Kaki's Knack 

Shake and finger pop

7/20, 7/21

In the fall of 2002, Kaki King was a struggling musician, playing her Ovation Adamas guitar in New York subway stations. Flash-forward eighteen months and the twentysomething NYU grad was suddenly a finger-style guitar phenomenon, opening for fellow fretmasters such as Charlie Hunter, Keb' Mo', and Keller Williams. Her career took off when Velour picked up her self-produced solo album with the prophetic title Everybody Loves You, an impressive debut with ten original pieces showcasing her intricate, percussive work. The diminutive musician followed up last year with her major-label debut, Legs to Make Us Longer, on Sony/BMG's Red Ink label, turning her into the acoustic guitar scene's fresh new face. She opens a two-night stand at Freight & Salvage tonight (Wednesday, 8 p.m.). Favoring low tunings that accentuate her Ovation's beautiful, resonant bass tones, King has developed a hybrid style that incorporates two-handed tapping, plucking, string rubbing, and slapping her guitar's rounded back. "I am keeping a sort of backbeat on some tunes, a snare drum kind of feel, but jazz guys have been doing that forever," she says. Perhaps more impressive than her tremendous chops is her knack for crafting coherent, melodically rich tunes that evoke a wide range of emotional spaces. From the jaunty, surreal "Happy as a Dead Pig in Sunshine" to the sublime hushed notes of the lullaby-like "Night After Sidewalk," King has developed a repertoire that has won her a following far broader than the usual acoustic guitar aficionados, including David Byrne, Robert Randolph, and Marianne Faithfull. "The first time I saw her play she scared the audience to death," David Lindley says. "Jaws dropped. She's a really fearless player."

Though King played in one high school rock band as a lead guitarist and vocalist, she didn't like being at the front of the bandstand. Instead she took to playing bass and drums, and turned her guitar work into a solo endeavor. Listening to the way she coaxes an array of thumps and pops out of her guitar's body, it's not surprising to learn about her trap set background. "I've always felt a groove behind most of the tracks I do," she says. 1111 Addison St., Berkeley, $19.50. TheFreight.org or 510-548-1761. – Andrew Gilbert

7/25-8/5

In Touch

Beyond Pretty

The partial loss of her eyesight changed Jo Jackson's life, including her attitude toward her art. Says Jackson, "I used to paint large, colorful canvases." But after losing part of her vision she became more spiritual, and her work took on a mixed-media, tactile feeling, with such materials as tea leaves and house latex paint on blocks of wood. "Aesthetically, they're not pretty," she admits, but her new show, Praying with My Fingers -- July 25-August 5 at John F. Kennedy University's Art and Consciousness Gallery (2956 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-649-0499), makes its point metaphorically. "I started asking questions," Jackson explains. "I found writings about medieval women. They moved inward." Reception Saturday, 6 p.m. -- Kelly Vance

SAT 7/23

Ta-Tas, Not Terror

During the 1991 Gulf War, Debbie Moore bared her breasts and carried a sign reading "Tits not targets." Since then, she says, "My belief that our bodies are a part of our free speech has only grown." Over the years, Moore and her politically involved cohorts in the X-plicit Players have participated in more than 250 "nude street rituals," and this Saturday, they'll be joined by a contingent from Mendocino for the Breasts Not Bombs topless antiwar parade -- which starts at Bezerkeley's People's Park at noon. Call it the charge of the mammary brigade. Or: A Farewell to Bras. For more information, call 510-848-1985. -- Eric K. Arnold

MON 7/25

Amadeus and Addiction

Sex, drugs, and ... classical music?!!?? Yes, you heard correctly. Little did we know, but the world of classical music isn't as staid or glamorous as one might assume, according to Blair Tindall. Her new book, Mozart in the Jungle, is both an autobiography and an insightful peek into the lives of the people in the orchestra pit. Bravely, the oboist-turned-author reveals just what's under the classical scene's powdered wig: heartache, drug addiction, depression, substandard pay, and an uncertain future. Tindall reads from her tome at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Cody's Books on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. Visit CodysBooks.com for more info. -- Eric K. Arnold

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