Critic's Choice for the week of July 24-30, 2002 

Girls kick butt in the city, a Hammond master plays Yoshi's, jazz greats gather in Concord, and a feminist opera runs in Oakland.

ROCK

There's so much going on for Ladyfest that we'll just pass you to www.ladyfestbayarea.org to see the schedules, but suffice it to say that the Wednesday-Sunday San Francisco shindig features writers, artists, speakers, and, of course, bands like the Donnas, Bratmobile, and the All-Girl Summer Fun Band. (Katy St. Clair)

Something super-fun is planned for this Sunday at the Ivy Room. It's a Dance-A-Thon to raise cash for the Rockridge Library's teen advisory. Such local artists as Drunk Horse, Persephone's Bees, the Moore Brothers, and Bart Davenport will be on hand, with each performing a version of "Everybody Dance Now" by C&C Music Factory. God help us all. Harold Ray Live in Concert will also appear. God help us all. DJ Kitty will spin and MC Rocky will "rap." Everyone gets a number for the contest, and prizes will be handed out for stamina, best outfit, good attitude, and cheating. The fun starts at 6 p.m. 510-524-9220. (K.S.)

JAZZ

Joey DeFrancesco, bad boy of the Hammond B-3, begins a four-night run at Yoshi's on Thursday, hot on the heels of a new Concord Jazz album titled Ballads and Blues. He's joined by longtime drummer Byron Landham and new guitarist Craig Ebner. 510-238-9200. (Lee Hildebrand)

Concord Jazz Records may have moved to Beverly Hills earlier this year, but the festival out of which it evolved lives on in the city of its birth. This weekend's 34th annual Fujitsu Concord Jazz Festival at the Chronicle Pavilion features several current and former Concord artists. Labelmates Nnenna Freelon and Curtis Stigers perform in a vocal summit on Friday, in which onetime Concord artist Ernestine Anderson and non-Concord singer Jane Monheit also take part. Saturday's accent is on Latin jazz, with a powerful roster boasting trumpeter-pianist Arturo Sandoval, piano great Eddie Palmieri (now with Concord Picante), Bay Area percussion master John Santos, and a band co-led by Mario Grillo, Tito Rodriguez Jr., and Tito Puente Jr., sons of three late mambo kings. 510-625-8497. (L.H.)

Woody Allen made a logical choice when he picked Howard Alden -- heir to a rich tradition of swing guitar virtuosity associated with George Van Eps, Carl Kress, and Bucky Pizzarelli -- to dub the parts for Sean Penn in Sweet and Lowdown. The New York-based musician (a longtime Concord Jazz artist) makes a rare Bay Area appearance Sunday at Enrico's on Broadway in San Francisco. 415-982-6223. (L.H.)

MALIAN

Launched in the 1950s, the Super Rail Band mixes indigenous folk strains of its Malian home with Afro-Cuban dance rhythms and American rock guitars and drums to produce one of the most influential and infectious sounds in world music. Last year's American tour brought unanimous rave reviews and an overflow crowd to Ashkenaz, where, led by charismatic singer-guitarist Djelimady Tounkara, the octet returns on Thursday. 510-525-5054. (Larry Kelp)

OPERA

Composer, arranger, pianist, and teacher Mary Watkins brings a work-in-progress production of Queen Clara, her feminist opera about American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, to the Oakland Metro for three performances starting Thursday. Conducted by Susan Swerdlow, with a libretto by Lance Belville, the opera focuses on Barton's pioneering professional achievements and her tantalizing love affairs. 510-763-1146. (Jason Serinus)

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