Critic's Choice for the week of October 25-31, 2006 

Jazz festivals, grass festivals, and one mean Metalween.

Bluesy Kamikaze Jazz

The fall San Francisco Jazz Festival has slipped some exciting acts in between the big names. The most tantalizing is the reunion of Kamikaze Ground Crew, the band of mostly former East Bay musicians that grew out of the Flying Karamazov Brothers pit band. The Crew created a style that swings through jazz, film soundtrack atmospherics, cabaret, circus music, and lounge instrumentals. The band features mastermind Gina Leishman (accordion and reeds), Doug Wieselman (winds and guitar), saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum, trumpeter Steven Bernstein, tuba player Marcus Rojas, drummer Kenny Wollesen, and trombonist Noah Bless. Their music is intriguing, haunting, occasionally hilarious, and irresistible. With a new CD in the works, the Crew plays San Francisco's Great American Music Hall on Wednesday, November 1. 8 p.m., $25. (Larry Kelp)

Grassy Jam Bands

Mill Valley jam band Vinyl recently rocked the de Young Museum in San Francisco with off-the-hook sets of old-school funk, jazz, reggae, Afro-Cuban, and other infectious beats. Characterized by largely instrumental sound and superb musicality, its latest album Fogshack Music Volume 1 features Bernie Worrell and the Rondo Brothers plus horns, Latin percussion, and that signature Hammond B-3 organ. Check out the band this Sunday, October 29, at the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park in SF, performing alongside the Kottonmouth Kings at the second annual Wonders of Cannabis Festival, a benefit for the Cannabis Action Network and Green Aid. 4 p.m. $20 (18 and over). Info: 510-486-8083 or (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

Two-Dollar Folk Collectives

When Derek Schmidt isn't busy scheduling art shows or music events at his Living Room Collective in South Berkeley, he gathers friends to partake in his songwriting project, All My Pretty Ones. Schmidt says his combination of folk, bluegrass, and classical influences attempts to "further the advance of indie songwriting and sensibilities." In other words, it's music fit for the attentive, thoughtful audience at Mama Buzz Cafe. Saturday, October 28. 7 p.m., $2. (Kathleen Richards)

Bong Rocking

Some Bay Area bands are coming to the aid of Sandra Tellis, the 45-year-old Oakland woman who was found beaten, tied up, and burned last month. Remarkably, Tellis survived the attack, but she's still in critical condition, and her family has set up a medical fund in her name. The bands — Danzig-influenced Soul Broker, bong-rockers Greenhouse Effect, Stonecutter, and Placenta — will generously donate 70 percent of the door charge and $2 for each CD sold. Friday, October 27 8 p.m., $8. (Kathleen Richards)


It's safe to say that no other music event this hallowed eve will incite as much terror as the double shriek of Ludicra's Laurie Shanaman and Christy Cather. Despite the fact that this San Francisco black-metal band can scare the bejesus out of listeners year-round (see its 2006 EPs, Fex Urbis Lex Orbis and Ludicra), one can only imagine what ungodly tricks its members have up their sleeves for this holiday. They'll be accompanied by Asunder, Keen of the Crow, and Aldebaran on Tuesday, October 31 for the Elbo Room's Metalween. 9 pm., $8. (Kathleen Richards)

Big Easy Brass

New Orleans' Rebirth Brass Band has been around since the early '80s, but its name has never been so apt. The group has introduced countless college students and tourists to New Orleans nightlife through its Tuesday night residency at the Maple Leaf Bar, the same venue that hosted the first post-Katrina concert in the city. Playing contemporary New Orleans brass in vintage marching band style, the Rebirth Brass Band is a perennial ambassador for its hometown while on the road. Trombone, trumpet, and tuba will be in tow when the group visits the Independent in SF Thursday and Friday, October 26 and 27. 8:30 p.m. $20/ (Nate Seltenrich)

The Black and White Keys

Pianophiles are in luck this week. The adventurous can check out our own Sarah Cahill's Berkeley Arts Festival program of six piano works written in 2006, including three world premieres by Frederic Rzewski, Larry Polansky, and Andrea Morricone at Berkeley's Jazzschool on Friday, October 27 (8 p.m., $10-$20; At the same time, for the same price, Mills College presents Swiss virtuoso Werner Bartschi playing Chopin and Moussorgsky's Pictures at the Mills concert Hall ( And if you don't favor piano solo, Cal Performances offers a trio of pianist Yefim Bronfman, violinist Gil Shaham, and cellist Truls Mork in Zellerbach that can hardly be equaled. Wednesday, November 1. 8 p.m., $30-$52. (Jason Victor Serinus)


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