Those of us of a certain age and musical inclination might remember the cover of Kate Bush's 1982 album The Dreaming. On it, the singer is dressed as Harry Houdini's wife and co-conspirator Bess, depicted in the act of passing her husband – through a kiss – the key he needs for his Chinese Water Torture Cell escape. Bush wrote a song about Houdini for that album, sung from the point of view of Bess, and she is not the only musician to have paid tribute to the famous magician. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds were inspired by Houdini's passionate campaign to prove spiritualists frauds when they wrote their album Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, and even '80s bands Kon Kan and Cutting Crew included Houdini songs on their records. Music also figures prominently at a very special holiday version of RitLab – short for “Ritual Laboratory,” the popular Thursday after-work program – in an evening that ties into the current “Houdini: Art & Magic” exhibition. RitLab: The Hanukkah-Houdini Edition features San Francisco's own a cappella group Conspiracy of Beards, whose 30 men are mixing some Hanukkah tunes into their traditional Leonard Cohen repertoire. A competitive dreidel spin-off further celebrates the season, while docents are on hand to help you create magic-themed wallets and keychains if you are still searching for last-minute gifts. Materials for your own Chinese Water Torture Cell are not included.
Thu., Dec. 22, 6 p.m., 2011