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Rupa and Todd Sickafoose speak of sonic fusion, good sushi

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Rupa, ready to cross borders

MUSIC This Thursday, Yoshi's SF hosts an experiment fusing of the border-crossing sound of songstress Rupa (best known for leading SF's rousing global agitpop band The April Fishes) with the grand indie rock orchestrations of bassist Todd Sickafoose (who has lived in Brooklyn for the past several years while leading his band Tiny Resistors and working with Ani Difranco). What initially seemed to be a cross-country collaboration is actually taking place closer to home now that the prodigal Sickafoose has returned to the Bay Area to live part-time. Mark Orton of Tin Hat Trio lends his arrangements to this sonic amalgam.

SFBG How did you two meet?

RUPA MARYA I met Todd through Ara [Anderson] and I think I've heard Todd's band play more than any other band in the last year. I love his compositions. Then I heard that he was possibly moving back to the Bay Area. So when Yoshi's wanted to book me, I wanted to do something different. This is a chance to show the more intimate side of my music, which I don't get to do when I'm playing with a big, raucous band. To share that with Todd is really exciting.

SFBG: Todd, you lived here in the Bay Area, then moved to New York about five years ago. Why?

TODD SICKAFOOSE: All my musical friends had migrated there. In some sense it was an obvious move. But that's also when I started playing with Ani, and she was in Buffalo. So everything became very New York-centric.

SFBG: But you recently moved back?

TS: I'm still playing music with everyone in New York, so I'm excited to be truly bicoastal. My family still lives here. This is home. But I'm part of the scene in Brooklyn, and it's an exciting time there. So that's home too. Coming back here it's great to check in, see what's going on, and to find people to play my music with. There's a collective of people playing my music at this point. I never meant for it to be that way, but it seems right because it requires a large band.

SFBG: How many people are playing at Yoshi's?

RM: There will be a string quartet with Todd on bass, so a string quintet, percussion, saxophone, marimba ...

TS: Then clarinet, trombone, duduk ...

RM: The duduk is an Armenian flute. It makes such a beautiful sound.

SFBG: What's the night going to be like?

RM: Instead of just playing a set of my music and then a set of Todd's, we're trying to figure out a way to weave the different elements together. I have no idea how it's going to sound. In The April Fishes I've been playing with some of the same people for five years. So to step away and play with a completely fresh group of people is thrilling. It started out of an impetus to welcome Todd back to San Francisco. And Yoshi's is a quiet listening room where you can have a different kind of musical exploration. I hope to always play with lots of amazing, inspiring people, like Todd.

TS: I like the idea of this collaboration because Rupa's music sounds very inclusive to me. I think that's her mode of operation. In New York there's such an overload of everything — musicians, ideas, and projects — that a lot of people figure out what they are by shutting out other possibilities. What's left becomes what they are. San Francisco has a tradition that's the other way around. I like the idea of being a magnet for many different things. To the point where you don't know what it'll be in the end, but it's a recipe for a good night of music.

RM: Basically it's just to have fun.

TS: And sushi.

RM: Really good sushi.

RUPA WITH TODD SICKAFOOSE

Thurs/3, 8 and 10 p.m., $10-$15

Yoshi's SF

1330 Fillmore, SF

(415) 665-5600, www.yoshis.com