Critic's Choice for the week of June 23-29, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


Most armchair turntablists, flashy and gaudy though they might be, aren't fit to carry DJ Quest's ... uh, do DJs wear jocks? Let's say record bag. The El Salvador-born, Bay Area-reared icon hits Slim's in SF Friday night to flaunt more of his innovative hip-hop/jazz mind-melding goodness -- or, as his latest CD, Mutationmann, describes it right on the cover, "hardcore thumpin hip-hop electro dark underground smooth breakbeat type shit with flavor." With members of Limbomaniacs. 9 p.m., $15-$17. 415-255-0333. (Rob Harvilla)


Tom Russell, once dubbed the Springsteen for his compassionate vignettes of working-class Westerners in all their blue-collar glory, heads to town Thursday at the Freight & Salvage to showcase tunes from his latest album, Indians, Cowboys, Horses, Dogs, backed by guitarist extraordinaire Andrew Hardin. 8 p.m., $17.50-$18.50. 510-548-1761. (j. poet)


It's no coincidence that SoCal popsters dios create dreamy pop songs with lovely and soothing harmonies -- the band hails from Hawthorne, hometown of the Beach Boys. Thus, its self-titled full-length debut is full of tunes with modern indie-pop charm and lush Brian Wilson allusions. Experience this 21st-century surf music Saturday at the Fillmore, sharing the bill with Beulah and the Stratford 4. $17.50, 9 p.m., 415-346-6000. (Michael Gowan)


Festival Opera lets us taste its tempting summer fare via two free Opera in the Park performances. Sunday at 6 p.m. in Martinez' Susana Park and Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Orinda's Community Park, the company's excellent artists, chorus, and special guests regale us with performances that include excerpts from their forthcoming productions of Rigoletto and Roméo et Juliette. Bring food, kids, anything but a loud boom box. 925-944-9610. (Jason Victor Serinus)


Berkeley-reared saxophonist and bass clarinet master David Murray, the only musician on the planet to record jazz arrangements of both Carmen and Grateful Dead tunes, has, on more than a hundred recordings, also collaborated with Asian-American piano visionary Jon Jang and poet Amiri Baraka, in addition to performing regularly with the Latin Big Band and the World Saxophone Quartet. No wonder the Paris-based musician rarely makes it home. But Monday through Wednesday, not only does he return to Yoshi's, he brings his large Creole Project ensemble to play new music that explores diasporic African roots of jazz, melding gospel, blues, and the Creole gwo ka music of Guadeloupe in the French West Indies. The concerts nightly at 8 ($20) and 10 ($10) should be nothing short of groundbreaking. 510-238-9200. (Larry Kelp)


Throughout Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, El Dia de San Juan (Day of St. John the Baptist) is a Catholic holiday -- it's believed all water is made holy on June 24, so people go swimming in oceans and rivers to receive the full blessing. This Saturday at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley, you'll be musically blessed (regardless of religion) by Son Borikua (the traditional Puerto Rican bomba y plena ensemble led by Hector Lugo) and the Venezuelan Music Project (led by Jackeline Rago of the Snake Trio). 9 p.m., $12-$14, 510-849-2568. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)


As long as you don't take it too seriously, First Presbyterian Church of Alameda's Saturday night Brazzissimo performance should be lots of fun. The ten-piece brass ensemble performs Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3; Abreu's frightening Tico-Tico; flute music blown to nuclear proportions, an original, Homage to the Noble Grape; and probably-banned-by-Ashcroft permutations of Handel, Debussy, Joplin, and Shostakovich. $10, $5 students and seniors, under thirteen free. 8 p.m. 510-522-1477. (J.V.S.)


Peter Mulvey's subtle but instantly catchy melodies compliment his Zen-like lyrics -- bare-bones acoustic guitar figures and low-key verbal dexterity move the music and the story forward with a keen understanding of our all-too-human nature. Friday at the Freight & Salvage. 8 p.m. $15.50-$16.50. 510-548-1761. (j.p.)


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