Critic's Choice for the week of January 28-February 3, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


If you find most pop-punk lyrics too dull and unimaginative, try "He whipped my ass in tennis/So I fucked his ass in bed" on for size. Indeed, it could only be the Pansy Division, famed out-and-really-proud Green Day coconspirators with a new album, Total Entertainment!, and a plum gig at 924 Gilman Saturday night with the Groovie Ghoulies and other such fun-lovers. Leave yo' grandma -- and your puritan congressman -- at home. 510-525-9926. (Rob Harvilla)


Grammy Award-winning fiddler Mark O'Connor, famed for his Appalachian Journey collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma, joins the California Symphony Sunday and Tuesday nights in Walnut Creek's Dean Lesher Center for his sole Bay Area appearances this season. First, the boundary-crossing O'Connor performs his own The American Seasons for solo violin and string orchestra; then the symphony crosses the Atlantic with Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony No. 4. 925-943-7469. (Jason Victor Serinus)


Poet and teacher Avotcja leads her dream band, Modupue, in a Bay Area multicultural and multistylistic stew of poetry, spoken word, free jazz, and world music. They take listeners through wordscapes that weave in and out of the octet's instrumental improvisations by Asian-American jazz leaders (pianist Jon Jang, saxophonist Francis Wong), African talking drum virtuoso Baba Ken Okulolo (leader of such bands as Kotoja and Nigerian Brothers), kulintang (gongs) master Jimmy Biala, Native American flutist John-Carlos Perea, steel drummer Val Serrant, and violinist Sandy Poindexter. Together they create music that is at times funky or bebopping, but more often free-spirited and soaring. See it Friday night in the classy setting of San Francisco's Club Jazz Nouveau (in the Cannery). 415-921-2100. (Larry Kelp)


Saturday spotlights a special evening featuring the Ney Davood Ensemble performing Persian classical and folk music. The group, named after Persian traditional musician Morteza Neydavood, champions the music of one of the great figures of 20th-century Persian music (who also just happened to be Jewish). The Contra Costa-based ensemble, created by Tar School founder Ashkan Ghafouri, performs Saturday night in Berkeley's First Congregational Church. 510-888-2376. (J.V.S.)


After forty years of making music and raising hell, Country Joe McDonald needs no introduction to Bay Area audiences. His performance tonight is a benefit for four Berkeley nonprofits: Berkeley Homeless Union, Disabled People Outside Project, Ecumenical Chaplaincy for the Homeless, and Community Defense, Inc. Opener Carol Denney was named Best Solo Performer by Express readers in 2002 for her open-hearted songs of political and personal love. At the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. 510-548-1761. (j. poet)


"I don't think there's ever too much dance music," declares Indra, drummer for SF electro-rockin' trio Numbers. Dance to these folks at yer own risk: You'll recognize the demonic robotic grooves as electroclash fare, but these XLR8R darlings work hard to breathe a li'l life into Mr. Hipster Roboto. Say Domo Arigato Saturday night at Bottom of the Hill as the band releases its latest Tigerbeat platter, In My Mind All the Time. The Coachwhips and other luminaries open up. 415-621-4455. (R.H.)


Cascada de Flores is a talented trio comprising Arwen Lawrence de Castellanos (voice/guitar), Jorge Liceaga (guitar/tres), and Sabra Weber (flute/voice). Their collective experience playing classical and traditional Latin musics has given them an intimate but harmonically rich sound. Their latest album, Puente a la Mar (Bridge to the Sea), features songs from Cuba and Mexico. Experience this cascade of musical flowers Friday at the Freight & Salvage. 510-548-1761. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)


The Snake Trio, the acclaimed Bay Area Latin jazz group, has organized an amazing night of music featuring visiting Venezuelan flutists Elena Pinderhughes and Marco Granado. No doubt the collective energies of Donna Viscuso (flute), Jackeline Rago (cuatro), and Saul Sierra (bass) will propel this encounter -- also featuring guitar virtuoso Aquiles Baez -- to great musical heights this Friday night at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley. 510-849-2572. (J.C.V.)


Saturday's show at SF's DNA Lounge is like a mini-raptivist convention, a summit meeting of revolutionary-minded MCs, DJs, and social activists. Headliners the Coup are the most socially conscious group to come out of Oakland since the Black Panther Party. The duo's new album is still in the production process, but in the meantime, they have a dope new song out called "Drug Wars" on the No More Prisons 2 compilation. Radioactive is a vocal percussion specialist and one-man band who raps and beatboxes on his underrated debut album BMMNM Volume, and appeared on Spearhead's Everyone Deserves Music as well. Bronx-based South African native Immortal Technique has created a loud buzz around his hardcore lyricism -- he's been compared to a mix between Scarface and Chuck D -- which has injected a sense of urgency into NYC's sadly lackluster underground scene. KPFA's Davey D hosts, along with Mario Africa of AWOL magazine. Rounding out the bill are Youth Speaks poets, plus DJs Sake One, Kevvy Kev, J-Boogie, and Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist. Voter registration is one of the themes of the event, so if you ain't officially registered, you can sign up at the show and ensure your vote will be counted. Info: (Eric K. Arnold)


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