New Face of the Blues When she belts out "I Always Get My Man," Shemekia Copeland sounds remarkably confident, especially for someone who's barely old enough to date. The 19-year-old blues prodigy may have gotten a head start in the business from her father, Texas blues guitarist Johnny Glyde Copeland, but coaching alone didn't produce the unexpectedly powerful and polished voice that belies her lack of life experience. No one would expect a teenage city kid to sing about brewing white lightning and working the fields, of course -- Copeland goes for raucous, electrified urban blues, pausing just long enough to stun listeners with the soulful gospel ballad "Salt in My Wounds," which suddenly explains all those Aretha comparisons. Copeland appears at 9 p.m. at the Boom Boom Room, 1601 Fillmore (at Geary), S.F. Admission is $15; call 673-8000 or check www.ticketweb.com.
Bang a Gong The '70s-era Gong Show kept Chuck Barris and Jaye P. Morgan off the streets, helped launch Pee-wee Herman's career, and turned the Unknown Comic into a cultural footnote, so its existence was essentially justified. The same remains to be said of the '90s version, called Extreme Gong, where the new musical acts of Corey Feldman and Ike Turner have already gone to die amid naked cowboys, talking dogs, opera-singing cowboys, and senior citizen stuntmen. Essentially unknown comic George Gray (whose work in big-league films like Stargate made the cutting-room floor) MC's the show, which hosts new bands, "Babes/Hunks of the Day," and variety acts; if you lack what it takes to succeed in show business, you might consider Extreme Gong's open auditions -- acts must be three minutes or less, and musical accompaniment must be acoustic, on tape, or CD. The fun begins at 5 p.m. on the terrace level of the Metreon, A Sony Entertainment Center, 101 Fourth St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free; call (312) 214-4520.
Girls on Film The exotic, warlike tribe native to the American tract home is studied in painstaking anthropological detail in Oakland filmmaker Sarah Lockhart's Super 8 mockumentary Suburban Guerrillas, part of her video and mixed-media program "Product DisPlacement." Lockhart further tweaks consumer culture with Slow Job, a video that reveals striking similarities between the language and rhythm of sex work and those of customer service; with Cellular Suicide, she argues the case for cell-phone-induced brain cancer through a series of slides, video, and found sound. Lockhart shares the bill with Texas transplant Lori Surfer, whose equally eclectic and often alarming program "Surferesque" is comprised of medical and dental disaster slides, a montage of horror and home movies accompanied by an eerie soundtrack, and a collection of weird animated shorts. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia (at 22nd Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 824-3890.
Take the Low Road Warning signs that the Scottish Highland dance show Fire & Grace has Riverdance potential: promises of "fiery" Scottish dancing, pouty shirtless studs, Celtic New Age music. What may save it: live bagpiping, three U.S. Adult Scottish Highland Dance Champions. Laura Carruthers, an international Highland dance champ and former ballerina, put this show together with members of her Arizona-based Celtic Dance Theater and the Scottish Dance Company of Canada; the idea was to move beyond Riverdance. If we're lucky, she'll move way, way beyond it, ditching the fog machines and rhinestone sweatbands of Michael Flatley's Las Vegasized vision as she goes. Narrative works and athletic variations fill out Fire & Grace, which takes its title from the Scottish warrior/poet duality found in hit films like Braveheart and Rob Roy; apparently, Carruthers bypassed the drunken Scottish hooliganism popularized by Trainspotting. The show starts at 8 p.m. (also Saturday) at Herbst Theater, 410 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $7-30; call 392-4400.
Avenging Angel After dropping out of art school at 19 and joining a punk band that opened for the Sex Pistols' swan song at Winterland and shared stages with X, the Go-Go's, and the Dead Kennedys, what's former Avengers frontwoman Penelope Houston supposed to do for an encore? Evidently she thought it best to round up some old friends and try something new on her solo album Tongue. Avengers fans will have to satisfy themselves with old favorites from the band's recent reunion shows, because Tongue is not a punk record. Even "Scum," an obvious fuck-you to someone, is still catchy enough for radio play. Owing more to Houston's post-punk career as an acoustic neo-folkie, Tongue takes one last look back with the anthemic "Grand Prix" before plunging into the lush string arrangement of the inexplicable "Ballad of Happy Friday and Tiger Woods." Go-Go's pals Jane Wiedlen and Charlotte Caffey contributed to two tracks on this pop-kissed post-punk reverie. Peachfish (formerly Moxie) opens for Houston at 10 p.m., followed by the Negro Problem, at Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Texas), S.F. Admission is $10; call 621-4455. Houston also plays an in-store at 2 p.m. at Amoeba Records, 1885 Haight (at Stanyan), S.F. Admission is free; call 831-1200.
SLA on Wheels It's been 25 years since the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped publishing heiress Patty Hearst; enough time for Hearst to plead brainwashing, get out of jail, and land a role in John Waters' Serial Mom; enough time for SLA member Kathleen Ann Soliah to change her name, move to Minnesota, and land roles in community theater productions. Just last month, however, Soliah was arrested on 24-year-old California charges and the Hearst family newspaper was positioned as the last daily in San Francisco, which put the story back in the news and the San Francisco Bike Coalition's Patty Hearst Bike Tour on track. Like the Colma graveyard tour before it, this 10-mile SFBC excursion specializes in overlooked local lore, putting the Hearst story in the context of its tumultuous time. Highlights include the Daly City closet where Hearst was held for a month and the Western Addition apartment where Hearst and the SLA could "hide in plain sight." Riders meet at 11 a.m. at the Daly City BART station. Admission is free-$5; call 431-BIKE.