Critic's Choice for the week of July 17-23, 2002 

A riot grrrl on Mars, quality metal, true punk, a passionate pianist, and righteous gospel.


The Riot Grrrl on Mars returns to spaceship Earth, thanks to a revival by the Berkeley Opera of David Scott Marley's hilarious English language adaptation of Rossini's The Italian Girl in Algiers. Spaceships, punk musicians, UFOs, and TV sitcoms take center stage in this production (a 1997 sell-out), which opens Friday night at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts for a must-see nine-performance run. 925-798-1300. (Jason Serinus)


Relapse Records is the new home of High on Fire, as well as a handful of great metal bands. Is the label taking the stoner torch that Frank Kozik burned out and carrying it into the depths of Mordor? Sure, that works. Anyway, the Nile is another band on the roster; the lyrics are wholly unintelligible yet actually say something underneath the assault. All the songs are about ancient Egypt, instead of Druids, walking corpses, or shaving one's eyeballs. It's quite a gimmick -- and fortunately is backed up by some good music. The band plays Pound-SF on Friday with such other sunshine peddlers as Arch Enemy, Hate Eternal, Origin, and Spiritual Eclipse. 415-826-9202. (Katy St. Clair)

Describing its music as "horror skate-rock," Pitch Black isn't far from the mark. It's a street punk sound with goodly bridges and powerful vocals. Apparently there's a keyboard in there, but you won't hear it. The band is having its record release party on Friday at 924 Gilman. Also performing are Tear It Up, Down in Flames, Against Me, Flya, and the Fusty Lugs. 510-525-9926. (K.S.)


Faye Carol has a new self-produced CD titled The Dynamic Miss Faye Carol on which she delves into the jazz side of her extensive repertoire, including numbers by Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, and Lionel Hampton. "Dynamic" may sound boastful, but the Mississippi-born, Berkeley-based vocalist is that and much more, and she promises to prove it when she performs Saturday at Rassella's on Fillmore Street. 415-346-8696. (Lee Hildebrand)

Since two members moved to New England, concerts by the instrumentally sublime Tin Hat Trio have become annual events. Accordionist Rob Burger, guitarist Mark Orton, and violinist Carla Kihlstedt reunite Tuesday at Freight & Salvage for an evening of original acoustic-chamber-jazz-Balkan-classical-tango-and-beyond music. With fans including Tom Waits (who guested on Helium, the trio's second CD), these are Hats with boho cred and inspired interplay. 510-548-15761. (Larry Kelp)

This Side Up, the current Maxijazz CD by Jessica Williams, finds the Baltimore-born pianist moving away from the Monk influence that long marked her music, which remains full of passion, humor, and daring, her dazzling technique still leavened by a judicious use of space. The former Bay Area resident returns to town to perform Tuesday and next Wednesday at Yoshi's. 510-238-9200. (L.H.)


America's Singers Association USA, an organization of old-time African-American gospel quartet singers, is holding its national convention Wednesday through Sunday at the East Oakland Faith Deliverance Center. Sunday evening's concert features, among others, the Windy City Spiritualayres, the Chosen Sons of God, former Slim and the Supreme Angels member Greg Kelly, and the legendary Roscoe Robinson. One of the most awesome squallers in the annals of both gospel and R&B, the leather-lunged Birmingham vocalist is noted for his work with the Southern Sons and the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, as well as for "That's Enough" and other '60s soul recordings. 209-470-3995. (L.H.)


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