Critic's Choice for the week of March 24-30, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

FANTASTIC FEMCEES

Okay, all you urban hipsters and aficionados of beats, rhymes, and such: It's time to put your street cred where your mouth is. We all know the East Bay is renowned for its underground, indie-label MC types, but what isn't always so obvious is how many dope female rappers we have. Like, say, the groundbreaking Conscious Daughters, who challenged gender roles and put Bay Area women rappers on the national map back in the '90s and never looked back. The Daughters -- Special One and CMG -- will be previewing new material from their long-rumored comeback album Tuesday night at the Oakland Box as part of a special "Women in Hip-Hop" showcase, which also features DJ Pam the Funkstress of the Coup, Suga-T of the Click, and up-and-coming artist Malika. Unless you're a punk-ass beyotch, you'll be there too. $7-$10, 8 p.m. For more info, call 510-451-1932 or visit OaklandBox.com (Eric K. Arnold)

FOLK

Berkeley native Laurie Lewis -- a wonderful singer, fiddler, singer, and Grammy-winning recording artist -- was one of the leading players in the "newgrass" movement with her Grant Street String Band. Meanwhile, Tom Rozum's expertise with mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and voice was a big part of the Grant Street gang's charm, and has led to a longtime collaboration with Lewis that continues Friday and Saturday at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage. The duo will probably concentrate on material from the excellent new Hightone release Guest House. $17.50-$18.50, 8 p.m. both nights. Info: TheFreight.org or 510-548-1761. (j. poet)

IRISH ROCKERS

The Frames are a better live arena rock band than U2. Oh, that offends you? Shall we engage in fisticuffs? Splendid! Let's meet at the Warfield Saturday night when the Frames open for singer-songwritin' moper Damien Rice with warm, bombastic indie rock anthems 'n' ballads 'n' Bob Marley sing-alongs 'n' such. Your feeble mind will be blown; request "What Happens When the Heart Just Stops." $25, 8 p.m. 510-625-TIXS. (Rob Harvilla)

PUNK AMERICANA

The Mekons' Cash-meets-Clash ethos began in London during the early days of punk; their subsequent move to Chicago a decade or so ago has done nothing to dilute the band's strange fusion of British working-class populism and arty C&W-flavored rock. Meanwhile, opener Paul Burch is one of the best (if most underrated) singer-songwriters in the wide-open alt.country genre. Tonight at Slim's in SF. $16. 8 p.m. 415-255-0427. (j.p.)

IRISH DO-GOODERS

Premier Irish folksinger Mary Black makes a rare Oakland appearance Sunday at the Paramount Theatre, singing in a benefit for the local Parental Stress Service organization, where one of her famous singing brothers, Shay Black, has dedicated his time. From her days with Irish band DeDanann onward, Mary Black has been hailed as one of her country's greatest folk voices. Over the past two decades, her solo albums have blended traditional Irish songs with her interpretations of some of the best songs by today's singer-songwriters. Oakland's own soul-jazz wonder Ledisi opens the concert. $30-$100, 6:30 p.m. 510-625-8497. (Larry Kelp)

CLASSICAL

In a rare collaboration, the superb Chanticleer twelve-man vocal ensemble joins the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players Monday night in San Francisco's Calvary Presbyterian Church (and Friday, April 2, in Berkeley's First Congregational) for a program entitled New Voices. David Milnes will conduct world premieres by Pablo Ortiz and Betty Olivero, as well as works by Iannis Xenakis and Giacinto Scelsi -- the music journeys from sounds evoked by the sea voyage of the Argonauts to songs redolent of Israel's Arab-Jewish culture. 800-407-1400 or CityBoxOffice.com. $25-$34, 8 p.m. (Jason Victor Bellecci-Serinus)

ERASED ERRATA

Maybe they should change their name to "Corrigendum": After a herky-jerky, art-Beserkley rise to the top of the nouveau no-wave junk heap, East Bay antipop tomatoes Erase Errata are changing the manuscript. As of the band's Coachella appearance, guitarist Sara Jaffe will be a mere raised smudge of Wite-Out in the band's existence, and frontlady Jenny Hoyston with be handling the six strings herself. If you can't afford the time off, two-day pass, and rental car for the Indio fest (or plane fare to any of the band's seven UK gigs in April), you can hit Bottom of the Hill Thursday night for EE's last Bay Area gig as a four-piece. Tussle and Whysall Lane also play. $8, 9:30 p.m. 415-621-4455. (Stefanie Kalem)

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