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The Master of Mirth, David Byrne, plays three dates at the Fillmore, and the Masters of Persian Music grace Zellerbach Hall

The Talking Heads in their heyday (from, say, "Psycho Killer" to "Once in a Lifetime") would have been exactly the sort of band to thrill the Noise Poppers flooding the city this week. But today's more mature David Byrneis informed by a wider world of music. In fact, he even runs the well-respected record label Luaka Bop, which champions sounds ranging from the cheeky Venezuelan dance music of Los Amigos Invisibles to the spiritual African chants of Zap Mama. Unlike Peter Gabriel's chin-scratching Real World label, Luaka Bop has an uncanny sense of funk and groove and doesn't take itself too seriously. During his latest round of concerts (such as his recent sold-out stretch at Carnegie Hall), Byrne's been performing selections from his newer solo recordings as well as old TH material. He'll be bringing down -- or is that burning down? -- the house Wednesday through Friday, Feb. 23-25, at the Fillmore; call 346-6000 or visit www.thefillmore.com for more info. -- Tamara Palmer


One of the more pleasant surprises of 2004 was the debut album by A Girl Called Eddy, whose real name is Erin Moran (and no, she's not Joanie from Happy Days). Taking a stage moniker that slyly references one of her heroes -- chanteuse Dusty Springfield -- this savvy New Jersey native plays melancholy pop that channels some of the best female singer/songwriters of the last four decades, sounding equal parts Karen Carpenter, Chrissie Hynde, and Aimee Mann. Taking up songwriting after a failed marriage and a string of dead-end jobs, Moran crafts tunes that ache with life's emotions; the hauntingly lovely "Kathleen," for example, reflects on her mother's passing. But the EddyCD has plenty of jaunty moments as well, and its gorgeously breathy vocals, shimmering arrangements, and retro atmosphere make for one catchy album that's especially appropriate for late-night listens. A Girl Called Eddy brings her first U.S. tour to S.F. when she opens for Alexi Murdoch on Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Swedish American Music Hall; call 861-5016 or go to www.cafedunord.com for more info. -- Mike Rowell


As the irrepressible foreign-policy architects of the Bush administration set their sights on Iran (aka Evil Empire II), U.S. citizens need to keep in mind that the whims of politicians rarely represent the character and culture of a country's people. Which is why the Masters of Persian Music's current tour and new album, Faryad, a hypnotic follow-up to 2003's Grammy-nominated Without You, come at a crucial time: to remind Westerners that Iran is a nation rich in spiritual traditions that are more about mystical journeys of self-discovery and finding peace via the Beloved than jihadist extremism. Featuring legendary vocalist Mohammad Reza Shajarian, his son Homayoun Shajarian on tombak (hand drum), Hossein Alizadeh on tar (plucked lute), and Kayhan Kalhor on kamancheh (spike fiddle), the Masters recast the verses of both ancient and modern Sufi poets into stunning classical arrangements. Their virtuosity fuels a distinctive sound that's passionate and spellbinding. Catch a glimpse of Iran that you'll never hear about from Condi Rice on Sunday, Feb. 27, at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall; call (510) 642-9988 or go to www.calperfs.berkeley.edu.-- Sam Prestianni

 
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