Feb. 25 - March 8: The Kaiser Permanente San Jose Jazz Winter Fest is always small but choice. The headliners this year include Kneedelus, Regina Carter, the queen of jazz violin, guitarist John Scofield with saxman Joe Lovano, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, and trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and his band the Last Southern Gentlemen. And then there's the hot soul-jazz trio King, and the up and coming Kadhja Bonet. Winterfest also highlights local college and high school jazz bands. Lots of these shows are cheap or free. Details here.
Feb. 19 - April 10: Picture Marge Gunderson of Fargo as the scheming Lady Macbeth, and Varys from HBO's Game of Thrones as her husband Thane Macbeth, lusting for the throne. That's one lens through which to see Frances McDormand and Conleth Hill in Shakespeare’s Scottish play at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Of course these two are seasoned stage actors, with Tony and Olivier awards to burn. They're also surrounded by pros, with Shakespeare expert Daniel Sullivan as director, and local faves James Carpenter and Nicolas Pelczar in multiple roles. And don't forget Shakespeare packs Macbeth with witches, and battles, and bloody assassinations. It's a gripping story, with great quotes for an election year: “Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it.” Details here.
Feb. 26 & March 1: Jennifer Nettles is one of the great voices in country music. She burst into the mainstream with partner Kristain Bush in Sugarland, but they're taking time off from their collaboration for solo work. In these upcoming shows, she's headlining CMT’s 2016 Next Women of Country Tour, with my favorite country singer/songwriter Brandy Clark. Nettles said recently she loves the fact that country music is always about “your dog dying and your truck breaking down and your wife cheating.” Nothing makes me feel better than a song about heartbreak. She's at the Wells Fargo Center in Santa Rosa Feb. 26 and at The Fox in Oakland March 1st.
Feb. 19: It sounds like an odd collaboration: a sculptor, a composer, and two scientists team up to make for 30-minute multi-media concert on global warming. But The Climate Music Project is drawing crowds to the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland for their show, in which the music tells a story about rising temperatures and other symptoms of climate change. It's a new approach to convincing people of the urgency of the global warming problem, by reaching them through their hearts with music. Details here.
Feb. 20: Chic won over a lot of fans in the 1970s, even among people who claimed to hate disco, because Nile Rodgers band was so tight. So see the show to appreciate his song-craft and those classic guitar riffs. But don't forget that Rodgers remains a major influence on pop music. He even directed the David Bowie tribute featuring Lady Gaga at the Grammys, partly because he collaborated with Bowie on the late singer's biggest hit, "Let's Dance." Details here.