Our Weekly Picks: December 5-11



Jill Tracy

Spooky chanteuse Jill Tracy describes her new holiday release, Silver Smoke, Star of Night, as "the Christmas album for those who prefer the October chill." She celebrates its release with three festive events, starting with tonight's "Fragrance: The Allure and Magical History of Perfumes," an after-hours party at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. The evening is both concert and launch of her limited-edition fragrances (appropriately, devoted to "dark elegance"), created with local perfumers Nocturne Alchemy. Sat/8, the Hypnodrome (where Tracy has been known to perform with the Thrillpeddlers) hosts "Creepshow Christmas" — a family-friendly show mixing ghost stories with live accompaniment. Finally, Silver Smoke's official CD release shindig is Dec. 19 at the DNA Lounge. Spirits will be bright! (Cheryl Eddy)

Tonight, 6-10pm, $13

San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers

Golden Gate Park, 100 John F. Kennedy Dr., SF

Sat/8, 8pm, $13–$25


575 10th St., SF



Blue Scholars

The young MCs in Seattle rap duo Blue Scholars met, quite appropriately, in a hip-hop club at the University of Washington. You can hear these academic roots clearly in DJs Sabzi and Geologic's smart, searing rhymes. The heady lyrical content of their work tackles serious, political issues such as socioeconomic mobility, empowerment, and questioning authority. Even more impressively, these boys don't just talk the talk. Geologic's history of activism in the Filipino-American community and the duo's headquarters in 98118, the country's most ethnically diverse zip code, is the perfect recipe for the smart, relevant hip-hop that the scene most desperately needs (we're looking at you, Chris Brown). (Haley Zaremba)

With The Physics, Brothers From Another

8pm, $19.50


1805 Geary, SF

(415) 346-6000



Get Carter and The Trip

Verrrry clever, Castro Theatre — programming back-to-back screenings of Get Carter (1971) and The Trip (2010). Gritty Get Carter follows a snarling Michael Caine as he prowls around Newcastle, punching his way through the local gangster contingent he holds responsible for his brother's death. The Trip, a travelogue featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (playing exaggerated versions of themselves), contains some genius and quotable comedy — ABBA sing-offs, mock-epic speeches — but none more memorable than the two actors going head to head with their Caine impressions: "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" Truly, an inspired double feature. (Cheryl Eddy)

Get Carter 2:40 and 7pm; The Trip 4:50 and 9:10pm, $8.50–$11

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF



"Drag Queens on Ice"

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's ... er, definitely something, flying at you with the unstoppable momentum of a two-story wig and a pair of birdseed-filled balloons. You already know what's green and ice skates (Peggy Phlegm) now come find out what's queen and ice wobbles — all those years in man-stilletos can't help you out on the rink, honey. This cherished annual hoot features a wealth of San Francisco's beloved gender clown personalities threading their way through bewildered tourist families in Union Square (who actually get really into it, and by the end it's a heartwarming family affair, full of squeals of delight). You can even skate with these swanning lovelies! No money back if you end up with a weave in your face. The great Donna Sachet — she of the stunning, form-fitting, fake-fur-trimmed ravishing red holiday dress — mistresses the ceremonies. Grab a warming adult beverage from nearby Emporio Rulli Il Caffe and join in the fun. But don't you dare judge, or you might get Nancy Kerrigan'd. Skates are blades, remember. (Marke B.)

8-9:30pm, $10 entrance, $5 rentals

Union Square Skating Rink

Post and Geary, SF



The Family Stone

I've had some good times listening to San Francisco's Sly and the Family Stone — both letting my mind wander the groove of their funky sound and feeling the sense of pride in one's self that Sly Stone sings so well — and I'd venture a guess that you have too. Though that innovate teacher and leader has opted for life out of the spotlight, three of the original members, Jerry Martini (saxophone), Cynthia Robinson(trumpet), and Greg Errico (drums), are keeping the music alive with the help of a few younger talents. Mostly hailing from the Las Vegas area, these new members are all performers with rich experiences listening to Sly's music. This new Family Stone recreates the old hits in a fresh show, hoping to bring the music to all generations. (Molly Champlin)

7-8pm, $40–$45

Rrazz Room

222 Mason, SF

(800) 380-3095



Streetlight Manifesto

Streetlight Manifesto was pretty late to the ska game, releasing its first album in 2003, well over a decade after the genre's revival heyday. Though in a way, the band's timing was actually perfect. Born out of the ashes of previous Jersey ska-punk heroes Catch-22 and One Cool Guy, Streetlight's catchy tunes and punk rock virility have been nearly single-handedly keeping third-wave ska alive in a world dominated by hip-hop, mainstream pop, and EDM. The band is ringing in the new year with the release of its fifth album, The Hands That Thieve. During this tour, Streetlight Manifesto promises to play new songs, old favorites, and everything in between; so put on your skanking shoes and lace 'em up tight. It's gonna be a good night. (Zaremba)

With Hostage Calm, Lionize

8pm, $21


333 11th St., SF

(415) 255-0333




Hope Beyond

Kim Gordon, artist and gallery director at Modern Eden, has curated the one-night-only art show, Hope Beyond, a benefit for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The assembled line-up includes an impressive selection of artists representing a variety of pop-surreal and contemporary styles. The work ranges from the graffiti style sharpie drawings of Kidlew to intricate fusion of nature images and Hindi symbolism by Inge Vandormael. Personally, I'm excited to see what all of these artists will contribute to the show. Especially Serge Gay Jr. — an artist whose paintings collage and reproduce pop culture images to create dichotomies between what's real and what's fake and make you to take a second look at his subjects: beauty, violence, drugs, and race. With all art priced below $100 and the proceeds going to Hurricane Sandy victims, what's not to love? (Champlin)

6pm, free

Modern Eden Gallery

403 Francisco, SF

(415) 956-3303



SFBallet's Nutcracker

The folks in Imperial Russia loved The Nutcracker and kept it alive during Soviet times. But the West never saw it until some White Russians, who had escaped to San Francisco, nagged then San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director Willam Christensen to choreograph it in 1944. By now there are hundreds of versions all over the world; the oddest one I ever saw had Drosselmeyer arrive on a spaceship. SFB's, choreographed by Helgi Tomasson in 2004, is set during the 1915 Panama International Exhibition. It lacks the cloying sweetness and sentimentality that infects so many others. Tomasson's is a love letter to the City — cool, transparent, a little reserved and superbly elegant. (Rita Felciano)

Through Dec. 28, 7pm, 2pm matinees; $20–$270

War Memorial Opera House

301 Van Ness, SF

(415) 865-2000



Misfit Toy Factory II

Did you ever feel cheated as a kid when you would see cartoons and hear stories about elves making toys from scratch, then you got a Barbie doll or video game that obviously wasn't cobbled at the North Pole? Well, now is your chance to watch the toys actually being made. Not by elves though, but by local artists. There will be over 35 of them at Root Division Art Space bringing creativity from their various fields (painting, sculpture, and illustration mostly) to the art of toy making. All the work will be sold for a flat rate of $40. Bring cash for some shopping, or just come to enjoy the atmosphere of creativity complete with music by DJ Yukon Cornelius. (Champlin)

6pm, free

Root Division Art Space

3175 17th, SF

(415) 863-7668



John Prine

I think I need to start with a disclaimer: I love John Prine. Yes, I'm completely biased when I say that he is one of the greatest living lyricists and you'd be lucky to go see him. But why take my word for it? His more than 40 years of successful songwriting can speak for themselves. Starting off as a Chicago-area postman doing open mics in his spare time, Prine eventually got noticed — by a young Roger Ebert. Now, almost 70 years after that glowing review, Prine is still an incredible songwriter and performer, and each song is a charming, witty, and poignant labor of love. In his time as a performer, many trends and genres have come and gone, but a great folk song never goes out of style. (Zaremba)

With Justin Townes Earle

8pm, $39–$59


982 Market, SF

(415) 345-0900



San Francisco Crab Fest 2012

Continuing a long-running San Francisco tradition that takes advantage of the fact that the crab fishing season along the California coast coincides with the holiday season, the Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District 2012 Crab Fest will offer up a tasty fete featuring the crustacean prepared in a variety of ways by local restaurants, along with exhibits, cooking demonstrations and more. A host of sustainably-produced regional wines will provide the perfect way to raise a toast to the annual event, which donates all proceeds to the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program and the San Francisco Police Department's Youth Fishing Program. (Sean McCourt)

Noon-3pm, $25–$30

Waterfront Terraces, Fisherman's Wharf

145 Jefferson St., Third Floor, SF



Queer Rebels Winter Shindig

Though the weather outside is frightful, the smolderingly creative queers performing tonight at El Rio are more than capable of keeping your toasty warm. The lineup alone is worth the sleigh ride to El Rio — burlesque from the bountiful Ms. Vagina Jenkins, jazzy moves courtesy East Bay punker Brontez Purnell, the release performance of drag king blueser K.B. TuffNStuff's Trans of Venus album, and so much more hotness. But as if that wasn't enough to draw you like a moth to flame, this: the evening is a benefit for Queer Rebels' year-round lineup of genderbending, empowering art events like the Exploding Lineage! experimental film fest, two-day summit of Asian American activists, and the group's annual eponymous production of queer takes on the Harlem Renaissance and beyond. (Caitlin Donohue)

8-11pm, $7-20 sliding scale

El Rio

3158 Mission, SF



John Cale

Whereas Lou Reed was the primary source of the Velvet Underground's swagger, and hard-bitten lyricism, John Cale took charge of the group's more avant-garde leanings. Even 45 years after leaving the band, Cale continues to challenge and surprise his listeners, as evidenced by the title of his latest LP: Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood. Largely devoid of the splintering bursts of noise that defined his formative years, and the rootsy pastoralism of Paris 1919 and Vintage Violence, Cale's latest is an art-rock record in the tradition of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush: affecting in its ability to experiment and take risks while working squarely within the pop template. Another gutsy effort from an aging icon whose renegade streak hasn't gone anywhere. See him while you can. (Taylor Kaplan)

With Cass McCombs

8pm, $32–$48


1290 Sutter, SF

(888) 929-7849


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