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.
Salaam, Bombay! India's epic Bollywood musicals are big business, but only a small part of the country's vast entertainment legacy. Consider dancing, which has preserved some of India's most vivid tales of abducted princesses and fearless heroes, and dates back to the centuries-old devotional odissi dance of Indian temples. At the Classical Indian Dance Festival, Nupur Dance Company founder Jyoti Rout demonstrates the graceful art of odissi, while Jyothirmayi Lakkaraju blends dance with drama in the kuchipudi style, and Chitresh Das Dance Company veteran Megan Black performs kathak, a storytelling style combining folk movements, Rajasthan temple dance, Hindu mythology, and 16th-century Mogul culture. The dances, preceded by introductions explaining the connotations of their movements and the stories behind them, begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College (at Derby), Berkeley. Admission is $12-25; call 974-4313. Western eyes are more accustomed to bharatanatyam, India's richly costumed, most popular form, with its stylized hand movements, intricate footwork, and expressive focus. The Kala Vandana Dance Troupe shows how it's done with "Stories From the Epics of India" at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Old First Church, 1751 Sacramento (at Van Ness), S.F. Admission is $7-9; call 474-1608.
SOMA Goes Pomo A century after the Philippines transferred hands from Spain to the U.S., Filipino culture is still sorting out its multiple personalities. At the Post-Modern American Pilipino Performance Project, a prelude to next weekend's Filipino American Arts Exhibition, the Alleluia Panis Dance Theater dips into the past with Cleanse by Smoke, a look at time-honored cultural rites pertaining to death, grief, and mourning. Steamroller, meanwhile, looks ahead with Sticky, a bracing parody of fetishized Asian sexuality, as go-go boys and girls jump and swing off a 7-foot pole to Fatboy Slim in a nightclub setting. Between it all, the comedy troupe Tongue in a Mood greets the approaching millennium with Apokalyptic Adobe, which asks, "What would you do if you knew the end was in five years? Five months? Five days? Would you finally tell Tita Fely to shave?" The show begins at 8 p.m. (also Sunday) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Mission & Third Street, S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 978-ARTS.
Planet Hop Global culture comes full circle as Stern Grove closes its summer season and Yoshi's opens its World Music Festival. The crossover begins at Stern Grove with Congolese rumbero Sam Mangwana, whose style of soukous, or Congolese rumba, blends Nigerian highlife with salsa and Brazilian music. Mangwana plays with Malian guitarist Habib Koite, who balances Mali's griot tradition and open-stringed playing with blues and flamenco turns. Koite then opens up the World Music Festival on Monday, followed on Tuesday by Mangwana. A midweek appearance by tabla percussion virtuoso Zakir Hussain and friends is followed Saturday by the 14-piece Cuban ensemble Bamboleo, whose mix of jazz and salsa brings us back 'round to Africa. The Stern Grove show begins at 2 p.m. in the Grove, 19th Avenue & Sloat, S.F. Admission is free; call 252-6252. Koite plays at 8 and 10 p.m. tomorrow night at Yoshi's, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland. Admission is $16; call (510) 238-9200. Mangwana plays Yoshi's Tuesday at 8 and 10 p.m.
Why Can't We Be Frenze? Those angry, thirsty, overspent kids who looted and pillaged this year's Woodstock during the Red Hot Chili Peppers set necessarily bring to mind the few thousand underagers who tore down a main tent at Sydney's Big Day Out Festival during Frenzal Rhomb's set, causing a massive electrical fire and a subsequent evacuation. And though the band lives half a world away, Frenzal Rhomb knows what moves the youth of America: beer. It's part of what appealed to their Vans Warped tour audience, and what their new Fat Wreck Chords release, A Man's Not a Camel, is all about, as related to brawling ("Do You Wanna Fight Me?"), night crawling ("We're Going Out Tonight"), and love and loss, tearily realized in their tongue-in-cheek ballad "I Miss My Lung." Softball opens this all-ages show, followed by My Superhero, at 8:30 p.m. at Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Texas), S.F. Admission is $7; call 621-4455.
Cliff Notes When Jimmy Cliff sings "The Harder They Come" at this month's upcoming One Festival (and his fans aren't likely to let him leave until he does), it will sound so much more poignant to everyone who saw the 1973 Jamaican film The Harder They Come, which stars Cliff as a gun-toting folk hero. An actual Jamaican outlaw from the '50s inspired Cliff's character, Ivan, a country boy who comes to big-city Kingston hoping to launch a reggae career. After a sleazy record mogul attempts to cheat him, and his subsequent career in the ganja trade goes south, Ivan starts fighting back against the city's widespread corruption, and his reputation as an underground avenger sends his record to the top of the national charts. Though it may look like a patchwork piece of filmmaking by modern technical standards, it's still an exhilarating story, told in the splashy colors and textures of the time. The now-classic soundtrack also includes Desmond Dekker's "Shanty Town" and Toots & the Maytals' "Pressure Drop." The movie screens at 7:15 and 9:25 p.m. at the Red Vic, 1727 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is $3-6.50; call 668-3994.
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