Critic's Choice for the week of October 11-17, 2006 

Fela Kuti parties, broken-musician benefits, and one horn-y burlesque.

Quintessential Troubadourdom

A folksinger whose music is better known than he is, Bill Staines brings his personal stash of songs to the Freight & Salvage Monday. Staines mixes songs on everyday topics with larger issues, filling them with personality and nuance missing in most of today's songwriting, which is probably why the likes of Nanci Griffith, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Peter, Paul & Mary love to cover his tunes. The composer of hundreds of songs on more than twenty albums over the past 35 years weaves them into a show that includes traditional and older fare, a bit of yodeling, and a sense that the music and the tunes he sings are deeply connected with what's important in life. Monday, October 16. 8 p.m. $18.50/$19.50. TheFreight.org (Larry Kelp)

Russian Heartbreak

The last time I heard Valery Gergiev conduct the Kirov Orchestra in Tchaikovsky, the way he managed to draw tears out of the strings was incomparably moving. Now Gergiev and crew return to Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall on Monday night with pianist Alexander Toradze to perform Tchaikovsky's perpetually programmed First Piano Concerto. The second half of the concert is devoted to Shostakovich's Symphony No. 11; in the right hands, this music that evokes the failed Russian revolution of 1905 and perhaps the Hungarian uprising of 1956 should prove emotionally devastating and cathartic. Monday, October 16. 7 p.m. $38-$86. CalPerfs.berkeley.edu (Jason Victor Serinus)

Heavy Afrobeat

Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti would have been 68 this year if he hadn't died of complications from AIDS nine years ago — perversely, a disease he publicly claimed didn't exist. To celebrate his musical and political contributions, Berkeley-based Albino! will share the stage with conga player Friday Jumbo, an original member of Kuti's Africa 70 band, for the release of its new CD, Live in San Francisco, recorded last July at the Independent in SF. Albino! plays on Friday, October 13 at the Shattuck Down Low. 8 p.m., $8, $5 for students. ShattuckDownLow.com (Kathleen Richards)

Musician, heal Thyself

It's been a bad year for the health of Bay Area musicians and their friends. Rogue Wave's drummer needs a kidney transplant, the guitarist for the Eddie Haskells got carjacked, local tattooer Devon Blood was shot in the head in an attempted robbery, then Sam Molnar, guitarist for Richmond punk band Dynamite 8, got hit by a car. The good news is there are always fellow musicians coming to the rescue. To help Molnar pay for his pain meds, a benefit show will be held in his name Saturday, October 14 at Thee Parkside in SF featuring Compton SF, Mojo Apostles, Badstrip, and Shockbox. 9 p.m. $10. TheeParkside.com (K.R.)

Dreamy New Age

Dreams, nature, and hope for the future inspired solo pianist Elise Lebec's most recent CD, Possible Dreams. Distinguished by occasionally surprising tempo and dynamic changes, Lebec's lovely music provides reason aplenty to stop by the Piedmont Piano Company this Friday night for a no-cost opportunity to hear this superb Steinway artist while enjoying hors d'oeuvres and drinks. RSVP to Krista at 510-652-1222. Friday, October 13. 7 p.m. PiedmontPiano.com (J.V.S.)

Horn-y Showtime

Apparently there's not enough sleaze in the East Bay, because local bars are increasingly looking for ways to add more heathenism and less boring bands or DJ nights. The latest buy-in? The aptly-named horn-y soul-punk band Damon & the Heathens will host a night of "sleazy burlesque and grit" every Sunday with an assortment of bizarre music acts, comedians, and other writhing on the ground entertainment. It all goes down at Cafe Van Kleef at Sunday, October 15 at 9 p.m. $3. 510-763-7111. (K.R.)

Dean's Listed

In 1976, one-million-year-old American singer and guitarist Michael Hurley released an album, Have Moicy, that got the nod from then-Village Voice critic Robert Christgau, the so-called "Dean of Rock," as "the greatest folk album of the rock era." Not a bad nod. This week, the traveling troubadour hobo that is Hurley pulls into the Bay Area for an in-store at Amoeba in San Francisco on Friday, October 13 (6 p.m.), ostensibly to support his newest LP, 2005's Down in Dublin, after he plays at veteran Oakland art gallery 21 Grand with Wooden Wand and Skygreen Leopards. This is a good get for 21 Grand, so don't miss the experience. Thursday, October 12 at 416 25th St. 8 p.m., $7-$10. 21Grand.org (D2)

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