Critic's Choice for the week of February, 26-March 4, 2003 

A Scorcher at the Starry Plough, Latin guitars over the hill, bluegrass duets in church, Brazilian bananas in SF, and mixed Americana at the Freight & Salvage.

AMERICANA

When it comes to Americana, C&W, and rockabilly, it don't mean a thang if it ain't got that twang. Jason Ringenberg, lead singer of Jason & the Scorchers, has got enough twang to hog-tie a Texas steer, tussle with a tumbleweed, and nurse a longneck -- all at the same time. His latest solo recording, All Over Creation, is a refreshingly honest return to his down-home roots. Even with clichéd song titles such as "One Less Heartache" and "James Dean's Car," Ringenberg manages to wring something new out of the genre, like the tongue-in-cheek "Honky-Tonk Maniac from Mars." Ringenberg plays Saturday at the Starry Plough (510-841-2082) with Dallas Wayne (in his final Bay Area performance), and the Real Sippin' Whiskeys. (Eric K. Arnold)

CLASSICAL

The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, whose winning Telarc disc L.A.G.Q. Latin received a Grammy nomination, joins the California Symphony on Sunday and Tuesday nights at the Dean Lesher Center in Walnut Creek to perform Rodrigo's Concierto Andaluz. Guest conductor George Cleve also directs Mozart's Symphony No. 34, Kodaly's Suite from Hary Janos, and Barber's Overture to The School for Scandal. (925-943-7469. (Jason Serinus)

BLUEGRASS, ETC.

Before the release of their CD Into the Cauldron, Oakland's leading mandolinist Mike Marshall (from the David Grisman Quintet to Psychograss) teams with next-generation bluegrass mandolin star Chris Thile (Nickel Creek) for an evening of duets. The pair mixes improvisations with breathtakingly beautiful melodies, while roaming through a world of musical styles from Bach to bebop to Brazil to bluegrass. Tuesday at Berkeley's St. John's Presbyterian Church. 510-548-1761. (Larry Kelp)

BRAZILIAN

"Let's Go Bananas" is the theme of this year's Bay Area Brazilian Carnaval Ball. Colonized Catholic countries have festivities leading up to Ash Wednesday, and for 34 years the Friends of Brazil Club has been hosting Carnaval bashes around Fat Tuesday, including this Saturday at the Galleria in SF. The Sensasamba Big Band and Dandara & Panela Baiana dazzle revelers "direct from Brazil." 415-334-0106. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

FOLK

Robin and Linda Williams combined folk, bluegrass, country blues, gospel, and roots music to create their own unique brand of Americana decades before the term was invented. Their sweet, pure mountain harmonies and subtle virtuosity give everything they perform, be it a hundred-year-old ballad or an original new tune, a deep compassionate sincerity. Sunday at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage. 510-548-1761. (j. poet)

JAZZ

Billy Cobham has done it all. A child prodigy on the drums, his first two gigs were in the bands of Horace Silver and Miles Davis. He founded the jazz-fusion band Dreams with the Brecker Brothers, played world music with John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu, and rocked out with the Grateful Dead and Jack Bruce. His current band features pianist Julian Joseph, sax man Donald Harrison, bassist Bob Hurst, and trumpeter Guy Barker. Tuesday through Sunday at Yoshi's. 510-238-9200. (j. poet )

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