By Cory Sklar
By Alee Karim
By Christina Li
By Dave Pehling
By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
When Stuart Brotman moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the Bay Area gained one of the most accomplished proponents of ancient Jewish music in the nation. With Brave Old World, Brotman helped revitalize klezmer, bringing modern motifs to traditional Yiddish song. Now with Finif, Brotman explores doina, a highly emotive musical form that flowered in Romania, featuring instrumental improvisations beloved by mountain shepherds. Brotman uses doina as a window onto large-scale 19th-century Eastern European Jewish performances that combine dance with processional music at A Traveling Jewish Theater on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12; call 399-1809.
For two years, "Stinky's Peep Show" has treated all those wayward souls who still love rock 'n' roll, bodacious go-go dancers, cheap beer, and cheaper chuckles. In a celebration of its second anniversary, Band From the Pubs -- a group on local label Fat Wreck Chords that has toured under its true moniker with Rancid and Social Distortion -- performs with the Bleeders and the Bulimics. Seeing how "Stinky's" resident DJ Spike is also the bass player for Band From the Pubs and the lead singer for Me First & the Gimme Gimmes, we might expect a surprise song or two from his Wammies-winning cover band. Celebrate two years of booze, boobs, and rock at the CW Saloon on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 974-1585.
Until 1985, Irish author Pat McCabe gallivanted through nightclubs and dance halls playing keyboard with a cabaret band that specialized in country-and-western covers. He then gave up the mike and submitted to his true love, but his books have always had a musical quality, often inspired by lyrics or strains taken from his favorite songs. His latest offering, Breakfast on Pluto -- inspired by a 1969 U.K. hit by Don Partridge -- follows the hapless, hopeless, humorous, and desperate meanderings of a transvestite rent boy named Pussy Braden who gets mixed up with IRA terrorists in his search for the perfect mohair sweater and undying love. Anyone who caught McCabe's reading of The Butcher Boy at A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books a few years back knows that the author has not deserted his love of stage performance; he brings his characters to life by transforming his voice into a vivid cast of characters. For his reading of Breakfast on Pluto, he's accompanied by Irish singer/songwriter Jack Lukeman in a cabaret-style night that should highlight Pussy's love of glam rock and musical kitsch. McCabe reads at the Edinburgh Castle on Friday, Jan. 22, with Alan Black and Luke James reading beforehand at 8:30 p.m., and music provided afterward by DJ Mark from "Choirm Cheoil." Tickets are $5; call 826-0115.
With the growing popularity of national poetry slams, the recent acclaim for the documentary Slam Nation, and the subsequent dramatic screenplay Slam -- which starred real-life poets from the competitions -- the image of ruffly shirts and stuffy stanzas has been replaced by street-savvy snipes filled with vibrant verse. Through the Youth Poetry Slam League, inner-city teens are encouraged to express their thoughts through this seemingly rediscovered verbal art form. During this dynamic competition, kids are brought from schools in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., to perform alongside accomplished poets at Borders Books and Music (400 Post) Saturday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. Admission is free; call 252-4655.
If legality had permitted the Oranj Mancinis to retain their original name, we might have been treated only to the exotic renditions of 12 Henry Mancini songs found on Oranj Symphonette's 1996 album Plays Mancini. As it is, the supergroup of musicians' musicians has gone on to produce last year's the oranj album, a collection of soundtrack themes transformed by the genius that is Matt Brubeck (Tom Waits, Berkeley Symphony, Club Foot Orchestra, and, uh, Jewel), Joe Gore (Tom Waits and PJ Harvey), Ralph Carney (Tom Waits, B-52's, and Marc Ribot), Rob Burger (Bill Frisell, Don Byron, and Joey Baron), and Pat Campbell (Jim Campilongo and anyone else with half a mind for rhythm). Here we find Quincy Jones' "They Call Me Mr. Tibbs" treated to Farfisa organ, Turkish clarinet, and duck calls; Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll" given a little splash of banjo; and John Barry's "Midnight Cowboy" rendered even more melancholy and destitute than the movie's final scene. Filled with other splendid audible baubles like "Valley of the Dolls," "Up, Up, and Away," "Beat Girl," and "Bananas," the oranj album is sure to send jazz lovers, improvisational savants, and film aesthetes into fits of gin-sipping rapture. And, of course, the album is absolutely nothing compared to the live show, which never precludes sailor hats or kazoos. Oranj Symphonette performs at the Great American Music Hall on Saturday, Jan. 23, with Charming Hostess opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 885-0750.
"Wicked Session One" is the first in a series that combines acoustic and electronic musicians, with DJs plumbing the conjunctions between drum 'n' bass, hip hop, and ambient music. This installation includes didgeridoo master Stephen Kent (Trance Mission), percussionist Peter Valsamis (80 Mile Beach and Trance Mission), and DJ Sep ("Dub Mission" and KPFA) as well as a slew of guest musicians. DJ Echo finishes the evening with samples from his debut single "Microdot b/w Sinstar" at the Elbo Room on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 552-7788.
-- Silke Tudor