The Tuku man cometh

MON 6/27

Oliver Mtukudzi, or "Tuku," as he's affectionately known, could be called the Bruce Springsteen of Zimbabwe: He's a singer-songwriter with an amazing ability to make music for the common man, whose pensive, often socially conscious, sometimes controversial lyrics (sung in both English and Shona) and soothing guitar-based melodies soak deep into your soul. Mtukudzi's long musical career began in the '70s, when he was in a band with another now-famous Zimbabwean artist, Thomas Mapfumo, before forming the Black Spirits, whose music mixed Mapfumo's chimurenga style with Zimbabwean pop (jit), South African soul (mbanqanga), and traditional tribal influences. After more than forty albums, Tuku has emerged as a true original in his own right. To paraphrase one of his recent domestically available collections, his sound has become so iconic, it's simply called "Tuku Music."

Long considered a superstar in his native land and surrounding countries, Mtukudzi has started to get wider exposure in America (last year, he played to an appreciative crowd at the Stern Grove Festival), although he neither waters down or commercializes his infectious, melodic, and polyphonic sound on his new album Nhava. For world music fans, folk aficionados, and jazzheads with a taste for the ethnic, the opportunity to hear Tuku in an acoustically optimized setting like Yoshi's is a dream come true. And for those unfamiliar with his majestic presence and magical music, your chance to get initiated comes Monday, when he'll do two shows, at 8 and 10 p.m. $24 at the door. 380 Embarcadero West, Oakland. For more info, visit -- Eric K. Arnold


Lit Happens

Blue Room Blues

It's an estrogenous evening at Diesel as the award-winning Rachel Pastan reads from her new novel about a woman, This Side of Marriage, and the award-winning Michelle Richmond reads from her novel about a woman, Dream of the Blue Room (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... Aloha means a lot for Hawaii-bred Kaui Hart Hemmings, who reads from House of Thieves, her collection of short stories about families falling apart in paradise, at Orinda Books (Thu., 4 p.m.). ... The title of George Singleton's debut novel is Novel, and its snake-handler hero's name is ... Novel. His brother's name is James. His sister's is Joyce. Ask Singleton what the heck at Rakestraw (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... Harvesting her memories, Emmy-winning TV producer Rose Castillo Guilbault wrote a memoir, Farmworker's Daughter: Growing Up Mexican in America. Meet her at Mrs. Dalloway's (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... As a rabble-rousing Cal student in the '60s, she was an antiwar activist and a political-science major with a special interest in imperialism; now she's best-selling novelist Karen Joy Fowler, reading from The Jane Austen Book Club at A Great Good Place for Books (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... The Scar Saloon author Sholeh Wolpe reads with Marianne Robinson and Randy Fingland at Berkeley's Mediterraneum Cafe (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... And you thought it was just a big store with inexpensive shovels. In The United States of Wal-Mart, John Dicker unveils the underside of the world's largest retail outfit. Ask him how one chain changed the world at Cody's Telegraph (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). ... You saw it in Vertigo, in Dirty Harry, in The Maltese Falcon and so many more: It's the City, and in San Francisco Noir: The City in Film Noir from 1940 to the Present, Nathaniel Rich offers directions to dozens of famous filming locations. Make his day at Black Oak (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). ... Given the two closest holidays, the theme of this week's Poetry Express at Priya Indian Cuisine is "Fathers and Suns" (Mon., 7 p.m.). ... Authors and readers meet and eat at Lafayette Bookstore's latest Literary Mixer, a potluck with footnotes (Tue., 7 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

SAT 6/24

Gasoline Ballistics

Fuck Drunk Horse's recycled Molly Hatchet/UFO riffs. Give me the tight, yet raging, air-raid rock of Bullets and Octane any day. Not only does its thrash-happy, crash 'n' burn sound contain just enough variation to ensure that every song doesn't sound exactly the same, but the band's lyrics aren't completely nonsensical. On "Pirates," one of the best songs from its debut album The Revelry, they sing, Hey hey you want to be a star/clutter up my sky/we all pay for your big cigar/the diamonds in your lie. Now that's kinda poignant, wouldn't ya say? As for the band's name, it comes from the great wide world of indie cinema, being a homage to Joe Carnahan's 1998 film Blood, Guts, Bullets, and Octane, about two used-car dealers who get in over their heads after being asked to hold a 1963 Pontiac LeMans on their lot. Obscure, maybe, but cool. Check B&O out Saturday at iMusicast's L3, along with Once Over, My Former Self, Urban Achievers, Hopefield, and Interpret This. Doors at 6 p.m. $9. -- Eric K. Arnold

THU 6/23

In the House

Brothers, meet the Sisters

Some folks might remember DJ Dedan from his days at the ol' Caribee club, when he rocked reggae 45s with the heart of a lion. Now he has moved on to soulful house, neo-soul, and world beat, which he and DJ Daniela spin during Brothers and Sisters, Thursday nights at Luka's, which has one of the best DJ booths and most romantic dancefloors in the area. Recent set lists for this weekly dance party include the likes of Jill Scott, Marcus Enochson, Nick Holder, Femi Kuti, Sarah Devine, Roy Ayers, Halo & Atwater, Masters at Work, and Stacy Kidd -- from the smooth, to the hype, to the classic. And if you e-mail and request it, he'll bring a free mix CD to the gig. There's no cover at the door, which leaves you more scrilla to sample the exquisite Belgian brew selection or taste a top-shelf apple martini. Luka's Taproom & Lounge is at 2221 Broadway (at West Grand Ave.), Oakland. For more info, call 510-451-4677 or visit -- Eric K. Arnold



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