Critic's Choice for the week of October 15-21, 2003 

Social revolution in a ballroom, a Latin-hillbilly hybrid from Los Angeles, bread and roses in a jazz club. Connect the dots, y'all.


Oakland hip-hop group the Coup is probably best-known for its 2001 album Party Music, which caused enough of a stir to land rapper Boots Riley on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect. But even if you don't agree with the Coup's politics, you can't discount the group's effectiveness as party-starters. Boots and DJ Pam the Funkstress' socially conscious take on hip-hop is enlivened by a live backing band, whose renditions of Coup classics like "Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Grenada Last Night" and "Fat Cats, Bigga Fish" will make you want to get up out of your seat, pump your fist, and join the revolution. Rounding out the bill are the Crown City Rockers, the Oakland Poetry Slam Team, Nazelah Jamison, and DJ Neta, with MC Mike McGee hosting. Saturday night at the Historic Sweet's Ballroom. 510-625-0537. (Eric K. Arnold)


The Blazers are often overshadowed by Los Lobos, East Los Angeles' other roots-rocker revivalists, and while they play a similar mix of rock, blues, country, and Mexican folk music, the ensemble guitar work of frontmen Rubén Guaderrama and Manuel Gonzales is closer to that of the Allman Brothers. The Blazers will also bring a bit of surf guitar and rockabilly to the mix Thursday at Thee Parkside in SF. 415-503-0393. (j. poet)


Two of the Bay Area's most innovative musicians -- vocalist Rhiannon and keyboardist Frank Martin -- teamed up not long ago in Rhiannon's Bowl Full of Sound, discovering a new realm of improvisation between them. The duo headlines Monday's Bread & Roses Benefit at Yoshi's, where they can expand on favorite jazz and pop tunes and original songs while joined by the world-renowned rhythm section of Alex Acuna and Abraham Laboriel. Their cause is raising money for Bread & Roses' continuing program of bringing live entertainment to shut-ins in places like hospitals and prisons. 510-238-9200. (Larry Kelp)


Yaya Maldonado is a leader in the Afro-Caribbean dance-and-drum community. He leads weekly rumbas Sunday afternoons at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley and studies the spiritual origins of the Orishas, the deities of the Afro-Cuban Santeria religion. It is in that pursuit that he wants to head to Nigeria to continue studying the Yoruban Ifa religion, the basis of these cultural traditions. So with a little from friends like Jose Barosso, Susana Pedroso, Son Boricua, Santosoul, and Los Rumeros, Yaya is throwing a benefit Sunday evening at La Peña to help get him to Africa. Instead of "good luck," say "Axé!" (pronounced a-CHAY, of course). 510-849-2568. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)


Chamber Music Sundaes give the superb members of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra the opportunity to play the intimate music they love. Sunday afternoon's season-opener in Berkeley's St. John's Presbyterian Church features SFS concertmaster Alexander Barantschik, principal cellist Michael Grebanier, and other musicians playing Dvoràk's Terzetto, Chausson's Piano Trio, and the Rachmaninoff and Glazunov quartets. Expect a packed house. 415-584-5946. (Jason Victor Serinus)


Both Saturday night shows by Kenny Lattimore and Chanté Moore at Kimball's East are already sold out, so if you know what's good for you, you'll snatch up some tickets for Thursday, Friday, or Sunday before they're all gone, too. Both Lattimore and Moore are masters of smooth, contemporary vocal jazz, with plenty of soul and healthy doses of romantic feeling. They also have enough chops to venture into R&B and gospel territory, so be prepared for an enchanted evening. 510-658-2555. (E.K.A.)


While other bands in the Swedish folk revival were plugging in and rocking out, the three musicians of Väsen stayed true to the regional roots of Uppland, playing a moody, acoustic version of traditional regional music dominated by the haunting sound of the nyckelharpa. Their current Northside album, Trio, features mostly original tunes marked by Väsen's trademark rhythmic invention and exceptional improvisational skills. Sunday at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. 510-548-1761. (j. poet)


Hey there, funkateers! Ready to put on your Atomic Dog suits and sing "Gloryhallastoopid" at the top of your lungs again? Well, alrighty then. This week's SF Funk Festival offerings should satisfy your inner funk cravings and then some. Start with spoken-word funk on Wednesday night at the Great American Music Hall in SF (415-885-0750), when the legendary Last Poets are joined by Gift of Gab and Lateef from Blackalicious, along with Youth Speaks. The fun continues with the African-inflected tribal jazz-funk of '70s favorite Mandrill, appearing Friday at the GAMH along with funky samba band Vivendo de Pão. Saturday's showcase at the Elbo Room (415-552-7788) serves up gumbo swamp-boogie funk New Orleans-style, courtesy of Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, plus eclectic DJ funk from Motion Potion. Now go forth and funkify. (E.K.A.)


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