Critic's Choice for the week of May 11-17, 2005 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


Legend has it that when 50 Cent heard a few snippets from Prozack Turner's 2003 record Death, Taxes, and Prozack, he called up the A&R at the now-defunct Dreamworks label and said he wanted the scrappy Oakland emcee to open for 50's upcoming "Rock the Mic" tour with Jay-Z. Had that single gig not fallen through, Prozack could be sitting in a Jacuzzi right now, peeling back huge bank notes and fanning himself with a copy of Cigar Aficionado -- "with Marc Stretch on the cover," he adds. Instead, Turner is still holed up in a one-bedroom apartment, composing slow jams for Internet porn stars and retooling beats that sound like the beginning hook from "It's a Small World After All." But Prozack doesn't sweat it: With his second solo album, Bangathon, looming on the horizon, this rapper's fate still lies in the lap of the gods. He performs Thursday night at Oakland's Golden Bull. 10 p.m. 510-893-0803. (Rachel Swan)


Your car speakers will literally twist into a gleefully malicious sneer when you throw on Dumpster Divin', the grand debut of Oakland punks the Eddie Haskells. Bratty, snotty, mush-mouthed, overexcitable, and highly enjoyable, the Haskells rant their way through tales of cheap wine and English women Friday night at 924 Gilman with Hellbillys, Mobocracy, Botox Aftermath (nice), and the Dares. $6. (Rob Harvilla)


If you missed out on the glory days of roots reggae -- when nattily dreadlocked disciples of Jah formed bands that could detune your biorhythms with their loping, earthy riddims -- don't fret. Dancehall may have taken over the genre, but roots reggae is still very much alive, as evidenced by Virgin Islanders Midnite. Like the Rasta equivalent of a jam-band, Midnite is known for its absolute devotion to the reggae groove, not to mention its extra-looooooong sets. The band's new Scheme a Things rarely rises above mid-tempo arrangements and doesn't sound too different from their last few efforts, but for Midnight's cultlike roots-lovin' fans, that's just the way they like it. Get irie at Berkeley Shattuck Down Low Friday night. $25, 10 p.m. (Eric K. Arnold)


Of all the recordings of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos I've heard, my favorite remains the period-instrument rendition by the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin (Berlin Academy of Early Music). The name may sound stiff, but its anything-but-academic performances bubble over with life and color. Sunday afternoon, the superb Academy musicians enliven Berkeley's Wheeler Auditorium with music by Handel, Vivaldi, Bach, and Geminiani. $42; 3 p.m. 510-642-9988. (Jason Victor Serinus)


Most of the press on Peter Himmelman tends to dwell on the fact that he's married to Maria Dylan (yes, Bob's daughter) -- either that or his Jewish faith, which informs much of his music. But Himmelman is more complex than that, a part-rocker, part-blues guitar god, and part-singer-songwriter with eleven albums of solid material to his credit. His latest, Imperfect World, includes "Kneel Down," a mystical meditation that is equal parts sexual and spiritual, as is much of his music. Sunday at Cafe du Nord in SF. $15, 8 p.m. 415-861-5016 or (j. poet)


The wait is finally over: Anna de León's much-anticipated reopening of her jazz-themed restaurant is here. The lawyer, torch singer, dessert-maker extraordinaire, and mother of spoken-word goddess Aya is a Berkeley Institution with a capital I, and her restaurant ventures in the past have also earned warm places in the hearts of the East Bay community. De León's new joint, which replaces the old Anna's Jazz Cafe on University Ave., is now known as Anna's Jazz Island, and promises to be an oasis of good music, good food, and great atmosphere. This Saturday marks the official grand opening party featuring jazz guitarist Calvin Keys and his trio, but you can bet your bottom dollar Anna herself will climb behind the piano and belt out some bluesy tearjerkers before evening's end. 510-841-JAZZ or (E.K.A.)


DJ Cheb I Sabbah was spinning world music and the sounds of global groove before either genre had a name. Sabbah also produces albums that combine traditional Arab music -- much of it from cultures on the verge of extinction -- and modern electronics. He'll be hosting a release party for his latest CD, La Kahena (Les Voix du Maghreb), with live Moroccan music supplied by Bouchaib Abdelhadi, Yassir Chadly, and Khalid Ouhane Saturday in SF at Blue Cube (34 Mason St., near Market). $15, 8 p.m. 415-259-8629 or (j. poet)


The best bargain in town this weekend is the ninth annual Jazz on Fourth Street Festival, Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Berkeley between Hearst and Virginia. Chris Cain will burn through sizzling electric blues, while Palenque specializes in Cuban son montuno rhythms for dancers. But the big deal -- even more than the fun, food, and drink -- is the chance to see both today's award-winning Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble (the beneficiary of the raffle revenue from this free event) and the Peter Apfelbaum Septet, a reunion of alumni from Berkeley High's first generation of jazz band members, responsible for putting Berkeley Schools' music program on the map. 510-526-6294 or (Larry Kelp)


Mills professor Fred Frith is renowned in highbrow circles for his solo-guitar deconstructions, which cast the common six-string in a strange, new light. Via bent tunings and unusual fretboard techniques involving kitchen utensils, the veteran composer-improviser merges the electric axe's rebel Rock God spirit with its avant-garde potential as a pure soundmaking device. Toychestra, an estrogen-fueled local sextet of arrested adolescents, culls objects from the preschool playroom -- toy bugles, "accordion people," train whistles -- to remind us that fooling around (ahem: arch exploration) is the first step toward realizing the aspirations of high art. Thursday at Berkeley's Starry Plough. $10, 9:30 p.m. 510-841-2082 or (Sam Prestianni)


James Murphy has crafted the catchiest dancefloor anthem of the past ten years, and it goes as follows: Yeah yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. As proprietor of Pitchfork-approved producers-turned-artists enclave LCD Soundsystem, Murphy's willfully wacky ways are truly teaching the indie kids to dance again, and Saturday night at the Fillmore, he'll be joined by M.I.A. , the London-by-way-of-Sri-Lanka tart-mouthed diva who disguises political rants as sing-song childlike anthems. Doesn't get any cooler than this, folks. $22, 9 p.m. (R.H.)


If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, apparently. Mothers, once frustrated by their kids' music, have decided to take it to the stage with their bad selves and show the world that moms are doin' it for themselves. Hence, Mamapalooza, a multivenue event featuring female singers and musicians who just happen to be mothers. There are two Mamapalooza events this weekend to choose from: Friday night at the Starry Plough (a "hard rock" show, featuring Placenta, Kami Nixon, Amee Chapman, Pink Vinyl, and Gypsy), and Saturday afternoon at Slim's in SF (a slightly less aggressive bill with Raquel Aurilia, Holly Figueroa, Debra Knox, Emily Lord, Tiffany Petrossi, and Renee Sebastian). Mothers of the world, unite! (E.K.A.)


Key ingredients for a compelling jazz singer: the ability to swing, sing in pitch, and tell a story convincingly. The Bay Area's own Clairdee personifies these traits -- on her latest album, Music Moves (recorded live at Yoshi's), she lets her hair down with funky grooves and a soulful delivery that shows a more relaxed, confident style. Tuesday, she returns to Yoshi's for a CD release party, backed by a quartet. $15. 8 and 10 p.m. 510-238-9200 or (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)



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