Critic's Choice for the week of June 12-19, 2002 

Gothic sensibilities with a post-punk jump, high-energy Dominican merengue, and R&B giants headline an outdoor blues fest.

ROCK

The last Lookout album by Black Cat Music, Hands in the Estuary, Torso in the Lake, combined a Damned gothic sensibility with a twee, careening post-punk jumpiness. 'Twas good. Now the band is back from a tour and ready to fill up Oakland's Talk of the Town on Wednesday. The joint is slowly gaining a clientele, and if you haven't been there yet it is strongly suggested you go. Come on, people, this is our big chance to have a Slim's-size club in the East Bay! Take advantage of it. The bartenders are friendly, the drinks reasonable, and there's plenty o' seating. 510-534-8255. (Katy St. Clair)

Cursive sounds like the soundtrack for a new-wave horror movie, complete with high-tenor harmonies reminiscent of that '80s rawk gangbang known as the Outfield. Who knows what's in the water in Omaha these days, but between this band and the Faint, something funky and fresh is going on in the Land of Insurance. Though Cursive occasionally gets into that self-conscious vocalization and guitar noodling thing that seems to plague indie rock -- indie rock that's trying its hardest not to sound like indie rock -- overall, the band is one to watch. It performs with Eastern Youth and Love Kills Love on Thursday at the Bottom of the Hill. 415-621-4455. (K.S.)

MERENGUE

Dominican merengue, featuring high-energy horn-driven ensembles using cylindrical tambora drums, unseated salsa as the sound of Latin New York in the 1990s. That dance hall is now moving out west with such groups as Los Hermanos Rosario and techno kings Fulanito, both of which perform Friday at the San Francisco Gift Center as part of the Wild Rumba Salsa Fest. 415- 656-2800. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

BLUES & SOUL

Everett & Jones Barbeque is going all out for its fifth annual Barbeque, Beer & Bluesfest on Saturday afternoon and evening on 2nd Street at Broadway in Oakland. The outdoor event boasts two true giants of R&B -- Bobby Womack and Little Milton -- along with such Bay Area favorites as D'wayne Wiggins, Barbara Dane, Jesse James, Gwen Avery, Mz. Dee, Country Pete, Beverly Stovall, and Birdlegg. 663-7668. (Lee Hildebrand)FOLK

City Folk never got famous, but in the early '90s the Santa Cruz folk-country-rock trio was among the best: a Crosby, Stills & Nash without the egos, but with gorgeous vocal harmonies in original songs that caught the beauty of coastal California in soaring melodies and chiming acoustic guitars. Keith Greeninger, Roger Feuer, and Kimball Hurd reunite Saturday at Freight & Salvage for an evening of their songs, old and new. 510-548-1761. (Larry Kelp)

GOSPEL & JAZZ

The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir featured jazz great Pharoah Sanders on one of its albums a few years back. On Saturday in Mills College Concert Hall, Terrance Kelly's 65-voice choir explores the connection further with The Gospel Roots of Jazz, in which it and San Francisco gospel singer Arvis Strickling-Jones are joined by such Bay Area jazz heavies as saxophonist John Handy, vocalist Faye Carol, drummer Eddie Marshall, pianist Bill Bell, bassist Peter Barshay, and trombonist Wayne Wallace. 510-762-2277. (L.H.)

SYMPHONY

A rare opportunity to hear brand-new works by local composers becomes even more enticing when the musicians are the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, the composers are present to answer questions, and admission is free. This Sunday evening in St. John's Presbyterian Church, conductor George Thomson and host Kent Nagano present "Under Construction," featuring works by Katie Wreede, Ken Durling, and Stephen Blomberg. 510-841-2800.

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