Cy and David's Picks: 'Valley of the Heart,' Mardi Gras and More

teamlab at Pace Art and Technology in Menlo Park  (Courtesy: teamlab)

Feb. 9, 10 & 14: Every year a few local clubs offer a taste of Mardi Gras on Fat Tuesday (Feb. 9) or thereabouts. This year, British-born, New Orleans-based musician Jon Cleary brings his band -- the Absolute Monster Gentlemen to Yoshi's Feb. 10, and Sweetwater in Mill Valley Feb. 14 to give us a taste of what Mardi Gras is like in New Orleans. Cleary is a serious worshipper at the altar of NOLA funk.  Tuesday San Francisco's Jazz Mafia Collective NOLA Funk Sextet does a horn heavy show at Brick and Mortar with guests Lyrics Born, Gift of Gab, and the Stanford Marching Band. Sounds like a sweet recipe for chaos. We'd also tell you to check out the great Aaron Neville at SFJAZZ on Tuesday, except that show is sold out. Don't forget to wear your beads.

Valley of the Heart
Valley of the Heart (Photo courtesy of El Teatro Campesino)

Now through March 13: We're eager to see the new play Valley of the Heart by Luis Valdez, a pioneer of Latino theater who wrote and directed La Bamba and Zoot Suit. His new play is a love story, based on his own family history, about a Latino boy falling in love with a Japanese American girl in the Santa Clara Valley during WWII, and what happens when the girl's Japanese family is sent to an internment camp. Valdez debuted the play in 2014 at the theater company he founded, El Teatro Campesinoin San Juan Bautista, and now it gets a second production from the San Jose Stage Company.

Iris (Carmen Steele) and Papa (Warren David Keith*) in Jennifer Haley's 'The Nether'
Iris (Carmen Steele) and Papa (Warren David Keith*) in Jennifer Haley's 'The Nether' (Photo Credit: Jennifer Palopoli)

Now through March 5: The Nether, by Jennifer Haley, is a thoroughly creepy play — in a good way. It's about a kind of Matrix/post-apocalyptic future in which some people live their whole lives online, and what happens when those people indulge some truly disturbing fantasies revolving around humankind's twin obsessions: Sex and death. It's shudder inducing and thoughtful. Details of the San Francisco Playhouse run are here.


Feb. 9 & 10: Super Furry Animals are coming out of hibernation. The Welsh band whose members have unpronounceable names (Gruff Rhys, Huw Bunford, Guto Pryce, Cian Ciaran and Dafydd Ieuan) is still playing fun psych and folk-rock, and they've just released a 15th anniversary reissue of their album of Welsh songs MWNG. I'm impressed that British craft brewer named a beer "Fuzzy Beer" in tribute to the band -- I can taste the hops and fur balls. They play two dates:  Feb. 9 at the Great American Music Hall, and Feb. 10 at The Ritz in San Jose.

Now through July 1: Does Silicon Valley love art? Pace Gallery is testing the waters. It's an international chain of galleries based in New York, and gallery president Marc Glimcher is opening a branch in Menlo Park, Pace Art and Technology, in a former Tesla dealership. Glimcher is starting with a dazzling show of 20 immersive light sculptures by teamlab, a 400 member Japanese art collective. It's a delightful show with kid-friendly exhibits, but the digital butterflies, flowers, and crows could bring out the kid in all of us. Worth the visit. Details here

Feb. 10: Russian punk activists Pussy Riot are in the news again this week after releasing a new song and video mocking the Russian prosecutor general who put two members of the band in prison for a year and a half. One lyric explains that you can get away with murder in Russia, if you support your boss. (Did you know they're not fans of Putin?) They're in conversation with the Russian-born, San Francisco writer Zarina Zabrisky (We, Monsters), a human rights activist who has yet to meet the group, apparently. Hoping they'll play some music and not get arrested when they return home. Details here.

Closing Feb. 7: This is your last chance to see the work of Bay Area digital artist  Jim Campbell at the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art. If you also hit teamlab's show at Pace Gallery in Menlo Park, and swing by for a view of the Bay Bridge (after the Super Bowl madness has ended), you can achieve a trifecta of brilliant digital art shows lighting up the Bay Area. May I suggest that a good times to enjoy the Campbell show at San Jose ICA would be either Feb. 5 during South First Friday in San Jose's SOFA district (along with stops at other galleries), or Sunday about 3pm. At that hour, you may have the streets to yourself. Details here.