Critic's Choice for the week of September 3-9, 2003 

It starts with an earthquake, moves into nonviolent protest, picks up some introspective Oaklanders, and sees the brief reunion of three rioters -- you figure it out.


For casual fans, the "best-of" tour is the best time to catch a big-name band: There's no overblown new record to promote, so you've got a much better chance of hearin' old favorites and nothin' but. Hopefully R.E.M. will continue that trend. Coinciding with the upcoming release of the jangly juggernaut's second best-of platter, Michael Stipe and the boys hit Shoreline Amphitheater Saturday night with the indomitable Wilco opening up. Your chances of hearing "Shiny Happy People" live have never been greater. 650-967-3000. (Rob Harvilla)


Power to the Peaceful is not just a slogan, it's a festival. Now in its fifth year of free concerts celebrating nonviolence and social activism, this Saturday's shindig, which combines folk, hip-hop, spoken word, and environmental consciousness, might have a little extra oomph to it, thanks to recent world events. Michael Franti and Spearhead headline; other live performers and speakers include Lyrics Born (Latyrx/Quannum), Zion-I, Saul Williams, Keller Williams, Pam Africa, Mario Africa, Ram Dass, Ellen Ferrato , and Julia Butterfly Hill . The attractions include a DJ tent, a healing arts tent with massage and yoga, "green" (eco-friendly) vendors, and yummy vegan food booths (tofu ice cream, anyone?). Plus it's a great time to get out to Speedway Meadow in Golden Gate Park and sit on the grass like your peace-lovin' hippie forefathers and mothers did. (Eric K. Arnold)


If Oakland rockers Tremelo hit the big time, they'll have Mandy Moore to thank. The unsigned band's tune "Promise Ring" somehow wound up on the soundtrack to How to Deal, Moore's latest melodramatic teenybopper flick. Tremelo's alt-rock poses and sensitive dude diary-speak ("Band of gold protect us from the bitter tide/That comes to wash away our words with time") certainly fit the bill; see if the guys can live it up live at SF's Red Devil Lounge Saturday night. 510-921-1695. (R.H.)


The Duvo Hungarian Band is one of the top groups to emerge from Hungary's ongoing post-Communist folk revival; the five band members are avid collectors of obscure traditional material, and play a wide variety of stringed and wind instruments, including hurdy-gurdy, chord viola, and cimbalom (hammer dulcimer). The band makes its first-ever Bay Area appearance Sunday at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. 510-548-1761. (j. poet)


As good as its music was, independent folk trio Rebecca Riots also served as a role model for a whole generation of young female singer-songwriters. Following a few years apart (the busy individual careers of Eve Decker, Andrea Pritchett, and Lisa Zeiler led them to shelve the band after nine years and four CDs), Rebecca Riots is back for a two-night reunion Thursday and Friday at the Freight & Salvage. Expect a few new songs mixed with old favorites, and exciting harmonizing over empowering lyrics. 510-548-1761. (Larry Kelp)


Combine the delightful choreography of Mark Morris with the superb sounds of Philharmonia Baroque and you have a sure winner. This Sunday through Wednesday heralds the Berkeley Zellerbach Auditorium return of Morris' take on Handel's L'allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, complete with superb vocal soloists. Also featured: settings of two works by Lou Harrison and a world premiere to Bartok's Fourth String Quartet. 510-642-9988. (Jason Victor Serinus)


The Cuban city of Santiago is a cradle of Afro-Cuban culture, where son, the national music of Cuba, descended from the mountains and mixed with French influences from Haiti. Santiago's Ballet Folklorico Cutumba is a music and dance ensemble that shows the diverse hybrids that have resulted on the eastern side of the island; savor the songs and dances of the region at La Peña in Berkeley this Friday when the thirty-year-old company makes its Bay Area debut. 510-849-2568. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)


Originally, Cuban flutist Orlando Maraca Valle was scheduled to perform at Yoshi's in Oakland this week. But the visas to enter the country didn't come through. So Yoshi's quickly assembled an all-star band called Soul Survivors to fill in. With greats Les McCann (piano/vocals), Cornell Dupree (guitar), Ernie Watts (sax), Chuck Rainey (bass), and Buddy Williams (drums), it's a soul jazz summit of figures who defined the genre from the 1960s on. 510-238-9200. (J.V.)


El Rayo-X , David Lindley's long-running world/pop/folk jam band, is well known for its stellar chops and hard-to-pigeonhole style that jumps all over the map: Tex-Mex, dub reggae, Middle Eastern blues, African folk music, Norwegian dance tunes. If you can find it in a musical encyclopedia, Lindley and his boys can play it. Friday and Saturday at the Fillmore in San Francisco. 415-346-6000. (j.p.)


Let's hear it for the Latin Grammy Awards ! In case you didn't know, this spin-off from the more-publicized pop music awards show is now in its fourth year, and you're invited to a viewing party at Jillian's inside SF's Metreon tonight. KPFA music director and DJ Luis Medina hosts, Bay Area salsa band Candela plays, and there will be hors d'oeuvres and a cocktail reception, followed by a viewing of the awards ceremony (live from Los Angeles) on a giant TV screen. Did we mention it's free to get in? Reserve your spot at 415-749-0779. (E.K.A.)


The Bay Area's own Alexander String Quartet fills the resonant acoustics of Berkeley's St. John's Presbyterian Church with a Saturday morning performance of Shostakovich's Quartets No. 11 and 12. Thanks to introductory commentary by lecturer/composer Robert Greenberg, illustrated with passages from the quartets played by the Alexanders, the power of Shostakovich's voice and vision should prove emotionally riveting. 415-398-6449. (J.V.S.)


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