Concerted Eckert "Twilight before sun-up in the Bible Belt. I'm thumbing a ride on the highway with a sign that says West. Not two hours after my girlfriend rolled over in bed and called me the wrong name." So begins the musical pilgrimage of singer/musician Rinde Eckert from his CD Story In, Story Out, as he recounts a trip down the interstate in the album's twangy, folky first half, "Three Days in the Sun," through encounters with "pig-eyed Bible beaters" and a guy who was once legally dead for five minutes. The more operatic second half, "Four Songs Lost in a Wall," is told through the voice of an imaginatively deluded loner, and was produced for American Public Radio's "New American Radio Series." As the tales unfold, so do the songs between and behind them, an odd amalgam of arty urban pop, country-western wistfulness, and skewed classicism. Eckert, a sometime collaborator with the Paul Dresher Ensemble and the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, tells the tales (accompanying himself on horns, harmonica, piano, and slide guitar) in his solo concert "Odd Man Out" at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $12; call 885-0750.
Great Scott! Monty Python's BBC radio play on the death of Mary Queen of Scots began with a man inquiring in a heavy Scottish burr, "Yoo arrrr Mary, Queen of Scots?" A woman replied, "I am!" and the play abruptly concluded with the sound of violent blows. It's true that Mary came to a brutal end, but the events leading to the fatal head injury ordered by her cousin Elizabeth I are as dramatic as Mary's death itself, and ACT gives us a more thorough, likely picture of what happened with German playwright Friedrich Schiller's romantic-era thriller Mary Stuart. Parallels emerge between Tudor England and Clinton America as both queens deal with the sex scandals and espionage that come with running a country; back then, though, the personal and the political were even more densely tangled. Mary was made queen as a baby, married multiple times, caused an insurrection, and eventually lost her crown to her son; Elizabeth entertained Catholic suitors to ward off an invasion of Protestant England by Catholic Rome and France, and imprisoned Mary for scheming with Euro-Catholic pals. The intrigue begins at 8 p.m. (and runs through April 26) at the Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Tonight is "Bring what you can/pay what you wish" night; audiences who donate canned tuna in water or boxes of cold cereal for Project Open Hand can pay any amount for tickets, which go on sale at 6 p.m.; call 749-2228.
Dear Old Dead Dad A father's funeral inspires some familial spleen-venting in Joseph O'Connor's Red Roses and Petrol, which makes its West Coast premiere courtesy of the Shotgun Players. The Dublin author of True Believers and Cowboys and Indians wrote this, his first play, around an already messed-up family undone by tragedy, as an alcoholic son, a disillusioned daughter, and the others get liquored up and wage war over Dad's philandering and some videotapes he made of himself at work. The show, featuring Owen Murphy, Esther Mulligan, and American Trainspotting production cast member Johnny McMorrough, begins at 8 p.m. (and runs through April 26) at the 450 Geary Studio Theater, 450 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $12-15; call (510) 655-0813.
Somebody Say Aloha! Who knew hula could be so wild? Ethnic Dance Festival watchers did; they've seen the hula taken way beyond the wavelike arms and swaying hips by groups like Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu and O Kui'uleinani, whose dancers perform at the ninth annual Kapalakiko Hawaiian Music Get-Together: Two Families of Pauoa. Esteemed family members at this musical reunion include "the First Lady of Hawaiian song," chang-a-lang singer Aunty Genoa Keawe, a veteran of Honolulu's traditional hula music scene who accompanies herself on the ukulele. She and co-headliner Kaiponohea Hale, a fellow Honoluluan revered for his originals, will be joined onstage by the Kapalakiko Hawaiian Band, who gravitate toward the old Hawaiian songs, although they have some fusion pieces in their repertoire. Small-plate snacks will be served, arts and crafts shown, and musical recordings sold at the show, which begins at 6 p.m. at the Riordan High School Gymnasium, 175 Phelan (at Judson), S.F. Admission is free-$15; call 468-7125. As a warm-up, swing by and see master chanter Charles Ka'upu and modern Hawaiian band Kapena perform with the Na Mele Hula 'Ohana dancers as part of Macy's Hawaiian flower show. The concert begins at 1 p.m. in Union Square, Powell & O'Farrell, S.F. Admission is free; call 393-3724.
But First, a Little "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" The belated answer, for the guy who asked where to find bluegrass locally, is not many places other than Berkeley's Freight & Salvage, Marin's Sweetwater, and San Francisco's Radio Valencia, where local bluegrass bands play every Sunday night. Twice monthly, amid the comfortable kitsch of old album covers, family photos, toys, and hanging instruments, The Dark Hollow Bluegrass Band take the floor, led by singer/guitarist John Kornhauser. He and a core group playing guitar, stand-up bass, violin, and banjo run through the traditional bluegrass catalog, pulling out standards like Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" or the Stanley Brothers' "Little Maggie." On any given night, however, Kornhauser invites guests from the bluegrass community to stand in, so if Marlene the waitress puts down her beer tray and steps up to the mike for a sweet rendition of "You Are My Sunshine," don't be surprised. The show begins at 7 p.m. at Radio Valencia, 1199 Valencia (at 23rd Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 826-1199.