PREVIEW Entertain whatever stereotypes you will about tango as a relic of an openly macho era: tango in San Francisco is alive. Okay, and kicking.
You might envision a wacky, tacky ballroom competition but not so rapido says Tango No. 9's founder and violinist Catharine Clune, whose explorations over the last decade have unearthed what she calls "the many faces of tango." With trombonist Greg Stephens, pianist Joshua Raoul Brody, accordionist Isabel Douglass, and newest member Zoltan Lundy singing the Argentine blues, Tango No. Read more »
PREVIEW Kayhan Kalhor's splendid vehicle is the kamanche, a bowed string instrument often rendered in English as a "spike fiddle." Don't be fooled by that bit of orientalism. Neither folksy nor punk, in Kalhor's hands, the kamanche sings an eloquent and breathless tune, as assured and unfaltering as an operatic coloratura. Read more »
Beyond the comfy crib of steady gigs like the Symphony or, say, Beach Blanket Babylon, working musicians survive by adapting to myriad habitats. Popping up all over town, they transition from El Dive-o one night to Lé Deluxe Lounge the next. It's audiences who enjoy the luxury of worshipping regularly at the same musical temple, with the same congregation, be it hipster, hippie, or hip-replaced.
That's why it's likely and intentional that attendees of the Second Annual Switchboard Music Festival feel a little out of place. Read more »
Judgement Day has all the makings of a classic superhero: gritty back-story, freakish features, and extraordinary powers. And for a mutant that's half-string quartet, half-power trio, this triple threat of violin, cello, and drums turns out to be mighty tough.
Dude, seriously, though. Violins are soft. Drums are loud. Is this going to work? Read more »
PREVIEW Imagine an entry called "Hillbilly Music" on the Web site "Stuff White People Like." The lexicon of that sage barometer of upper middle-class culture might render something like, "Old-timey string band music, especially when performed by specimens plucked from unsophisticated rural communities; appeals to white people's yearning for authenticity with the promise of a true white folkloric inheritance." Well, forget all that. Read more »
Warning: listening to the Brass Menazeri is addictive once they start, you can't stop. After a sold-out show at Ashkenaz in Berkeley last month, the band of nine was dragged out for an encore or six not an easy feat for an exhausted group of horn players. Meanwhile, the crowd got busy losing their minds the old-fashioned way: dancing and moving any way they knew how.
Though unquestionably exciting, brass band music from Serbia, Macedonia, and Greece sounds exotic to most American ears. Read more »
PREVIEW “You know, Brazil is a huge country,” points out Bay Area clarinetist and saxophonist Harvey Wainapel. He should know – Weinapel has been making yearly musical pilgrimages to the world’s fifth largest nation since 2000, and has no plans to stop. Read more »
PREVIEW A Balinese gamelan ensemble is a world within a world, where the very notion of time is freed from the banality of the steadily ticking clock and sent sailing on a twisting river of interlocking rhythms. The many facets of traditional percussion music from Indonesia can be hard to grasp all at once dainty metal hammers flash as golden-robed performers, seated on the floor, sway back and forth to a hauntingly tuned scale. Read more »
Don't despair if your frequent oral treatises to progressive ideals end up falling on deaf ears. Instead, let your feet walk and your trumpet talk. Armed with even an undernourished musical skill and the will to disregard noise ordinances in your neighborhood, you can find a street band, whether bawdy or principled, to soundtrack your most ardently held beliefs. Read more »