Caribbean-born, British-raised Joan Armatrading has been in front of a microphone since the age of 16 — so at 65, it’s understandable that she’s a bit tired of long international tours. This current tour, billed as her last major spin around the world’s stages, also sees the singer-songwriter-guitarist performing strictly solo for the first time. Audiences should expect gems from the past five decades, as Armatrading is known for happily turning from rock to pop to blues on a dime, with hits from her 1978 self-titled record up through 2012’s jazz-tinged Starlight. Details and ticket information here.
San Francisco Comics Fest
San Francisco has hosted comic book conventions in the past, but the inaugural San Francisco Comics Fest seeks to shine a spotlight (a Bat signal?) on the Bay Area’s own comics community and creators. Events include a kids’ drawing workshop; a panel on local LGBTQ cartoonists; a women-only (comic) book club with special guest star Gail Simone; a celebration of San Francisco underground comix; and much more! Events take place at comic shops and other locations all over San Francisco and the East Bay; details and official fest information here.
'Romeo & Juliet'
No matter how you adapt it, Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers doesn’t get much grittier than its original version: Familial hatred, unwitting suicide pacts, you name it. The San Francisco Ballet has revived its rendition to conclude its 2015 season. Tomasson, who’s completing his 30th year directing the SF Ballet, said he chose the play because it includes so many great roles for the company’s dancers. “It is very close to my heart,” he told KQED. The production continues through May 10 with both afternoon and evening showtimes. Details and ticket information here.
Ubu and the Truth Commission
These puppets definitely aren't for kids: A rousing work of theatre from Capetown’s Handspring Puppet Company, Ubu and the Truth Commission explores justice and reconciliation in apartheid South Africa. In this reframing of Alfred Jarry’s 19th century play Ubu Roi — a parody of Shakespeare’s Macbeth — director William Kentridge tells the story of licentious snob Ubu Roi using documentary footage, animation, live actors, music, and finely crafted puppets. The Tony Award-winning Handspring Puppet Company (War Horse, 2011) is in residence at Cal Performances through May 3. Catch this interesting take on a detestable time in South Africa’s history. Details and ticket information here.
East India Youth
Drawing from Detroit techno, emotional orchestral pop, ambient sound and even classical music, London's William Doyle — the mastermind behind East India Youth — has emerged as a voice to watch in the considerable British electronic dance music scene, someone who can make even electro-skeptics sit up and take notice. Pitchfork described the track “Heaven, How Long,” off EIY’s debut album, Total Strife Forever, as “a heart-spinning, utterly exhilarating supernova.” Details and ticket information here.
The Start-Up Art Fair, running Friday, May 1 through Sunday, May 3 at San Francisco's Hotel del Sole, turns motel rooms into studios for the weekend; each room contains the work of a different local artist.
Meanwhile, Silicon Valley Open Studios also kicks off this weekend (the first of three in May) with more than 300 participating artists throughout the South Bay at a far-flung range of venues.
And last but never least: The inimitable Dwight Yoakam performs at the Regency Ballroom on Thursday, May 7. Pull on your best cowboy boots and sidle on over.