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BACKSTAGE WITH MARIAN
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Story outtakes, celebrity confessions and the latest pop culture news in the Bay Area

About Me
I'm a pop music writer for the San Jose Mercury News. I cover pop, hip hop, punk, rock, dance, and ethnic - well, basically everything you can dance to.

My Articles

MY PICKS
CD: Common:"Be"
Music Video Eminem: featuring Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Trailer: The Year of the Yao
TV: Harvey Birdman
Videogame: Fable

MERCURY REVIEWS
Art: The New Art of India
Bar: Boswell's
Book: Jill Scott
Club: Forum
DVD: Kinsey
Movie: Cinderella Man
Music: Sleater-Kinney
Restaurant: The Melting Pot
Theater:The Mambo Kings

SICK SITE
Earth and Sun Kiss

MY PLAYLIST

1. R. Kelly: "Trapped In The Closet"

2. Weezer: "Hold Me"

3. Bright Eyes: "First Day Of My Life"

4. Ringside: "Miss You" and "Criminal"

ENTERTAINMENT RESOURCES
  • Billboard Charts
  • Encyclopedia
  • iticket.com
  • Moviefone
  • Music Dictionary
  • MTV
  • Pollstar
  • tickets.com
  • Urban Dictionary
  • ticketmaster.com
  • VH1

  • BLOGROLL
  • Adisa Banjoko : San Jose's Bishop of Hip hop
  • Angry Asian Man: Asian American media watchdog
  • Berkeley Blogs
  • Black Electorate : Inside Cultural, Economic and Political industries
  • BLT's Parry
  • Crayone: the trials and tribulations of a graffiti artist
  • Dan Gillmor : Grassroots Journalism
  • Dat Phan : Last Comic Standing season 1 winner
  • East Bay Livin' : Ellen Lee's EB hunt
  • Davey D: Hip Hop Daily News
  • Fortt: black american gen x journalist musician multicultural christian technophile
  • Jeff Chang: fellow Asian hip hop writer
  • Joe Grimm : Ask the Recruiter
  • In Passing : Random Street Conversations
  • Pacific Standard: Bay Area hip-hop
  • Pop And Politics
  • Pop Licks : O-Dub, a cultural critic
  • Scape: San Jose graffiti artist
  • SiliconBeat: News about tech money and innovation
  • Thursday, March 31, 2005

    Wu Bai in San Jose and San Francisco

    Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of interviewing the Taiwanese King of Rock, Wu Bai over the phone from LA.

    The 37-year-old rocker, which many compare to Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen, was giggly over the phone and spoke in both English and Chinese.

    He apologized for his "broken English" which was not that bad, and talked about how he liked spending time alone: jogging, visiting hot springs, and watching Japanese wrestling.

    For those of you wondering about the swooner, yes, he is still single and "alone," he says.

    Ch-check out my story on the rocker Monday.

    And here's more info on the idol in town:

    Wu Bai & China Blue Autograph Session
    WHERE: World Journal Cultural Center, 1606 S De Anza Blvd., San Jose
    WHEN: 6 p.m. Monday 4/4
    TIX: If you bought a ticket to the concert, then this session is free.
    WHY: Meet the rocker up close.

    And their concert
    WHERE: DNA Lounge, 375 Eleventh Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 4/5
    TIX: 21+; $50 ($60 at the door); 877-CMPG-388 (877-2674-388); etmall.com
    WHY: Wu Bai usually plays at 20-50 thousand big concerts in Asia, so this is a chance to see him up close and personal.
    Wednesday, March 30, 2005

    Ipod vs. PSP

    Yesterday my friend Danny and I had a debate on if we had tax return money, what best to use it on?

    Ipod (20 GB) vs. PSP?

    Here's our thoughts:

    Cost
    IPOD = $300, $1 a song; cheaper in the long run
    PSP = $250, $30-40 a game; way more expensive
    winner= IPOD

    Cool factor
    IPOD = the white headphones have become iconic
    PSP = judging from the demand, it's the got-to-have toy of the moment
    winner = PSP

    Fun factor
    IPOD = listen to any song you want when you want
    PSP = why just entertain your ears when you can get the eyes involved
    winner = PSP

    Breakability
    IPOD = small and able to fit into your jeans' back pocket
    PSP = a little clunky, so you have to have some big jeans to fit these
    winner = IPOD

    So that's a tie. But, PSP has already sold me (and I have both) so I would go for the PSP
    Tuesday, March 29, 2005

    "Making Tracks" in San Jose

    Last Friday I caught the opening night of "Making Tracks." It's like an Asian version "Rent." But instead of HIV, it deals with the deep-rooted Asian American theme of sacrifice.

    I liked it enough to recommend it but wish it wasn't three hours long. Overall, I would give it a "B."

    Here's my report card for the night's performance...

    Singing and talent
    A
    Leads Michael K. Lee (from "The Wedding Banquet: the musical)" and Broadway's "Miss Saigon") and Marie-France Arcilla put their beautiful voices on display.

    Story
    B-
    It was very relatable as an ABC (American Born Chinese) and it was interesting how much of the story is told from the parents' perspective, as opposed to the child's, like many Asian American tales are like. Also, it was refreshing not to see food scenes. In Asian cultures, they express love with food, so many of these Asian American tales have at least one food scene.

    The main problem, the theater critic (Karen d'Souza) was how they overkilled the parallel stories among the generations. If they edited this down, and maybe flashed back, instead of acting each generation out - this could have been a stellar musical.

    Accuracy
    B+
    I liked the detail, like how the Taiwanese father mixed up his "he's" with his "she's" (my parents do that because in Chinese there is no differentiation in the language except when written). But, the spoken and sung Mandarin was a little off.

    Set
    A
    Their design was ingenuous. I really liked the Angel Island poem inscribed walls. They cast a solemn reminder of the pain and sacrifice their Chinese ancestors faced during their immigration into the United States.

    Music
    B-
    The program says that they wanted the musical to be rock in order to reach a younger audience but much of the rock was from the 90's, not rock from today. Also, a lot of music was very reminiscint of "Rent" and "Miss Saigon."
    Monday, March 28, 2005

    New Bay

    Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. I checked out the new Asian American musical "Making Tracks" which was a bit like an Asian version of "Rent." More on that tomorrow.

    As for today, ch-check out my story today on the New Bay hip-hop scene!

    It's been in the works for months now and I'm glad it finally printed.

    In the print version I have a list of notable South Bay hip-hop groups. Here are the groups that are a little farther out that are worth checking out.
    (click on the names to find out more)

    OAKLAND

  • Tupac - West Coast gangster rapper leader
  • Digital Underground - funky party rap
  • MC Hammer - Pop rapper who had made parachute pants popular

  • Too Short - rhymes riddled with violence and sexual prowess
  • Del tha Funkee Homosapien & his crew Hieroglyphics - Ice Cube's cousin has a jazzy funky vibe in his music
  • Jahi - conscious rapper (of Jahi and The Life)

  • EA-Ski - producer and lyrical emcee

  • Keak Da Sneak - hardcore rap
  • Balance - Bay Area mixtape king

  • The Team - known for their base-ridden single "It's Gettin Hot"
  • Zion-I - conscious emcees

    RICHMOND
  • Frontline - leaders in the New Bay movement

    VALLEJO
  • Baby Bash - behind the funky single "Suga Suga"
  • E-40 - Slang heavy rhymes


  • FAIRFIELD
  • Federation - behind the hyphy (hyperactive) phenomenon
  • DJ HYPHY - recently put out a limited edition mix CD of Bay Area artists that includes unreleased Federation singles and a rare Mac Dre prison interview from 1992.

    SACRAMENTO
  • Rick Rock - producer who got his start with Tupac and recently produced The Federation

    DAVIS
  • Quannum Projects - Blackalicious, Lateef the Truth Speaker, DJ Shadow, Joyo Velarde, Lyrics Born: these more conscious artists founded their label at the University of California, Davis

    Plus here's an online forum on the New Bay scene.
  • Thursday, March 24, 2005

    PSP playing

    I've been playing the very beautiful PSP.

    I played so much Dark Stalkers my left thumb is a bit sore. It's a Street Fighter-esque game. That genre, beating up evil doers one-on-one, is my favorite, perfect after a stressful work day.

    I also watched Spider -Man II on the PSP - the screen is so clear. It would be the perfect companion on a long flight.

    I like the PSP so much better than the Nintendo DS which is much clunkier.

    In Hong Kong, my brother (a videogame reviewer and afficionado) debated whether or not to buy the PSP back in January. Now I wished we had.

    Have a wonderful Easter this weekend, and ch-check this out!

    Shonen Knife
    WHERE: The Blank Club, 44 South Almaden Avenue, downtown San Jose
    WHEN: 9 p.m. Sunday 3/27
    TIX: $12; ticketweb.com
    WHY: The Japanese pop-rockers were a favorite with such greats as Nirvana and Sonic Youth. Ch-check out my story on Shonen Knife Saturday.

    Phantom Planet in San Jose

    Yesterday, I had a fun time interviewing Phantom Planet's Sam Farrar. (For those uninitiated, Phantom Planet sang the theme song, "California," for the very hot television show "The OC.") The band opens for Sting next Friday, April 1st - so check out my full story that Friday in Eye.

    Sam was fun to talk to over the phone, and filled the spaces between questions, answers, and me typing, with random comments - like:

    "Red Bull is disgusting. I love Coca-Cola, but I drink too much, and that's not very good. And, I hate coffee." (He was drinking Red Bull, waking up after 12 p.m. after spending the night in a friend's studio and getting to sleep at 4 a.m.)

    He did talk about his parents' new coffee machine:

    "They have this amazing coffee machine. It cost $2,000. You hit one button, and it makes your coffee for you instantly. All you have to make sure is that there are beans and water. It can do cappuccino and espresso in one touch. But, naw I can't really afford that right now."
    So ch-check out the rest of my silly interview with him next Friday.

    And tonight, ch-check it out:

    Ben Lee
    WHERE: The Independent, 628 Divisadero St., San Francisco
    WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight; 3/24
    TIX: $12; (415) 771-1421
    WHY: Singer-songwriter Ben Lee sings sweet nothings put to alternative rock.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2005

    George Kahumoku Jr. in Redwood City

    It may be dreary outside, but I've been bringing a li'l sunshine in my car by playing Hawaiian music.

    One of my favorite songs to play lately while it pours is "Lokomaika'i" with George Kahumoku Jr. and Daniel Ho. It's "Amazing Grace" Hawaiian style.

    George was actually the first musician I interviewed on the job. He's both rascally and sweet, but also completely open about his music and life.

    I know I may be a hip-hop fan, but he's really fun to watch live.

    So tomorrow, ch-check him out:

    George Kahumoku
    WHERE: The Little Fox, 2209 Broadway - Redwood City, CA
    WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, 3/24
    TIX: $14 advance, $18 at the door; (650) 369-4119
    WHY: He brings a little bit of sunshine to these days' pouring rain.

    As they say in Hawaiian, "a hui hou & e malama pono" (see you later, take care).
    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Z-Trip's perfect album

    My current favorite song is a silly one. It has the perfect line: "Ooh, I love eating cereal...when I'm watching my cartoons..."

    The single also has the perfect name: "Breakfast Club," featuring L.A. indie rapper Murs and Midwest freestyle master Supernatural.

    It's mixed by one of my favorite DJ's: Z-Trip, who one critic said is the perfect anecdote to Ashlee Simpson-ism. What I love about him is that he mixes rock, metal and new and old skool hip hop. In my current fav, he also drops in more than a dozen references to different cartoons and cereals. It's a perfect homage to a child growing up in the '80s.

    His album, "Shifting Gears" hits stores April 19th. It's incredible and a must have. Look forward to mixes with Jurassic 5, Public Enemy's Chuck D, and Mystic.

    Here are links to his performances:

    Quicktime:

  • Big View

  • Small View


  • Windows Media:

  • Big View

  • Small View
  • As for tonight, ch-check it out:

    Ed Harcourt, Martha Wainwright
    WHERE: Hotel Utah, 500 4th Street @ Bryant, San Francisco
    WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight 3/22TIX: 21+ ; $10; thehotelutahsaloon.com
    WHY:
    Smooth wistful listening

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    Voice lessons from Jan Yanehiro

    This weekend, I went into the sound booth for voice training. It was for my upcoming television debut on Pacific Fusion, an Asian American show on KRON, channel 4, Sunday (March 27) at 12:30 p.m.

    Jan Yanehiro, of "Evening Magazine" fame, is the co-executive producer of the show.

    As one of the few Asian American broadcast journalists I saw on television while growing up, I looked up to her, and never thought I'd be working with her someday.

    Jan is now my voicing coach. She stressed three words: "slow, low and flow."

    Slower, because, like many Californians, I talk fast and run my words together. I speak so fast that, when I worked in Detroit, I would introduce myself on the phone, speaking so rapidly that the other side had no idea what I was saying. It came out something like, "HithisizMarianliu, from the Detroifreepra, canIintervau?"

    Lower because, being female, I have to avoid sounding screechy. Not, that I want to sound mannish, just older.

    Finally, I needed for my words to flow, because audience members, who can't watch me doing my narration, will hear me as just another character in the production.

    So ch-check it out this Sunday.
    Friday, March 18, 2005

    Lil' Kim, 50 Cent and The Game, plus this weekend's events

    So recently rapper Lil' Kim was found guilty of lying to a grand jury about a shootout outside of New York radio station Hot 97.
    The 29-year-old Grammy award winner could face up to 20 years.

    I kind of feel sorry for Biggie's mistress and wonder if she was more straight up, this never would have happened. She said her sunglasses prevented her from noticing that her two friends (her manager, Damion Butler, and Suif "Gutta" Jackson) were there at the crime scene.

    We'll see how this affects the sales of her album, which comes out later this year - because the controversy surrounding 50 Cent and The Game sure boosted their sales. 50 Cent's album "The Massacre" sold 1.1 million four days after its release while The Game's album "The Documentary" shot from No. 5 to 3.

    This weekend, ch-check it out:

    FRIDAY

    "Mama Said Knock You Out" Emcee Battle
    WHERE: Elbo Room, 647 Valencia (btwn. 17th & 18th St.), San Francisco
    WHEN: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. tonight 3/18
    TIX: 21+ ; $12 door; $8 advance; Buy Tickets
    WHY: The battle will feature Bay Area legends of underground
    MC battles, like Infinite from Felonious (2x Mama Said Knock You Out
    Champ), Subverse hailing from Detroit, MI (2x MSKYO runner-up),
    Radio Active (Spearhead), Won Way (ThinkBeat), Franco (Scribble Jam 2004 3rd Place winner), Shush, Thesaurus, and and Orukusaki (ForensicScience).

    John Digweed, Mark Farina, and Hernan Cattaneo
    WHERE: Ruby Skye, 420 Mason @ Geary, San Francisco
    WHEN: tonight 3/18
    TIX: $20 Advance, $20-25 at door.
    WHY: deep house, tribal and progressive beats

    SATURDAY

    Grand Opening of Wet
    WHERE: Blue Clube, 34 Mason - San Francisco
    WHEN: Saturday 3/19
    TIX: Come in tropical wear and get in for $10 before 11pm
    WHY: It'll feature a $100 bikini contest
    Thursday, March 17, 2005

    Davey D in San Jose and Re:sound in San Francisco

    Happy St. Patrick's Day! Be sure to wear green, or you'll get pinched!

    Ch-check out this cool story about pub-hopping tonight.

    I had lunch the other day with Davey D.

    As the number two guy in hip-hop, behind none other than Russell Simmons, he's the go-to-guy and someone I strongly look up to.

    He counseled me on how to establish a brand name and carry it through everything I do.

    And on his site, there's a controversial story: "Do Non-Blacks in Hip Hop Owe the Black Community?" - Anybody have thoughts on this issue?

    Finally, tonight, ch-check it out:

    Rotation is celebrating St Patricks Day at Suite 181
    WHERE: Suite 181, 181 Eddy St, San Francisco
    WHEN: 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. tonight 3/17
    TIX: $10 ; wear green
    WHY: live acoustic rock and DJ beats

    And...

    Re:sound Music Gallery
    WHEN: 8:30 p.m. p.m. tonight 3/17
    TIX: $8-$12; exploratorium.com
    WHY: Check out innovative instruments like the bowed turntable, which is inspired by the Indian Sarangi (similar to a fiddle).
    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    Urbanology in Milpitas, Santos Shelton and DJ QBert

    At Urbanology, the fashion show in Milpitas last weekend, they not only displayed different urban brands but showcased local artists as well.

    One, in particular, caught my eye: Santos Shelton who inscribed phrases and drew robots on planks of wood.

    This is what he had to say about his work:

    "My artwork is about my own struggles with life but also issues I see that face society. I use robot characters to symbolize myself and others because I believe we are all like robots. We break down, we malfunction, and sometimes we get programmed the wrong way."

    The robot theme reminded me of DJ QBert's living room, where he had robots everywhere: robot figurines, paintings and murals. It was a classy bachelor pad.
    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    Ramen Life in San Jose

    More on Ramen Life - at Zoe Nightclub last Friday night in downtown San Jose.

    Around 300 people attended from all walks of life -- with ages from the 20s to the 50s.

    The ramen was good, but the lines were crazy and stretched like a snake through Zoe, making it hard to find the tail end.

    Responses about the night ranged from "I want a refund to spend my money in a ramen restaurant where I can sit down" to "This was very cool. I'd come again."

    But some people related to the crowdedness, saying it reminded them of Japan.

    The odd thing is if you came late, you were able avoid all lines and eat more ramen.

    For tonight, ch-check it out:

    The Bob Dylan Show, Merle Haggard, Amos Lee
    WHERE: Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland
    WHEN: 7 p.m. tonight 3/15
    TIX: $46-$66; ticketmaster.com
    WHY: Up and coming soulful folk singer Amos Lee has been receiving quite a bit of buzz lately and is worth all of it.
    Monday, March 14, 2005

    Urbanology show in Milpitas and Flogging Molly in San Francisco

    I had a very busy weekend. Besides shopping, I went to a fashion show and a ramen-tasting-taiko-hip-hop show.

    First on the fashion show -- I'll let you know about the ramen show later this week -- it was called Urbanology. It's the third edition and conveniently located in Milpitas, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel by Milpitas Square.

    It was nice to go to a fashion show and see models that aren't stick thin and really tall -- these were hip-hop models: many were shorter with a little more junk in the trunk. And one thing that added the icing to the cake: I was mistaken for a model.

    Many of the brands: LRG, Triple Five Soul, Dopeness Monster, Artus Clothing and Neko Designs were off the hook with clothing that I was very tempted to buy. The neat thing about urban brands is that they're like urban music -- they retextualize the old, giving a new edge to vintage classics.

    The show also gave me a chance to try out my photography skillz. For the first time, I was standing in front of the catwalk along with the rest of the snap-happy folks, cajoling the models to smile. It was fun.

    And yes, the photos turned out beautifully - I'll write when it sees print.

    For tonight, ch-check it out:

    Guinness Presents: The Green 17 Tour with Flogging Molly
    WHERE: Warfield, 982 Market Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 3/14
    TIX: $21.50; ticketmaster.com
    WHY: What better way to spend St. Patrick's Day than with Irish punk rock band Flogging Molly.
    Friday, March 11, 2005

    Hip-hop and violence

    Recently, I've been getting a few emails and calls from students working on projects related to hip-hop and violence. They asked me one central question: "Does hip-hop cause violence?"

    This question is in reaction to the recent spate of events: ie. the shooting outside New York's Hot 97 (look at yesterday's entry).

    My response is - it's not a direct relationship. Lots of musical genres have lyrics that are based on violent things, including rock and even country. These types of music may put you in a certain mood to do certain things, but it ultimately is up to an individual to decide if he or she will act on violent thoughts.

    For example, I listen to hip-hop and consider myself a fan of even some of the most aggressive styles, but I'm not violent.

    Anyways, this weekend, ch-check it out:

    FRIDAY

    URBANOLOGY III
    WHERE: Crowne Plaza Hotel, 777 Bellew Drive, Milpitas
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 3/11
    TIX: $20; groovetickets.com
    WHY: There will be a two hour fashion who with such designers as urban label Triple 5 Soul and up-and-coming brand Dopeness Monster, along with three rooms of music, an art show, 5 on 5 B-Boy competition, dance showcases and spoken word.

    ACEYALONE
    WHERE: Red Devil Lounge, 1695 Polk St., San Francisco
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 3/11
    TIX: $20 at the door; reddevillounge.com
    WHY: San Jose emcee extraordinaire Shamako Noble will be opening up for Los Angeles literate rapper Aceyalone.

    SATURDAY

    Ramen Life
    WHERE: Zoe Nightclub on 1st St. @ San Salvador, San Jose
    WHEN: Ramen Event 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., After Party 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday 3/12
    TIX: $15 at door; $20 admission + dinner
    WHY: There will be food served by some of Bay Area's top ramen restaurants (Halu, Himawari, Maruichi). And also there will be taiko along with performances DJ Shortkut , Abyss (3SIXTY5 Records), DJ Daeta (The Jimi Handtrix Crew), Artson (Rocksteady Crew) featuring Verbal Ase, breakdance performance by Rocksteady Crew, DJ Shohei, and more.

    A Musical Journey with Knowmadic DJs

    WHERE: Club Oasis, 135 12th St., Oakland
    WHEN: 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday 3/12
    TIX: $10; unifysound@hotmail.com
    WHY: dancehall, hip-hop, soul, reggae, reggaeton
    Wednesday, March 09, 2005

    Hot 97, representing hip-hop, and the Korean hip-hop scene

    Here's a website whose purpose is to represent hip-hop more fairly: hiphopliveshere.com

    Lately they've been following Hot 97's "Tsunami song" and violent shooting (A shooting took place in Hot 97's lobby following 50 Cent's visit to the New York radio station Hot 97 to announce dropping The Game from his label.)

    And on a lighter note, for something fun to check out - for those of you sitting at your cubicles, missing the warm sun and fresh air - a way to people watch from your computer.

    Check out this site: hiphoper.com. Its about the hip-hop scene in Korea.

    Click on the "fashion" link on the top, and then the "street fashion" section link to see something similar to our style section's "Street Style" feature. My favorite is the cool hair link - I wonder how they get Asian hair to fro up. Whatever they do, I'm jealous.

    And tonight, ch-check it out:

    Donald Glaude, west coast house legend
    WHERE: Dolce (440 Broadway, North Beach), SF
    WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight 3/10
    TIX: Guestlist only: rsvp@nitevibe.com
    WHY: BPM's Magazine's release party

    And one more closer to home:

    Bliss Thursdays
    WHERE: Studio 8, 8 South 1 st Street, Downtown San Jose
    WHEN: 10 p.m. tonight 3/10
    TIX: 21+; blisssj.com
    WHY: San Jose's newest club - it has a catwalk dance floor!
    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    Music is my business. Living the Good Life

    Recently on a trip to Urban Outfitters, I bought this T-shirt that sums up my job to a T: "Music is my business. Living the Good Life."

    Another T from the same brand also caught my eye. It said: "Music is the weapon of the future."

    Anyways, in an example of good marketing (and to explain its crazy price of $28), these T's come with a CD. It's a sampling of what Ubiquity Records, the San Francisco eclectic label that puts out everything from hip-hop to Latin, has to offer, plus exclusives on not-yet-released singles. It's one of those ingenious ideas I wish I had thought up of first.

    In searching more about these clever T-shirts, I ran into a T-shirt blog which lays out more T's others may pay close to $30 for (like the brand Baby Politico where one T says: "I'm too young to vote...what's your excuse?").

    Michelle Branch in San Francisco

    Tonight, Michelle Branch plays at the Warfield.

    Last time she came around to San Francisco I interviewed the now pregnant singer in her room at the Hotel Triton (right across from Chinatown). She was beautiful (her eyes were so big, anime characters would be jealous) and had a bubbly personality.

    She delighted in knowing that she was representing for Asians (she's part Indonesian). Growing up in Arizona, she said, many people always seemed to wonder about her background.

    The singer-songwriter had two wrist tattoos - one on her left, reading "Left" and one on her right, reading "Right." Before , you think she's a total doofus, let me tell you her explanation.

    When she started in the music business, she was young, 17, said the now 22-year-old, and thought because she was young, she needed to listen to music industry executives on how to manage her job. But, she soon realized that she was the talent - and she knew her left from her right. So, she started standing up for herself and making the decisions. Those tattoos are a reminder of that epiphany.

    So tonight, ch-check her out:

    One Tree Hill Tour : Gavin Degraw, the Wreckers
    WHERE: Warfield, 982 Market Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 7 p.m. tonight 3/8
    TIX: $27.75; ticketmaster.com
    WHY: Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp are The Wreckers

    Or if you'd rather go reggae:

    "Bless Up"
    WHERE: Milk Bar,18 40 Haight St., San Francisco
    WHEN: 10 p.m. tonight 3/8
    TIX: $5; free before 10:30 p.m.
    WHY: reggae, dancehall, hip-hop

    Or be closer to San Jo:

    New Wave Party
    WHERE: Agenda Lounge, 399 S. First Street, San Jose
    WHEN: tonight 3/8
    TIX: No cover
    WHY: $2 well drinks and domestic beer all night long
    Monday, March 07, 2005

    Soulstress Jennifer Johns and Guitarist Musashi

    When I was last on KALX-FM (90.7), I heard an impressive up-and-coming soul singer Jennifer Johns. She's an independent artist (unsigned) and has already released a limited edition album, "Heavy Electromagnetic Soularpoetic Junglehop." It's hot and a perfect soundtrack for those slower introspective days . My favorite is "Do you believe in love," a warm mix of spoken word and soul/R&B.

    This 26-year-old has opened for Mos Def on his tour in Hawaii and worked with the likes of socially conscious hip-hop crew Hieroglyphics.

    Even with strep throat, she sounded good. At the station, she cooed acapella for us and did an impromptu number with local acoustic guitarist Musashi.

    She inspired me to think about writing an ongoing series about those great unsigned independents.

    Ch-check out Musashi's next shows:
  • March 17th and April 21st: 4th St. Tavern, San Rafael
  • Friday, March 04, 2005

    KALX and John Cho in San Francisco

    I apologize for being absent this week - I've been holed up at home with a vicious cold that made me sound like Minnie Mouse.

    As for last week, I was on KALX-FM (90.7) on Sunday. They played the Chinese opera-rock-rap album Aadia which I love, along with Lyrics Born's new album ("Same !@#$ Different Day," coming out in April) which is absolutely hot and my current favorite, along with Stone Throw 101: DVD & CD.

    On the radio, BillyJam and I again talked about the prospect of the "new bay" and how real fans are so excited they wouldn't be deterred by a little barf (like I was - I went to the Quannum MC's show last Thursday, and something - I suspect it was either barf or coke -- dribbled down from the second floor to the first. I left promptly after that. But, except for that, the show was amazing.)

    As for this weekend, my voice is just about back, but I'm not ready to go out clubbing just yet, so here are some events - please party hardy for me.

    FRIDAY

    Left of Zed
    WHERE: Club Lamia, 3910 Geary Blvd. @ 3rd Ave.
    WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight 3/4
    TIX: 21+; Before 10pm: $8 - general, $6 - members, after 10pm: $15 - general
    WHY: John Cho (of MILF and Harold & Kumar fame) is the lead singer

    Pure Hip Hop Friday with DJ Dave Onex
    WHERE: Fluid Ultra Lounge, 662 Mission St., SF
    WHEN: tonight 3/4
    TIX: Free champagne until 11pm., Free until 11pm with RSVP
    WHY: They describe it as a "marathon of pure hip hop."

    re-define
    WHERE: Luna Lounge, 1192 Folsom @ 8th St., SF
    WHEN: 10 p.m. tonight 3/4
    TIX: 21+; no cover
    WHY: underground hip hop and classic breaks

    SATURDAY

    Collision Course
    WHERE: Riekes Center for Human Enhancement, 3455 Edison Way, Menlo Park
    WHEN: 1-7 p.m. Saturday 3/5
    TIX: $5 suggested donation
    WHY: hip hop and martial arts come together for tsunami relief

    Juicy
    WHERE: Blush Nightclub, 261 California Dr., Burlingame
    WHEN: Saturday 3/5
    TIX: 21+; $10 for guys
    WHY: Ladies free all night and drink tickets for birthday goers

    Salted
    WHERE: Mighty, 119 Utah St., SF
    WHEN: 10 p.m. - 5 a.m. Saturday 3/4
    TIX: $10 Presale , $15-20 at the door
    WHY: Grand Opening of San Francisco's newest weekly Saturday night party

    Grand Opening
    WHERE: Club Deep, 87 N. San Pedro, San Jose
    WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday 2/26
    TIX: 21+; win tix - Deep@Latinbayarea.com
    WHY: They tout themselves to be San Jose's 1st upscale Latino nightclub

    Miss Hawaiian Tropic Bikini Contest
    WHERE: Zoe Nightclub, 417 S. First Street, San Jose
    WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday 3/5
    TIX: free b4 10 p.m. if on guestlist (info@zoenightclub.com) and for only $5 b4 11 p.m.
    WHY: See a swimsuit competition and get a chance to be on TV!
     
    Photo of Marian Liu by Stephanie Grace Lim, Mercury News
    You can e-mail me at mliu@mercurynews.com.