Thursday, September 19
Dave Douglas String Group While jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is a virtuoso who is firmly connected to the past, Douglas is America's forward-looking prodigal son. Proving invaluable to innovators such as John Zorn, who chose Douglas to perform in Masada -- Zorn's improvisational project that gave Jewish klezmer music new meaning -- Douglas also shines as a composer in his own right. On his most recent recording with his String Group, Five (Knitting Factory), he elegantly navigates the territory between hard bop convention and group improvisation. Preacher Boy opens. Cafe Du Nord, 10 p.m., $5.
Friday, September 20
Double Dynamite Tonight's the night to take that someone special out for a night of class and dance. When it comes to soul dancing, it doesn't get much better than this. Irma Thomas was pregnant by 14, married at 15, divorced and remarried by 17, mother of four by 20, and divorced again soon after that; but despite all adversity (including the first British Invasion, which made a hit of her "Time Is on My Side," only not for her) she has risen to become one of New Orleans' musical royalty. Her warmth and sincerity onstage are infectious and tangible. Otis Clay is considered one of the premier deep-soul (or hard-soul) singers working today. As a youngster he performed with the Gospel Songbirds and the Sensational Nightingales in Chicago, but it wasn't long before he was recording at the Hi Studios in Memphis, taking his genteel church music aesthetic to new heights as he combined his soul-searching with a raw, fiery brand of R&B that follows in the tradition of Hi labelmate Al Green. Bimbo's 365 Club, 8 p.m., $20.
Saturday, September 21
Sunshine Club/Tarnation Keeping with theme nights this week, this melancholy country bill has got to be one of the best shows that San Francisco has to offer. While the Sunshine Club's live performances are more combative than their pretty, wispy debut recording, Visit to a Small Planet, no one can ignore the sadness within singer Denise Bon Giovanni's deep brown eyes and her unfathomable sighs. If she doesn't get you thinking of past loves and long-buried psychoses, Tarnation's Paula Frazer (pictured) will hit some nerves with her plaintive croon. Just remember, sad music doesn't make you sad; it's cathartic. Hotel Utah, 10 p.m., $6.
Sunday, September 22
Ray Condo & His Ricochets This oughta get you flippin'. The Ricochets hail from Vancouver, where the women have beautiful skin and the salmon is always fresh, but the bands in the local rockabilly-swing scene can be counted on one hand. Fortunately, this quintet has not found that to be a hindrance -- all Canadians love to dance. Swing Brother Swing! (Joaquin) contains one original instrumental composition and 12 covers of some fairly obscure rockabilly, jazz, and western-swing numbers from the '30s and '40s. While these cats give all their numbers a hard-to-achieve touch of authenticity, their penchant for the uptempo hillbilly riff really makes it their own. Stardust Lounge, 9 p.m., $5.
Monday, September 23
World of Slide Guitar U.S.A. Tour will bring together three of the greatest slide guitar players from America, Great Britain, and India with a concert of Delta blues, Hawaiian melodies, Indian ragas, and Celtic airs. Brooklyn-born Bob Brozman discovered National Steel via Son House and Bukka White. It was only by accident that he stumbled upon Hawaii's Sol Hoopii, but that was enough to spawn Brozman's signature gumbo of blues, Hawaiian, and Latin styles. Debashish Bhattacharya gave his first guitar recital at the age of 4 and received his first Western-style guitar lesson at 6. He plays a modified instrument that allows him to simulate the effects of the veena, sitar, sarode, and Arabian kannur. The elegant, austere quality of his playing reflects his devotion to the "father" of North Indian slide guitar, Pundit Brij Bhushan Kabra. Martin Simpson (pictured) got his start playing the English folk club circuit, where he absorbed American blues and old-timey music before embarking on a decadelong venture as June Tabor's accompanist. During this period he began focusing on his desire to tell stories with his guitar rather than just play tunes. Great American Music Hall, 8 p.m., $12.50.
Tuesday, September 24
Industrial in the '90s If you were not lucky enough to catch Trent Reznor back when he was still playing at the old Oasis, you probably never got the thrill of industrial angst completely in your face without the restraints of bouncers and barricades. Thankfully there's always a new batch of kids to rehash the mix with virgin blood and excitement. Slave Unit's self-titled release (COP) sounds like Reznor circa Pretty Hate Machine crossed with White Zombie, only skewing a lot younger (see "Backdown" with its stunning, anthemic chorus, "Stupid motherfucker thinks he's gonna fight me/ Just because he doesn't really like me"). Just close your eyes and pretend -- it'll all be hunky-dory. This jampacked industrial night also features Cubanate, Acumen, and Sun God. Trocadero, 8 p.m., $7-8.
By Silke Tudor