Critic's Choice for the week of February 28-March 6, 2007 

Indie festivals, metal wrestling matches, and Native American flute.

Pop, Pop, Pop music

Indie-rock fans: Prepare yourselves for an onslaught. This week kicks off the fifteenth installment of Noise Pop, the biggest (and getting bigger) music festival of the year that brings together the hottest noisemakers. And you've got to decide how to see it all and still make it to work the next day. Don't pass up the opportunities to see rare reunions (Sebadoh's original lineup, Roky Erickson and the Explosives), Los Angeles noise-popsters Autolux, and arty-punk magicians Clinic. The Dandy Warhols, Cake, and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists are already sold out, but you can still scrounge up $175 for a badge, which doesn't guarantee you entrance but gives a glimmer of hope. Schedule information at Complete guides and show coverage is online at our music blog, Ear Bud, at (Kathleen Richards)

Seminole Flute

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and Native American flutist Mary Youngblood became a groundbreaking artist when she recorded The Offering, the first album of Native flute music by a woman. Some Native Americans feel this is taboo even though women in the Cherokee Nation have been playing the instrument for centuries. Youngblood blends an impressive variety of styles into her music, including American folk, blues, jazz, Celtic, North African, and Native. Her all-woman, multicultural backing band, the Sisters of the Earth, supplies sympathetic support to her free-flowing excursions. Thursday, March 1 at the Freight & Salvage. 8 p.m., $18.50/$19.50 door. (j. poet)

Baroque at its Best

American Bach Soloists showcase two of their top soloists this week, violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock and virtuoso soprano Mary Wilson. Wilson essays J.S. Bach's delightful Wedding Cantata "Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten," Vivaldi's "Nulla in mundo pax sincera" ("In this world there is no honest peace") — aptly programmed for the Bush era, methinks — and Handel's moving Deutsche Arien. Blumenstock shines (as always) in J.S. Bach's Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord in E Major, and her own violin transcription of what started out as his Harpsichord Concerto in D Minor that allows us to hear what is believed to be its original form. Saturday, March 3 at Berkeley's First Congregational Church. 8 p.m., $38-$42. (Jason Victor Serinus)

Jack London Raw

Wrestling and metal tend to attract the same sort of beast, so it's not surprising that the regular events hosted by Respect the Business Wrestling and Savage Productions are attracting a sizable motley crew. "Oakland Assault" promises "pro wrestling mayhem" with headbanging rock provided by Concord metal band JBD. Video of a prior event shows dudes in B-horror-movie makeup with names like Youth Suicide, Carnage, and Suburban Commandos who jump-kick, clothesline, and pounce on each other in a choreographed, impressive show, then audience members moshing to some longhairs. At the Oakland Metro on Saturday, March 3. 8:30 p.m., $10, $12. (K.R.)

Scaling the Rock

San Francisco's Everest sounds like the kind of band musicians form to just have a good time. Ironically, it's these bands — which don't make any pretense of being original or trendy, and instead emulate their heroes — that can be the most rewarding. Songs from Everest's soon-to-be-released debut EP pay homage to Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, and the Cars: classic, American guitar-rock, hand-clap breakdowns, and sweet vocal harmonies. See the band with the Heavy Hearts and Sparrow's Gate on Sunday, March 4 at the Stork Club. 9 p.m., $5. (K.R.)

Phenomenal Roots

It takes real cojones to call your new album The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster, but this Texas singer-songwriter has more than enough in her musical arsenal to live up to this recording's title. Drawing from blues, gospel, and folk roots, Ruthie Foster combines a soulful singing style with equally formidable chops on guitar and electric piano that allow her to go from Son House field hollers and Sister Rosetta Tharpe nuggets to turning Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman" into a late-'60s Aretha Franklin outtake. Further cementing this organic and unforced immersion into American roots music are originals that are as moving as Foster's cover of Lucinda Williams' "Fruits of My Labor" and just as tailor-made for the intimate confines of Biscuit & Blues' all-new Down Beat Lounge. Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3. 11:30 p.m., free. (Dave Gil de Rubio)

World Guitar Eleven-Piece

There's a buzz about young Berkeley solo guitar stylist Sean Smith, but he enjoys collaborating with other local artists in unusual or, in this case, one-time-only groupings. Far from solo, Smith headlines with ten-member band Prompter of Conscience, playing variations on his guitar pieces with a mix of electric guitar and bass, violin, and lots of percussion, adding some Middle Eastern and Jamaican Nyabinghi strains. Improv trio Gogo Fightmaster precedes Smith's orchestra and a cappella vocal duo Omck opens. Friday, March 2 at the Starry Plough. 9 p.m., $6. (Larry Kelp)


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