Californians are rightfully concerned with a lack of rain these days, but San Francisco singer-songwriter Debbie Neigher hails from New Jersey originally, so she can be forgiven for pining after a different weather phenomenon: snow. "It Never Snows Here" is her latest single, a follow-up to the her dreamy 2013 indie-pop record, Unravel. Her band borrows from some of San Francisco's best local acts, but her vocals really need no embellishment -- equal parts honey-sweet and surprisingly powerful, there's no question who's in command onstage. Get details and ticket information here.
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 2015
Now in its 35th year, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival does an admirable job of reflecting the Jewish community in the Bay Area — that is, more diverse than you probably thought possible. Fittingly, this year’s emphasis is on cross-cultural films, with opening night at the Castro screening Dough (pictured), a film about a Jewish British baker (Jonathan Pryce) and his unlikely apprentice, a Muslim and small-time pot dealer who spikes the challah. And the festival closes with East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem, a documentary about a man trying to bridge the Israeli-Palestinian divide through music. Festival screenings take place at theaters in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, San Rafael, and Palo Alto through Aug. 9. Get details and ticket information here.
Catherine Russell Sings Satchmo
SFJazz is celebrating some of America’s legendary jazz and pop singers this week. It’s a heady list. San Franciscan Paula West is singing songs by Bob Dylan. Another local favorite, Kim Nalley takes on Billie Holiday, Ann Hampton Callaway sings the songbook of Sarah Vaughn, Freddie Cole does the same for his brother Nat King Cole, and Catherine Russell sings songs associated with Louis Armstrong. Russell is uniquely qualified to channel Armstrong, because her dad was his bandleader for many years, and she met him a few times when she as a child. She remembers being at Armstrong’s home for a party as a four-year-old: “He was just jolly, that night. He just loved his friends and was happy to be entertaining. He was just laughing. So I just remember this big mouth laughing.” Get details and ticket information here.
'Life Is a Dream'
It’s been a long time since California Shakespeare Theater was entirely devoted to the works of William Shakespeare. In recent years about half its offerings have been more modern classics by George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and Noël Coward or new plays inspired by classics. In the least few years Cal Shakes has also been making more of an effort to include plays by and about people of color, such as George C. Wolfe’sSpunk and Richard Montoya’s American Night: The Ballad of Juan José. Now for the first time the company is taking on a seminal work of Spanish drama, Pedro Calderon de la Barca’s 1635 play Life Is a Dream,which features a prince imprisoned by his father because of a prophecy and a cross-dressing vengeful ex-girlfriend. Adapted by Nilo Cruz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Anna in the Tropics, the play features an unusually diverse cast of terrific local actors. Get details and ticket information here.
Combining elements of early jazz, ragtime, country blues, Western swing and more, the St. Louis-based Pokey LaFarge already had quite the following before he released this year’s Something in the Water — but the new album should convince any fans who had doubts about his chops, or his authenticity. Having fell in love with early jazz and blues growing up in Illinois, LaFarge spent his youth traveling the country, hitchhiking and busking before settling in Missouri. Pokey LaFarge plays three nights in the Bay Area: At Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma on Tuesday, July 21, Great American Music Hall in SF on Wednesday, July 22, and at Don Quixote’s in Felton on Thursday, July 23. Get details and ticket information here.
Singer-songwriter Morgan James plays Feinstein's at the Nikko Thursday, July 23.
And Bay Area residents have three chances to see West Side Story -- at City Lights Theater in San Jose through Aug. 23, then opening at the Fox Theater in Redwood City and the Golden State Theater in Monterey Aug. 14, continuing through September.