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Indie stalwarts Minmae come to Thee Parkside; Swedish trio E.S.T. updates altrock for the jazz set 

Wednesday, Jan 4 2006
It's hard to get a read on Minmae . Give I'd Be Scared, Were You Still Burning a couple of spins, and you may hear yet another band picking Pavement's corpse; but give it a few more, and you'll notice that ideas and hooks keep spilling out of the lo-fi production. The Portland trio's eight-year back catalog is a mishmash of ideas -- a little post-punk here, a droney CD-R there, and some four-track noise-pop to keep it catchy -- picked up or discarded by frontman Sean Brooks, who sings with the posture of a Lou Reed and who knows when a few seconds of guitar squall can say more than words. The worthy group headlines this Friday, Jan. 6, at Thee Parkside; call 503-0393 or visit for more info. -- Chris Dahlen

After stringing together a handful of '70s smashes (Late for the Sky, The Pretender) that helped put Southern California's burgeoning folk-rock scene on the map, Jackson Browne spent much of the next two decades running on empty, offering political manifestoes masked as pop records to a largely indifferent public. Now, on the strength of his 2004 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a warmly received greatest-hits compilation, and a subsequent world tour that yielded the independently released Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1, Browne is back, this time to support the Bill Graham Foundation at the legendary promoter's 75th birthday bash. And while cynics could easily, and somewhat justifiably, dismiss this latest foray into the spotlight as yet another nostalgia trip, Browne continues to vigorously rework his catalog of classics, from early hits like "These Days" and "For Everyman" to the righteously indignant title track from 1996's Looking East. He will join the Dead's Mickey Hart, the Neville Brothers, and assorted special guests on Saturday, Jan. 7, to toast the late Mr. Graham at his beloved Fillmore; call 346-6000 or visit for more info. -- Rossiter Drake

The latest jazz-pop piano trios have a few things in common. Like the old masters, they leverage the pop music of their day (though as standards go, "Paranoid Android" ain't exactly "I Loves You Porgy"); they bring enough sparks to their flights of improvisation to disrupt the pleasing, cocktail-bar connotations of the format; and they're actually creating a demand for the technique-rich jazz players our music schools keep supplying. Here in the States we've got the Bad Plus and Brad Mehldau, among others, but Sweden's E.S.T. -- aka the Esbjörn Svensson Trio -- has a polished, less showy style that shines on its latest disc, Viaticum. Catch the group next Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 11-12, at Yoshi's in Oakland; call (510) 238-9200 or visit for more info.-- Chris Dahlen

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Chris Dahlen

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Rossiter Drake


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  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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