The Do List: Listen to Our Picks for Things to Do Oct. 3-10

4 min
Michael Jang, 'Self-Portrait,' San Francisco Financial District, 1973.  (Courtesy of the artist / © Michael Jang)

Looking for things to do in the Bay Area this weekend? The Do List has you covered with concerts, festivals, exhibitions, plays, performances and more.

You can listen to this week's episode with Gabe Meline and Sarah Hotchkiss above, or read about our picks below.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: It’s the first weekend of October, which in San Francisco, means the air is filled with music at the annual free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park. As the years go on, this festival is getting more and more diverse, genre-wise: this weekend’s lineup has funk with acts like the Budos Band, soul with singers like Bettye Lavette, indie rock with Kurt Vile, classic rock royalty with Robert Plant, classic country with Tanya Tucker, and even a Saharan guitarist from Africa, Mdou Moctar, who once recorded an entire reimagining of Prince’s Purple Rain album.

Hardly Strictly does get crowded, and this year, there are some security changes you'll want to read up on. But with free admission, stellar acts and no corporate sponsors or advertising, it's one of our favorites. It runs Friday–Sunday, Oct. 4–6, in Golden Gate Park. Details here.

Mill Valley Film Festival: Hardly Strictly fans wait for the first weekend in October all year long, but local film buffs have also been counting down the days: The Mill Valley Film Festival opens on Thursday, Oct. 3, with a slate of Oscar-worthy films and appearances by plenty of established stars: Laura Dern, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Danny Trejo and more. But there’s an equal measure of Bay Area indies making their debut, including Jeanne C. Finley’s nonfiction film Journeys Behind the Cosmodrome, which depicts the sometimes trippy dreams of 16-year-old orphans in Kazakhstan who grew up next to the world’s first and largest operational space launch facility. That’s all happening at the Mill Valley Film Festival, which runs Oct. 3–13. Details here.

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Julian Lage Trio: If you keep driving north from Mill Valley, you’ll eventually hit a town called Healdsburg, where a kid named Julian Lage grew up playing guitar from a very early age. Now, from his base in New York, he’s the jazz guitar phenomenon to be reckoned with. His latest album, Love Hurts, is less of the exploratory jazz he's been known for, and more delicate; you can hear his fingers sliding across the ridges of the roundwound strings. Don’t even get me started on his version of Roy Orbison’s “Crying”—it’s the song I’ve played the most in 2019, over and over, I just can’t get it out of my head. Julian Lage plays Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Raven Theater in Healdsburg and Sunday, Oct. 6, at the SFJAZZ center in San Francisco. Details here and here.

'Michael Jang's California': This show in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood opened last week: it’s the first retrospective local photographer Michael Jang. A lot of this work is from the '70s, when Jang was a student, taking pictures of his extended family in the suburbs and people on the street. For a great series from the Beverly Hills Hilton, Jang made himself a fake press pass so he could get into events at the hotel, and his photos capture celebrities signing autographs alongside anonymous people draped in pearls and furs. They’re really candid and just a wonderful document of that era. That’s at the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts and it’s on view through Jan. 18. Details here.

'Free for All': A super quick theater pick before we go: Megan Cohen is a San Francisco playwright and librettist whose latest work, Free For All, is at Cutting Ball theater, and it’s been getting great reviews. She takes August Strindberg’s Miss Julie and reimagines it completely in a wild vision of the future. Our theater reviewer likened it to a great cocktail party, where the dialogue is crackling and everyone’s bouncing their hopes off of each other. It runs through Oct. 20 at Cutting Ball Theater in San Francisco. Details here.

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