Critic's Choice for the week of June 11-17, 2003 

"Transferred" jazz, Native Tongue hip-hop, pop with balls, Country Joe, and more.


During her years with the Manhattan Transfer, Janis Siegel demonstrated an uncommon vocal versatility, shifting with aplomb from spunky street-corner doo-wop to smoky saloon torch songs to softly swaying bossa novas, winning nine Grammys along the way. In her current incarnation, she's bringing a '70s jazz/funk feel to standards including Erroll Garner's "Misty" and the Everlys' "Let It Be Me." Thursday through Monday at Yoshi's in Jack London Square, Oakland. 510-238-9200. (j. poet)


The Jungle Brothers -- MCs Afrika and Mike G, with Sammy B on the cut -- will always be remembered for helping to found the Native Tongue posse, an Afrocentric hip-hop collective who presided over the halcyon era called "new school" hip-hop in the late '80s. Along with their fellow Native Tongues (A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, Monie Love, De La Soul, and Black Sheep), the JBs positioned themselves as rightful heirs to the old-school pioneers, honoring hip-hop's traditions while stretching its artistic reach. Since their early-'90s peak, they've stuck around, dropping an album every few years and finding a new audience in the UK drum 'n' bass scene. JBs live shows, however, continue to be the stuff fables are made of. Friday's Great American Music Hall show with openers Black Sheep promises an inspired evening of primal hip-hop energy. 415-885-0750. (Eric K. Arnold)


Belle and Sebastian with balls. Tough to do the Mink Lungs justice in one phrase, but there it is -- these Brooklyn cats play subversive, noisy, delightfully crass ("You make me come like a gorilla") pop balanced perfectly between coy and cathartic. Four members, four singer/songwriters, tons of messed-up urban ennui for everyone. Request "Dishes." Tuesday at SF's Bottom of the Hill. 415-621-4455. (Rob Harvilla)


He's young. He's adorable. His flexible, lyric tenor emits effortless high Cs. And he continually earns accolades for his recordings and performances. No opera lover should resist tonight's debut recital in Berkeley's Hertz Hall by Rossini/bel canto specialist Juan Diego Florez. Accompanied by the ubiquitous Martin Katz, Florez performs Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Mozart, Gluck, and traditional Peruvian songs. 510-642-9988. (Jason Victor Serinus)


Country Joe McDonald has been an antiwar and veteran's rights activist -- and a psychedelic guitar hero -- longer than many Express readers have been alive. In fact, Country Joe and the Fish were the "house band" for the Bay Area's anti-Vietnam War demonstrations. Joe launched a solo career in the early '70s that now includes some thirty albums, and the years have not dimmed his passion or humor. Sunday at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. 510-548-1761. (j.p.)


Hip-hop and education meet on Shine Vol. 2, the second installment in an ongoing project created by the students of Albany's Chipman Middle School, under the direction of teacher and turntablist David Madulli and Japanese MC ShingO2. The CD features original beats, rhymes, spoken-word poetry, and singing from the likes of Lil Ant, Chelsea Keck, 3 of a Kind, Eddie Garrett, and the AckRightKids -- all of whom will be performing tonight at the Black Box. It all goes to show that even with the ongoing administrative crisis in public schools, the kids are alright. 510-451-1932. (E.A.)


Robert Calvin Bland was born 73 years ago in rural Tennessee. After moving to Memphis and changing his name to Bobby "Blue" Bland , he became a fixture in the Beale Street scene, hanging out with now-legendary artists like Johnny Ace and B.B. King. Bland first cracked the US R&B Top Ten back in 1957 and went on to hit the charts sixty more times in a storied career that includes a Lifetime Achievement Grammy and induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. He's been a favorite of blues and R&B fans for quite some time now -- check your parents' and grandparents' record collections if you don't believe us -- and is also remembered for the urban soul/blues sound he pioneered in the '70s. Bland was recently introduced to the hip-hop generation through Jay-Z's sampling of the classic "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)," proving that the blues are timeless. He'll bring his troubles and his guitar to Kimball's East (510-658-2555) this weekend, for a four-set run Friday and Saturday. (E.A.)


Jackie Greene , a 21-year-old Sacto resident, suffers from an identity crisis. Wearing his blues hat, his incendiary guitar licks light up a stage like a young Stevie Ray Vaughan. But he's also a Dylan-like folkie, strumming an acoustic and blowing on his harp with a weight-of-the-world weariness. Expect his folk side to come to the fore at his first Freight & Salvage show Thursday night. 510-548-1761. (Michael Gowan)


You can't get closer to the real thing than Cajun singer-accordionist-fiddler Jesse Lege . Visiting from Cajun world headquarters -- Lake Charles, Louisiana -- Lege performs the genre's classic tunes and his own hits in pure roots style for ecstatic dancers Thursday at Ashkenaz. Following a Cajun dance lesson, Lege and local Cajun band Sauce Piquante team up to keep the floor filled with irresistible waltzes and two-steps. 510-525-5054. (Larry Kelp)


Most jazzbos who flirt with electronic beats end up sounding like beret-wearing, chowderheaded, quasi-intellectual doofuses. Not so the Cinematic Orchestra , a quite-well-named seven-member instrumental outfit that mixes mournful strings with percolating IDM atmospherics quite splendidly, in fact. On tour supporting the excellent chin-stroking background music of Man with a Movie Camera, catch 'em at Bimbo's 365 Club in SF Tuesday night. 415-474-0365. (R.H.)


The 2003 Stern Grove Festival opens its 66th year of free concerts with a distinctly Latin theme, courtesy of Brazilian singer-dancer Daniela Mercury and up-and-coming rock en español group Orixa , which just won a coveted California Music Award for its most recent album, 2012 e.d. Those in the know are no doubt familiar with the rules of going to a show at Stern Grove: Pack a picnic lunch (include your beverage of choice), and bring a blanket, sunglasses, comfortable shoes, and a jacket (it can get chilly). Most of all, get there early -- parking's a bitch, and the good spots on the lawn fill up quick. Enjoy a day of great music on the green and help keep the festival going by tossing a few greenbacks in the donation jar before you leave. 415-252-6252 or (E.A.)


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