Critic's Choice for the week of September 14-20, 2005 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


The Bay Area folk community's singing matriarch and "oldful" activist Faith Petric celebrates her ninetieth birthday Saturday at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage with songs, sing-alongs, and performances with and by her friends. Fellow feisty folkie Utah Phillips hosts the evening, which includes Ronnie Gilbert, Nancy Schimmel, Van Rozay, Don Burnham, Ed Bronstein, Aileen Vance, Laurie Vela, Bob Reid, and members of the organization Petric cofounded, the Freedom Song Network. $18.50, 7:30 p.m. doors. 510-548-1761 or (Larry Kelp)


Kenyan expatriate Victor Sila is a man on a mission: to have a seriously funky good time. The founder of a style he calls Afro-funk, he has also named his band the Afro-Funk Experience, which is basically what will happen to you Friday night at Berkeley's Ashkenaz. The Experience's sets are invariably long, sweaty labors of love -- in addition to syncopated grooves, percussive breaks, and Sila's fervent multilingual vocals, there's another, more interactive element. Simply put, the more love you show Sila and company when they're onstage, the more they'll return to you. Now go tell your momma 'bout that. $11-$13, 9:30 p.m. (Eric K. Arnold)


Recognized as much for his multiple-personality disorder as his inclination to make beats from the sound of lips or butt cheeks being smacked (he did, after all, make soundtracks for porn films), Kool Keith straddles the line between mere perversion and actual psychosis. The emcee's rhymes are so lascivious, in fact, that sometimes he makes Too $hort's "Blowjob Betty" sound like a frothing sonnet about summer nights and the smell of the rosebush. Fortunately, Keith is also funky enough to get away with it. He performs Sunday at DNA Lounge for the Join the Movement Tour, which also features Gang Starr's frontman Guru, F.I.L.T.H.E.E. Immigrants, Esham, and DJ Daeta. $18-$20, 10 p.m. (Rachel Swan)


The Hurricane Katrina relief benefit show deluge has begun, and to ensure you don't miss anything important, you'd best just go ahead and hit all of them. Let's start you off with some jazz -- Dirty Dozen Brass Band founder Kirk Joseph leads a kitchen sink blowout Thursday night at Yoshi's with Rebeca Mauleón, Bobi Cespedes, Carolyn Brandy, Calvin Keys, SoVoSó, and myriad other big shots (8 and 10 p.m., $25 per show), while folk hero Taj Mahal holds it down all on his own Sunday night ($30, 8 p.m.). (Rob Harvilla)


Intrigued by the whole neo-folk scene, but finding Joanna and Devendra and such a bit too ... peppy? Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice is your answer, led by Tennessee enigma James Toth and possessive of bridge traffic-slow, deeply hypnotic, ghoulish grooves that make you feel as if you're hiking the Appalachian Trail on peyote. With Alasdair Roberts tonight (Wednesday) at Oakland's 21 Grand. $6-$10, 8 p.m. (R.H.)


Even after being appointed the 2005 poet laureate of California, the Mississippi-born writer Al Young probably wasn't expecting to one day sit at a table with Arnold Schwarzenegger and listen to the governor quote parts of his "Conjugal Visits," a piece about a woman's frustration over her husband's imprisonment. After all, it would seem counterintuitive to hear the lines All these black men crammed up in jail/ All this IQ on ice/While governments, bank presidents/The Mafia don't think twice fall from the lips of a swarthy Republican statesman. But even if Schwarzenegger hadn't offered his blessing, Young would still be one of the state's most powerful literary voices to date. He'll perform tonight (Wednesday) at Culture Shock Live!, which also features the talents of Opal Palmer Adisa, Reginal Lockett, and Charles Blackwell. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. at Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge in Oakland, and costs $5. (R.S.)


When Laurette Goldberg passed away on April 3, we lost the founder of our great Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Also a founding member of the San Francisco Early Music Society and the Baroque program at the SF Conservatory of Music, Goldberg helped spearhead the early music renaissance in the Bay Area. Thursday night at Berkeley's First Congregational Church, the forces of Philharmonia, MusicSources, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music join together for a free tribute to this wonderful woman. 8 p.m., 415-252-1288. (Jason Victor Serinus)


The evocatively named Phosphorescent -- aka Athens, Georgia, one-man-band Mathew Houck -- specializes in the surrealist pop of the infamous Elephant 6 catalogue, but chopped and screwed down to a cough syrup crawl ridden by Houck's cracked, frail voice. This makes his latest, Aw Come Aw Wry, ill-suited for road trips, but ideal for headphone journeys through twisted Americana. Do not operate any heavy machinery tonight (Wednesday) at SF's Rickshaw Stop with El Capitan and fantastic Our Lady of the Highway frontman Dominic East. $8, 8 p.m. (R.H.)


Performing in a recent underground hip-hop show at West Oakland's 2232 MLK, the spoken-word poet and soul diva Jennifer Johns nearly stole all the shine from her sassy cohort Jean Grae. After all, few can resist the heft and deliciousness of Johns' voice, which bears a rich inheritance from old-school jazz and blues women, harkening to forebears like Mavis Staples and Sweet Honey in the Rock. Johns headlines Sunday's Feed the Nation concert in West Oakland's Splash Pad Park, held in association with the Oakland International Film Festival. Local black farmers will be selling fresh produce throughout the event -- which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. -- so you can grab a healthy lunch on the cheap. Admission is free. (R.S.)


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