Cy and Peter's Picks: Gypsy Jazz Meets the Beatles, Hip-Hop Dance, and a Bunch of Pansies
The Do List is wishing you a quick recovery from the extreme emotions of the presidential election, and offering some distractions and inspiration for this transition season. Among the best choices we weren't able to mention on-air? Inversion: Circus Disobedience at the Kinetic Arts Center in West Oakland, to remind us of the protests of Berkeley's past and future. And now for the show.
Nov. 12, 18, and 30: John Paul George and Django is the latest from the Hot Club of San Francisco, a band founded by guitarist Paul Mehling that’s helped spread Django Reinhardt’s joyous gypsy jazz for about 30 years. Their new album is a surprisingly good match: the Beatles and gypsy jazz, with highlights including "Yellow Submarine," and the so-sad (in a good way) "For No One," sung by guitarist and vocalist Isabelle Fontaine. This music will flush all the political toxins out. Details for the Hot Club of San Francisco's shows at the Cafe Pink House tomorrow are here, at Armando's next week here, and at Doc's Lab Nov. 30th here.
Nov. 11 and 12: Dana Gould is a standup comedian who does old-fashioned routines -- jokes about wives and shopping and his dog -- but always with a weird twist, as in: "Wrote a science fiction novel about a man who wins an argument with his wife, but it was rejected as being too far-fetched." He was a writer on The Simpsons for seven years, he has a new IFC show called Stan Against Evil, and like every stand-up comic, he has a podcast, but don't hold that against him. Details for his Punchline appearance are here.
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Nov. 11 and 13: Suzanne Vega is known for two songs, "Luka" and "Tom’s Diner," and she deserves so much better. On her new album, Lover, Beloved: Songs from an Evening with Carson McCullers, she channels the persona of Carson McCullers, the unconventional Southern gothic writer of novels like Member of the Wedding and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (which was certainly the most depressing and amazing book I read in high school). Vega has been drawn to McCullers since she was 17 and saw a photograph of the author, and that persistent obsession has paid off with this new song cycle. This is a great double bill (or triple bill, if you count McCullers), since Teddy Thompson is opening for Vega. He's the son of folk-rock legends Linda and Richard Thompson, and a pretty fine folkie himself. Details for their shows Friday at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga are here, and Sunday at the Great American Music Hall are here.
Nov. 11-13: Michael Schiesse is a total pinball wizard. That's appropriate since he's executive director for the Pacific Pinball Museum, which is opening the doors to its warehouse on the old Alameda Naval Air Base with about 400 working pinball machines, all available for unlimited play. Schiesse, a former exhibition designer for the Exploratorium, is both a lover of the pop culture history of the machine, its bing, bing, bing sounds and flashing lights, but also the way pinball can teach science and technology to school kids. "It’s almost like stealth learning," he told me while demonstrating a game, "you don’t know it’s happening. And then all of a sudden, you come away from what was a really fun time, and you’ve learned the physics of the mass of the ball moving around, the shots, the trajectories." So go learn something. Details for the Shoot the Moon Pinball Expo are here.
Nov 11-13: The San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Festival, now in its 18th year, was the first formal event celebrating this brilliant street art. This year, the fest brings the very best crews from as far away as Paris (Paradox Sal) and Vietnam (S.I.N.E. Crew), and as close as Los Angeles (Groovaloos), San Francisco (Embodiment Project) and Oakland (TURFinc). The Embodiment's Project's Seed Language is a powerful piece about racism in America that we've covered here. Details for this weekend's shows at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco are here.
Nov. 11 and Jan. 17: Pansy Division came out of San Francisco’s queercore scene in the 1990s, and on their latest album, Quite Contrary, they've proved they’re just as good at gossipy love songs and radical gay anthems as ever. It's got a nursery rhyme title, but adult content; check out "Blame the Bible" above. The album cover is a sweet picture of two guys in pajamas who look really happy together, another sign the band is aging well. Details for their Bottom of the Hill show Friday night are here. And details for their Lookout Records reunion concert on Jan. 7, at 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, are here.