Critic's Choice for the week of March 8-14, 2006 

Budding narcissists, classy local band soirees, and anacondas.


Jason Forrest used to record under the name Donna Summer, started a label called Cock Rock Disco, and has a new album, Shamelessly Exciting, that features an elaborate mash-up entitled "My 36 Favorite Punk Songs" consisting of tiny snippets of exactly that. So there you go. This dude is the Jimi Hendrix of the sampler, and both Shamelessly Exciting and its predecessor, 2004's The Unrelenting Songs of the 1979 Post-Disco Crash, are absurdly exhilarating car crashes equally enamored of the Ramones and Seals & Crofts. Furthermore, the video for "War Photographer" is unbelievable. Thursday at Underground SF: (Rob Harvilla)


Renowned as the queen of operachi (a stylistic fusion of opera and mariachi), vocalist Juanita Ulloa hosts a Mexican Mariachi Fiesta Saturday night at Berkeley's La Peña Cultural Center. A seasoned and passionate performer whose repertoire spans the gamut from children's music to troubadour classics, Ulloa will honor female composers from Mexico and Latin America while showcasing her own latest album, Paz y Alegria. $15, 8:30 p.m. 510-849-2568 or (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)


Electric Six is not your typical Detroit rock group. Cheesily mocking garage rock's sexual brazenness while integrating elements of disco and new wave to keep the party moving, these guys sacrifice taste and tradition for brilliantly memorable camp, beating the Darkness to the punch with the whole throwback rock shtick and likely appealing (if guiltily) to fans of Andrew WK. Live, frontman Dick Valentine is an absolute star, if for his confounding British accent alone. Saturday night at SF's Independent with Every Move a Picture and Rock Kills Kid. $16, 9 p.m. (Nate Seltenrich)


Kids in the reality TV era are operating on a different moral compass than their forebears. By the time they get to high school, most teenagers now have a well-honed lust for celebrity and a highly inflated conception of their own importance. So don't be surprised that it only takes one season of American Idol to activate your daughter's fantasies of being "discovered." But hell, why not help the kid forge her own path to stardom? She can start Thursday afternoon at the Oakland YMCA Teen Center's Making the Band auditions, a talent competition for Bay Area high school students. Hosted by KMEL's DJ Backside, the free event kicks off at 4 p.m. Winners will be featured on a compilation with local rapper Mistah FAB. 510-638-5629. (Rachel Swan)


Joe Ely was always too rockin' for country and too country for rock, but fits rather neatly under the Americana umbrella. With his blend of Texas roadhouse fire, Tex-Mex swing, and literary singer-songwriter impulses, he's a true original with an impressive back catalogue. Ely gets back to basics on his current tour, appearing only with an acoustic guitar. Local songwriting heavy Jesse DeNatale opens. Friday at the Swedish American Hall in SF. $16-$18, 7:30 p.m. 415-861-5016 or (j. poet)


In three weeks of highlights at the busy 21st Annual Jewish Music Festival, Saturday's Bagels and Bongos hoedown concert is one of the best, While Irving Fields brings some historical fun by reviving his just-reissued, appropriately titled 1959 album Bagels and Bongos, the appearance of Roberto Rodriguez' outfit Septeto Rodriguez is just too sublime, appearing far too infrequently here with its mix of inspired Cuban rhythms, Eastern European klezmer, and pure jazz improvisation and inspiration. 8 p.m. at Oakland's First Congregational Church. $22-$26. 415-276-1511 or (Larry Kelp)


Considering the recent groundswell of "Miss New Booty" downloads, it seems a lot of us agree that what's booming on a woman's backside is far more important than what's going on upstairs; no need to declaim long passages of Paradise Lost if you can just take it off, let it flop, shake it freely. Actually one of the core tenets of hip-hop, booty worship was popular long before rapper and "Miss New Booty" mastermind Bubba Sparxxx muscled his way into the Top 40. In fact, the genre's original ass fetishist, Sir Mix-a-Lot (most famous, of course, for his 1992 single "Baby Got Back"), predates this current craze by well over a decade. Check Sir Mix Saturday night at SF's Red Devil Lounge alongside the Feed. $20, 9 p.m. (R.S.)


It's hard not to love battles of the bands, if only for purely sentimental reasons. After all, there's something deliciously nostalgic about watching a bunch of shabbily dressed heartthrobs take the stage at a local car dealership or teen center -- you even forgive them for reeking of malt liquor and singing one too many torch songs with "Black Sunday" in the title. Saturday night, come to Hayward City Hall for a slightly more formal take on local band competition, the Sixth Annual Bands4Bands Awards Program, and see which (primarily hard rock and metal) band is jockeying for supremacy in twelve categories, including "Best Band Web Site" and "Best 209 Band and Beyond." The ceremony starts at 7 p.m. and costs $5. (R.S.)


The superb viola da gambist Jordi Savall -- who together with his ensembles Hespérion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya has breathed life into more early music than perhaps anyone else on the planet -- returns to Cal Performances for two engagements in Berkeley's First Congo this week. Thursday night, he marks the 400th anniversary of Cervantes' Don Quixote with a program also recently recorded; Saturday night explores sacred and secular Hispanic music in the old and new worlds. The vocals of Montserrat Figueras is alone worth the price of admission. $52; 8 p.m. 510-642-9988. (Jason Victor Serinus)

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