Jan. 28 - Jan. 31: Cameron Carpenter may be as much a showman and as bedecked with rhinestones as Liberace, but he gets more respect for his explorations of the grand classical works of Back and Scriabin, as well as the pop songbook of Lightfoot and Bacharach. (The video above is his take on "Georgia on My Mind."). His four-day residency at SFJAZZ will be give organ lovers a chance to hear the Northern California premiere of the "International Touring Organ," a totally 21st century digital instrument. Details here.
Jan 28 & 31: Standup comedian David Cross strikes just the right balance between political satire and ridiculous dating routines. He grew up poor in the Southeast, so it's very personal, and funny, when he takes on Southern Bible-thumpers, And yes, you do know his work. He was on Arrested Development and partnered with Bob Oldenkirk on Mr. Show, and he's done voices for Kung Fu Panda and Alvin and the Chipmunks. He's doing two shows, one at San Francisco's Davies Hall Jan. 28, and then Jan. 31 at the Wells Fargo Center in Santa Rosa.
Jan. 22 - 23 & Feb. 6 & Feb. 12: Fremont composer Võ Vân Ánh is a musical genius. She grew up in Hanoi mastering her country's folk tradition, winning awards for her mastery of traditional instruments, especially the đàn tranh (Vietnamese zither), đàn bầu, and bamboo xylophone. This weekend, she stages the world premiere of her multimedia suite The Odyssey: from Vietnam to America, about the Vietnamese boat people, a project she has worked on for 10 years. Then she plays the Kronos Quartet's Explorer Series Feb. 6, and then The Oakland Symphony premieres her Lullaby for a Country, a concerto for đàn tranh Feb. 12th. Vo's music is strange and very, very beautiful.
Jan. 23 & 30: One member describes the Calling All Choir as a non-audition gather-ye-oddballs group, that sounds pretty darn good. I can attest to that. A lot of credit goes to the ambitious leadership of composer Mark Growden, who founded the groups both a musical and service organization. The choir often plays retirement homes and residential treatment centers. These concerts (in Berkeley at the Crowden School and in SF at Mission Dolores Basilica) will features songs from around the globe including "Noah's Dove," arranged by Growden. Details for both concerts here. And it's a CHEAP THRILL! Just $15.
Jan. 23 - Feb. 7: Immigration, Black Lives Matter, health care policy, how war affects women in Iraq: issues for the Presidential debates, and for Dance Mission Theater’s second annual D.I.R.T Festival, Dance In Revolting Times, over the next three weekends. This first weekend is a collaboration with the Black Choreographers Festival. Details here.
Jan. 27: Talib Kweli is so political and so smart, he even shows up on President Obama’s playlist, and he recently did an American hip-hop songbook concert at Lincoln Center. His name is a Swahili-Arabic mashup that means "true seeker." Now Kweli is teaming up again with DJ Hi Tek, his Reflection Eternal partner of 20 years. Expect less bling and more politics. Reflection Eternal play two shows at Yoshi's in Oakland.
Through Jan. 31: The Ubuntu Theater Project is a valiant effort for Oakland, a new repertory company doing serious theater. To open their first full season, they're presenting a heartfelt production of Oakland born playwright Marcus Gardley’s The Gospel of Lovingkindness, about the senseless killings of young black men, and what happens when one woman fights back. It's in a perfectly intimate setting: Oakland City Church, on the border between the Dimond and the Laurel Districts. Details here.