Critic's Choice for the week of September 25-October 1, 2002 

Hardcore spazz, orchestral jazz, a big bad blues fest, and a mezzo-soprano at her peak.


Most of us who grew up in the late '70s/early '80s can remember goofing around with a Casio, a tape recorder, and reconstituted Baby Alive poop, so of course it makes sense that the same geeks are now all growed up and making "music" that's equal parts Zoom geek and hardcore spazz. Case in point: Japanther, a Brooklyn twosome that plays noisy post-punk synths and has toured with the Fucking Champs. Huh. The duo appears Friday at the Talk of the Town. 510-534-8255. (Katy St. Clair)

It takes a brave and righteous woman to cover a Faust song, and on her 1995 album with SF Seals, Truth Walks in Sleepy Shadows, Barbara Manning did just that, putting forth a swooning version of "Flashback Caruso" to add to her growing collection of obscure should-be favorites by John Cale, Faine Jade, Richard Thompson, Badfinger, and the Pretty Things. But the indie songstress, once a member of SF's legendary late-'80s World of Pooh, ain't no slouch in the originals department. She's plied her clever, hooky wares from here to Germany, where she's been living and gigging with a handsome set of twins as the Go-Luckys. Nowadays she calls Chico home, and on Friday night you can catch her solo at the Stork Club. Run for Cover Lovers and theterminalwasteband (with Manning on bass) also perform. 510-444-6174. (Stefanie Kalem)


English bassist-composer Dave Holland has led one of the most consistently satisfying combos in jazz for the past nineteen years. Now he's expanded his quintet by adding eight more players to bring orchestral textures to the smaller group's repertoire. The Dave Holland Big Band, which has an outstanding new ECM CD titled What Goes Around, performs through Sunday at Yoshi's. Members include trombonist Robin Eubanks, saxophonist Antonio Hart, vibraharpist Steve Nelson, and drummer Billy Kilson. 510-238-9200. (Lee Hildebrand)


The oldest annual event of its sort in the USA, the San Francisco Blues Festival turns thirty this weekend with one of the strongest lineups intrepid producer Tom Mazzolini has yet put together. Saturday's highlights include the Robert Cray Band, Howard Tate, Little Charlie & the Nightcats, Jody Williams, Otis Taylor, Toni Lynn Washington, Rev. Rabia & Virgil Thrasher, and Fresno's rockin' MoFo Party Band. An all-star band featuring Steve Miller, Charlie Musselwhite, Elvin Bishop, Barry Goldberg, Harvey Mandel, and Nick Gravenites headlines Sunday's show, which also includes Otis Rush, James Cotton, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Big Time Sarah, and Steve Freund. It all happens on the Great Meadow at Fort Mason. 415-979-5588. (L.H.)


Since the late 1980s, the songs of the Haitian rock band Boukman Eksperyans have helped fuel resistance to the dictatorial powers oppressing the Caribbean nation with a blend of Haitian voudou, reggae, rock, and soul elements. Albums for Mango and Island in the '90s brought the band's message of peace and freedom to the world. Boukman Eksperyans now brings its conscience-raising lyrics and dancehall grooves to Ashkenaz this Wednesday. 510-525-5054. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)


In the 1980s, Grupo Raiz was North America's premier nueva canción (Latin American new song) band. The five Chilean exiles and one Californian sang rousing songs for social change, balanced by virtuoso instrumental work on Andean panpipes and guitars. Grupo Raiz reunites for one night only on Friday at its old home, La Peña Cultural Center, to celebrate the release of a double CD of songs from its three LPs. 510-849-2568. (Larry Kelp)


The last Berkeley recital by mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson offered some of the most moving and intimate vocal revelations in recent memory. Now the great singer, a San Francisco native at the height of her powers, appears in the relative intimacy of Hertz Hall, joining pianist Robert Tweten for a Sunday afternoon recital of songs by Handel, Ravel, Schubert, Mahler, Debussy, and others. 510-642-9988. (Jason Serinus)


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