Critic's Choice for the week of June 26-July 2, 2002 

Johnny Nocturne Band veers back toward the blues, the Ho resurfaces, R&B merges with hip-hop, and more.

BLUES

A mentor to Stevie Ray Vaughan and other Texas artists, soul-blues singer-guitarist W.C. Clark passes through Biscuits & Blues on Thursday in support of a terrific new Alligator CD titled From Austin with Soul. 415-292-2593. (Lee Hildebrand)

The Johnny Nocturne Band, led by fat-toned tenor saxophonist John Firmin, has walked a fine line between jazz and blues since its inception in the mid-1980. The brassy ensemble lands more firmly in the blues camp on its new Blues Volume CD featuring the gritty, gripping contralto of Ms. Dee, who carries on a fine lead-singing tradition established by predecessors Brenda Boykin and Kim Nalley. Dee and the band promise a house-rockin' evening Friday at Ashkenaz. 510-835-3900. (L.H.)

ROCK

After a hiatus to Who-knows where, the Ho is back at the Starry Plough this Friday and Saturday night, bringing its Maximum BBQ show celebrating the Live at Leeds-era Who. If you think the Who stopped being a real band after Keith Moon kicked it, then this show is for you. The tribute band features Dave Mello (Operation Ivy, Schlong) as Moon, Lucio Menegon (Ramona the Pest) as Townshend, Joey Schaaf (Zebu) as Daltrey, and Tim Romain (Blackpowder Pinups) as Entwistle. As the band promises in its press release: "The Ho is big, it is loud, it is sloppy, and above all, the Ho is powerful -- and it still has all four original members." Har, har, har. 510-841-2082. (Katy St. Clair)

Coming to the Stork Club on Saturday is Park Avenue Music, a duo made up of trained concert pianist and dreamy vocalist Jeanette Faith and Wes Steed, who provides a backdrop of noise-based ambient effects. Their music has been described as the Cocteau Twins meet Autechre, and in a world of electronic musicians who claim the same breeding, this pair lives up to the comparison. Also appearing are Rum Diary, Desert City Soundtrack, and Timonium. 510-444-6174. (K.S.)

SALSA

Brothers Ray and Manny Martinez are Latins from Manhattan who relocated to the Bay Area in the 1980s and have been grooving salsa dance halls ever since. They formed the outstanding band Azabache in 1998 and released a self-titled CD two years ago. Manny, who also sings lead with Los Mocosos, is featured with Azabache at La Peña on Saturday. 510-849-2568. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

R&B/HIP-HOP

The connection between R&B and hip-hop comes into focus Saturday at Mingles as the dynamic Brooklyn soul singer Maya Azucena teams up with the 808 Band, a South Bay duo that's supplied slammin' beats for Pep Love, Goapele, and other local performers. Also on the bill is DJ Sake-1. 510-835-3900. (L.H.)B>OPERA/B>

To conclude its Russian Festival, the San Francisco Symphony presents a rare semi-staged performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's colorful Mlada Saturday and Sunday at Davies Symphony Hall. The orchestra, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, is augmented by a lineup of fine singers, the superb SFS Chorus, and former SF Ballet prima ballerina Evelyn Cisneros. Catch the preconcert lecture for more insight into this not-to-be-missed extravaganza. 415-864-6000. (Jason Serinus)

JAZZ

An impressive jazz roster appears Tuesday at Yoshi's in a scholarship fund-raiser for the heralded UC Berkeley-based Young Musicians Program for talented, low-income students. Flugelhornist Dmitri Matheny and pianist Amina Figarova join YMP saxophonist Hitomi Oba, plus Dave Ellis, Charles McNeal, Akira Tana, Bart Platteau, Ruth Davies, Christopher Turner, and the YMP Jazz Combo. 510-642-9394. (Larry Kelp)

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