Get on Up Soul man James Brown is so funky he launched Bootsy Collins, so righteous he played a preacher in The Blues Brothers, so cool he headlined a show with Coolio, so groovy he was honored by both the American Music Awards and the Grammy folks right after he got out of jail. The Godfather of Soul got started with a gospel/R&B group that came to be known as the Famous Flames; after their breakup, he formed the J.B.s with Collins and horn player Maceo Parker. The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business grunted and sweated over 100 R&B and Billboard hit singles including "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "I Feel Good" without breaking No. 1, and watched as successive generations emulated his sex machine style of showmanship (Prince, anyone?) and sampled his riffs in the latter part of his 40-year career. Brown's got a brand-new 25-piece backup ensemble of musicians, singers, and dancers called the Soul Generals, with whom he played the opening of Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted him in 1986. Brown and the Generals will do it again at 8 p.m. at the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium, 1111 California (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $35-65; call 255-0333.
Ararat West Peter Balakian's best-selling book Black Dog of Fate is part autobiography, part history lesson. Balakian's account of his all-American boyhood in '60s New Jersey segues into his growing awareness of his Armenian roots and the terrible toll exacted on his family by the Turkish massacre of Armenians at the turn of the century. Throughout the book, Balakian makes reference to traditional Armenian food and its importance to a culture that once suffered from its deprivation. The Armenian Food Festival offers a primer on just such dishes, serving kufta (a meatball within a meatball), rice pilaf and the dolmatheslike rice-stuffed grape leaves, shish kebab, desserts, and cheese boereg, a savory turnover. Khatchig Jingirian Jr. provides live traditional music in the evening, and inspired chefs can browse through the Armenian cookbooks in the gift boutique. The festival begins at noon (also on Sunday) at the St. John Armenian Apostolic Church, 275 Olympia (off Laguna Honda), S.F. Admission is free; call 661-1142.
Hang Time It's been too long since we've seen someone juggle parasols with his feet and get crazy with a hula hoop, but that's about to change, thanks to the upcoming appearance by 25-member troupe The Hangzhou Acrobats of China. The internationally acclaimed company, which was founded 40 years ago in a resort town of the Zhejiang province, is known for rich costuming, an eye-opening array of physical maneuvers, and complex tricks involving potentially sharp or suffocating props: plate spinning, silk hanging, flower jar juggling, chair balancing, and so on. A magic show is part of the bargain -- the performance begins at 3 p.m. at the Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Admission is $16-25; call 472-3500.
When Kathie Met Haiti Kathie Lee Gifford has caused undue public suffering with her patriotic musical performances and her fierce, inescapable perkiness, so it's only fair that Gifford herself was reduced to tears following a confrontation with anti-sweatshop crusader Charles Kernaghan. Two years ago, Kernaghan made headlines for exposing the low wages and bleak working conditions facing underage Honduran laborers who manufactured clothes for Wal-Mart's "Kathie Lee" label. This year, Kernaghan is spearheading the "Call for Corporate Disclosure/The People's Right to Know Campaign," which asks big chain stores to disclose the locations of and labor conditions in their factories overseas. Labor, religious, student, and community coalitions (locally, the California Fair Trade Campaign, among others) have thrown their support behind his effort, which is still in the public-education phase. Kernaghan discusses the campaign at 7:30 p.m. at New College, 777 Valencia (at 19th Street), S.F. Admission is $6-15; call 255-1946.
The Boogie Man John Lee Hooker is an octogenarian now, so there's no guarantee that he's going to feel like getting up and belting one out at the "Best of Friends Party," celebrating the first year of his blues club the Boom Boom Room, the 50th year of his gritty trademark album Boogie Chillun, and the recent release of his new CD The Best of Friends, which features contributions from Hooker pals like Los Lobos, Bonnie Raitt, and Eric Clapton. Everyone who's performed at the club since it opened has been invited to come and do a number in Hooker's honor: The party's rough guest list includes Oscar Meyer's Blues Beat, Faye Carol, Frankie Lee, Brenda Boykin, and a slew of others. As the new CD and Hooker's recent performances with the touring Fleadh festival prove, he's not entirely out of commission, but if he skips his party or passes on performing, guests can always give the growly, howly Boogie Chillun another spin and take their chances with the new CD and an autographed photo giveaway at midnight. The party begins at 8 p.m. at the Boom Boom Room, 1601 Fillmore (at Geary), S.F. Admission is free; call 673-8000.
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