Critic's Choice for the week of July 27-August 2, 2005 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


Barbecues at the Stork Club are one of the best ways to spend a lazy summer afternoon in downtown Oakland, if only because the cover is cheap (five bucks usually gets you admission plus grub and beer), and you get to watch local motorcycle gangsters (the guys who beat you up in high school) convene with pasty indie kids (the guys you beat up in high school). This Saturday's 4 p.m. cookout features a rock show starring From Bubblegum to Sky, which sounds like a poppy, Pink Lady-influenced girl band whose members dangle a lot of Hello Kitty paraphernalia, but is actually a guy in a suit playing poppy, Pink-Lady-influenced guitar songs (and probably still dangling a lot of Hello Kitty paraphernalia). French Disco, Fn'B's, Outback Boy, and Brian Glaze will also perform. 510-444-6174. (Rachel Swan)


Here's a lineup basically made there: the witch doctor of urban voodoo (and high-end cognac) Busta Rhymes, the hardcore tag-team of Method Man and Redman, the flying guillotine slang of Cuban Linx (Ghostface & Raekwon), the militant crunktitude of dead prez, the impossibly technical crab scratches of Q-Bert, the poetic soliloquies of Baldhead Slick (aka Guru of Gangstarr), the freestyle finesse of Supernatural, and just for local flavor's sake, Oakland's so-conscious-they're-hard Zion-I and SF's lyrical flowmaster Equipto. It all happens Sunday in SF during a live extravaganza/block party (on Utah St. between 14th and 15th sts.) called Rock the Bells, an ambitious hip-hop festival presented by Guerrilla Union, which has been staging these shindigs in major US cities for the past couple of years. The show starts at 1 p.m. and goes until 8, and tickets are an affordable (considering the caliber of talent) $40. (Eric K. Arnold)


Poet Robert Bly has said of master Iranian classical musician Mohammad Reza Lotfi, "My first response upon hearing Lotfi's music is astonishment. As he plays he opens a path and finally a road to that place inside us of enormous assurance. Such assurance paradoxically often brings tears to the eyes." Do you need a better reason to hear this great master of the tar and setar at Berkeley's Julia Morgan Center Saturday night? $30-$40, 8 p.m. 925-798-1300. (Jason Victor Serinus)


Martin Carthy is perhaps the most significant folk-song collector in Britain -- it's hard to imagine the course the '60s English folk-rock revival would've taken without his input -- and he also is a singer of uncommon power. Norma Waterson is one of the great folk divas. And their daughter, Eliza Carthy, is an impressive fiddler pioneering her own trip-hop/folk fusion, as well as joining her parents in their more traditional pursuits. Joined by Saul Rose on accordion, the quartet performs as Waterson:Carthy Friday and Saturday at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage. $19.50-$20.50, 8 p.m. 510-548-1761 or (j. poet)


Just hours before fellow Brit J.K. Rowling broke the American book-buying bank with Harry Potter XXVIII, Manchester's Nine Black Alps were onstage in Philadelphia launching their very first stateside tour. But with lessons in merciless melody learned from such domesticated guitar animals as Nirvana, the Strokes, and the Walkmen, this quartet might well be cashing its own sizable checks pretty soon. At SF's Popscene Thursday night. (Rob Trucks)


The North Beach Jazz Festival happens tonight (Wednesday) through Sunday in San Francisco, with a diverse lineup reflecting the refreshing, youthful viewpoint of artistic director Alistair Monroe. The bill will flaunt a great many locals --the Realistic Orchestra, Joyo Velarde -- and headliners include Pucho & the Latin Soul Bros. Timbalero Henry "Pucho" Brown first gained renown in the '60s, leading a boogaloo-style Latin jazz band from Spanish Harlem that rivaled anything happening anywhere else. He performs Saturday as part of NBJF's Latin in the Park event at SF's Washington Square Park. Noon, free. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)


Aterciopelados remains one of Colombia's most progressive outfits, with a sound that encompasses trip-hop, flamenco, rock, punk, and dozens of other styles from the Latin pop continuum. The band's secret weapon is Andrea Echeverri, whose sultry vocals always command your attention. At Slim's in SF tonight (Wednesday). $25, 9 p.m. 415-255-0333 or (j.p.)


Don't hate Nikka Costa 'cause she's hot. Or, don't hate her 'cause she's not hot enough -- even her famous producer dad and preteen Aussie hits can't land her on the radio. But there's a germ of nasty, early-'70s scorned-bitch funk (á la Betty Davis) in her loins, so maybe her more aesthetically pleasing visual attributes (ass cleavage, anyone?) can keep her signed long enough to germinate. She takes a break from her main gig opening for Lenny Kravitz to headline SF's Independent Tuesday night. $15, 8 p.m. (Eric Davidson)


You don't have to be writing a dissertation on the postgender frontier to take an interest in Friday's sassily titled GenderEnder fest, Rock Out Without Your Cock Out, at SF's Edinburgh Castle. Dorkiness and identity-affirming politics aside, this is going to be a bitchin' show, headlined by the stylish tranny all-girl outfit Lipstick Conspiracy and rock diva Shawna Virago. The eclectic bill will also feature Storm Florez, the hip-hop artist Scarletto, and the prominent East Bay spoken word poet Julia Serano, who fronts the indie trio Bitesize. Cohosted by local trans scenester-authors Charlie Anders (aka Charlie Girl) and Meliza Bañales, the show kicks off at 9 p.m. and costs $5-$15 sliding scale. (R.S.)


There's only one Fela Kuti, and he's dead and gone. In a world of Fela tribute bands and Fela-esque influences, the next best thing is his son, Femi Kuti, whose rugged good looks have made him an international sex symbol. And while Femi's music hasn't quite tapped into the same sociopolitical zeitgeist as his dad's did, it's still mind-blowing stuff, especially experienced live. Even without the benefit of a new album, a Femi show promises to be an event for lovers of African music or just long, danceable grooves. Last time Femi was at the Fillmore, he turned in an epic performance that left no doubt as to his ability to carry Fela's legacy to a new generation of Afrobeatniks. Senegal's Daara J opens. $28.50, 9 p.m. (E.K.A.)


For years, vibraphonist Yancy Taylor held down a regular Sunday night gig at the Fifth Amendment in Oakland's Lakeshore District. That run ended recently after more than a decade, but he forges on -- influenced by vibists Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson, and Cal Tjader, Yancy is an original with a funky Les McCann twist. This Sunday he performs with his sextet as part of the Summer Jazz Concerts Series at Oakland's Golden Gate Library. Free, 3 p.m. 510-597-5023. (J.C.V.)


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