It's a holiday pileup this week. The solstice was Dec. 21, Hannukah starts Dec. 24 at sundown, just in time for Christmas Eve, and Kwanzaa starts Monday, Dec. 26. So happy holidays!
But don't hibernate with your new toys, because we're previewing some great shows. By the way, I'm in awe of every play now in rotation at Shotgun Players in Berkeley: Hamlet, Village Bike, Grand Concourse, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and Caught are all terrific, with a repertory company of just 12 actors doing all the shows through Jan. 22.
Now here's the official list.
Dec. 24: The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir proves that diversity is strength. The choir has brought the ecstatic joy of Black church music to audiences for more than 30 years under the leadership of Terrance Kelly. He said a recent poll revealed that members adhere to 13 faiths, including Judaism, Bahá'í, Buddhism, and baseball. The choir has been doing this Christmas Eve show at Slim's for about 25 years. and Kelly says there's nothing wrong with taking gospel into a rock club.
"You’re supposed to take the gospel outside of the church," he told me, "that’s what’s wrong with a lot of churches now is that it remains inside the church. If somebody can get blessed with a cocktail in their hands, they still got blessed. Right?" The Slim's shows are all ages and just $15, so bring the family for this CHEAP THRILL! Details here.
Dec. 23-25: Kung Pao Kosher Comedy is another fine Bay Area tradition working to bring all faiths together, this time in the name of Jewish comedy. San Francisco comedian Lisa Geduldig has been producing these shows for 24 years in a Chinese restaurant, a setting familiar to any Jew wondering where to eat out on Christmas Eve and Christmas day (Chinese restaurants were often the only places open). Geduldig's headliner this year is Elayne Boosler, the star of five Showtime standup specials, and she was a regular on Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect, so you might expect a few (or a lot of ) jokes at President Elect Donald Trump's expense. The show will also feature Eddie Sarfaty and Alex Edelman (who is very, very funny). Details for the shows at San Francisco's New Asia Restaurant are here.
Dec. 23: Adam Theis can wake surf and play trombone at the same time. (Really. See him do it here.) So it's no surprise that he's a multi-tasker when it comes to leading bands too, heading the big-band Jazz Mafia and the smaller Mobtet, plus the Cosa Nostra Strings. Friday night he's leading the string band into Point Richmond Jazz, with the terrific Shaina Evoniuk on violin, Keith Lawrence on viola, Lewis Pazner on cello. and Aaron Kierbel on cajon/percussion. It won't be like anything else you've heard this year, and that's a good thing. Details for their Point Richmond Jazz show at the First United Methodist Church are here.
Dec. 29-Jan. 1: Saxophonist Maceo Parker helped define the meaning of funk while a sideman to James Brown. As a bandleader since the early 1990's, he's become a Bay Area regular, swinging in to host New Year's parties first at Yoshi's and now at SFJAZZ. Parker's music is jazz as the best kind of party music, and this year he's featuring the terrific vocalist Judith Hill, who recorded with Prince and did the soundtrack for Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer. Parker does four nights at SF JAZZ and details are here.
Dec. 31: Sleater Kinney is back in the in the Bay Area on a comeback tour that proves they still rock as hard (or harder) than any other band. Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia) sing and play guitars, Janet Weiss (Quasi) pounds the drums, and you won't find a better show for New Year's Eve. But for gosh sake, don't drive, take a cable car or a cab to their show at the Masonic. Details are here.