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New music events likely to be of interest during the coming week

Readers may have noticed that I have been trying to be a bit more conscientious in allocating attention to the “bleeding edge” of music-making here in San Francisco through both covering such performances and announcing future events. Thanks to resources such as the Calendar section on the BayImproviser Web site, it has become relatively easy for me to filter out gigs that are likely to be of interest within the San Francisco city limits, particularly with the incentive of a weekly newsletter with useful hyperlinks into that Calendar. In that context I have prepared the following list of items during the current week, beginning with tonight, that may appeal to those with a healthy sense of adventure:

1974 photograph of Captain Beefheart in performance
by Jean-Luc, from Wikimedia Commons (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)

Tuesday, August 5: For most of this month, ODC Theater will be presenting the Music Moves Festival, a full month of diverse performances celebrating the relationship between music and dance. Tonight’s performance will feature Bandelion, the music-oriented (“band”) side of Dandelion Dancetheater, directed by Eric Kupers. The ensemble will be joined by several longtime musical collaborators, including Suki O’Kane, who will be contributing with both drone and drum.

This event will take place at the ODC Theater, located at 3153 17th Street in the Mission, beginning at 8 p.m. General admission will be $20 with a special $35 “Arts Patron” rate, which includes early seating and a complimentary beverage. There is also a special $15 rate for tickets purchased in advance through the concert’s event page.

Thursday, August 7: Following up on the completion of the 13th Annual Outsound New Music Summit, Outsound Presents will resume the New Music Series at the Luggage Store Gallery with a program of three sets. This remains the longest running experimental music series in the Bay Area. The first set will begin at 8 p.m. and feature a solo keyboard gig by Andrew Jamieson. This will be followed at 8:40 p.m. by Divine Circles, the name taken for solo performances by violinist and songwriter Meghan Mulhearn. Finally, vocalist Elisa Faires will conclude the program at 9:15 p.m., most likely with all or part of her song cycle Songs of the Oregon Trees, which will soon be released on her new album Photosynthesis.

The Luggage Store Gallery is located at 1007 Market Street. Admission is on a sliding scale between $6 and $10. Tickets are only available at the door.

Friday, August 8: The Center for New Music (C4NM) will be presenting “an evening exploring aquatic sound” entitled Wet Invention. This will be a co-presentation with Thingamajigs and Soundwave working in partnership with the C4NM Window Gallery. The focus will be on both natural sounds and invented instruments. The current plan for the program is as follows:

  • Cheryl E. Leonard will perform music for amplified water, natural-object instruments, and field recordings of caves, rivers, and oceans.
  • Krystyna Bobrowski will perform a solo on her Gliss Glass, a contemporary rethinking of the glass harmonica consisting of a series of custom glass vessels of various sizes, filled with water and interconnected by a system of tubes and valves.
  • She will then join her Vorticella colleagues, Brenda Hutchinson, Erin Espeland, and Karen Stackpole, for a group improvisation on both found objects and conventional and homemade instruments.
  • The final selection will be “Symphony at Sea” by David Samas. This is a group improvisation with strong theatrical content involving a journey from the familiar shore out into the sea which is both calm and wild. It will be performed by the Shorekestra, all of whose members will be dressed in loud Hawaiian shirts. Samas will lead the group, which will also include Tom Nunn, Doug Carroll, Ron Heglin, Peter Bonos, and Ian Saxton.

This concert will begin at 8 p.m. at C4NM, located at 55 Taylor Street, about half a block north of the corner of Market Street. Admission will be $10 for general admission at $8 for members. Tickets will only be sold at the door.

Friday, August 8: I tend to approach events at Bottom of the Hill with a bit of caution. The last time I was there, I discovered that the best way to actually listen to the music was to stand on the sidewalk just outside the door. Nevertheless, I cannot deny that they make some pretty bold choices in the acts that they book; and this is certainly one way to appreciate just how far from the beaten path music-making can get. The three sets for this particular night, while not necessarily for the faint of heart, will serve to make an excellent case in point.

The first act will be Polkacide, whose music can be described as either “punk” or “hardcore” polka. They were founded in 1985 by Ward Abronski originally to play a one-night stand at the Deaf Club, a club for deaf people that hired bands playing loud enough that the clientele could dance to them. Since Elliot Sharp produced and recorded his “Happy Chappie Polka” in 1980, it would probably be inaccurate to call Polkacide the “inventors” of their genre; but they are definitely pioneers and probably serve as the Bay Area’s answer to Sharp.

Polkacide will be followed by Black Cat Grave. This is the duo of guitarist Bryan Kehoe and drummer Tim Soya. There is a good chance that this will involve more polka music, but it will probably be set in a rockabilly context.

The final act will be Pachuco Cadaver, a seven-member band dedicated to paying tribute to Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. Captain Beefheart was the stage name of Don Van Vliet, who became friends with Frank Zappa when they were both teenagers. After two other record labels dropped the group, Zappa became their producer for his Straight Records label.

Pachuco Cadaver’s who-we-are statement makes it clear that they are not a Beefheart cover band. As the statement puts it, “nobody could realistically be expected to replicate the sound and texture of the Magic Band except the Magic Band.” Instead, they have created new arrangements and instrumentation of Beefheart tunes. They see this as “a way to introduce the Magic Band and Captain Beefheart to a new generation of live music fans who may not every have heard of them.” This may not have quite the effect that Pierre Boulez had on sustaining the Zappa legacy, but these guys deserve credit for trying to do what they do.

Bottom of the Hill is located at 1233 17th Street at the corner of Missouri Street. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., and the music begins at 9:30 p.m. All tickets for this event will be Will Call, and only those 21 and over will be admitted. There is an event page for signing up on the Will Call list, after which it is possible to arrange for payment in advance ($10) or at the door ($12).

Saturday, August 9: Second Act is a neighborhood public space that includes both a marketplace and an event space. This evening’s event is being billed as an Exciting, Unforgettable Night of Experimental Music. Four groups will perform, two from New York (G. S. Suntan and Earthmasters), one a multimedia collective from North Carolina (Xambuca), and, finally, the local duo of Alex Cruse and Julia LC, which calls itself Methyl Group. (They take their name from the group of molecules that differentiate estrogen from testosterone.)

Second Act is located at 1727 Haight Street. This concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. and run until 10 p.m. Admission is $5, payable at the door. Again, no one under 21 will be admitted.

Sunday, August 10: Finally, in addition to the previously discussed chamber music that will be performed during the In Search of Sound and Light program for Bay Area Now (BAN) 7 Performance Festival at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, BAN 7 will also be presenting a free “Jazz Salon.” The performers will be John Schott’s Actual Trio. This group is led by guitarist John Schott with rhythm provided by Jordan Glenn on drums and Dan Seamans on bass. Schott’s interests cover the entire history of jazz, so their set will probably present a combination of contemporary thoughts on standards and original music.

This performance will be part of the free “preshow” for the evening event. Schott’s trio will be performing in the Grand Lobby of the YBCA Forum, the venue for all other BAN 7 events; and the group will begin at 3:30 p.m., playing for about an hour. Since this is a free performance, showing up will be all that is necessary.

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