Salsa goes electro with Los Amigos Invisibles

Alt-country music fans may know him better as the comically gaunt member of Slim Cessna's Auto Club — who serves as deadpan vocal foil to lead singer Slim's cowpunk Baptist preacher — but Jay Munly is an accomplished tunesmith in his own right. His current outfit, The Lee Lewis Harlots takes a gothic, chamber-group approach that stands in stark contrast to the Auto Club's frenetic Pogues-via-Appalachia attack. If the blood-splattered, grit-encrusted denizens of HBO's Deadwood burst into a cello-driven musical full of murder ballads, it would sound an awful lot like the band's brilliant, self-titled 2004 Alternative Tentacles debut. Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots headline the San Francisco Bluegrass and Old Time Festival's annual alt-bluegrass showcase on Saturday, Feb. 10, at Café du Nord at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $10-12; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com for more info. Dave Pehling


If Eleni Mandell did not exist, it's unlikely anyone could invent her. The easiest "handle" to apply to Ms. Mandell is "singer-songwriter," though she has little in common with introspective waifs with guitars or pianos. Mandell is an unlikely but silken synthesis of Randy Newman, Tom Waits, and Patsy Cline — a quirky, humane crank of performer with a torch singer's worldly-wise, smoky tone melded with a country star's guilelessness. Her latest opus Miracle of Five is a languorous, hazy, jazz-tinged tour of the vulnerable, cracked, and broken hearts populating the very last after-hours joint open in Los Angeles, the city Eleni calls home. Compare S.F. to L.A. via the divine Ms. M. on Sunday, Feb. 11, at Café Du Nord at 8 p.m. Admission is $15; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com for more info. — Mark Keresman


Venezuela offers no export half as fun as Los Amigos Invisibles, the cheeky dance-pop band that caught the ear of David Byrne, who signed them to his Luaka Bop label and facilitated their second home in New York. From raucous anthems about all-night orgies to ditties about favorite flavors — which these days appears to be "Caramelo Y Chocolate" — this bilingual troupe crafts a flirtatious sound that could be thought of as an electro-salsa hybrid. Two shows take place this week, on Tuesday, Feb. 13, and Wednesday, Feb. 14, at the Independent at 8 p.m. Admission is $23; call 771-1421 or visit www.theindependentsf.com for more info. Tamara Palmer

 
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