March 8: Eleanor Friedberger was great as half of a quirky duo with her brother in Fiery Furnaces, but her songs have just gotten stronger since you went solo in 2011. Her new album New View includes lyrics mixing surreal fragments and intimate detail (" Today I feel frozen, but tomorrow I’ll write about you."). She plays the The Independent Tuesday night.
March 5: We don’t usually mention DJ sets on The Do List, but we're making an exception for a pair of anniversaries. Opel, run by Syd Gris, is celebrating 14 years using the dance community as a positive vehicle of change. And on Saturday, they're throwing a party at Public Works with a DJ set from LA's Crystal Method, celebrating it's 20th anniversary. According to Gris, this maybe the electronic music duo's last performance before a long hiatus.
March 5-17: We’ve often highlighted plays by solo artist Charlie Varon on The Do List. He's smart, he's funny, he works with the great director David Ford; what's not to like. But The Second Time Around is the first show where Varon has a musical accompaniist, the brilliant San Francisco cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, formerly of Kronos Quartet. Their new duet is called Second Time Around, and Varon says it's part of a series he's doing about feisty old Jews. (The last one was Feisty Old Jew). Second Time Around is about a World War Two veteran recalling his time as a bomber pilot. “A lot of the time Ben is in memory land, in his emotions and regrets." Varon told me this week when I asked why he decided to work with Jeanrenaud, "And the cello is the great expresser of the inner life of human beings. " And Jeanrenaud added, “I think the cello is a natural indicator of someone’s inner life. The nature of the instrument, it’s range, much like a human voice.” Details here.
March 5: Soprano Rene Fleming has one of the most luscious voices in classical music. But what grabbed our attention this week was her choice of repertoire; she's singing music by Rachmaninoff and Schumann, but also songs by Chicago jazz pianist and composer Patricia Barber. Fleming and Barber hit it off after meeting in Chicago (apparently they bonded over a discussion of mucous, a common problem for singers). Fleming and her accompaniist Olga Kern play Cal Performances Saturday at Zellerbach Hall.
March 5: My dad used to make radio sets. And I had friends who made kit computers. But this is new: a DIY Moog Synthesizer, the analog daddy of all electronic music. This is one of a series of Moog demos and DIY sessions around the country, and will feature master synthesist Suzanne Ciani doing an evening performance. The workshops and performances are at Gray Area in San Francisco. The youth workshop (bring your kids) starts at 12:30; the adult workshop at 5:00pm.
March 8: Pell's mix of singing and chanting lyrics has been called dream rap, cloud rap, and trip hop. Pell, born Jared Pellerin, mixes Southern Rap with a NOLA sound (he grew up in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina displaced his family). We think the music is little bit psychedelic, a little bit silly, and a lot of fun. Pell plays the Catalyst in Santa Cruz Monday March 7, and the New Parish in Oakland on Tuesday March 8.
March 5: Pivot is a new music series from San Francisco Performances with an edgy profile, and a mission to recruit younger audiences. The series opens with the Jack Quartet playing The Quartet Number 3 by George Friedrich Haas totally in the dark, as the composer directed. The show is almost sure to weed out SFP's older subscribers, it starts at 11pm at the Strand Theater in San Francisco.