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Picks for the week of September 3 - 9, 2008

Friday–Saturday Sept. 5–6
Greek Theatre

Dave Matthews Band

I'VE TRIED, and tried, and tried some more, but I just don't get it: what's the big deal with Dave Matthews? Yes, his live shows are good, and yes, the guy's a talented, if not innovative musician, but c'mon, does he really sound that great? Let's dissect. We've got his voice—it's raspy, throaty and sometimes sounds like he's got a ball of phlegm the size of a baseball stuck in it. As a singer, he's OK at best, mediocre at worst. His band—individually great musicians, no doubt—sounds about as congruent as peanut butter and cheese. Horns here, keyboards there, and then Dave's wonderful croaks of melody over the din. Call me ignorant, call me unappreciative, but something about DMB rubs me the wrong way. But apparently people love him. Less mysterious is the accolades for the always impressive Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, who also perform.

Steel Pulse
Wednesday Sept. 3
The Fillmore
1805 Geary
San Francisco

Jakob Dylan and the Gold Mountain Rebels

BEING SIRED by Bob Dylan must be like having Jesus as your Dad: you'll be worshiped because you share a few chromosomes with the anointed one, but people won't shut up about him. Nora Jones aside, most '60s rock spawn never seem to attain any seriously successful musical careers outside their parents' shadows. Perhaps it's because of the copious amount of pharmaceuticals that most rock gods wolfed down back in the day, but many of these offspring are inclined to think that they are inherently more talented then they actually are. Often the product of the mutually beneficial liaisons between models and unfortunate looking but gifted musicians, rock offspring are also predisposed to be pretty, if lacking substance—and they tend to be douche-bags (Sean Lennon, anybody?). Another case in point: Jakob Dylan. The youngest spawn of a former Playboy bunny and the messiah of a generation with the face like a foot, Jakob is cursed with striking cheekbones and broodingly furrowed eyebrows. These features made him an ever so begrudged magazine cover model and alterative '90s heartthrob—Oh yeah, and the Wallflowers made MTV-friendly radio rock that you couldn't escape back in '96. Now nearing 40, Jakob has decided to leave "One Headlight" behind, and is embracing his father's folksy singer/songwriter leanings. Jakob and his new solo band the Gold Mountain Rebels have been on tour this summer supporting his new release Seeing Things, opening for acts like Eric Clapton and Willie Nelson along the way.

Thursday Sept. 4
Regency Theater Grand Ballroom
1300 Van Ness at Sutter
San Francisco

Xavier Rudd

SELF-TAUGHT Aussie singer/songwriter is a musical autodidact who is slowly building an audience with his unique mixture of acoustic folk, gently swaying world music shuffles, and the outback hum of digeridoo. It would be an overstatement to say that Rudd has arrived quite yet—he displays a lot more promise than he does skill or virtuosity, and his success in the States is doubtlessly on a slow-build trajectory. Still, there's a lot to recommend here, and fans of the likes of Dave Matthews, John Mayer and Jack Johnson should find much to like in Rudd's easygoing yet substantive folk. He tours in support of his latest release, Dark Shades of Blue.

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