Critic's Choice for the week of September 8-14, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


If you take a chance on Jane Monheit, you won't regret it. At 26, the baby-faced singer is no plain Jane; she's poised to take over the world of supper-club jazz, much as Peter Cincotti did not too long ago. Fresh-faced ingenue though she may be, she has a voice that sounds considerably older than she is, one that's put to good use on Take a Chance on Love, her debut album for Sony Classics. Romance seeps out of her every pore -- in a grand, '40s-movie kind of way -- as she tackles standards like "Embraceable You," "Why Can't You Behave," and "Honeysuckle Rose." The album's pièce de résistance, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," could give Judy Garland's version a run for its money, and might lead to Monheit finding her very own Yellow Brick Road: It's the featured song in the new retro-pulp sci-fi flick Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Dreams come true Thursday at Yoshi's, when Monheit opens up a two-night run. $12-$24, 8 and 10 p.m. 510-238-9200 or (Eric K. Arnold)


Mature beyond her years, tenor saxophonist Hitomi Oba was a star player by the time she joined the Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble. Beginning her third year of college, Oba returns home for one concert Friday at Berkeley's Jazzschool. Her vibrant approach to jazz includes a reverence for John Coltrane as well as a vision of her own on original tunes, a few jazz stan-dards, and improvisations on surprises such as the Japanese folk song "Sakura." Her quartet comprises longtime bass partner Tom Altura, pianist Colin Hogan (all three are currently studying at UCLA), and drummer Joe Petrasek, a Cal State Hayward student. $12-$15, 8 p.m. 510-845-5373 or (Larry Kelp)


As a member of the Kingston Trio, John Stewart helped kickstart the '60s folk revival. As a songwriter, he contributed "Daydream Believer" to the canon of the Monkees. As a recording artist, he produced the proto-Americana classic "California Bloodlines," and notched a top-ten hit with his '80s single "Gold." And as a per-former he's tireless, criss-crossing the country with an overflowing song bag and entertaining tales of his life as a longtime road warrior. Sunday at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. $17.50-$18.50, 8 p.m. 510-548-1761 or (j. poet)


Ike Reilly orbits that timeworn Coulda/Shoulda Been a Superstar stratosphere, with an affectionately raspy singing voice and a boatload of finger-snappin', coed-wooin', white-guy-hip-hoppin' pop tunes that made his 2001 debut, Salesmen and Racists, such an outta-nowhere delight. Now piloting the Ike Reilly Assassi-nation, his follow-up, Sparkle to the Finish, is similarly witty and catchy, and he'll flaunt it mercilessly Tuesday night at Thee Parkside in SF with Persephone's Bees. 9:30 or so. 415-503-0393 or (Rob Harvilla)


OK, so something really bad happened on September 11. But that doesn't mean that day has to resonate with fear, dread, and terror. The Power to the Peaceful festival offers a chance to make a strong antiwar/pro-peace statement this Saturday, simply by showing up and getting your groove on. And while a cavalcade of speakers -- including Democracy Now's Amy Goodman, Mario Africa, and Barbara Lubin -- will flex their freedom of speech rights to the fullest, the highlight of the afternoon will be a live performance by Michael Franti and Spearhead. Franti's socially aware lyrics and infectious rhythms -- touching on everything from funk to punk to folk to hip-hop -- are sure to turn Golden Gate Park's Speedway Meadow into one big fat conscious party. Other performers include String Cheese Incident, Gift of Gab, Xavier Rudd, and the John Butler Trio, plus DJs Miguel Migs, Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist, Jah Yzer, Adnan, Laird, Ellen Ferato, and Funklor. Go 'head and hug a tree, or maybe just the person next to you. Oh, and did we mention admission is free? 415-865-2170 or (E.K.A.)


Kent Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony draw us to Zellerbach Hall Monday night to hear the US premiere of Unsuk Chin's Violin Concerto. Played by the same Viviane Hagner who gave the work's 2002 world premiere, we will discover why the concerto has brought Ms. Chin international recognition. The music of another con-temporary, George Benjamin, will surface via Viola Viola, featuring violists Kurt Rohde and Ellen Ruth Rose. Finally, there's music from two other Bs: Ludwig von's Fifth Symphony and J.S.' chorale prelude Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist as orchestrated by Schoenberg. $22-$49 with $10 student rush, 8 p.m., preconcert lecture at 7 p.m. 510-841-2800 or (Jason Victor Serinus)


If Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar playing was rico, then his older brother Jimmie Vaughan's style is suave. The former Fabulous Thunderbird has developed a solo style that melds hot Texas blues with cooler R&B sensibilities. He brings his slick hair and smooth licks to Slim's in SF Saturday night, paired with blues belter Lou Ann Barton. $23, 9 p.m. 415-255-0333 or (Michael Gowan)


The gang of Irish miscreants known as Flogging Molly plays a hybrid of Pogues-influenced Irish music with a combination of acoustic and electric instruments. Too folky to be purely punk and too loud and fierce to be considered folk, the band inhabits a genial, boozy self-made world between thrash and traditional with an attitude full of working-class aggro. Tuesday at the Warfield in SF. $20, 8 p.m. 415-775-7722 or (j.p.)


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