Critic's Choice for the week of January 22-28, 2003 

An artist called Why?, a discount for drag queens, and local Latins who've hit the big time.

AVANT-GARDE

Have you ever wanted to get really high and hang out in a church basement? While we here at the Express don't exactly condone that sort of blasphemous behavior, we're not above telling you the best time and venue for it. Wednesday night at the Ramp, aka the basement of the Berkeley Seventh Day Adventist Church, you can take in the collagetastic, sampledelic stuffs of Wobbly, the nasaleriffic indie-hop of Why? (cLOUDDEAD, Anticon), and Create(!), a six-piece LA ensemble whose improvisational arsenal includes a euphonium, some toys, some paints, and a whole lot of electronics and percussion. The show starts at 7 p.m. sharp, so don't get lost on the way there, 'kay? (Stefanie Kalem)

ROCK

If J Edgar Hoover were still around, dollars to donuts he'd be at Gilman this Friday night for the What a Drag! show. One dollar off at the door if dressed in drag. Tribe 8, Gravy Train!!!, Drag Dancers, Apocalipstick, and Confidante. 510-525-9926. (Katy St. Clair)

LATIN POP

I was hanging in Havana, Cuba, watching TV at the Hotel Nacional, when all of a sudden there in Caribbean splendor was the Bay Area's Orixa. It was HTV, the Spanish-language MTV, and the East Bay roc-en-Español band was in the VJ mix. The band is on the rise internationally, especially after its Carl's Jr. commercial last year, featuring lead singer Rowan Jimenez, blew up. Catch them while you can this Saturday at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley with Grito Serpentino and Pepito. 510-849-2568. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

WEST AFRICAN

From a noble line of West African griots, Mali guitarist and singer Habib Koite brings his Bamada quintet to UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall on Sunday in a concert of mostly acoustic music. Koite's lilting voice matches his lyrical guitar playing in a style that is simultaneously catchy and hypnotic, contemporary and ancient. Since his 1995 debut CD Muso Ko, Koite has been one of Africa's most exciting and important musicians. 510-642-9988. (Larry Kelp)

CLASSICAL

All ears tune to Oakland's Paramount Theatre this Friday (and Richmond's Memorial Auditorium Saturday), as Michael Morgan conducts the Oakland East Bay Symphony's exciting world premiere of Cuban jazz composer Omar Sosa's From Our Mother, a full-length symphony cocommissioned by the Oakland East Bay Symphony and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The evening also includes works by Schreker, Tchaikovsky, and Saint-Saéns. 510-625-8497. (Jason Serinus)

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