The Melvins melt your noggin this New Year's Eve

On first hearing Ledisi's major-label debut, Lost and Found, you might think that the New Orleans–born, Oakland-raised jazz and R&B singer is attempting to make more radio-friendly material. But a closer listen shows the vocals surrounded by complex arrangements, and the reach of her musical approach. This week Ledisi partners with the Count Basie Orchestra for a string of shows at Yoshi's. The legendary big band is under the direction of trombonist Bill Hughes, who took over after the bandleader's passing in 1984. Ledisi performs with the Count Basie Orchestra from Wednesday, Dec. 26, through Monday, Dec. 31, at Yoshi's in San Francisco. Admission is $28-$34, $100 on New Year's Eve; call 655-5600 or visit for more info. Ernest Barteldes

Second only to Crass in anarcho-punk legend, Conflict has been doing the heavy lifting behind the riot barricades for more than 25 years. Conflict songs grow from the stout trunk of traditional British punk, but spread out in extended passages that give their anthems more epic girth than the standard three-chord bashers. Which ain't to say Conflict is fancy — it's still thrashy and apocalyptic, shouting down the powers that be with hoarse bellows about disarmament, animal cruelty, Third World exploitation, environmental rape, and, of course, The System, that nebulous menace decried by every righteous punker. (Smash it up, mate!) So recharge that 'hawk, check yourself for scabies, and join in the chant this Thursday, Dec. 27, at Slim's at 8 p.m. Admission is $16; call 255-0333 or visit for more info. John Graham

Aside from Bob Dylan and Neil Young, there are few rock musicians who released as many consistently satisfying albums throughout the '60s and '70s as Van Morrison. Like many of his peers, Morrison fell into a creative rut during the '80s, but such recent output as 2006's Paint the Devil proves that he's undergoing a career renaissance of sorts — and his Irish-inflected croon has never sounded more powerful. His stateside jaunts are becoming less frequent, so don't miss out when he performs on Thursday, Dec. 27, and Friday, Dec. 28, at Nob Hill Masonic Center at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $89.50-$199.50; call 776-4702 or visit for more info. Jonah Bayer

It's hard to think of a more influential L.A. band that's still performing live than X. From its inception in 1977, the quartet of John Doe (bass, vocals), Exene Cervenka (vocals), Billy Zoom (guitar, sax), and D.J. Bonebrake (drums) has pounded out a string of well-received punk and rockabilly releases that set the stage for much of what we know as "alternative" music today. Doe and Cervenka's gritty lyrics have always held up mirrors to their hometown, and both are acclaimed poets in their own right. With the original band lineup and massive catalog of classics, these (fairly) rare live dates are not to be missed. X performs with the Hooks on Friday, Dec. 28, and Saturday, Dec. 29, at Slim's at 8 p.m. Admission is $30; call 522-0333 or visit for more info. Toph One

Ring in the New Year with metal kings the Melvins, a band celebrating more than two decades (that's about a century in Melvins-tempo years) of sludgy, stoned riffage and bizarre high jinks, the latest of which was co-opting an extra drummer and bassist in the form of Big Business' Coady Willis and Jared Warren in 2006. This is their second New Year's with the band, and it should be a lively one. Rounding out the Melvins' skull-crushing offerings will be the Bay Area's neo-psych wizards Comets on Fire and San Francisco's own spastic prog-punkers Triclops! Start 2008 with a bang and a whimper on Monday, Dec. 31 at Slim's at 9 p.m. Admission is $40, call 255-0333 or visit for more info. J. Pace

For all your New Year's Eve listings, visit

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