Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Feb. 2: Mark Hummel's Blues Harmonica Blowout at the Mystic Theatre

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 5:51 PM

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of Mark Hummel’s Blues Harmonica Blowout, and to celebrate, the harp master is taking his much-loved annual harmonica showcase on the road. From way up in Chico to way down in Redondo Beach, Hummel tours for two weeks with a smattering of bluesy blowers to show off the rich, dirty texture of the instrument. While guests like James Cotton and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith fill out his residency at Yoshi’s in Oakland, his local Petaluma show scares up Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Rod Piazza, leader of the Mighty Flyers. There are years and years of harmonica wizardry on Hummel’s stage every year, and with Rusty Zinn and Andy Santana filling out the band, it’s gonna be a hell of a night. Opening the show are the Aces, who actually use Charlie Musselwhite’s old harmonica amplifier, on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at the Mystic Theatre. 23 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. 8pm. $25. 707.765.2121.Gabe Meline
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Jan. 30: Ruth Ann Swenson at the Napa Valley Opera House

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 5:49 PM

In January 1880, a grand theater in the heart of Napa was unveiled to great fanfare with a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s light opera H.M.S. Pinafore. One hundred and thirty years later—after hosting the likes of Jack London and John Philip Sousa, closing for several decades, and then hosting the likes of Wynton Marsalis and Steve Martin—the Napa Valley Opera House has a lot of history to celebrate. Thanks to a valiant rescue and restoration effort, the intimate, elegant hall has survived several earthquakes to stand proud as the cultural center of Napa, and this weekend, no other than famed soprano Ruth Ann Swenson appears in recital to herald the house. Accompanied by Whitney Crist on piano, Swenson pays tribute to Luisa Tetrazzini, the Italian soprano who performed on the Opera House stage in the early century, on Saturday, Jan 30, at the Napa Valley Opera House. 1030 Main St, Napa. 7pm. $75; $130 includes catered afterparty. 707.226.7372.Gabe Meline
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Jan. 30: Casual at 19 Broadway

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 5:45 PM

The East Bay’s Hieroglyphics crew might be best known for their star hip-hop acts Del the Funky Homosapien and Souls of Mischief, but buried underneath a pile of three-eyed stickers was the cunning and versatile Casual. Not one to let history pass him by, Casual has continued to live up the hovering beats and natural flow of his landmark 1994 debut, Fear Itself, by not only releasing four albums since but becoming actively engaged in his community. His colleagues on the Oakland Board of Cultural Affairs know him as Jonathan Owens, as do the members of Youth UpRising, a nonprofit center in Oakland where Owens serves as a consultant. But to fans he’ll always be Casual. He performs with turn-of-the-century turntablists DJ Cue and DJ Quest on Saturday, Jan. 30, at the 19 Broadway Niteclub. 19 Broadway, Fairfax. 9pm. $20–$22. 415.459.1091.Gabe Meline
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Jan. 27: Audrey Niffenegger at Book Passage

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 5:43 PM

It was a self-fulfilling prophecy that any attempt by Hollywood to adapt the complex brilliance of Audrey Niffenegger’s bestselling novel The Time Traveler’s Wife would essentially fail. How could the big screen handle such a poignant and unique story? Could it possibly, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, present alternate realities without losing its romantic wallop? In Time Traveler’s case, unfortunately, the answer was no, but that hasn’t diminished Niffenegger’s resolve. The author follows up her phenomenally popular breakthrough with Her Fearful Symmetry, set in and around London’s Highgate Cemetery, and for its release, she sits down and shares a meal—catered by Insalata’s of San Anselmo—for Book Passage’s “Literary Lunch” series on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at Book Passage. 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. 12pm. $50 includes lunch and signed copy of book. 415.927.0960.Gabe Meline
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Jan. 20-27: Across the Bridge

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 5:38 PM

The Mermen

Long-running psychedelic surf-rock trio celebrate 20 year anniversary and release of new album In God We Trust with in-store show. Jan 29 at 6. Free. Amoeba Music, 1855 Haight St, San Francisco. 415.831.1200.Luciana Souza

Brazilian jazz chanteuse has straddled compositional styles with everyone from bassist John Pattitucci to clarinetist Osvaldo Golijov. Jan 30 at 8. $27-$39. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco. 415.392.2545.Red Wine Boys

Todd Barry and Jon Benjamin bring the laughs with “Daily Show” contributor John Hodgman and indie duo Mates of State in special SF Sketchfest show. Jan 31 at 9. $25. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie St, San Francisco. 415.625.8880.Joe Satriani

Veteran self-pleasuring guitar virtuoso, now with Chickenfoot, drops his beef with Coldplay to raise money in benefit for old friend Nicky DelDrago. Jan 31 at 7. $35. Slim’s, 333 11th St, San Francisco. 415.255.0333.Nomo

Fela Kuti meets Konono No. 1 meets Quantic Soul Orchestra in this incredible large-scale ethno-junkyard ensemble sure to heat the club. Feb 2 at 9:30. $10-$12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St, San Francisco. 415.626.4455.Doug Carn & Black Jazz Reunion

Underappreciated Hammond B-3 player resurfaces with other artists on the obscure but hughly influential Black Jazz label for one night only. Feb 3 at 8 and 10. $10-$18. Yoshi’s. 510 Embarcadero W, Oakland. 510.238.9200.More San Francisco events at www.sfstation.com.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jan. 23-25: "The Red Violin Concerto" at the Wells Fargo Center

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 2:01 PM

The Santa Rosa Symphony this weekend presents a program of American composers including Barber and Copland, but all eyes these days are on Elliott Carter. Few people live to be 101 years old, but Carter, still alive and active in his Manhattan apartment, is defying the wheels of time past the centennial mark. Not that his age should steal the attention from his compositional powers, which over the years successfully adapted to the modernistic touches of the late 20th century with acumen and skill. In 1944, Carter was commissioned a piece to celebrate the liberation of Paris in World War II; the resulting “Holiday Overture” is a layered and optimistic work, to be performed this weekend. With guest conductor JoAnn Falletta conducting Michael Ludwig in John Corigliano’s perennial favorite “The Red Violin Concerto,” on Saturday–Monday, Jan. 23–25, at the Wells Fargo Center. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. Saturday, 2pm and 8pm; Sunday, 3pm; Monday, 8pm. $10–$42. 707.546.8742.

Gabe Meline

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Jan. 23: Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory at the 142 Throckmorton Theater

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Jay Leno’s getting a bad rap these days; he can’t help it if his network is clueless, and the stirring resentment over his mere presence is spilling over into unwarranted attacks on his style of comedy. The same might be said for Mort Sahl back in the day. Hailed as an influence by Leno, Lenny Bruce and Woody Allen, Sahl in the 1960s dressed in a casual sweater with a newspaper in hand, and delivered jazzlike, stream-of-consciousness zingers about racial politics, free love, misguided wars and whatever snapped into his sharp, quick mind. Usually, it riled the masses, but that didn’t stop Herb Caen from urging him to run for president of the United States. Dick Gregory, one of the first black comedians to address civil rights issues to a white audience, actually did run for president in 1968; he now calls the U.S. “the most dishonest, ungodly, unspiritual nation that ever existed in the history of the planet.” The two comedy legends appear Saturday, Jan. 23, at the 142 Throckmorton Theater. 142 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley. 8pm. $38–$48. 415.383.9600.Gabe Meline
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Jan. 22: Chuck Prophet at the Mystic

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Songwriting juggernaut Chuck Prophet has been a Bay Area fixture since his early days in the proto-experimental rock outfit Green on Red, but far more rewarding has been his prolific solo output. ¡Let Freedom Ring!, his ninth studio album, has the outsider’s take on what’s generally referred to as Americana music with an over-the-border bent. Recorded in Mexico City during the first panic of the swine flu scare, the album has a jagged anxiety of shifting tectonic plates. A chugging minor-key tune, “Sonny Liston’s Blues” traipses along to kick things off as if on a crumbling ledge. Slowly congealing into torn-love songs replete with the usual Prophet trademarks—such as the inimitable way he hollows out his throat and nose to drawl his long o’s—the lingering metaphor is about America, el Norte, where “the hawk cripples the dove.” Always a passionate live performer, Prophet headlines on Friday, Jan. 22, at the Mystic for the KRSH 95.9-FM listener appreciation party. Jesse DeNatale opens. 23 Petaluma Blvd. N, Petaluma. 8pm. $15. 707.765.2121.Gabe Meline
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Jan. 21: Susannah Carson at Copperfield's Books

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Exactly when the glut of Jane Austen literary takeoffs utilizing bloodsucking vampires, groaning zombies, enraged pharmacists, psychotic webmasters, possessed iPhone apps or whatever ridiculous modern trendy twist comes next will end is anybody’s guess. One thing’s sure, and that’s people are still reading the original Austen books. Indispensable to the Austen fan is Susannah Carson’s magnetic anthology A Truth Universally Acknowledged: Why We Read Jane Austen, in which 33 writers from Eudora Welty and Virginia Woolf to Somerset Maugham and C. S. Lewis dwell on the majesty and details of Austen’s work. Amy Heckerling tells how she adapted Emma into the 1996 movie Clueless, while contemporary writers like Anna Quindlan extract specific plot points and character traits for an engaging portrait of Austen’s appeal. Carson discusses the book on Thursday, Jan. 21, at Copperfield’s Books. 3900a Bel Aire Plaza, Hwy. 29, at Trancas St., Napa. 7pm. Free. 707.252.8002.Gabe Meline
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Jan. 20-27: Across The Bridge

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Yo-Yo Ma

Famed cellist spends a one-week residency performing both with San Francisco Symphony and in duo setting with Emmanuel Ax. Jan 20-26. $15-$135. Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco. 415.864.6000.Anti-Flag

Staunchly critical and anti-corporate punk band that signed to Sony in 2005, earning the endless ire of fans everywhere. Jan 21 at 7:30. $16. Slim’s, 
333 11th St, San Francisco. 415.255.0333.Norton Buffalo Tribute

Steve Miller, Doobie Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Huey Lewis, Roy Rogers, George Thorogood and more pay their respects to the harp master. Jan 22-23 at 7. $50-$125. Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave, Oakland. 510.302.2277.Jonathan Coulton

Geeky tech-obsessed songwriter returns to the scene of his latest live CD/DVD, ‘Best. Concert. Ever.’ Jan 22-23 at 9. $25. Great American Music Hall, 
859 O’Farrell St, San Francisco. 888.233.0449.Kenny Garrett Quartet

Searching and inventive alto saxophonist explores Eastern themes in his latest, ‘Beyond the Wall.’ Jan 22-23 at 8 and 10; Jan 24 at 7. $18-$22. Yoshi’s, 1330 Fillmore St, San Francisco. 415.655.5600.Phenomenauts

Silver-clad bespectacled space denizens ready to blow toilet paper all over your dome. With Maladroid and the Cons. Jan 23 at 8. $13. Rickshaw Stop, 
155 Fell St, San Francisco. 415.415.861.2011.More San Francisco events at www.sfstation.com.

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