Fast-rising soprano Julia Bullock rendered San Francisco audiences breathless with her rendition of Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere," from West Side Story, when the San Francisco Symphony performed the show in 2013. But it was the next year that sealed Bullock's fate as one to watch: indeed, just one week after her New York recital debut, she won the Naumburg Foundation's vocal competition. At the Nourse, Bullock sings Messiaen, Berio, Rossini and Poulenc, as well as a song cycle of African-American history—including an homage to Josephine Baker, a song from vocalese singer Oscar Brown, Jr., and the longing "I Wish I Knew How it Feels to Be Free." (Laying twenty bucks on the odds of an encore of "Somewhere" might be a safe bet.) Details and ticket information here.
David Mamet is the master of stylized, expletive-strewn macho standoffs. He's famous for Glengarry Glen Ross, about cutthroat salesman trying to dominate each other, and American Buffalo, about a small time schemers. The Anarchist is a bird of a different feather, however, with two female characters -- a jailed lesbian radical and the prison psychologist that stands in the way of her freedom -- and language more reminiscent of a grad-school seminar than a grease-stained saloon. Theatre Rhinoceros offers this Bay Area premiere production through January 18th. Details and ticket information here.
Easily one of the East Bay's most exciting bands of the moment, Bells Atlas settle in for a residency at Era that features special guests each night and an ever-changing setlist. Musically, the band's strength lies in their talented arranging skills; where others would clutter up the sonic palette, Bells Atlas scales back and fills space with well-placed sparseness—a guitar flourish here, a rimshot there. On top of it all, lead singer Sandra Lawson-Ndu brings her impeccable voice and natural sense of melody, making for a compelling elixir. At just five bucks each show, you've got your Monday nights in January all set. Details and ticket information here.
In tech-saturated Silicon Valley, there’s an art show that treasures the bleeding-edge artifacts of previous eras. Relics at the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art offers an old slide projector programmed to jam every few slides, piles of pre-smart-phone cell phones, and a powerful reminder that new-fangled can pivot to old-fangled in the blink of an eye. Curated by the gallery’s Executive Director Cathy Kimball, artists include Ching Ching Cheng, Jim Campbell, Genevieve Hastings, and more. Details here.
She stares into the camera with a hard-fought conviction, a jacket slung over her shoulder by fragile hands that seem to burrow into her chest—indeed, her very heart. This is the Patti Smith that was introduced to the world in a famous Robert Mappelthorpe photograph on the cover of with one of rock's boldest debut albums, Horses, and now, almost 40 years later, Smith remains just as fiercely exploring and poetic as ever. Returning this week to her favorite venue in San Francisco, the Fillmore, Smith peppers her shows with clarinet solos and poetry recitation, and—yes—her famous take on Van Morrison's "Gloria." Details and ticket information here.
Angela Lansbury stars as clairvoyant Madame Arcati, a role for which she won a Tony Award, in this San Francisco run of Blithe Spirit. Ostensibly a story of a ghost, theatergoers must remember that the play is by Noel Coward, whose "talent to amuse" is fully on display. With a man torn between two wives—one alive, one dead—and a huge serving of clever wit, the material gives plenty to work with; in the hands of one such as Lansbury, Blithe Spirit shines.Details and ticket information here.
Though the city still smarts over Ty Seagall's recent departure from San Francisco to the arid southern land of freeways, smog and the Dodgers, we do have one last laugh: his latest album Manipulator, universally hailed as a standout in Seagall's increasingly crowded discography, was written and recorded here, just before leaving town. At the Great American Music Hall, Segall keeps rockin' in the free world with a record-release celebration for a double 7", Mr. Face, which doubles as a pair of 3D glasses. Details and ticket information here.