Critic's Choice for the week of June 16-22, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

PACIFIST POETZ

The Mediterranean island of Cyprus is pretty small, but its people have been divided by civil war for 29 years. Enter the Poetz 4 Peace, Haji Mike and Zeki Ali. These Cypriots from opposite sides of the conflict have managed to settle their differences and come together in the name of unity on their debut album, A Pair of Olive Leaves. Produced by Stand Out Selector from the Positive Massive Sound family, the album mixes the Poetz' pacifist verses with dancehall, hip-hop beats, and traditional instruments like the bouzouki, not to mention special guests CC Martyn, Elena Savva, Rocker-T, and Kyppa Ranks. This week, the Poetz launch their first-ever US tour, which includes stops at SF's Minerva Cafe tonight, Berkeley's Shattuck Down Low Lounge Friday (along with Stand Out Selector and Jah Minds Eye Soundsystem), and two shows on Sunday: a daytime appearance at the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in Angel's Camp, and an evening performance at Berkeley's La Peña. And if that's not enough for you, you can also check them out Monday night at Pyramind Sound in SF. Hey, what's peace good for, if you can't spread it around? PSMRecordings.com or OliveTreeMusic.com (Eric K. Arnold)

SOUL

Howard Tate's Get It While You Can wasn't a hit on its 1967 release, but over the years it took on legendary status, with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, and Ry Cooder all covering its tunes. Two years ago, WNJC DJ Phil Casden tracked down Tate, who reunited with his old producer Jerry Ragavoy to cut Rediscovered, a solid collection that pays tribute to the timeless quality of pure soul music. Saturday at 9 p.m. at SF's Great American Music Hall. $15. 415-885-0750 or MusicHallSF.com (j. poet)

SALSA

This Friday night at Club Montero's in Albany, Peruvian-born singer-bandleader Julio Bravo hosts a CD release party featuring his Orquesta Salsabor. Bravo will be joined on lead vocals by Monica Benard and Leedia Urteaga. Known for a classy salsa sound with a touch of romanticism, the group has been around since 1994 with its diverse repertoire of tropical dance tunes. This all-original new album will turn heads and redefine who Bravo and Salsabor are as performers and artists. $12. 510-524-1270. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

JAZZ FUND-RAISERS

One of the most vibrant and community-oriented of newer spaces, South Berkeley's all-ages Jazz House hosts the Bay Area Piano Summit Thursday night, a fund-raiser for itself organized by pianist and Jazz House fan James Armstrong. The cavalcade of pianists will flaunt a wide range of musical styles: some right in the jazz mainstream, others beyond the fringes. Joining Armstrong are Bill Crossman, Matthew Goodheart, Will Grant, Scott Looney, and David Leikman. Donation is $10-$20 sliding scale. 3192 Adeline Ave. (at Martin Luther King Jr. Way), Berkeley. 415-846-9432. (Larry Kelp)

POLKA

Brave Combo single-handedly made it possible to use the words "hip" and "polka" in the same sentence. The Denton, Texas, quartet blends the basic polka beat -- found in Texas border towns, Milwaukee beer halls, and Israeli kibbutzes -- with its own ironic, post-punk twist. This date is one more stop on the band's 25th anniversary tour. Monday at 9 p.m. at SF's Cafe du Nord. $12. 415-861-5016 or CafeduNord.com (j.p.)

CLASSICAL

Kent Nagano will commemorate 25 years with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra by leading the Oakland Symphony Chorus and four soloists in Beethoven's great Missa Solemnis Friday night at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall. The concert begins with Corail, a piece by CNMAT's composer-in-residence Edmund Campion. $45, $32, $21 plus student rush, 8 p.m., 510-841-2800 or BerkeleySymphony.org (Jason Victor Serinus)

AFRO-FUTURIST AFROBEAT

As Fela Anikulapo Kuti once famously said, "Music is the weapon of the future." The late Afrobeat icon couldn't have been more right, and this weekend will prove it. Saturday at precisely 12 noon, there's a free -- yes, you heard correctly -- concert at SF's Yerba Buena Gardens featuring Blackalicious, Antibalas Liberation Afrobeat Orchestra, and the Broun Fellinis, three groups which represent Afrobeat's Afro-futurist present. (While you're there, be sure to check out the "Black President" exhibit celebrating Fela in the YB museum galleries.) After that warm-up, you'll be sufficiently prepared for that evening's show at the Fillmore by Femi Kuti, Fela's son, who carries his dad's tradition with him proudly into the 21st century. Believe us, it's gonna be a scorcher. Tickets for the Fillmore show are $27.50. 415-346-6000. (E.K.A.)

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