Dread Patrol 

Mikey Dread is at the controls

SAT 12/20

"If you say you a selector, you a fe have good selection ... if you say you a de special, I want to know your potential," Michael "Mikey Dread" Campbell toasted on the Clash's "Living in Fame" all the way back in 1980 on the album Sandinista! That song, along with his earlier cameo on a dub version of "Bankrobber" from the Clash's Black Market Clash EP, established the Jamaican radio DJ -- known for his show Dread at the Controls -- as an international star. And, as Dread said, when you're living in fame, you have to live up to your name.He did just that during the '80s and '90s, releasing several albums which were very well received by the reggae community. These include SWALK, African Anthem, Pave the Way, Evolutionary Rockers, and World War III. Among Dread's many hits are classic songs such as "Step by Step," "Break Down the Walls," "Jumping Master," and "Warrior Stylee." In addition to collaborating with the Clash (which solidified the punk-reggae connection) as well as with Singers & Players and Lee "Scratch" Perry, Dread also embraced hip-hop and reggae with a song on the Funky Reggae Crew compilation, as well as producing artists such as Rod Taylor, Edi Fitzroy, Junior Murvin, and Sugar Minott on his own DATC label.

After a long period away from active recording (although he has issued several dub full-lengths), Dread has a brand-new album out, Rasta in Control, available online from MikeyDread.com. Although no longer a young Rasta lion, he's still a potent reggae ambassador in a live setting, as he proved earlier this year at the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. His masterful combination of lover's rock, roots, and dancehall styles, not to mention his engaging personality, make him a highly charismatic performer. This Saturday night, in the intimate environment of Ashkenaz, backed by the DATC band, this reggae heavyweight is sure to deliver a powerhouse show you won't want to miss -- no matter if you're a natty dread or a baldhead. Tickets are $16 up-front or $18 at the door. Information: Ashkenaz.com or 510-525-5054. -- Eric K. Arnold

SAT 12/20

Their Thai

Phak them

You just never, ever know what the Mono Pause is going to do next -- perform wrapped in plastic tarps, tune for an entire set, pretend to be a proselytizing Christian rock band, whatever. The latest trick in the band's bag, Neung Phak (a literal Thai translation of "Mono Pause"), blends traditional, roots, and pop music from all over Southeast Asia into a bewitching stew of originals and interpretations. They call it "Thai-Issan-Cambodian/Khmer-Vietnamese-Taiwanese- West Oaklandese," and it's a perfect example of what can happen when a talented band does its homework with care. The band's debut full-length on Abduction Records features vocals by Diana Hayes and Joi Po Dee and a little help from Alan Bishop of the Sun City Girls, and prompted one insightful acquaintance to comment, "It sounds like Stereolab doing Asian music. And that's enough for me." Is it enough for you?

Neung Phak plays at the Ivy Room (858 San Pablo Ave., Albany) with Condor, performing two identical sets, one at 8 p.m. and another at 11 p.m., to make sure everyone gets their Phakin' fill. Call 510-524-9220 for cover price and venue details, or visit IvyRoom.com -- Stefanie Kalem

12/17-12/19

Huge, High and Beautiful

If you hurry, you can still see some of the most amazing -- and largest -- prints of aerial photography in the world at the Bay Street complex in Emeryville. The nine-foot photo murals of sky-high views of San Francisco, Yosemite, Mexico, New York, and Paris are the work of Robert Cameron, whose Above series of photo books has delighted travelers who are amazed to see Cameron's new angles on familiar locations. The photographer is now 92 years old, but he still snaps his overhead shots from helicopters -- albeit now with a digital camera -- after sixteen volumes of the Above books. The jumbo-format show is sponsored by the Pacific Center for the Photographic Arts (PCPA) at 5603 Bay St. (second floor, across from Barnes & Noble). In 2004, the center will move to a new permanent space, also in Emeryville. Cameron's giant aerial views are on display at Bay Street until December 19. -- Kelly Vance

SAT 12/20

Sweet Bart

Indie rock illumination in Oakland

What do you think of when you hear the name "Bart"? The Simpsons? That cursed train that strands you drunk at midnight? Or the supple sounds of Bart Davenport , the East Bay's own Brit-loving, indie-pop troubadour prince? If you chose the latter, you're in luck. The former Loved Ones leader will be playing solo and acoustic tonight, and a cadre of his peers will help light up the Oakland Metro specifically for your head-bobbing pleasure. Some of the folks on the bill tonight contributed to the starry lilt of Davenport's most recent CD, Game Preserve (Antenna Farm), namely Dave Gleason and the sweetheart act Thom & Nedelle, both of whose 2003 albums (Thom with the Moore Brothers, Nedelle on her own) made it onto our Best of 2003 locals list. Also in the lineup, which starts at 9:30 p.m., are Snowpark and Sam Keener, all doing their part to contribute to a mellow, festive air. Tickets to this 21-and-up show cost $7, and the Metro is located at 201 Broadway, in the shadow of Jack London Square. Call 510-763-1146 for venue details. -- Stefanie Kalem

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