June 4: Bay Area blues harp player Charlie Musselwhite headlines Jazz on the Hill, the annual free music fest put on by our fellow public radio station (KCSM Jazz 91) at the College of San Mateo. Also appearing: Etienne Charles and his Creole Soul; the San Francisco Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble; and Lynne Arriale, Grace Kelly, and Charenee Wade doing songs by great women in jazz: Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, and Joni Mitchell. Cheap Thrill! Details here.
June 3-12: It will be hot in wine country this coming week, so a dose of cool jazz and a good Sonoma rosé is in order. The Healdsburg Jazz Festival has become one of the best and most intimate in the Bay Area. There's a tribute to drummer Billy Hart (50 years of jazz) Berkeley born guitar wizard Charlie Hunter is there, and pianist Fred Hersch and clarinetist Anat Cohen, perform miracles as a duo. Tickets are selling fast. Details here.
June 3-19: It's a festival-themed Do List this week. The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival is the first of two we're highlighting. The festival celebrates the Bay Area's enormous ethnic diversity and exceptional dancing from groups like Chinese Performing Arts of America (San Jose), the San Francisco Flamenco Dance Company, Kathak from San Franciscan Aliah Najmabadi, and many others over the next three weekends. It opens with a free performance at noon today by El Tunante (Peruvian dance) at San Francisco City Hall. Details here.
June 3 & 4: That trove of dance creativity, ODC, opens its fifth Walking Distance Dance Festival tonight, with a focus on “Identity.” The festival showcases work by ODC/Dance, Kim Epifano's Epiphany Productions, Dance Brigade, 13th Floor, David Herrera Performance Company, and Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts all at locations in the Mission within walking distance of ODC's home campus at 17th and Shotwell in San Francisco. Details here.
June 5: Cymande is back on the road. Last year, this British funk band put out its first studio album in forty years. But they haven't lost their smooth and soulful touch. The band has mostly stuck together: Steve Scipio (Bass, vocals) Patrick Patterson (Guitar, vocals) Sam Kelly (Drums) Mike Rose (Sax, flute, percussion) Pablo Gonsales (Percussion, vocals) and Derek Gibbs (Sax), and they combine a little Calypso, a little reggae, a little Curtis Mayfield, and a bit of smooth jazz. Details for their show at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco are here.
June 4 & 7: Natasha Leggero and the Bay Area’s own Moshe Kasher are both alums of Chelsea Lately; they're also newly married and on their "Honeymoon tour." Leggero has been talking (see the Conan clip above) about converting to Judaism for the marriage, and pioneering new (and humorous) ways to offend Jews and Catholics alike. While on tour, Kasher claims they’re camping out some nights in a little camper trailer (a Scamp). This should be like Burns and Allen with naughty words. Details for their sol- out New Parish show on Saturday are here, and for their show at Matthews Hall in Santa Cruz here.
June 3: Oakland blues man Fantastic Negrito wants to give back. After winning NPR's Tiny Desk Contest last year, he won praise for his work at SXSW, and then toured the US and Europe. Now he's released a new album, The Last Days of Oakland, about how gentrification is driving African Americans and artists like himself out of the city. "That era of the Bay Area in Oakland that I grew up with," he told me, "That’s over. There’s something new now. And I look at it as an opportunity for us all to collectively get together and make some sense out of it. So when I say 'the last days of Oakland,' I mean it in a very hopeful way. I want to look at how we can make things happen. Not how we can’t." He'll kick off that conversation in a free concert at First Fridays Oakland. Details here.