Do the Dead Dia de los Muertos comes early this year when Ruby Nelda Perez follows up Rosita's Jalapeno Kitchen (her 1995 collaboration with Bay Area playwright Rodrigo Duarte Clark) with the West Coast premiere of Rosita's Day of the Dead. The sequel, which debuted at San Antonio's Jump Start Theater, finds Rosita dishing up tamales, candy skulls, and gossip about her family: the teenage clairvoyant Marisabel, the suburbanite Connie, and Rosita's dead mother, Margarita, all of whom are pressuring her to reconcile with her dying father. Toothsome comedy and free recipes add to the appeal. The show opens at 8:30 p.m. (and continues through July 10) at El Teatro de la Esperanza, Red Stone Building, 2940 16th St. (at Capp), Second Floor, S.F. Admission is $8-12; call 255-2320.
So Long, Sosa! Europe may be cosmopolitan, but it hasn't got Cuban pianist/composer Omar Sosa, at least not yet. Sosa's intense, wholly international flavor derives from Cuban folk music and Yoruban culture, hip hop, and an American jazz tradition spanning Thelonious Monk to Chick Corea, with the occasional funk lick thrown in for good measure. Sosa and his quintet -- drummer Elliot Kavee and former Midnight Voices rapper Will Power will be flying in from New York to perform -- leave the country July 6 for a European tour that includes stops in France and at Holland's North Sea Jazz Festival. As a prelude to that trip, they'll be playing work from Sosa's latest CD, Spirit of the Roots, plus new material developed for a recording project in Ecuador. The show begins at 8 p.m. at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $15; call 863-9834.
Lofty Aspirations The Board of Supes may or may not debate Sue Bierman's proposed moratorium on loft construction this summer, but the San Francisco Mime Troupe will most definitely air the issue in parks all over the Bay Area with its musical summer show City for Sale. City targets the shift in Bay Area economics which has led to the proliferation of artists' lofts that most artists can't afford. Amos Glick plays a developer who capitalizes on building codes to convert low-rent studios into highly profitable live-work spaces, to accommodate people like Agnes (Stephanie Taylor), a young Web site designer who's willing and able to pay big for spacious digs in a happening urban neighborhood. Velina Brown plays a certain embattled mayor trying to reconcile business and neighborhood interests. Longtime Troupe member Bruce Barthol has composed an original score for the show, which opens at 2 p.m., preceded by music at 1:30 p.m., in Dolores Park, Dolores between 18th & 20th streets, S.F. Admission is free; call 285-1717 for the Mime Troupe's complete summer schedule.
Splendor in the Grass Classical music, despite its best efforts, still seems ill at ease around the Fourth of July. Conductors nationwide tend to celebrate the most American of holidays in one of three ways: with rousing odes that aren't American, like Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture; American music that isn't classical, like Gershwin; or American classical music that's an utterly predictable choice, like Aaron Copland. How do music directors balance classicism, patriotism, and accessibility, knowing that part of their audience will have a pretty good chardonnay buzz going anyhow? Well, let's see: This year's California Symphony program has plumbed the country's cultural depths for its "Back to the Future: A Celebration of American Heritage Through Music, History, Film, and Popular Culture" (6 p.m. at the Concord Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass, Concord, 776-1999; $12.75-27.75). The San Francisco Opera, meanwhile, has made a few concessions to American pop culture with selections from West Side Story and the Boys From Syracuse, before saying to hell with it and adding excerpts from Carmen and Wagner's Ring cycle to its "Opera in the Grove" program. It begins at 2 p.m. at Stern Grove, 19th Avenue & Sloat, S.F. Admission is free; call 252-6252. For a complete list of Fourth of July events, see Page 36.
Playtime for Workers Harry Bridges, the vaunted labor leader of San Francisco's 1934 maritime workers' strike, is the first big name to be celebrated at LaborFest '99, a monthlong salute to solidarity. After that, the defiant Emma Goldman gets her due in the drama Emma Goldman: Love, Anarchy, and Other Affairs (July 8-31 at Theater Rhino); writer/activist Tillie Olsen reads and speaks (July 17 at the Women's Building); and Howard Pflanzer reads the play Lucy Parsons: Anarchist (July 24 at the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, July 25 at New College). The festival couches American labor history in an international context with a photo exhibit on the Puerto Rican General Strike (July 9 at Mission Cultural Center) and "Irish Labor Music Night" (July 25 at New College), and the festivities conclude with a dance party featuring live accompaniment from Musicians Union Local 6. LaborFest begins at 7:30 p.m. tonight with a commemoration and party at Harry Bridges Plaza, adjacent to the Ferry Building, Market & Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is free; call 642-8066 for event schedules and information or go to www.laborfest.net.
Where There's a Will Bonnie Prince Billy, Palace Brothers, Palace Flophouse, Palace Songs, and just plain Palace are all Will Oldham, with various incarnations of the Oldham family and friends playing along. Oldham's disarmingly heartfelt delivery, quavery and off-key though it can be at times, lends a special poignancy to Celtic- and Appalachian-inspired folk balladry and lovely, nihilism-laced tales of equestrian mishaps, roadside wrecks, shattered love affairs, aimless quests, and various other kinds of pain that put the depression right back in No Depression. It's why ardent fans will happily sit through the name changes and the occasional live show conceit like radio static channeled through an amp. Anomoanon opens for Oldham at 9 p.m. at the Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck (at Prince), Berkeley. Admission is $8; call (510) 841-2082. Oldham also plays at 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 7, with Supreme Dicks and Anomoanon at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $10; call 885-0750.