Critic's Choice for the week of March 3-9, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

FOLK SINGER SONGWRITERS

Peggy Seeger, sister of Pete and Mike, is an elite singer, songwriter, and song collector. She plays most stringed instruments, cut her first album at eighteen, and, during her long collaboration with late husband, Ewan MacColl, produced some of the finest and purest albums of British and American folk music ever. With thousands of songs in her repertoire (traditional and her own, including the anthemic "Gonna Be an Engineer"), every performance is guaranteed to take unexpected twists and turns. Wednesday at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. $17.50-$18.50, 8 p.m. 510-548-1761. (j. poet)

POP SINGER/SONGWRITERS

Rufus Wainwright may be the closest thing the younger generation has to a Cole Porter or a Noel Coward: a witty, slightly depressed, world-weary young man with a knack for gorgeous melodies and romantic hyperbole. Not to mention his smoldering good looks and intense stage presence. His record company, Dreamworks, just went belly-up in another corporate merger, but it will take more than that to diminish Wainwright's blazing talent. Friday and Saturday at the Fillmore in San Francisco. $27.50, 9 p.m. 415-346-6000. (j.p.)

INDIE ROCK

Yes, indeed, Grandaddy remains the Greatest Band on the Planet: sleepy, bearded Modesto dudes with vintage keyboards and warm, fuzzy melodies about depressed robots and technological ennui. Utterly fantastic. Go see 'em at the Warfield tonight (Wednesday) with Saves the Day, the Fire Theft, and Dios. Go to this show or an Express staffer will personally come to your house and slap you around. $25-$35, 7 p.m. (510) 625-TIXS. (Rob Harvilla)

CLASSICAL BAROQUE

One of the Bay Area's finest Baroque ensembles, the award-winning Music Pacifica, returns to Albany's St. Alban's Episcopal Church for a Sunday evening concert of Baroque folk and dance music from the British Isles. The group's superb musicians -- Judith Linsenberg, recorder; Elizabeth Blumenstock and Lisa Weiss, violins; Tanya Tomkins, cello; and Yuko Tanaka, harpsichord -- perform music by Purcell, Oswald, Locke, O'Carolan, Matteis, and others. 7:30 p.m. 510-444-4113 or www.musicapacifica.org (Jason Victor Bellecci-Serinus)

CLASSICAL WOMEN

After 23 years of bringing women composers and musicians to the fore, the Women's Philharmonic honors California's statewide Celebrating Women in Music Festival with its farewell concert. World premiere fanfares by Ellen Taafe Zwilich and Libby Larson -- plus West Coast premieres by Chen Yi and Jennifer Higdon -- highlight the Sunday afternoon concert in San Francisco's Herbst Theater. $25-$35, at 3 p.m. 415-392-4400 or tickets.com (J.V.B-S)

FOLK WOMEN

Berkeley's Freight & Salvage celebrates International Women's Day on Sunday night with a gathering of some of the East Bay's most innovative and celebrated female musicians, led and hosted by Berkeley pianist Ellen Hoffman, cofounder of Berkeley Broadway Singers, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, and Oakland Jazz Choir. She is joined by folk greats Barbara Dane and Ronnie Gilbert (who were singing long before the women's movement), jazz instrumentalists India Cooke (violin) and Mimi Fox (electric guitar), operatic soprano Francine Lancaster, and singer Tina Marzell. It's a benefit for decades-old nonprofit youth organization Girls Inc. $17.50-$18.50, 8 p.m. 510-548-1761. (Larry Kelp)

JAZZ WOMEN

Rumors have been flying that pianist-arranger-composer Toshiko Akiyoshi may be retiring from jazz soon. As an Asian-American woman who has stood alongside her male contemporaries and proven her talents with trios and big bands co-led with husband, Lew Tabackin, she is a bebop foremother along with Mary Lou Williams and Marian McPartland. Toshiko rolls through Yoshi's with her trio for a rare appearance celebrating International Women's Day on Monday night. $15, 8 and 10 p.m. 510-238-9200. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

ACTUAL ACID JAZZ

You see, acid jazz today is rarely acid and only sometimes jazz, but Robert Walter's 20th Congress is like a time capsule back ten years. Once the man on the keys for acid-jazz greats the Greyboy Allstars, Walter keeps the groove going for that period of funk and jazz fusion -- his style stands the test of time. He plays Friday at the Independent (which used to be Justice League) in San Francisco. $15, 9 p.m. 415-771-1420. (Michael Gowan)

SKA

Presidential elections in El Salvador are always dicey affairs, but since the Central American crisis of the '80s, impartial observers from CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, have helped oversee the country's democratic process. This Thursday La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley hosts a benefit for CISPES Observation Delegations for the upcoming Salvadoran presidential elections, featuring the Uptones and La Plebe. So you can mosh 'n' roll for a good cause with two of the Bay Area's best ska bands. $10, 7 p.m. 510-849-2568. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela).

PIANO DUDES

Mississippi's Mose Allison is a singing, swinging, songwriting piano man who's carved out his own unique niche with sardonic wit, a unique approach to melody, and incisive piano technique. He hardly sings above a whisper, but his sharp lyrics and sly commentary come through loud and clear, underlined by his often-underrated piano playing. Tuesday and Wednesday (March 9-10) at Yoshi's. $10-$16. 8 and 10 p.m. 510-238-9200. (j. poet)

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