. Before long the genre became self-aware and massively popular, and predictably lost its appeal. With San Francisco's All Teeth and Knuckles, the movement takes an interesting next step: Jaded antihipsters make slightly subversive club music for everyone to enjoy. Songs such as "Let's Undress and Listen to CSS" (a reference to ultrahip Brazil electro-rockers Cansei de Ser Sexy) and "Fuck Your Jacket" — Everywhere I go I see motherfuckers wearing leather jackets — make no secret of where the group is coming from, but their synth-laced beats are too enticing to ignore. Wednesday, August 15 at the Uptown with Oakland rock group Drip Joy and Floridian indie-poppers Look Mexico. 9 p.m., $5. (Nate Seltenrich)

Punk Poet Karaoke

Patti Smith has never been shy about interpreting other artists' material, dating back to her landmark 1975 debut that found her incorporating bits of Them and Chris Kenner into her original work. And while the release of her new all-covers project Twelve might lead the more cynical listener to chalk it up as an album resulting from someone whose creativity is running on fumes, Smith does end up making some intriguing choices. Sure, "White Rabbit" long ago wore out its welcome due to its presence on seemingly every movie remotely having to do with the late '60s, and Coolio immediately comes to mind when Smith tackles Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise." But redemption comes via her inspiring take on Bob Dylan's lesser-known "Changing of the Guard," and the use of dulcimer on Paul Simon's "The Boy in the Bubble" gives the original's Afropop nuances an interesting twist. Tuesday, August 14 at the Fillmore in San Francisco. 9 p.m., $35. (D.G.R.)


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