This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, December 3, 2003
The Smothers Brothers, Weird Al Yankovic, Adam Sandler – each mined music for comic ore, with varying degrees of success. But novelty songs typically have a short life span. Once you've giggled at the lyrics a few times, you're generally done with the throwaway tune. Not so in the case of kooky comic guitar-strummer Stephen Lynch, whose melodies at first resemble sweet Jim Croce licks – until you realize that instead of singing about love and longing, Lynch is revealing his desire to pork his best friend's underage sister or rubbing his hands gleefully over the inheritance he'll get when his beloved grandfather dies. He brings his politically incorrect act to town this week to support his new CD, Superhero; the Folk-Ups open for Lynch tonight and tomorrow night at 8 at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $21; call 885-0750 or visit www.stephenlynch.com.

Thursday, December 4, 2003
When photography was invented, painters worried aloud that their art would disappear, to be replaced by this vulgar new thing. Fortunately, the brush and the easel are getting along just fine. Still, no one predicted the ways in which the two disciplines would collide. In Rocky Schenck's work, which is often called "painterly," the photographic process itself becomes the medium: Schenck alters his images at both the negative and print stages. His stark, soft-focus pictures draw style from the early prints of Edward Steichen, especially the famous and famously manipulated Rodin. But Schenck brings his Southern California-bleak feel (and his artful eye) to modern subjects: conference rooms, highways, fast-food joints. Sometimes frightening, sometimes fairy tale, the constant images of loneliness somehow give the viewer reassurance. An artist's reception celebrates the publication of a 15-year retrospective book of Schenck's work; he signs starting at 5:30 p.m. at Shapiro Gallery, 760 Market (at Stockton), S.F. Admission is free; call 398-6655 or visit www.rockyschenck.com.

Friday, December 5, 2003
At a recent Johnny Cash tribute, many men (and a few brave women) played a lot of music to honor the country icon's recent passing, and every one of them was good. But the easy favorite in that high-quality lineup was Jesse DeNatale. "The Bard of Tomales Bay," as he's been called by no less than Ramblin' Jack Elliott, didn't so much perform a tune as shepherd the crowd members through their sadness. His song led listeners on an unexpected trip, from Bruce Springsteen playing at Pac Bell Park to a walk up Potrero Hill with folk heroes and a descent into a metaphoric cave of despair, all of it ultimately celebrating the life of the Man in Black. It was an original, in many ways. DeNatale's a folk singer in the tradition of Bob Dylan: interestingly political, peppering an earnest-as-hell outlook with a lot of style and a little sass. Charles Atlas, Odessa Chen, and DeNatale share a bill tonight, starting at 10 at the Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk (at Post), S.F. Admission is $6; call 923-0923 or visit www.jessedenatale.com.

Saturday, December 6, 2003
Truth will out, as Shakespeare wrote. Some look the other way when they notice a problem, but the proverbial elephant in the room is bound to make noise sometime. Tonight, a group of writers, musicians, and various performers addresses rampant methamphetamine use in the arts and leather sex communities at "Booty Bump." Organizers remind us to "[f]orget the public health finger-wagging and media hysteria" surrounding the issue – instead, reducing harm is the name of the game. Author Kirk Read curates what he calls a "very unofficial town hall meeting," and Juba Kalamka, Meliza Bañales, and others sing, tell stories, perform poetry, and otherwise refuse to keep quiet about sex and speed. Show time is 8 p.m. at the Jon Sims Center for the Performing Arts, 1519 Mission (at 11th Street), S.F. Admission is free-$15; call 554-0402 or visit www.jonsimsctr.org.

Sunday, December 7, 2003
Do terms like puxada de rede, caboclo, and xaxado get you all excited? If they do, you've probably at least visited northeastern Brazil. Or maybe you were born and raised there, since these dance styles are rarely seen or heard outside the country. If you just like words with the letter "x" in them, you're on your own. In any case, Aguas Da Bahia Dance Company's production of Aguas showcases those and many other forms of live music, dance, folklore, and theater from the nation that gave us Carnaval. The troupe is especially proud to have the dancing and choreography of Bahia native Tânia Santiago, formerly of Afro-Brazilian music group Olodum, to enrich its high-energy performance. The show begins at 7 p.m. at Brava! for Women in the Arts, 2789 24th St. (at York), S.F. Admission is $16-18; call 647-2822 or visit www.aguasdabahia.com.

Monday, December 8, 2003
The duty of artists is to transform, to spin gold out of the crap the world dishes us all. But not everyone is endowed with the vision to change grief, loss, and confusion at the death of a loved one into a play, as Sean San José has done. It can't be easy to spend your time confronting questions like "How does our mind decide what to remember about one who dies?" and "Where does the line stop between remembering them and reinventing them?" San José has crafted the answers into a drama set in Oakland that also deals with AIDS and survivor's guilt. Tonight sees the second public reading of the Wattis Artist-in-Residence'sDomino, featuring movement and live music by Joe Lopez, Josh Jones, and Scheherazade Stone. The performance, which includes a discussion with the author post-show, starts at 8 p.m. in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Screening Room, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 978-2787 or visit www.yerbabuenaarts.org.

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