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Jan. 23-30, 2002

WARM UP FOR Salt Lake City by witnessing some true agility under pressure: a tug-of-words with Olympic-style judging. For the fourth year in a row, the young poets of the WritersCorps Youth Poetry Slam League are in competition-caliber shape, and they're kicking off a new season. The YPSL helps cultivate budding wordsmiths by bringing writing curricula to at-risk youth in the Bay Area – and then providing them with a stage where they can strut their stuff. The latest event puts two teams head-to-head, with poetry performers from the Log Cabin Ranch, a facility for incarcerated men under 18, and the Center for Young Women's Development, a program for girls who have lived on the streets or been incarcerated. Slam poet champion Ishle Park, a veteran poetry teacher in prisons, schools, and community centers, hosts the showdown. Fri/25, 7 p.m., Borders Books and Music, 400 Post, S.F. Free. (415) 252-4655, www.writerscorps-sf.org. (Nancy Einhart)

Jan. 23


Beats for the bored If our proud nation of slackers were to elect a spokesperson – an eloquent, rhyming mouthpiece for their varied concerns – Aesop Rock would be a prime candidate. Not that he's lazy or slovenly; after all, the New York-based rapper has released two albums in the last two years, and an EP, Daylight, is set for release next month. But his ruminations on self-esteem (or a lack thereof), relationships, and loneliness seem well suited for a generation more comfortable with leisure and self-analysis than ambition. Tonight, Aesop Rock is scheduled to deliver his navel-gazing masterpieces before fun-crushing cohorts and fellow critic's darlings Cannibal Ox, who headline their third Bay Area show in less than six months. 9 p.m., Justice League, 628 Divisadero, S.F. $15. (415) 289-2038. (Mosi Reeves)

Word play The first, and probably only, sacred steel supergroup, the Word rolls into town on musical rails greased by 23-year-old phenom Robert Randolph. Steeped in the rousing gospel of the House of God, Pentecostal-Holiness tradition, the New Jersey native takes his pedal steel guitar out of the church and into the secular jam band and Southern blues-rock fields tilled by Medeski, Martin, and Wood and the North Mississippi Allstars. Indeed, touring the West Coast for the first time in support of its acclaimed self-titled debut CD, the Word parlays the power trio assault of the Allstars into a spirit-and-glory instrumental gospel quintet, with John Medeski wailing on organ and Wurlitzer and Randolph filling even nonbelievers with the inspiration screaming from his slide-driven strings. Through Thurs/24. 8 p.m., Fillmore, 1805 Geary, S.F. $25. (415) 346-6000. (Derk Richardson)

Jan. 24


Repaving old roads Of course you remember singer-songwriter-bassist Johnette Napolitano's husky voice. You couldn't avoid hearing her moan "Joey" back in the early '90s. But what the hell ever happened to Los Angeles-based alternative rockers Concrete Blonde? The band released their first album in 1987 and gradually arose in fame and acclaim. In 1994, after numerous arguments between members, the band split up. But last spring Napolitano contacted guitarist and cofounding member Jim Mankey, and together they tracked down drummer Harry Rushakoffe. A few months later the threesome recorded Group Therapy (Manifesto Records) in a matter of 10 days. Tonight, Concrete Blonde play old favorites and songs off their new album. Mojacar open. 9 p.m., Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell, S.F. $20. (415) 885-0750. (Heidi Smith)

Stop! Hammerhead time To paraphrase legendary educator Dean Vernon Wormer, fat, drunk, and stupid may not be the best way to get the most out of your four- to six-year stint in college. However, if you're going to join a rock and roll band, it's a pretty good road to take if you aren't into the whole dark, brooding artist thing. Tenderloin stupor heroes the Nads have worn their (admitted) banality proudly on their chest while pleasing power-chord purists and annoying pretty much everyone else. Supplementing their lack of smarts and good looks with volume, poor taste, and a care-less attitude, the band recently caught the attention of Gearhead Records. The resulting Saigon Hooker seven-inch is a little bit Dictators, a little bit Supersuckers, and a lotta bit raucous energy. Three songs, three chords, four dopes: rock at its purest. Tonight the Nads celebrate the release of their new 45 as well as the fifth anniversary of the fantabulous Stinky's Peepshow. One Man Army and the Lucky Stiffs join in the fun. 9:30 p.m., Justice League, 628 Divisadero, S.F. $8. (415) 289-2038. (John O'Neill)

Fly at the Eagle Onetime Camper Van Beethoven bassist (and current Bay Guardian art director) Victor Krummenacher has rounded up his Bittersweet band for a one-night stand at the gentlest biker bar in recorded history. Krummenacher, on vocals and guitar, will be joined by pedal steel player par excellence Bruce Kaphan, former Stench Brother John Hanes on drums, Chris Xefos on bass, and Steve Perrone on guitar. They'll play tunes like "Bittersweet," the title cut off their last album, along with "Radio Tower" and "Blind," but the real reason for the show is to work the kinks out of new material before they go back in the studio to record another album. Pedalsped also plays. 9:30 p.m., Eagle Tavern, 398 12th St., S.F. Call for price. (415) 626-0880. (J.H. Tompkins)

Jan. 25


Paint it black When the British Invasion hit, soul man Eric Burdon and his band the Animals were widely regarded as England's top R&B outfit, spawning bluesy hits like "The House of the Rising Sun" and "We Gotta Get Out of This Place." Burdon's prolific post-original Animals career has included stints in the San Francisco psychedelic scene and the group War (pre-"Low Rider"), numerous solo and collaborative albums, and a side career as a visual artist. A pal of Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Jim Morrison, and other rock royals, Burdon was also widely known for his offstage high jinks, which (as legend has it) led to his being the inspiration for the Beatles' "Eggman." The still-performing Rock and Roll Hall of Famer returns to one of his former haunts, the Upper Haight, to read from Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, a new autobiography that chronicles Burdon's musical career (plus a self-described "long list of bad deals, bad relationships, bad drugs, and bad behavior") since the early 1960s. 7 p.m., Booksmith, 1644 Haight, S.F. Free. (415) 863-8688. (Cheryl Eddy)

Body electric A friend of mine broke down in tears while watching Joe Goode's Transparent Body at its world premiere in Philadelphia last summer. Goode can affect a person that way. Having outgrown the Marsh, Goode has moved his annual Side Effects series – informal showings of past and future works – to the Cowell Theater. In addition to Body (which features Goode portraying both Heidi and a truck driver), the program, titled "Shut Up and Dance: Can Language and Movement Coexist?," offers excerpts of the upcoming world premiere of Mythic Montana, the men's duet segment of Gender Heroes, and a section from the first act of Deeply There. A lobby installation is also planned. Through Sat/26. 8 p.m., Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, S.F. $18. (415) 345-7575. (Rita Felciano)

Jan. 26


Capturing motion Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado has built a reputation documenting humans in transit. Now his work is traveling to San Francisco. Since 1995, in nearly 40 countries, Salgado has chronicled the mass migrations of displaced people, from optimistic immigrants to refugees fleeing the wrath of war. "Exodus," which opens today, features about 45 commandingly large selections from the photojournalist's "Migrations" series, showing at the UC Berkeley Art Museum. Salgado has received nearly every photographic prize imaginable for his stunning and disturbing portraits, and his travels have allowed him to focus on a startlingly diverse number of groups, from the boat people of Vietnam to the rural migrants crowding into hyperurban environs like São Paulo. Through March 2, Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Hosfelt Gallery, 430 Clementina, S.F. Free. (415) 495-5454, www.hosfeltgallery.com. (Also "Migrations: Photographs by Sebastião Salgado," through March 24, Wed.-Sun., 11 a.m.-7 p.m., UC Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant, Berk. $4-$6. 510-642-0808.) (Nancy Einhart)

Let's rock The King would've been 67 this month had he lived past 1977, but it's hard to imagine him making another documentary as thrilling as Elvis: That's the Way It Is, Denis Sanders's chronicle of the days leading up to and including Presley's Las Vegas shows in the summer of 1970. That's the Way It Is is everything a backstage doc should be, mixing off-the-cuff rehearsals with fan testimonials, behind-the-scenes moments, and concert footage. It's also a time capsule of the entertainment world (in the audience: Charo! Cary Grant! Sammy Davis Jr.!) and, most important, an up-close, revealing look at a man who gave very few interviews during his lifetime and whose superstar image often eclipsed the fact that he was a real person with a pretty endearing sense of humor who also happened to wear sparkly jumpsuits onstage. That's the Way It Is got the "special edition" DVD treatment last year, and it's showing here restored, remastered, and with new songs. Die-hard TCB-ers won't want to miss a young Presley's snarling turn in the day's other feature, 1957's Jailhouse Rock. Jailhouse Rock, 1, 5, 9 p.m.; Elvis: That's the Way It Is, 3, 7 p.m., Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, S.F. $4.50-$7. (415) 621-6120. (Eddy)

Jan. 27


Hella fly Chicago's Flying Luttenbachers are not an aerial act, but their music definitely gets airborne when squealing clarinet notes blow all over the place. For 10 years band founder Weasel Walter has been tinkering with free jazz by combining it with spastic black metal riffs. Last seen in the Bay Area as a trio (two bassists, one drummer), the group return with new compositionally confounding material for Infection and Decline, soon to be released on Troubleman Unlimited. Also on the bill: Hella, an astoundingly talented rock duo from Sacramento, put to shame anything that's ever been described as angular post-something. Openers Nam – including vets from Hot Fucking Jets and the Church Steps – play scudding groove drones that bring to life '70s postwar paranoia; they aren't camp, but they do have a tent. Numbers, as usual, will rule the dance party portion of the evening. 9 p.m., Covered Wagon Saloon, 911 Folsom, S.F. $5. (415) 974-1585. (Also Tues/29 with Total Shutdown and Burmese, 9 p.m., Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph, Oakl. $6. 510-444-6174.) (Deborah Giattina)

Jan. 28


Raw repertoire If you didn't quite see the beauty in A Beautiful Mind, why not sample another schizophrenic script? In the newest installment of the Magic Theatre's Martha Heasley Cox Raw Play Series, Tucson, Ariz.-based playwright Victor Lodato will read from his work in progress, A Book of Harsh Geometry. This latest offering from Lodato, whose Eviction opens at the Magic Theatre in February, presents a dark yet comedic tale of a young schizophrenic who is determined to use mathematical equations to allow children to fly. While he explores the balance between science and magic, Lodato addresses a far more concrete problem that the main character must face: his medication, prescribed to treat his illness, lessens his interest in intellectual pursuits. 7:30 p.m., Mechanics' Institute, Library, 57 Post, S.F. $5. (415) 393-0100. (Einhart)

Sax in the city Although fledgling in comparison to such similarly formatted ensembles as the World Saxophone Quartet and the Bay Area's own Rova, the Brooklyn Sax Quartet makes up in pedigree, virtuosity, and invention whatever it may lack in longevity. Founded in 1995 by David Bindman (tenor) and Fred Ho (baritone), with man-about-New York Sam Furnace (alto) and Chris Jonas (soprano) rounding out the foursome, the BSQ released its debut CD only last year. The group's credits include Ho's Afro Asian Music Ensemble and Anthony Braxton's Trillium R Opera, and its repertoire ranges from extended originals to "In a Sentimental Mood" and "Jitterbug Waltz." The Way of the Saxophone (Innova) abounds with multiple hues, textures, and moods in a weave of soothing harmonies and jarring counterpoints. It all adds up to BSQ defining its own avant-jazz niche. 8 and 10 p.m., Yoshi's, 510 Embarcadero West, Jack London Square, Oakl. $8-$10. (510) 238-9200. (Richardson)

Jan. 29


20/20 vision Tonight's entry in the Pacific Film Archive's New Arab Video series is well worth a look; it features three works compiled under the theme "Traversing Times/Breaching Dimensions." First up is Jamelie Hassan's short "Mediterranean Modern," an exploration of home and identity through an Armenian painter who flees to Lebanon, where he finds work painting the house of a Lebanese family. The half-hour-long Her + Him, Van Leo, by Akram Zaatari, is "a portrait of a portrait photographer." Finally, the 52-minute A Woman Taxi Driver in Sidi Bel-Abbès, is filmmaker Belkacem Hadjadj's award-winning doc about an Algerian widow who braves the male-dominated world of taxi driving to help support her family. 7:30 p.m., New PFA Theater, 2575 Bancroft, Berk. $4.50-7. (510) 642-1412. (Eddy)

Jan. 30


For the birds When it comes to her art, Yvonne Jacquette has her head in the clouds. Since the 1960s she has sought a unique approach to image making, a process that led her to explore alternative vantage points and eventually dedicate herself to presenting our world solely from an aerial perspective. "Aerial Muse: The Art of Yvonne Jacquette," a retrospective exhibition that will tour nationally, features approximately 40 of her aerial viewpoint paintings, drawings, pastels, and prints. Her work depicts landscapes across America, both urban and rural, as well as overseas, and reflects influences from numerous, often contradictory, artistic movements, including impressionism, realism, precisionism, and abstract expressionism. The exhibition includes documentary videos and an extensive catalog with essays by well-known art critics and curators. This unique display is worth the trip down south. Through April 21. Thurs/31, discussion with the artist, 5 p.m.; gallery hours, Wed.-Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, Stanford. Free. (650) 723-4177, www.stanford.edu/dept/ccva. (Meryl Cohen)

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