“Pre-blues” may sound like the feeling you get right before your emotions take a major dip off the happiness meter. But it's actually a more technical term, describing the music that arose in African-American communities just after the Civil War — well before Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker arrived on the scene. The sound is a mix of polyrhythms, elaborate melodies, call-and-response, and folk-based forms like prison songs, work songs, hymns, and the participatory community event called sacred harp singing.
Choreographer Alonzo King of Lines Ballet, a descendant of prominent civil rights activists, has a special interest in the rich and largely untapped reservoir of history and music surrounding the oppression of blacks during the post-slavery era; his recent collaboration with sax master and composer Pharaoh Sanders — Before the Blues — came to fruition last month while King was in residency at the White Oak Dance facility in Florida. The dance's appropriately sweeping score incorporates raw, archival field recordings of pre-blues songs borrowed from the Library of Congress, as well as audio samples of period poetry recently recorded by none other than Lethal Weapon legend and San Francisco native Danny Glover. Before the Blues is probably meaty enough to live alone on the evening's bill, but Lines Ballet has also included a 1998 dance piece called Who Dressed You Like a Foreigner?, featuring original recordings by Indian tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain. The show starts tonight at 8 (and continues through Nov. 14) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Mission (at Third St.), S.F. Tickets are $12-50; call 978-2787 or visit www.ybca.org.
— Karen Macklin
TUES 11/9 The first time you hear So Jealous, unexpected bands will spring to mind, like the Bangles, the Shangri-Las, and the Psychedelic Furs. You think, “It's the kind of music Ronnie Spector would have made in art school in the 1980s: adorable, but sonically hiding a knife somewhere.” It doesn't make sense right away. Canadian twin sisters Tegan & Sara play intelligent, new-wave-influenced love songs that cover a lot of genre ground. Plus, the bouncy beat of “Take Me Anywhere” rates with “We Got the Beat” in the world of perfect pop. T&S open for the Melissa Ferrick Band at 8 p.m. at the Independent, 628 Divisadero (at Hayes), S.F. Admission is $16-18; call 771-1421 or visit www.independentsf.com.
— Hiya Swanhuyser
Buckets of Gore
Authors on the road
Ariel Gore is a hero to hordes of punks, queers, vegetarians, and anti-authoritarians out there, but she's not in a band; she's an author and a co-editor of the straight-shooting magazine for rabble-rousing diaper-changers, Hip Mama. As such, she has become a spokesperson of sorts for intelligent alternative mommies. One of her latest endeavors, Whatever, Mom: Hip Mama's Guide to Raising a Teenager, courageously showcases a spectacular lack of street cred in the form of her cheerleading daughter, who thinks her mom's lame and picks on her for those “'90s tattoos.” Here's the difference between Gore and a lot of parents: Insubordination makes her think harder.
Gore reads tonight as part of the Perpetual Motion Roadshow. Also on the bill are writers Richard Melo and Jim Munroe, starting at 7 at Needles & Pens, 483 14th St. (at Guerrero), S.F. Admission is free; call 255-1534 or visit www.nomediakings.net.
— Hiya Swanhuyser
After Disaster, Disquiet
Parsing the after-effects of absolute horror
Though the 9/11 attacks occurred more than three years ago, the anxiety that followed in their wake still lingers, providing the driving force for the characters in a new play penned by SF Weekly contributor Jack Karp, Tell Me You Love Me. In Tell Me, a look at the floundering relationships of two married New York City couples, Karp reveals the tension that remains beneath their everyday exteriors — one character has been transformed into an agoraphobic news junkie with a newly workaholic wife; another character scrapes up debris at Ground Zero while his waitress wife struggles to make ends meet in tourist-scarce midtown Manhattan. Feed your creeping sense of unease as the play opens tonight at 8 (and runs through Nov. 20) at Space 049, 423 Tehama (at Sixth St.), S.F. Admission is $15 (Thursdays are pay-what-you-can); call 255-8851 or visit www.bittersauce.com.
— Joyce Slaton
Faux Frenchies hit S.F.
In the name of quality Bordeaux, camembert, and crusty baguettes; in the name of miniskirts, go-go boots, and all that's right in the world, clear your schedule for Bardot A Go Go's Francophile fest with Les Sans Culottes. The cheeky ironists from Brooklyn might boast but a single genuine Parisian in their ranks (singer Celine Dijon), but they still deliver pitch-perfect retro pop — sung in French — à la Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Dutronc. Just try to defy your urge to dance as LSC brings its je ne sais quoi to town. Pink Frankenstein gets the soiree going at 9 p.m. at Café du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Tickets are $10; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com.
— Maya Kroth