Sounding at times like Tortoise and or Passion-era Peter Gabriel, local boys Brian & Chris create lavish urban soundscapes that, despite their sampled foundation, feel as organic as the thunder of blood. Haunting characters whisper across layers of delicate piano and fuzzy guitar; xylophone and kalimba writhe in fits of electronic dementia; drums and horns collide in a sweaty heap, leaving the listener both spent and hungry. Brian & Chris open for Rumah Sakit and Tristeza on Friday, Jan. 19, at Bottom of the Hill at 10 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 621-4455.
In "Haydn and the Gypsies," expert quartet Lux Musica presents chamber and folk music from the Austro-Hungarian court of Nicolaus the Magnificent, which was influenced by Romani fiddlers traveling through the region. The compositions of Hungarian and Transylvanian Roms, such as Biharai, Csermak, and Ruzitska, will be performed along with classical appropriations of Gypsy music by Haydn, Hummel, and Doppler on Friday, Jan. 19, at First Lutheran Church in Palo Alto; on Saturday, Jan. 20, at St. John's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley; and on Sunday, Jan. 21, at Grace Cathedral Chapel at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $19-22; call (510) 528-1725.
For my more sickly minded friends, the Web site for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (www.rawa.org) offers an endless supply of grotesque images for their laptop screen savers: casual executions of women conducted by the Taliban, parades of amputated "guilty" hands and feet, public qasas (religiously sanctioned throat slitting), mass graves, daylight civic center hangings, and scarred and mutilated children. On the site, there are cautionary banners that warn away the weak of stomach, but, for the Afghan people, these scenes are a part of daily existence. Founded by the extremely brave and vocal feminist Meena, RAWA has been fundamental in bringing the situation in Afghanistan to the attention of the Western world. (Meena also started the Watan Schools for refugee children and the bilingual paper Payam-e-Zan before she was assassinated in 1987.) If Saturday's benefit is any indication, the Pakistan-based organization has made inroads in the Bay Area with some of our more interesting musicians. Those donating their time and talent include Species Being (members of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Rumah Sakit, Mumble & Peg), D84 & DSD + HK-OB46538 (cellist Danielle DeGruttola, electronics wizard Bevin Kelley, and guitar virtuoso Henry Kaiser), Faun Fables, and Zeek Sheck. The benefit for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan will be held on Jan. 20 at Tuva Space (3192 Adeline at Martin Luther King in Berkeley) at 7:30 p.m. Admission is a $10 donation; call 221-4921.
Some time ago, I wrote a piece on Sarah, the first novel by the 20-year-old former Tenderloin street hustler JT LeRoy. The book -- a gritty, lush Appalachian fairy tale about lot lizards (truck-stop whores), folk creed, abuse, abandonment, and fine cooking -- touched me in a way that few contemporary works have done. Since the book's release and subsequent critical acclaim, Gus Van Sant has signed on to direct the film version. As it is the wish of the author that the title character be played by an unknown, I would like to take this opportunity to offer a public casting call to any androgynous thespian, with a 12- or 13-year-old face and timeless soul. Folks interested in auditioning for the role of Sarah, or any of the book's other formidable characters, should contact Bernie Telsey at (212) 868-1260.