Critic's Choice for the week of January 12-18, 2005 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


The pantheon of Brooklyn MCs in rap music is long and storied, from MC Shan to Nas to Biggie Smalls to Mos Def and Talib Kweli. Special Ed carved out a special place in that esteemed group at the tender age of sixteen with the classic 1989 album Youngest in Charge and the singles "Taxin'" and "I Got It Made." Ed's second album, 1990's Legal, notched the ska-flavored hit "I'm the Magnificent" and the spy/kung-fu-flick-inspired "On a Mission," while '95's somewhat-slept-on Revelations featured a wicked combination-style duet with then-rising dancehall star Bounty Killer. After delving into acting and producing, Ed is back on the mic where he belongs and back in the spotlight, making quite possibly his first-ever appearances in the bay this weekend. Thursday night, he'll bum-rush Blake's (after an in-store at Berkeley's B-Side Records) along with Coolie High, Cait-La-Dee, DJ Solarz, and DJ Koo-C; Friday, you can catch his in-store at SF's Amoeba, or his late-night set at the Elbo Room along with DJ Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist. Info: (Eric K. Arnold)


East Bay guitarist John Schott has made a career of digging deep in ways few others have thought of, from combining three guitars and drums in T.J. Kirk (featuring Charlie Hunter and Will Bernard), to Jewish music for John Zorn's Tzadik label, to his new sort-of all-star Dream Kitchen. This time, he takes America's rootsiest '20s jazz, blues, and country, enlightening them with today's insights. Thursday's Dream Kitchen concert at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage finds Schott teaming with Cajun-country-blues fiddler-singer Suzy Thompson, tuba and bass trombone player Marc Bolin, and early-jazz revivalist and KCSM-FM programmer Richard Hadlock. $16.50-$17.50. 8 p.m. 510-548-1761 or (Larry Kelp)


Texas-born, Los Angeles-based conguero Poncho Sanchez has been a leader of the Left Coast Latin Jazz scene for close to twenty years. Sanchez is one of the most versatile bandleaders in the genre, with a supercharged group that lays down a danceable blend of progressive Latin jazz and funky Latinized versions of soul and R&B hits. Catch him Wednesday through Sunday at Yoshi's, 8 to 10 p.m. each night except Sunday, when the early show is replaced by a 2 p.m. matinee. $20-$24. 510-238-9200 or (j.poet)


Youth Movement Records is at it again. The East Bay's youth-run, youth-operated label -- all participants are aged thirteen to eighteen-- follows last year's compilation The Movement with The Movement Continues. The sequel's all-original production and diverse content are tighter than what you might expect from such young talent, and the lyrics are fathoms deeper than typical teen pop to boot. Check out Young Gully (whose track "Go Dumb" is just as anthemic as the better-known Federation song with the same title), Spanglish duo Panama & Rico, reggae-rappers J-Million & Trinidad, star-in-the-making KAMILyn, turf poet AK, and flow-dacious female MC Imerald Bay. They'll be performing their soon-to-be hits Friday night at iMusicast, along with other members of the YMR stable, DJ Treat U Nice, Jennifer Johns, Ise Lyfe, and other special guests. Borrowing a marketing technique from Prince, the $8 admission also scores you a CD, so you can "Go Dumb" anytime you damn well please. 8 p.m. 510-435-5112,, or (E.K.A.)


For those actively seeking to deify a Bay Area label for the Cosby Sweater and Horn-Rim Glasses set, the Turn Records roster gets more ridiculously great by the hour. Thursday night at SF's Cafe du Nord, all the home-run-hitters come bounding out: Track Star, Dealership (request "Anarchy in the UK"), the Dying Californian, Doctor Nurse, and a solo acoustic performance by Jaime Stewart, steward of the fascinatingly polarizing Xiu Xiu. $8, 8 p.m. (Rob Harvilla)


Pianist Richard Goode plays Mozart as though Wolfgang's strings of notes floated on water and Bach as though the deepest resources and greatest joys of the master were channeled through him. This Sunday in Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall, the great pianist offers us a Haydn, a Mozart, two Beethoven sonatas, and a Debussy. $32-$56, 3 p.m. 510-642-9988. (Jason Victor Serinus)


California Symphony brings the colors of the world to Walnut Creek's Dean Lesher Center this week. On Sunday and Tuesday, maestro Barry Jekowsky presents James DeMars' Two World Concerto, a work blending Native American and Western musical cultures in the persona of R. Carlos Nakai, a Grammy-nominated Native American cedar flutist for whom DeMars wrote the work. Jumping a continent, the concert concludes with Mussorgsky's ever-popular Pictures at an Exhibition, as orchestrated by Maurice Ravel. $37-$57. Sunday 4 p.m., Tuesday at 8 p.m. 925-943-SHOW. (J.V.S.)


If Hollywood had any cheek, it would've tapped the Decemberists for the soundtrack to that Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events multiplex juggernaut -- their slightly sinister, erudite, and wryly humorous music would've been a perfect complement to the movie's dark humor. Oh well. Head Decemberist Colin Meloy will be performing stripped-down versions of the band's catalogue on his first solo tour Sunday at SF's Cafe Du Nord. $12, 8 p.m. 415-861-5016 or (j. poet)


We all get by with a little help from our friends sometimes. That's what's happening on Thursday night at Emeryville's Kimball's East, when a Who's Who of Bay Area musicians gather in a benefit for poet-musician-radio host Avotcja (pronounced Avacha). The list includes Denise Perrier, Gwen Avery, Jon Jang, and Marcus Shelby, to name a few. To get a sense of her artistic depth, check out, which also includes information about her 2004 Live At Yoshi's CD. $10-$20 (sliding scale). 510-658-2555. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)


The Vukani Mawethu choir knows a little bit about dreams of freedom -- formed in 1986 for an anti-apartheid concert, it performed in front of Nelson Mandela at the Oakland Coliseum in 1990, and toured South Africa in 1997, not long after that country's independence. The group has recently released its first album, Ukuthela, which teems with joyful noises somewhat reminiscent of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. On Sunday at Ashkenaz, the VMC will honor the memory of America's greatest freedom fighter, Dr. Martin Luther King, with a collection of songs sung in Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa, and English, which should inspire everyone in attendance to lift ev'ry voice and sing along. $10, 8 p.m. 510-525-5099 or (E.K.A.)


If you haven't seen Mark Eitzel, esteemed American Music Club frontman, play his brutally beautiful acoustic guitar torch songs solo, you need to knock off whatever bullshit thing you're doing right now and stand outside SF's 12 Galaxies until it opens for Wednesday night's gala Tsunami Relief benefit. Oh yeah, Jolie Holland, Sonny Smith, Jeffrey Luck Lucas, Loquat, the Herms, Dave Gleason, Mike Therieau and Pat Johnson, the Bellyachers, Tom Heyman, Bart Davenport, and probably a buncha others will be there too. This show is rad both artistically and spiritually. Off with ya. $10-$55 sliding scale. (Rob Harvilla)

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