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Shareef Ali 

When: Wed., Jan. 18, 9 p.m. 2012
Price: $8

Even when he's playing with a large band, Shareef Ali prefers to sound simple and homespun, relying on acoustic instrumentation and hooky melodies. In many cases, his songs sound like handicrafts; in others, they serve as protest music -- "Witness," for example, is an ode to Occupy Oakland, and it's far more charming than the more-famous anthem penned by Third Eye Blind. Angrier and fiercer than most of Ali's compositions, many of which are love ballads, the song shows the sheer range of sentiment he's able to convey. Ali headlines an all-folk lineup at Bottom of the Hill (1233 17th St., San Francisco) on Wednesday, Jan. 18, with support from Fleeting Trance, a like-minded balladeer whose music might actually qualify as "lush," given that it often involves piano, slide guitar, and roomy-sounding chords. Another artfully forlorn singer-songwriter, Terese Taylor, opens the show. 9 p.m., $8. BottomoftheHill.com

— Rachel Swan

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