Bay Area silent-film fans, long used to showy solos by organists who play "I've Been Working on the Railroad" every time a train appears, or to pianists who offer variations on the same theme no matter what the movie, have found relief. Over the past decade, offbeat musical combos such as the Club Foot Orchestra, the Sprocket Ensemble, and the Alloy Orchestra have delighted and sometimes perplexed viewers with fresh takes on silent cinema. Their efforts have refreshed a vibrant era of picture-making.
To that roster of revivalists can now be added the Devil Music Ensemble, a string-heavy trio hailing from Boston that's been known to work with a range of unique instruments, including vibraphones and accordions. The group's red-eyed eclecticism should be perfect for both the western comedy Big Stakes and for F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu, the classic of German expressionism with Max Schreck as the original screen Dracula. Schreck looks like an elongated edition of Edvard Munch's painting The Scream, and his unearthliness can still raise a shudder today. Big Stakes starts at 7 and Nosferatu starts at 8:45 p.m. at the Balboa Theater, 3630 Balboa (at 38th Avenue), S.F. Admission is $10-20; call 221-8184 or visit www.thebalboatheater.com. -- Gregg Rickman
Wet Wonder Crissy Field hosts art
Art aficionados don't typically pop into the Crissy Field Center to see what's new -- they're more likely to drop off the kids to learn about cephalopods. But this month, there is indeed art (made by capable adults, with extensive gallery histories to prove it). The multimedia group exhibit "Estuary"explores, unsurprisingly, wetlands, the neither-sea-nor-land muck that supports a bounty of minuscule creatures and birds.
After preliminary kayaking, three artists set to work: Rebecca Haseltine poured slurries onto Mylar, let the puddles evaporate, then added pigment, crafting meditative scrolls recalling both wetlands and our similarly muddy internal organs; filmmaker Barbara Klutinis created shoreline videos; and composer Joan Jeanrenaud (formerly of Kronos Quartet) added cricket chirps to her haunting cello. Meet the artists at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Crissy Field Center, 603 Mason (at Halleck), S.F. Admission is free; call 561-7690 or visit www.crissyfield.org. -- Michael Leaverton
A Sirius Writer R.U. alternative?
In the early 1990s, a man with the curious name R.U. Sirius was attached to the mag Mondo 2000, and we all thought we were hopelessly behind the cyberpunk curve. And we were, of course, since cyberpunk was basically a mass of hot air masquerading as a movement, which even Timothy Leary got tangled up in (not to mention Billy Idol). Mondo was also pretty cool -- who didn't like reading about designer drugs and virtual sex? Sirius, whose real name is Ken Goffman, has since penned many books, including Counterculture Through the Ages, which charts alternative movements from the ancient Greeks to the present. He reads at 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.booksmith.com. -- Michael Leaverton
The deathless popularity of karaoke proves that belting out familiar songs is a human need, up there with food and sex. Unleash your inner Ethel at "Irving Berlin's Broadway: A Sing-Along," and join in according to the directions of music pros Billy Philadelphia and Meg Mackay, starting at 7 p.m. at the San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 255-4800 or visit www.sfpalm.org. -- Hiya Swanhuyser