Jan. 29 & Feb. 12: Tiffany Austin is one of the Bay Area's great jazz singers. No. She's one of the country's best jazz singers. She's magnetic on stage, always finding fresh insights on the American songbook, and yet always in touch with the singers and traditions who've come before. She's doing songs made famous by the Queens of Swing- Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, and Nina Simone- in her show at Feinstein's Jan. 30, and songs of love for her show at Piedmont Piano Feb. 12.
Feb. 3-28: In 1990, San Francisco writer Jessica Hagedorn wrote her widely praised novel Dogeaters, a satire on life in the Philippines in the mid-20th Century. Now she's working with Magic Theatre Artistic Director Loretta Greco to rework the stage version she first adapted for the La Jolla Playhouse. This new production features many cast members from ACT's fine show Monstress, about Filipino-American life, that played the Strand Theater last year. It's a great story about the Philippines, but it's also a great way to better understand America's colonial history in the Pacific. Details here.
Jan. 29 & 31: Cal Performances is presenting a series of shows on the natural world and the art it inspires. So this Sunday (Jan. 31) The St Louis Symphony, under conductor David Robertson, is playing a rarely done work by the nature boy of new music-Olivier Messiaen. He composed Des canyons aux étoiles (from the canyons to the stars) on a commission to mark the US Bicentennial. Rather than reading the works of the founding fathers for inspiration, he visited the American Southwest, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, and Zion Park. Messiaen had synthesia. He could hear colors. So picture a 90 minute symphony of red rock canyons and bird songs, a Messiaen specialty, with a multimedia presentation of photos of Bryce Canyon by Deborah O’Grady. Messiaen invented a new instrument for this piece, the geophone, lead pellets in a bucket that sounded to Messiaen like sand blowing in the desert. The St. Louis Symphony plays Mahler and John Adams Friday Jan. 29. Then the Messiaen Sunday afternoon Jan. 31.
The Berkeley Art Museum closed its old home, infamous for its brutalist architectural style, just over a year ago. And there's a free housewarming for the new museum Sunday. It's not just that the new museum is a sleek beauty, it's also an improvement because it's located just a block from the downtown Berkeley BART station. Architects Diller Scofidio and Renfro — who did the Highline in NYC -- have remodeled what was an old Deco Moderne printing plant, and topped it with a sleek, skinlike, stainless steel roof. Museum director Lawrence Rinder has curated a sprawling show called Architecture of Life to sharpen visitors' sense of how we relate to the design of things like buildings or nature. And then there's the Pacific Film Archive to enjoy, with its busy schedule of rep films in two new state of the art theaters. Too much of a good thing is a good thing. Details of the free opening here.
Jan. 30-Feb. 7: My co-host David Wiegand and I play a little touch football every time we tape the Do List -- just to get the blood flowing. Still even, we're not thrilled that the Super Bowl is going to close streets and tie up traffic for days in Santa Clara and San Francisco. But there is a benefit: free shows and art events around the Bay. (Maybe not really free, if San Francisco taxpayers end up on the hook for what the event really costs.)
Super Bowl City at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco is hosting a long list of Bay Area and national stars including Alicia Keys and Goapele, One Republic, The Band Perry, and singer-songwriters Chris Isaak and Matt Nathanson. the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, and more. Details here.
The San Francisco Symphony accompanies an evening of NFL Films hosted by Marcus Allen. Details here.
And if you're worried that Oakland is missing out on the fun, there’s a Super Bowl Gospel Concert at the Paramount in Oakland.
Plus there’s Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibit at the Triton Museum in Santa Clara… and JCO’s Place in Los Gatos is hosting the Art of the NFL.
And the best show in town this weekend may be the relighting of the Bay Bridge Lights this Saturday Jan. 30, about 7:25, with fireworks to follow.