Critic's Choice for the week of November 24-30, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

BLUES

Jackie Green has been winning kudos for his excellent blues guitar playing, which includes elements of country, folk, and ragtime to complement his impressive songwriting and singing skills. Green's debut album Gone Wanderin' won last year's California Music Award for Best Roots/Blues album, but it's primarily his soulful live performances that serve to build his reputation. Saturday at SF's Great American Music Hall. $19, 9 p.m. 415-478-2277. MusicHallSF.com (j. poet)

INDIE-ROCK

Yes, "indie rock." A perfectly useless descriptor, alas. But it somehow fits Pinback all the same: military-precise, downcast, quirky, quietly tuneful smart-dudes-with-guitars symphonies that address such prescient modern topics as message boarding and strangling people. Pretty damn cool stuff. See it at Bimbo's 365 Club in SF Saturday (9 p.m.) and Sunday (8 p.m.) with the Album Leaf and the Advantage. $16. Bimbos365Club.com (Rob Harvilla)

SALSA

This Friday night at the Wild Card Bar & Grill (10 Hegenberger, near the Oakland Airport), a "Tropical Night" theme features live salsa dance music with the Franco Brothers y su Orquesta Actualidad and Orquesta La Verdad. The Franco Brothers are pillars of the Bay Area Latin music scene: Founded in 1972 by Carlitos Franco (bass and vocals) and his brother Bismarck (vocals), they play excellent salsa dura and Latin jazz. A bailar! $15. 510-433-7373. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

SINGER-SONGWRITER

With her Grant Street String Band, Laurie Lewis was one of the progenitors of California's progressive bluegrass movement. For the past few years Lewis and Tom Rozum, a longtime member of the Grant Street Band, have performed as a duo with a set that includes old-time music, bluegrass, folk, and original songs from their recent Guest House CD. Friday and Saturday at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. $17.50-$18.50, 8 p.m. 510-548-1761, TheFreight.org (j.p.)

HIP-HOP HOMECOMINGS

For the past few years, the Cali Comm Tour has faithfully delivered Golden State-bred indie hip-hop to the rest of the country -- showing those red states how we do it out here, feel me? Every year, the tour has concluded with a grand finale homecoming show at the venerable Fillmore Auditorium, where native disciples can welcome their conquering heroes in style. This year's lineup is hella tight, offering four acts with similar yet divergent styles. Everyone's favorite Funkyhomosapien, Del, headlines, and he's sure to have you gurpin' with his lyrical extravagances. Also on the bill are Haiku D'Etat, quite possibly the best jazz-inflected poet MCs ever to come out of South Central LA; East Bay representatives Zion-I (who need no introduction); and b-boy, MC, graffiti artist, and skater Bukue One. Show 'em some love tonight. $22.50. BGP.com (Eric K. Arnold)

CLASSICAL

The Berkeley Symphony Orchestra under Kent Nagano revisits the intimacy of UC's Hertz Hall this Tuesday night (as well as Wednesday, December 1) for a generous concert of five compositions. Venerable concertmaster Stuart Canin plays Bartók's Rhapsody No. 1 and conducts the BSO strings in Beethoven's Grosse Fuge, before pianist Mari Kodama performs Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1. Jumping to the present, David Wessel and the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies/CNMAT performance of Singularities is followed by the US premiere of Jörg Widmann's Chor für Orchester. $22-$49, student rush $10. 8 p.m., with a preconcert talk at 7. 510-841-2800 or BerkeleySymphony.org (Jason Victor Serinus)

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