Once you get past the fact that Keith Richards is starting to resemble some kind of deranged rock 'n' roll pirate granny and that the Rolling Stones are pretty much doomed to chip away at the band's once-awesome legacy by putting out progressively lamer albums until one of the principals ends up confined to either wheelchair or grave, you can't help but admire fookin' Keef. Besides crafting some of the most memorable riffs in history, the dude managed to survive both his own legendary appetite for drug consumption and Mick Jagger's preening peacock attitude for over 40 years. Celebrating the life and music of a man who was lucky to make it to 31, much less 61, a host of San Francisco's finest come together to salute Richards on his birthday. Check out the Mother Hips,Persephone's Bees ,Kelley Stoltz ,Oranger ,the Black Furies,Harold Ray Live in Concert , and many others as they pay tribute with covers of their favorite Stones classics and Keith nuggets at Slim's this Sunday, Dec. 19; call 255-0333 or go to www.slims-sf.com.
-- Dave Pehling
I've run into a number of people lately who say they've heard of Portland's M. Ward but haven't heard his music. I suppose that makes sense, given that Ward's creaky folk is so guileless, his voice a husky warble that won't hold your attention if you're not willing to meet it halfway. It's also true that at the moment we're inundated with singer/songwriters. From Devendra Banhart and Iron & Wine (aka Sam Beam) to Will Oldham and Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst (with whom Ward has toured), the house of Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley is mighty crowded these days. Still, you should go see M. Ward. For one thing, he can play the hell out of his acoustic guitar, as well as or better than all of those dudes mentioned above. For another, his songs -- be they about love, loss, or transistor radios -- are damn near perfect. Finally, he's a real sweet guy, approachable and sincere, just ambling down life's windy path at his own pace. You're invited to join him on Tuesday, Dec. 21, at Café Du Nord; call 861-5016 or go to www.cafedunord.com.
-- Garrett Kamps