May 08, 2002


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Eight Days a Week

May 8-15, 2002

MAYBE IT TAKES a little gall – or else just a well-developed sense of irony – to use the term "alternative music" these days, but whatever: the San Francisco Alternative Music Festival has put together a solid program for its first year. The focus is on (mostly improv-based) music by local artists, ranging from laptop-electronics trio Fuzzy Bunny to avant-jazz-rock vets Splatter Trio to bassist Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra. There are also several out-of-town guests, notably including New York jazz saxophonist-trumpeter Joe McPhee, who headlines opening night (Wed/8) as part of a trio with violinist India Cooke and drummer Donald Robinson. McPhee has been a cult favorite in various corners since he began recording in the late 1960s, making music that has run the gamut from sparse and thoughtful to screaming and funky but is always filtered through his own eccentric, spiritual vision. Sharing the bill with McPhee will be a screening of Denis A. Charles: An Interrupted Conversation, a documentary about the late jazz drummer by Véronique N. Doumbé, and a performance by the Marco Eneidi Trio. Through Sun/12. Opens Wed/8, 8 p.m., 21 Grand Gallery, 449B 23rd St., Oakl. (415) 241-0684. $12. For more information go to www.sfalt.org. (Will York)

May 8

Wednesday

Ice bold As far as long-dead adventurer types go, Sir Ernest Shackleton has pretty much hogged the limelight recently, providing material for best-selling books and no less than three films (including his own Imax adventure). It's about time fellow Antarctic explorer Roald Amundsen got some of the action. The Norwegian hero, who lived from 1872 to 1928 and was the first person to reach the South Pole, gets his due with filmmaker Kenny Sanders's doc Frozen Heart, released in 1999 but never before shown locally. Amundsen's many accomplishments – he was also the first person to sail the Northwest Passage above Canada – are investigated in the film and in an accompanying exhibit of vintage photographs. Sanders will be on hand tonight to discuss his film and his subject. Screening and discussion 6:30 p.m.; exhibit through Sun/12, Thurs.-Fri., 10-7 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., noon-7 p.m., 39th Exposure Gallery and Studio, 39 Mesa, No. 4, Main Post, Presidio, S.F. Free. (415) 986-0766. (Cheryl Eddy)

May 9

Thursday

Squish 'em The title is pretty eye-catchingly horrific, but Cockroach Infestation is not about an Orkin man slacking off on the job. Rather, this play by Berkeley's Steven A. Lyons – the first full-length production by Bay Area One-Acts Festival producers Three Wise Monkeys Theatre Company – is a comedy set during ye olde dot-com salad days. Though Lyons originally set out to write a socially conscious work about the health care system, he ended up with a romantic farce in which one of the characters is a makeup artist to the dead. The resulting work with the creepy-crawly name has had strong showings in new-play competitions around the United States; it makes its local debut tonight. Through June 2. Opens tonight, 7:30 p.m. (special actors' benefit). Runs Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m., New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom, S.F. $12-$15. (415) 776-7247. (Eddy)

May 10

Friday

Kill with power Relentlessly celebrating warfare, carnage, and the unstoppable power of heavy metal, New York-based quartet Manowar has always taken headbanging rock to ham-fisted new heights. The bludgeoning brainchild of Dictators guitarist Ross "the Boss" Funicello and former Black Sabbath bass and pyro tech Joey DeMaio, Manowar initially made its mark as much for performing in Conan-style loincloths and signing its record contracts in blood as it did for over-the-top anthems like "Metal Daze" and "Death Tone." But preposterous theatrical trappings aside, the group emerged as unwavering champions of true metal, delivering blood-drenched, sword-swinging sonic mayhem to its psychotically rabid fans the world over. The "Gods of War Tour" finds the veteran warriors joined by Norwegian black metalers Immortal, Catastrophic, and Havoc Hate for a marathon night of neck-snapping treats. 8 p.m., Pound-SF, Pier 96, 100 Cargo, S.F. $25. (415) 273-1169. (Dave Pehling)

Inside and out Performing at benefits for Bay Area nonprofits like CopWatch and Speak Out! and events like the San Francisco Radical Performance Festival and the East Bay AIDS Conference, Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company is in demand. The inspiring, multicultural group of young activists works to promote peaceful conflict resolution, delivering moving, professional-quality performances that consistently receive rave reviews and praise from the likes of Howard Zinn and Angela Davis. In its latest original production, The Beat on Both Sides ... A Cry for Freedom, the company combines hip-hop, modern, and aerial dance with martial arts, theater, and spoken word to confront the juvenile "injustice" system from both sides. The piece explores the harsh realities of prison for incarcerated youths as well as the ways in which social constructs work to imprison youths living on the outside – asking, ultimately, what it means to grow up "free" in this society. Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m., McClymonds High School, 2604 Myrtle, Oakl. $8-$17. (510) 597-1619. (Lara Shalson)

Blues don't change After playing in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Peter Green cofounded the original Fleetwood Mac in 1968, shaping a sound light-years apart from the platinum pop now associated with the name. But two years later the notoriously troubled and rumor-plagued London-bred guitarist left the band, and for two decades he largely stayed away from music, forcing fans of his beautiful tone and fluid phrasing make do with such recorded classic tracks as "Albatross," "Black Magic Woman," and "The Green Manalishi" and a few solo albums. In 1997, teaming up with longtime blues guitar pal Nigel Watson, he reemerged at the helm of the Peter Green Splinter Group, recording five albums of mostly Robert Johnson-inspired classic blues, including the most recent star-studded Hot Foot Powder (Snapper), and injecting old favorites into his quintet's live sets. Opening act Nightfire offer extra incentive for guitar fans to come early, as Harvey Mandel, Freddie Roulette, and Henry Kaiser make up the stellar triumvirate. 9 p.m., Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus, S.F. $25. (415) 474-0365. (Derk Richardson)

May 11

Saturday

Ghoul times With thoughtful prose and perfectly terrifying attention to detail, contributors to Morbid Curiosity weave first-person accounts of hauntings, bulldozer buckets loaded with cow heads, insane asylums, occult shops, invading raccoons, unnerving subway rides, and other phenomena – and the eeriest part is that every tale is true. Even the easily spooked will find the zine a fascinating read, and the illustrations – a dead bug here, a crumbling hospital there – are as gripping as the text. Today, Morbid Curiosity salutes its sixth issue with a reading featuring numerous contributors, including Jill Tracy, M. Christian, Kalifer Deil, Shira B., Jeff Dauber, Lilah Wild, George Neville-Neil, M. Parfitt, and editor Loren Rhoads. 4-7 p.m., Borderlands Books, 866 Valencia, S.F. Free. (415) 824-8203, www.charnel.com/morbidcuriosity. (Eddy)

Blast off Looking for a new direction after the 1992 demise of his dark indie rock band Thin White Rope, guitarist Roger Kunkel retreated to his Davis home and sought out new collaborators. A year later the Acme Rocket Quartet made its debut. Coming off like a kinder, gentler version of skronk saxophonist John Zorn's Naked City ensemble (the two groups share a taste for Mancini, Morricone, and Warner Brothers cartoon maestro Carl Stalling), the Rocket Quartet builds a noirish vibe on the subtle interplay between Kunkel's clean guitar lines and the contributions of trumpet-Fender Rhodes player John Killebrew. With a new drummer in tow and a batch of fresh songs from the unit's upcoming third album on Lather Records, the Acme Rocket Quartet should deliver a full evening of power lounging pleasure. The Looky Loos open. 10 p.m., Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, S.F. $5. (415) 923-0923. (Pehling)

Broad comedy The producers of Kung Pao Kosher Comedy, the annual contrarian Christmas Eve celebration of Jewish humor, present the fourth annual 'Funny Girlz: A Smorgasbord of Women's Humor.' This is a multicultural mix of female (and near-female) performers rapping on the theme of what's funny to women and about women. All genders should appreciate the seven performers, including Vijai Nathan, an Indian American comic; Juanita More, a Latina drag queen; and María Elena Gaitán, an accomplished performance artist who plays the cello and does stand-up. Opening the show is Lisa Geduldig, a seriously funny lady who's also hosting the whole shebang; the event closes with the comic knockout punch of outrageous Oakland girl Luenell. Partial proceeds of the event benefit WritersCorps S.F., and one of the group's young writers, Lydia Celis, will also be appearing on tonight's bill. It's her first time in front of such a crowd, so be gentle, comedy fans. 8 p.m., Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, S.F. $20-$25. For tickets call (415) 392-4400; for more information call (415) 522-3737 or go to www.koshercomedy.com. (Summers Henderson)

May 12

Sunday

Take Mom higher This afternoon brings a special Mother's Day concert in honor of Mahalia Jackson, often acclaimed as the greatest gospel singer ever. Born poor in 1911 New Orleans, Jackson was known particularly as a singer of spirituals and was heavily involved in the civil rights movement through the '50s and '60s; she died of heart failure in 1972. Although she had no children, her emotional and dramatic rendering of spiritual music has earned her a reputation as the mother of a whole generation of gospel-influenced soul and R&B singers, notably Aretha Franklin and Little Richard (who dubbed her "the true queen of spiritual singers"). In celebration of Jackson's life, Joshua Nelson, Emmit Powell and the Gospel Elites, the Bay Area Super Choir, and Elder Eric Claybon and Reign perform gospel songs made famous by Jackson. Nelson, an African American Jew, has modeled his charismatic gospel singing and Torah chanting styles after Jackson. "When you sing gospel, you have the feeling there is a cure for what's wrong," Jackson once said. Expect to leave the church on a spiritual high. 4 p.m., Parks Chapel AME Church, 476 34th St., Oakl. $25. (510) 654-8758. (China Martens)

May 13

Monday

Listen up A group of critics and artists get together for a discussion called 'Critics and Theatre Artists in a Media-Saturated Culture: Is Anybody Paying Attention?' The title is self-explanatory: filling in the blanks will be critics including Rob Hurwitt (San Francisco Chronicle), Karen D'Souza (San Jose Mercury News), and Brad Rosenstein (Bay Guardian) and artists including Jonathan Moscone (California Shakespeare Festival), Deborah Cullinan (Intersection for the Arts), and Rhodessa Jones (Cultural Odyssey). There's lots to talk about and a lot of talkers; the evening should be provocative. 6 p.m., San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum, 401 Van Ness, Fourth floor. S.F. $5. (415) 255-4800. (J.H. Tompkins)

May 14

Tuesday

Wonderboys Remembering the glory days of Too Much Joy wasn't enough for onetime bandmates Tim Quirk and Jay Blumenfield. They got together to make music in the studio last year and began releasing new songs online, one a month. Those songs became the backbone of their new band Wonderlick's self-titled album. They had help from a bunch of friends in the studio; onstage the rest of the band is on tape. See for yourself at this record-release party – and keep your ears open for "In a House with Two Women" and "Chapel of Bones," my favorite moments on the album. 9 p.m., Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F. $6. (415) 621-4455. (Tompkins)

Capturing movements Thanks to the dedicated Dance on Camera people, New York was for a long time the only place to see cutting-edge collaborations between dance- and filmmakers. But the Bay Area is catching up. Cynthia Pepper's fall Footage Dance Film Festival has begun to get an audience of both film and dance lovers. And tonight at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Charlotte Shoemaker, who curates video screenings in conjunction with San Francisco Performances, presents 'Dance/Screen: Innovative International Short Dance Films,' an evening of shorts culled from entries to international film festivals. The work – some of it being shown for the first time in this country – comes from the U.K., Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Finland, and the United States. 7 p.m., Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, S.F. $3-$6. (415) 978-ARTS. (Rita Felciano)

Catch a fire Sometimes the best way to get a potentially explosive message across is to couch it in infectious, danceable melodies. That's the approach adopted by veteran Zimbabwean singer-songwriter Oliver Mtukudzi, known affectionately as "Tuku." Against the backdrop of upbeat music played by backing band Black Spirits, Mtukudzi sings lyrics critical of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe's regime. Appropriately, Tuku's latest album, Vhunze Moto (Putamayo), translates to "burning ember," symbolic of the powder keg situation in his home country. On "Tapera (We Have Been Decimated)," Mtukudzi warns about the dangers of AIDS, a disease that has already claimed members of his family and some of his friends. Although he draws on Zimbabwean traditional and pop music, Mtukudzi also embraces a variety of African sounds, especially South African influences. With a career spanning 25 years and encompassing 41 original albums, Tuku – who sings in his native Shona and English – has a wealth of material to draw on when he performs. Catch a short acoustic set by Tuku at the Rafael Film Center tonight in conjunction with a screening of Shanda, a film about his life and music. Tomorrow, Tuku takes the stage in San Francisco, where Henri-Pierre Koubaka, the host of KALW-FM's pan-African show Kumpo Beat, supports, showcasing old and new West African dance music. Screening tonight, 6:45 p.m., Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St., San Rafael. $12-$15. (415) 454-1222; performance Wed/15, 8 p.m., Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell, S.F. $15. (415) 885-0750. (Martens)

May 15

Wednesday

Rave on Best known for launching the careers of guitarists Robert Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck, the Yardbirds were once one of the British Invasion's Big Three R&B ass-stompers. The Stones had the grit, and the Animals had the soul, but for sheer energy, the 'Birds were the word. The band's status has been secured commercially (the requisite handful of chart hits) and artistically (some wicked experimentations in general psychedelic mayhem), but their most enduring legacy has to be coining and popularizing the rave-up. And we've all been witness to the joy and sorrow that is the extended musical freak-out. Since reforming in the mid '90s, original members Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty (ex-Dr. Feelgood guitarist Gypie Mayo fills the axe role) have managed to refrain from dragging the once proud Yardbirds moniker through the mud of nostalgia (see: Shadows of Knight, the Monkees, anything involving Ringo Starr); they're getting glowing reviews for their bombastic live set. Petrol open. 9 p.m., 330 Ritch, 330 Ritch, S.F. $26. (415) 541-9574. (John O'Neill)

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