Critic's Choice for the week of May 28-June 3, 2003 

A black & white world, sharpened alt.country, slammin' jazz, and spiked pop.

EVERYTHING AT ONCE

Saturday's Black and White Ball sounds like a sureshot for all you Cinderellas and Cinderfellas out there. Sure, it's a pretty penny to get in ($160-$185 per ticket, and even more if you choose to attend the Bash Before the Ball or Patrons Dinner events), but where else are you gonna see india.arie, Morris Day & the Time, Deborah Harry & the Jazz Messengers, Dr. John, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, the Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra, AC/Dshe, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, the Emotions, Berlin w/ Terri Nunn, Super Diamond, Stung, the Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band, Porter-Batiste-Stoltz (3/4ths of the Funky Meters), the Dick Bright Orchestra, local DJs, and -- last but by no means least -- Chubby Checker ? That's a whole lot of bang for your hard-earned bucks, and what's more, there's food from over ninety different restaurants, and beverages provided by Heineken, Ketel One, the Sonoma Wineries Association, Starbucks, and Crystal Geyser. Seven blocks of downtown SF will be closed to traffic to make room for the ball, which holds forth at seven different venues, including Davies Symphony Hall, the Veteran's Building, the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, and Civic Center Plaza. All proceeds benefit the San Francisco Symphony. If you must venture out into Tha City, at least now you have a good reason -- one sure to make your co-workers jealous on Monday morning. 415-864-6000 or www.bwball.org (Eric K. Arnold)

ALT.COUNTRY

Ray Wylie Hubbard 's whiskey-soaked growl made "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother" an anthem for hard-drinkin' hombres, and it almost became his epitaph. He went into recovery a while back, but sobriety hasn't hurt his songwriting or brightened up his darkly ironic worldview any, though it has given his vocals new strength and helped sharpen his formidable guitar skills -- a blend of Delta blues bounce and brittle country pickin'. Tonight at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. 510-548-1761 (j. poet)

JAZZ FOR DANCERS

Body music pioneer Keith Terry's newest group, Slammin , puts a big concept into a small space, taking over the stage and some of the floor at Berkeley's Jazzschool Friday night. The sextet blends body beats, vocal harmonies, and vigorous movement for a unique experience. Joining Terry are Tonight Show bandmember Vicki Randle, jazz-gospel singer Destani Wolf, Bryan Dyer, Steve Hogan, and Kenny Washington. 510-845-5373. (Larry Kelp)

ROOTS ROCK

Alright, so Jeffrey Halford can't name albums for shit. The Bay Area troubadour still does a pleasant John Cougar Mellencamp impersonation on Hunkpapa, a rollickin', twangin' slice of bar rock that emphasizes flashy guitar work and quaint lyrics of the cut-the-rug-and-lift-the-jug variety. Along with his band the Healers , he'll storm Albany's Ivy Room Saturday night. If you're expecting a child, do not allow him to name it. 510-524-9299. (Rob Harvilla)

LOUD CHAMBER MUSIC

The San Francisco Chamber Singers will certainly shake up Kensington's Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley Sunday night when they present "Bang on Anything." Under the talented Robert Geary, guest percussionists Ward Spangler and Chris Froh (plus pianist Keisuke Nakago) perform world premieres by Mark Winges and Kui Dong, as well as music by Lojze Lebic. 415-771-3352. (Jason Victor Serinus)

JAZZ

Bassist Charlie Haden continues a creative journey that includes free jazz, gospel, and (believe it or not) country music with a duo gig with guitarist Jim Hall , another master of understated virtuosity. They'll probably revisit the chamber jazz format they pioneered on 2001's Jim Hall & Basses, a set marked by gentle improvisation and subtle humor. Friday at Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco. 415-978-ARTS. (j.p.)

JERKY ROCK 'N' ROLL

Nice to meet an NYC rock band that isn't ridiculously overdressed, ridiculously gloomy, or ridiculously engaged to Drew Barrymore. The members of Natural History joyfully bang their guitars and groove in that herky-jerky way East Coast white boys have -- it won't revolutionize the industry or save your life, but it won't make you want to prematurely end it. Sold. Check out the new disc Beat Beat Heartbeat if you like your pop spiked, but not bludgeoned. At Bottom of the Hill Sunday night. 9 p.m., $7. 415-621-4455. (R.H.)

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