Critic's Choice for the week of May 24-30, 2006 

Espresso body shots, psychedelia unplugged, and reasons (not) to get high.

MIXING BILLS FOR DOUGH

Since 1993, the BandWorks classes have provided a way for aspiring and sometimes working musicians to play in a band setting with others, usually rock-based. Groups of students assemble and rehearse, and at the end of each quarterly class they put on a concert, often at Berkeley's nonprofit, all-ages Ashkenaz dancehall. On Saturday, May 27, the BandWorks teachers and friends stage a fund-raiser for Ashkenaz, with five bands doing short sets: Jon Preuss' Yeti (electric rock), Lua (new world soul), Livewire (Brazilian and French cafe music), the Jolly Gibsons (New Orleans funk, soul, and jazz), and funk-jazz organ combo Guru Garage. $15, 8 p.m. 510-525-5054. Ashkenaz.com (Larry Kelp)

PSYCHEDELIA UNPLUGGED

Bay Area resident Sonya Hunter forged her own unique sound in the early '90s when her first album, Favorite Short Stories, won raves from local and international critics. Her music blends folk, jazz, and pop into a style she half-jokingly calls "acoustic psychedelia." Her smoky vocals, insightful lyrics, and charming stage presence make every gig a pleasure. She'll be opening for another local fave, Mandrake, an acoustic indie-rock quartet from Oakland, Friday, May 26 at the Starry Plough in Berkeley. $5, 9:30 p.m. StarryPloughPub.com (j. poet)

BECAUSE HE GOT HIGH

The coolest thing about Afroman is he honestly believes that his 2001 hit "Because I Got High" does a public service by exposing the negative effects of marijuana. "In two minutes, eleven seconds, I had written a hit, but before that it had taken me nearly seven months to recognize I had a marijuana problem," says the supposedly reformed rapper. Then why is his latest release, out June 6, called Still Drunk and High? Let's not get mired in the details. Afroman's music may be replete with drug references, but above all it's designed to be fun, uplifting West Coast rap — old-school sensibility with new-school hooks. Sounds like a good time. Wednesday, May 20, at Blake's on Telegraph, with support from Knobody, Naybahud Folks, Yunsta, Transaddix, and Mad Ro. $8, 8:30 p.m. BlakesonTelegraph.com (Nate Seltenrich)

HOT PAVEMENT

People will be dancing in the streets at the San Francisco Carnaval this weekend. The revelry takes place Saturday and Sunday May 27 and 28 in the Mission District, with an acclaimed parade on Sunday morning. The free extravaganza features entertainment and vendors on Harrison Street between 16th & 23rd streets. Appearing on Saturday at the 17th and Harrison stage is Havana singer-songwriter Alex "Cuba" Puentes, who now lives in Canada and is a 2005 Juno winner (a Canadian Grammy) for his album Humo de Tabaco. 4:45 p.m. 415-920-0125. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

REPLACEMENTS REPLACED

Is it ever really a bad time for a Replacements tribute night? Not if you've got X's John Doe and local pop luminaries Kelley Stoltz and Oranger on the bill. The Wednesday, May 24 show at SF's 12 Galaxies, organized by Bay Area music proponent and label owner Nick Tangborn of Jackpine Social Club, also features Penelope Houston, Dirty Power, Jeffrey Luck Lucas, Pat Johnson, and others, offering their own take on the influential rock band that disbanded fifteen years ago. The show isn't entirely random; a best-of compilation including two new songs by the Minneapolis band will be released by Rhino on June 13. 9 p.m., $10. 12Galaxies.com (Kathleen Richards)

PULITZER MEETS PREPUBERTY

Berkeley's own Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, John Adams, makes a rare ascent to the podium Thursday, May 25 to conduct the Crowden School Orchestra's Annual Spring Celebration Concert in Berkeley's First Congregational Church. Under Adams' genial gaze, the players — students at one of the only full-time middle schools in the United States to combine music with a full academic curriculum — perform Vaughan Williams' familiar Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, Mozart's Serenata Notturna, and chamber music by Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Dvoràk. Free, 7 p.m. 510-559-6910 or Crowden.org (Jason Victor Serinus)

SPACE-FOLK EXCURSIONS

Bay Area's space-folk duo the Lonelyhearts — not to be confused with Nashville's pop rockers the Lonely Hearts — is a collaboration that has been years in the making. One half, Andre Perry, formerly of San Francisco's Kuffs, shared an apparent mutual appreciation for the electronic rock aesthetics of Radiohead, with the other half, John Lindenbaum, as he puttered around in various formations of Rust Belt Music. Lindenbaum's taste eventually caught the ear of Perry, who joined Rust Belt Music in 2004. Today, the two have stripped down their synth leanings with acoustic guitar, piano, and keyboard. The result is a slow-motion, outer space excursion, this time to Mama Buzz. With Leyla Noel, Drew Danbury, & Aubrey Debauchery. Thursday, May 25. $3-$5. 6-9 p.m. MamaBuzzCafe.com (K.R.)

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