Critic's Choice for the week of May 5-11, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

ARTY DUDES

Minneapolis bedroom experimentian Andrew Broder (aka Fog) and high-concept Anticon enigma Yoni Wolf (aka Why?) have both pushed the boundaries of hip-hop, electro-folk, and singer-songwriter earnestness to their absolute limits, both separately and in their splendid duo Hymie's Basement, which hits the Oakland Metro tonight for some multi-instrumentalist art-rock poetic weirdness. Wit and abstract wisdom await you. 9 p.m., $8. 510-763-1146. (Rob Harvilla)

'GRASS FOR KIDS

Bluegrass-country singer Kathy Kallick has performed at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage almost since she was a kid. With her own offspring as inspiration, she also has crafted some of the best children's CDs in recent years, especially Use a Napkin (Not Your Mom). And her afternoon Mother's Day concerts at the Freight have become annual fun events for the family. Along with Kallick this time out is her full band (playing a regular Freight concert May 22) and a few guests. Her choice of songs ranges from her own personal experience odes to classic role model tunes like "Amelia Earhart's Last Flight" and "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball"; the band, meanwhile, shifts quickly from bluegrass to rock to country to Louisiana zydeco. It's fun even if you don't have kids. Sunday at 1 p.m. $8.50 adults, $6.50 children. 510-548-1761. (Larry Kelp)

JAZZY MOTHER'S DAY

Here's an idea for Mother's Day -- take your favorite lady to Yoshi's for a special M-Day showcase with jazz singer René Marie. Vertigo, Marie's new album on Maxjazz, makes a great present (hint, hint): It's chock-full of luscious renditions of jazz standards, show tunes, and familiar favorites like "Blackbird" and "I Only Have Eyes for You." Marie's voice is killer, her timing impeccable, and her phrasing? To die for, bubbeleh. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.; Sun. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. $16. 510-238-9200 or Yoshis.com (Eric K. Arnold)

BLUES

Otis Taylor is one of the most unusual artists on today's blues scene, a first-rate guitarist who can tickle the acoustic Piedmont-style or drop into a rockin' Chicago shuffle on his electric guitar, but his socially conscious lyrics and ironic humor stand Taylor apart from the pack. His latest CD, Double V, explores the feelings of WWII's African-American vets when they came home after fighting to defend democracy in Europe. Thursday at the Freight & Salvage (8 p.m., $16.50-$17.50, 510-548-1761) and tonight at Biscuits and Blues in SF (8:30 and 10:30 p.m., $15, 415-292-2583). (j. poet)

OPERA

Berkeley Opera recently blew our minds with a Pocket Ring featuring major voices of international stature. Now it presents Handel's operatic lovers Acis and Galatea as surfboarding teenagers. Mark Streshinsky's Julia Morgan Theater production opens Saturday night, with four performances through May 16. Given that husband-wife team Saundra DeAthos and Harold Gray Meers are custom-cast as the cool kids on the beach, this should be a great evening. $40, $35 seniors, $15 youth and disabled, $16 sides, $10 student rush. 8 p.m. Saturday. 925-798-1300. (Jason Victor Bellecci-Serinus)

JAZZ

A performance by Venezuelan jazz vocalist Maria Marquez is always a delicious experience, her hands accenting her Spanish lyrics, delivered with a sensual purr in her contralto voice. From Caracas, Marquez has a sound like no one else -- recently, her 2003 album Princesa de la Naturaleza (Nature's Princess) was picked up for national distribution by Adventure Music. She sings this Saturday at the Jazzschool in Berkeley. 8 p.m. $12-$18. 510-845-5373. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

FREESTYLE CHAMPS

Members of the Berkeley/Albany hip-hop crew FSC are true B-boys to the heart. Chances are you've probably seen their tags, throw-ups, and graf bombs somewhere around the East Bay in the last ten to fifteen years. But FSC also raps, spending the last five years or so perfecting a style it calls "focused spontaneous combustion." Feel the funk and catch a whiff of these verbal aerosol fumes Thursday night at Berkeley's Epic Arts, when FSC's Nac One previews songs from his upcoming Bomb Records album Natural Reaction. Gigs and DJ Racus will also be in the (tea) house, as will Polterguyz and ILC. There's never been a better time for a Nac attack. 510-644-2204 or EpicArts.org (E.K.A.)

GUITAR GRANDIOSITY

The magic word to describe My Morning Jacket is "reverb" -- the Kentucky-based Southern rock band drenches its wide-eyed guitar rock in layers of the stuff thicker than the frosting on your last thirty doughnuts combined. Six-string gearhounds and atmospheric jam banders alike will flip for the fleet fingers and soaring crescendos on MMJ's celebrated latest disc, It Still Moves, and it'll only get more grandiose in concert. Good. At the Fillmore with M. Ward Sunday night. 8 p.m., $20. 415-346-6000. (R.H.)

VOCAL

American Bach Soloists follow up their profoundly beautiful rendition of Bach's St. John Passion with a rarely performed gem of the early baroque, Carissimi's oratorio Jephte. Vocal lovers can look forward to the debuts of soprano Marguerite Krull and tenor Gerald Thomas Gray, with the superb Jeffrey Thomas conducting the ABS Choir and Orchestra. Saturday at the First Congregational Church in Berkeley. $20-$40, 8 p.m. 415-621-7900. AmericanBach.org (J.V.B.-S.)

WORLD FOLK

You could call multi-instrumental virtuoso David Lindley's music "world folk" or "Celtic blues." You could even resort to a long, hyphenated list that would include Madagascan, Norwegian, African, and Arabic music, as well as rock, jazz, bluegrass, and pop traditions. Lindley defines eclectic, and always plays with good taste and finesse. Tonight at 8 p.m. at the Freight & Salvage. The show is sold out, so get ready to grovel. 510-548-1761. (j.p.)

SENEGALESE SESSIONS

Twin brothers Assane and Ousseynou Kouyate were born into a Senegalese griot family, which means they come from an authentic cultural tradition that goes back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. They now live in the Bay Area, where they perform West African music and dance under the name Djialy Kunda Kouyate. Globalize your music horizons Friday night at Ashkenaz when the twins play indigenous African music and contemporary originals -- it's sure to be a night of wildly rhythmic folkloric grooves. $13. 510-525-5054 or Ashkenaz.com (E.K.A.)

FUNKY KINGSTONIANS

Toots and the Maytals are back. Yes, that Toots and the Maytals. Funky Kingston and so forth. The reggae icons have returned to lay claim to their influence on anything even vaguely funky in 2004 society, in addition to flogging their new star-studded disc, True Love. A two-night stand at hot-as-hell-both-literally-and-metaphorically SF nightclub the Independent awaits them, and you. Friday and Saturday, $23-$25, 9 p.m. both nights. 1-866-468-3399. (R.H.)

ECLECTIC BENEFITS

Get your boogie on Saturday night at the Oakland Museum in a benefit for the museum's education programs. Featuring old-school groovers the Kool Katz, retro-swing queen Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, and Latin jazz great Pete Escovedo, it's a good cause and there's also a "Gala After-Hours" admission that includes drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and desserts from resident restaurants. 9 p.m. $75 ($65 per ticket for groups of ten or more). 510-238-2200. (J.C.V.)

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