Critic's Choice for the week of January 26-February 1, 2005 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

ARTICLE DONS

In the mid-'90s, Jamaican singer Everton Blender emerged as one of the leading lights of the roots revivalist movement, keeping the tradition of singers like Dennis Brown and Bob Marley (both of whom he has covered) alive in an era increasingly saturated with hi-tech dancehall riddims and newfangled reggae rappers. "Ghetto People Song" is probably his most recognizable hit, but his career includes a couple of absolutely classic albums done with the Star Trail crew as well as some still-decent later material. He'll be blending it up at the Shattuck Down Low on Saturday, backed by the Reggae Angels band. $18 at the door. ShattuckDownLow.com (Eric K. Arnold)

SINGER-SONGWRITER

Bart Davenport is on a mission from God to make sonically evoking James Taylor cool again, and it's going to work, because Bart's new disc Maroon Cocoon is an excellent dude-with-guitar trip that moves from Brazilian funk to, uh, white funk with disturbing ease. The East Bay titan hits SF's Bottom of the Hill Saturday night with Hard Place, Jan Norberg, and DJ Kitty. 9 p.m., $8. BottomoftheHill.com (Rob Harvilla)

S-S-S-S-SCRATCHING

Saturday's History of Scratch show at SF's DNA offers one of the best hip-hop DJ lineups since -- I don't know -- ever. No seriously, it's an unfuckwittable bill, what with Bay Area legend and original Invisibl Skratch Pickl Q-Bert (inventor of the "crab" scratch), Philly neo-soul man and one-time Will Smith sidekick Jazzy Jeff (inventor of the "transformer" scratch), the rarely seen DJ Flare (inventor of the "flare" scratch), and Bronx b-boy and member of the L Brothers crew Grand Wizard Theodore (the inventor of the scratch itself). While attendees can expect a fair amount of Technics techniques, Jazzy Jeff is known worldwide as one of the best party-rocking DJs ever, so there should be very little standing around oohing and aahing over beat-juggles, which leaves more time for uprocks, toprocks, and headspins to classic breakbeats. Also on the bill are DJ Jumi and, in the upstairs lounge, Ivry, Cutmaster Mason, and MC Uptown. Advance tickets are $20 at DNAlounge.com. (E.K.A.)

ALT.COUNTRY

Texas-born, South Carolina-raised singer Tift Merritt has a powerful, down-to-earth style that results in songs blending blues, country, Southern folk, and R&B while avoiding the clichés common to most of today's country products. "Superstar" alt.country trio Tres Chicas -- Caitlin Cary, Lynn Blakey, and Tonya Lamm -- open the bill Saturday at Slim's in SF. $13, 9 p.m. 415-255-0333 or Slims-SF.com (j. poet)

CLASSICAL

The Berkeley Symphony Orchestra continues its promise to open new musical vistas. Under associate conductor George Thomson, tonight's Zellerbach Hall program features the West Coast premiere of Charles Wuorinen's Symphony Seven, in addition to rarely heard works by Heitor Villa-Lobos and Carlos Chàvez. For those fearful of unknown vistas, fourteen-year-old Nigel Armstrong soars to familiar heights with Mendelssohn's unforgettable Violin Concerto in E Minor. $22-$49 with $10 student rush, 8 p.m. 510-841-2800. (Jason Victor Serinus)

AMERICANA

Former Blaster and Americana hero Dave Alvin blows into SF's Great American Music Hall Saturday night to support Ashgrove, a musical celebration of the Los Angeles club that gave many of today's brightest singer-songwriters and folkies their first shot at stardom. Los Straitjackets, LA's infamous masked surf band, open. $18, 9 p.m. 415-885-0750 or MusicHallSF.com (j. poet)

LATIN BENEFITS

The tsunami in Asia devastated the lives of millions, resulting in an unprecedented outpouring of support via numerous Bay Area benefits. Here's another one: Bassist Mike Madrigal has organized a who's who of Latin musicians to lend a hand with a benefit music marathon this Sunday at San Francisco's Cafe Cocomo (650 Indiana St.). "Bay Area Rumberos Unite to Aid Tsunami Orphans of Sri Lanka" brings together John Santos, Orquesta Borinquen, Fito Reinoso, Mazacote, Anthony Blea, Candela, Los Compas, and Orquesta America. $10, 6 p.m. 650-361-8128. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

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