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Picks for the week of April 30-May 6, 2008

Friday May 2
Sleep Train Pavilion
2000 Kirker Pass Road

Duran Duran

UNLIKE a lot of bands still performing 30 years after they began, Duran Duran has continually reinvented itself over the years, going from big-haired romantic New Wave pirates in the '80s to alternative pop stars in the '90s, and now they're collaborating with industry heavyweights like Timbaland and Timberlake in the '00s. And then there's the catalog of hits: "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Rio," "The Reflex," "Notorious," "New Moon on Monday," "Save a Prayer," "Wild Boys," "A View to a Kill," "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone." Nice one, Duran Duran.

Steel Pulse
Friday May 2
1011 Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien

THOUGH his cousin happens to be badass gangsta rapper–turned–Top 40 celebrity Ice Cube, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien exists on an entirely different hip-hop plane from his ex-NWA-member relative. In contrast to Cube's habitually grim outlook on the black man's struggle, Del has chosen to approach the situation with a lighter, more humorous form of street-smart lyrical content. His group, Hieroglyphics, has become one of Oakland's hottest hip-hop commodities, emerging from the depths of the underground with 1998's Future Development. Del's latest effort, Eleventh Hour, is his first solo release in eight years. Critics have been less than thrilled by the effort, but after the extended hiatus, fans are sure to forgive him.

Steel Pulse
Monday May 5
320-2 Cedar St.
Santa Cruz
$23 adv/$26 door


LONG BEFORE world music became an established marketing niche, Oregon was creating a potent synthesis of far-flung musical sources. One of the first improvising ensembles to wholeheartedly embrace a global aesthetic, the group evolved out of the Paul Winter Consort in 1970 as a quartet featuring reed master Paul McCandless, guitarist Ralph Towner, bassist Glen Moore and percussionist Colin Wolcott. In a stroke of good fortune unimaginable today, Oregon landed a 10-album deal with Vanguard Records, giving the group the security to experiment and explore. On albums such as Music of Another Present Era, Distant Hills and Winter Light, the combination of Towner's crystalline classical guitar, Moore's elastic bass, Wolcott's tabla and McCandless's oboe and English horn created a pristine, introspective sound, full of transparent, shimmering textures. Over nearly four decades, through tragedy (Wolcott died in a 1984 car crash) and technological shifts, Oregon has created a complete musical universe steeped in the jazz tradition but largely eschewing blues feeling and swing in favor of various non-Western musical forms. McCandless says they try to synthesize their influences "so they don't come out the way they came in." Born out of an impulse to explore the world, Oregon has evolved to the point where the players (including percussionist Mark Walker) feel perfectly comfortable coming home.

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