KQED's Cy Musiker and David Wiegand share their picks for great events around the Bay Area this week.
Sept. 30 - Oct. 2: It's still our favorite Cheap Thrill of the year. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is worth every minute (or hour) it takes to get to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, because Producer Dawn Holliday always books an esteemed and eclectic lineup of bluegrass, country, rock, gospel, blues, and pop stars. This year she's offering Dave Alvin's tribute to Merle Haggard, Poor Man’s Whiskey, Buddy Miller, Steve Earle, Mary Chapin Carpenter, San Pablo's Los Cenzontles, Roseanne Cash, T-Bone Burnett, Mavis Staples, Boz Scags, and Cyndi Lauper for goodness sake, and more. All for free. Just take your bike, or public transit, and don't forget warm clothes. Details here.
Sept. 30: Funny or Die is back at the Shoreline for the fourth year with its Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival, and whoever you like (or hate) for the Presidency, you know they’ll get thrashed. That could be a draw in this anhedonic election year. We're not keen on everyone in the lineup, but you can't miss with Roastmaster General Jeff Ross, Iliza Schlesinger (featured above and the star of the TV series Forever 31), or the offbeat humor of Tom Segura.
Details for the Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival at Shoreline Amphitheatre are here.
Oct. 2 - 30: Hedwig and the Angry Inch kicks off its national tour in San Francisco. But the big news about this musical featuring a gender-queer rock and rolling East German during the cold war, is that the two stars were born and raised in San Francisco. Darren Criss of Glee fame is reprising his performance as Hedwig. Criss grew up in San Francisco. He told me on the phone he’s so into the character of Hedwig, and not just for the wigs and the eye glitter. "It’s one of the great roles of the American theater," Criss said. "It is an extraordinarily grand arc of character, trying to find oneself, and the struggle of what it is to know who you are." Criss added that his parents have been really supportive of the show business careers he and his musician brother have carved out. "It’s a big deal," he said, "when they’re happy for you even when you’re performing in a club that smells of beer and pot." The other connection: Lena Hall is a graduate of the Ruth Asawa School for the Arts in San Francisco. She won a Tony as Hedwig’s husband, Yitzhak, a Jewish drag queen from Zagreb. Details for Hedwig's run in San Francisco at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre are here.
Continuing through Jan. 15: We’re off to Jupiter's moon Europa, now, with conceptual artist Tom Sachs. His new installation Space Program: Europa is a wacky and fascinating combination of a Japanese tea ceremony with a NASA mission. It all looks very real until you notice that his spacesuits and the 20 X 20 foot landing module are made of found materials. Sachs apparently chose YBCA as a "launch pad" because he regards it as "the punk rock institution of San Francisco." You at least have to see the Winnebago/Mobile Quarantine Facility parked outside the YBCA galleries. There’s a nice review on our KQED Arts website, and a chance to see a live performance of the mission on the closing weekend. Details here.
Oct 3 & 4: Bomba Estereo means stereo bomb, a slang term in Colombia for awesome. And they are just that good. This band from Bogota, founded by Simon Mejia, plays a kind of "psychedelic cumbia” that is just irrisistible. NPR's Rachel Martin interviewed Mejia a few weeks ago, so check that out if you want to learn more about them. Details for their two night stand at the Independent in San Francisco on Monday and Tuesday are here.
A few shoutouts:
Sept. 30 & Oct. 1: I’m excited about Farruquito, the beautiful and talented flamenco dancer, who's leading a flash mob at 6pm at UN Plaza in San Francisco, and then performing tomorrow night at Herbst Theater for the Bay Area Flamenco Festival. Details here.
Sept. 30 - Oct. 8: David wanted to shout out to the comedy troupe Killing My Lobster and its new show KML The Musical, in which the sketch group mocks musical theater from Fosse to Fiddler (and probably Hedwig too). Details here.