March 18 & 19: Loreena McKennitt is on a Celtic quest. This Canadian with a gorgeous voice has sold 14 million records over the past 30 years, and she’s touring now with her Celtic super trio featuring guitarist guitarist Brian Hughes ( a fellow Canadian), and cellist Caroline Lavelle (an Englishwoman who used to busk on the streets of London). They’ll be playing songs from Troubadours on the Rhine, the album they recorded together in 2012. Expect a short movie about McKennitt research on the Celt people, with stops in Morocco and Turkey, and you have to love any pop musician who features poems by Yeats, Shakespeare and Tennyson. She’s at the Luther Burbank Center 03/18, and The Masonic in SF 03/19.
Continuing through July 5: We know San Francisco’s Bill Graham from his days running the Fillmore and building a concert promotion empire, but it’s good to remember that he just about invented the modern art of presenting great live music, There’s a show now at the Contemporary Jewish Museum celebrating Graham’s rock and roll career, but also about his complicated life . Some of it’s about how Graham, born Wulf Wolodia Grajonca, escaped Germany and the Nazi’s and came to the US in 1941. There’s lots of photos of Graham with a phone to his ear, plus photos and videos of of rock concerts he produced, and, of course, psychedelic posters, plus a narration by legendary KSAN and now KPFA DJ Bonnie Simmons—who worked for Graham. She told me how Graham really loved creating extraordinarily safe, fun environments for people to come see music “that you might be able to make the experience so comfortable that you had a chance for the artist to do their best work when they walked out on your stage.” Details for Bill Graham and the Rock and Roll Revolution are here.
March 18: Here’s a two-fer: it’s almost Bach’s birthday (March 21), and a chance to celebrate a San Francisco musician who rarely gets to take a bow. San Francisco Symphony organist Jonathan Dimmock who also happens to be the co-founder of American Bach Soloists will perform a Bach organ recital at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, featuring the Dorian, Prelude & “Wedge” Fugue in E Minor. Dimmock is working with one of the Bay Area’s best tracker organs (that means it’s all mechanical, no electric or pneumatic assists), at San Francisco’s St. Marks Lutheran Church. Here’s the details.
Through April 3: Will Eno writes weird plays with cracked characters and surreal dialogue. The American Conservatory Theater has championed his work in the Bay Area, and they’ve got his news play, The Realistic Jones, which opened on Broadway in 2014. It’s about two couples, both suffering from an illness “leads to a surreal deterioration of language and communication.” Which sounds like a disturbing challenge for a play. But it stars the great Rod Gnapp and it’s directed by Loretta Greco, who is always very deft with playwrights who ask the big questions, like why are our lives so absurd. Details here.
March 18-20: This is for the geek in all of us. Imagine the co-founder of Apple Computer, the guy who actually wired the first motherboards, Steve Wozniak, is putting on the Silicon Valley Comic-Con. He’s lured the cast of Back to the Future (Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and others), plus Stan Lee and of course William Shatner. Here’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon at the event with your daughter- see a pioneer for African-American women in space, Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on Star Trek, and then catch a panel with Kimberly Bryant from Black Girls Code. You could change the world. Details here.
March 31: I think of Will Toledo and his bandmates in Car Seat Headrest as makers of Lo-Fi art songs. The band takes it’s name from the view Toledo had from the backseat of his car as he recorded songs for an early album. This is a Far Out! item, you’d better grab a ticket to this show before it sells out. And it’s a Cheap Thrill.