Dueling Banjos The long, storied history of the banjo, not including its ignoble misuse as a comic prop or the house instrument of Shakey's Pizza, unfolds in the bluegrass banjo revue "Bill Evans' Banjo in America." Evans, an ethnomusicology doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley as well as a highly regarded touring musician, traces the evolution of the banjo from its West African roots through its use in dance music, Civil War balladry, ragtime, bluegrass, and newgrass, literally picking his way through 200 years of musical styles. He's taken the show to museums and music festivals across the country, combining live performance with historical anecdote to illustrate the banjo's vital role in American roots music with perennial favorites from the bluegrass songbook. Bluegrass guitar duo Dix Bruce & Jim Nunally join Evans for an acoustic hootenanny beginning at 9 p.m. at the Last Day Saloon, 406 Clement (at Fifth Avenue), S.F. Admission is $5; call 387-6344.
Author! Author! Special human bonds, the kind that tie sisters to a philanderer and a young boy to his mother's hard-drinking boyfriend, inform the Word for Word Sixth Anniversary Show. The theater company, which stages stories verbatim to preserve the authors' language and shades of meaning, mounts Alice Munro's Friend of My Youth and Richard Ford's Communist, including a benefit performance at which Ford will discuss his work. Much of the language is a narrator's remembrance of emotional episodes; in Friend, a daughter recalls her mother's story of Flora and Ellie, family friends whose staid farm life in a Scottish religious sect is interrupted by a man who proposes marriage to one sister and impregnates the other. In Communist, a boy's coming of age is colored by questions about love, death, expectation, and reality after his widowed mother and her boyfriend take him on an impromptu hunting trip. Friend opens at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through Sept. 5) at the Magic Theater, Northside, Building D, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $20; call 437-6775. "An Evening With Richard Ford," featuring a reading by Ford and a performance of Communist, happens Monday at 7 p.m. at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission $25; call 441-3687.
Clubbed Card If computer hackers can filch your credit card number from the Internet and PBS fund-raisers can hawk your name to political parties, why can't supermarkets disseminate personal information that they've gathered from your grocery club card? Sen. Jackie Speier will tell you why at a public presentation on privacy rights titled "Whatever Happened to Privacy?" Speier is sponsoring a bill, pending in Sacramento, that focuses on how information gleaned from club cards can be used, but her talk will also address the broader question of how much insurance, government, and corporate agencies need to know about us, and what part of that information they are entitled to give or sell to others. Speier will also discuss instances in which people should withhold personal information. The talk begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California (at Presidio), S.F. Admission is free; call 292-1258.
Lovin' Spoonful Sticky rice, rice queen, potato queen: Expect bewildered looks if you use slang terms like that in China, says one subject of Todd Wilson's documentary Rice & Potatoes. But in San Francisco, where the film was shot and screened to SRO crowds at S.F. State and this year's Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, the response has been knowing and generally enthusiastic. Wilson interviews 17 Asian and Caucasian gay men, who speak candidly about interracial gay relationships and their built-in social and political issues. It's engaging, especially when interviewees reflect on cultural differences in their attitudes toward sex, family, communication, and coming out, and what they must do to balance those considerations with being gay and simply being a couple. The film screens with The Queen's Cantonese and A Seeker at 7 p.m. (and continues weekends through Aug. 29) at the Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $7; call 863-7576.
Guess What, America, We Love You There's a special groove, worn into the brains of people whose adolescence fell in the late '70s and early '80s, where algebra was supplanted by the lyrics to the Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight." Two decades later, you can find whole roomfuls of people who can't solve simple equations, but have no problem recalling the line, "I am Wonder Mike and I'd like to say hello/ To the black, the white, the red, and the brown, the purple and yellow." That bouncy little anthem, the band's only big hit, seems downright prehistoric by today's production standards, and utterly benign next to gangsta rap, but it's what brought rap to the suburbs and hinted at life after disco. The original members of the Sugar Hill Gang perform with another pioneer of the form, Grandmaster Flash's Melle Mel, at 10 p.m. at 330 Ritch, 330 Ritch (at Townsend), S.F. Admission is $18-22; call 541-9574.
Which Craft? It doesn't matter how long and happily you've lived without African pink ivorywood tea caddies or brushed aluminum lampshades; as Cowper put it, "Thus first necessity invented stools, convenience next suggested elbow chairs, and luxury the accomplish'd sofa last." The American Craft Council Craft Show aims to beguile browsers into thinking of luxury as just another necessity with a wealth of decorative and functional items -- jewelry, glass, ceramics, furniture -- from over 350 contemporary California artisans. It opens at 10 a.m. (also Saturday and Sunday) at the Herbst and Festival Pavilions, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free-$14; call 896-5060. The Arts and Crafts Weekend works on the same principle, although these are mostly antique and collectible items in the vintage western and art nouveau vein. Look for Taxco silver jewelry and Stickley armchairs at the show, which opens at 10 a.m. Saturday (also 11 a.m. Sunday) at the Concourse Exhibition Center, Eighth Street & Brannan, S.F. Admission is $7; call (800) 677-1500. And while you're at it, consider what crafts can do for your afterlife: The exhibit "Sacred Markers: Funerary Sculpture" showcases international trends in burial art, from the wooden-boat-like sculptures of the seafaring Filipino Bajans to the carved pelican grave marker from Madagascar and flowery, painted-tin Haitian grave wreaths. The show opens at 10 a.m. Saturday (and runs through Oct. 17) at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Building A, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free-$5; call 775-0990.