Critic's Choice for the week of February 25-March 2, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


Oakland has a rich blues tradition, but it was news to me that guitarist Alvin Youngblood Hart is a native. Hart plays his own kind of blues, mixing deft fingerpicking Delta with dirty funk, saucy zydeco, and anything else he pleases. It's a bit like his hometown -- beauty in diversity. Hart's homecoming happens Friday night at the Freight and Salvage. $16.50-$17.50, 7:30 p.m. doors. (510) 458-1761. (Michael Gowan)


Long time Bay Area resident Mark Hummel is one of the country's premier blues harpists, not to mention a fine singer and songwriter. With his longtime band the Blues Survivors, Hummel lays down a solid, swinging West Coast groove tailored to help you lose your blues. Saturday at the Ivy Room in Albany. $7, bar time. 510-524-9220. (j. poet)


Longtime friends who've inspired each other's creativity since they lived in Turin twenty years back, solo guitar instrumentalists Duck Baker and Peppino D'Agostino reunite Thursday night at the Freight & Salvage. They are simply the best at what they do, and in addition to solo sets, they've planned a series of duets, a rare event because Virginia-born, former East Bay resident (and occasional Express contributor) Baker now lives in Europe, and Italian D'Agostino now lives in the Bay Area. Each has developed a unique approach to the guitar, one highly influential on other players -- where D'Agostino combines a European and American folk sense with technical finesse and breezy melodies, Baker digs into the soul, from Appalachian old-timey tunes to Herbie Nichols' post-bop piano studies. $15.50-$16.50, 7:30 p.m. doors. 510-548-1761. (Larry Kelp)


In the '80s the Scarab on San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley was a club with a potent funk-jazz scene happening. One of the chemists in that lab was Peter Fugi, a badass Berkeley guitar player who went on to work with Quincy Jones, Pharoah Sanders, Hank Crawford, and Ronnie Laws. Fuji is blessed with a clear, round tone and a cutting-edge improvisational guitar style; this Saturday he makes a rare appearance at the Jazzschool in Berkeley with his new band Victims of the Groove, featuring Larry Schneider (sax), Joel Smith (bass), and Deszon Claiborne (traps). $10-$15. 8 p.m. 510-845-5373. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)


Assuming you can't part with $125 for a Noise Pop all-festival pass, you're going to have to make some hard decisions on where to spend your indie rock allowance this week. San Franciscan David Dondero is worth every dime. His frenetic energy and witty lyrics counter his guitar and drums setup for a evening of worthwhile lo-fi musical exploration. He's at the Swedish American Hall (above Cafe du Nord) Friday night with Rilo Kiley, Willy Mason, and Nedelle & Tom. 7:30 p.m., $15 for this show alone. 415-861-5016. (M.G.)


Stacey Earle is Steve Earle's younger sister. Mark Stewart is her husband and musical coconspirator. Together they play a bright, bouncy blend of folk, Americana, and old-time country guaranteed to put a silly smile on your face. Both are excellent guitarists and singers with original tunes that range from poignant to ebullient. Sunday at the Freight & Salvage. $15.50-$16.50. Doors 7:30 p.m. 510-548-1761. (j.p.)


James Marshall Hendricks was the best that ever was. You probably know him as Jimi Hendrix, the avatar of acid rock, whose "strange, beautiful" guitar technique lost you in "Crosstown Traffic," only to find yourself in a "Purple Haze" with lysergic beads of sweat dripping from your brow. Hendrix has long since checked into a room on the penthouse suite of the astral plane, but his legacy lives on and on. Rejoice in Jimi's legend and witness his seminal influence on everyone that ever picked up a Strat after him Thursday at the Warfield, when the Experience Hendrix tour hits the Bay. Bluesman Buddy Guy is scheduled to perform acoustic and electric sets, plus special guests Mitch Mitchell & Billy Cox (of the Jimi Hendrix Experience/Band of Gypsys), Paul Rodgers (Bad Company), Joe Satriani, Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains), Double Trouble (Stevie Ray Vaughan), Sheldon Reynolds (Earth, Wind & Fire), and others will make this one flashback you won't want to miss. Remember, stay away from the brown acid. $32.50-$39.50. 8 p.m. 415-775-7722 or (Eric K. Arnold)


American Bach Soloists return to the music they do best -- performing J.S. Bach's lesser-heard 1725 setting of his St. John's Passion -- Saturday night in Berkeley's First Congregational Church. Music director Jeffrey Thomas makes a rare vocal appearance as the Evangelist, joined by Ellen Hargis, Judith Malafronte, William Sharp, James Weaver, and the excellent ABS Choir and Orchestra. $40, 8 p.m. 415-621-7900 or (Jason Victor Serinus)


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