While SF Sketchfest has frequently hosted interesting musicians amid the usual podcasts and variety shows, this year's festival has kicked up the star power significantly. Along with the sold-out opening night tribute to Tenacious D and a special "Music Edition" of Celebrity Autobiography focusing on the most sordid tell-all memoirs of your favorite rock stars (4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at Marines Memorial Theatre; $50), here are a few other music-related highlights:
Minnesota Public Radio show Wits has become a sizable hit thanks to the program's freewheeling mix of live sketch comedy, tunes, and topical conversation. For Sketchfest, host John Moe welcomes actress Padget Brewster, and comics Eugene Mirman and Paul F. Tompkins along with jazzy songbird Nellie MacKay and droll singing-songwriting legend Loudon Wainwright III (7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, at Marines Memorial Theatre; $35). MacKay also headlines her own concert the following night at the Verdi Club with indie-folk tunesmith Tom Broussard.
Musical siblings Sara and Sean Watkins — best known for their modern bluegrass band Nickel Creek — found a home for their loose-limbed jam session the Watkins Family Hour at L.A. hotspot Largo. The aforementioned Tompkins, Wainwright III, and Broussard are scheduled to appear at this S.F. edition, but the brother and sister have built a reputation for drawing big-name surprise guests (8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at Marines Memorial Theatre; $35).
While working on the set of an indie film, Emmy-award winning Will & Grace actress Megan Mullally discovered she and co-star Stephanie Hunt (Friday Night Lights) shared not only a love for music, but an unearthly ability to harmonize vocally. Their swinging outfit Nancy and Beth covers an eclectic array of material ranging from country and blues standards to a hilariously vulgar version of Riskay's rap hit "Smell Yo Dick" (8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, at the Jewish Community Center's Kanbar Hall).
Community and Mad Men actress Alison Brie has made a splash in the last couple of years performing with fellow thespians Cyrina Fiallo (Disney's Good Luck Charlie) and Julianna Guill (the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th) in their cover band The Girls. The sweet-singing folk-rock group offers its take on songs by Springsteen, Robyn, and Childish Gambino (8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at Yoshi's SF; $25).
Founding Upright Citizens Brigade member Matt Besser hosts Greatest Concert Ever, a show that invites comic performers to live out their rock star fantasies onstage by covering their favorite songs. Participants include actors Brian Husky (Children's Hospital, Veep), Andy Daly, Dave Hill, stand-up comic Eddie Pepitone, and local entertainers Miles and Jesse (10:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, at Eureka Theatre; $20).
Saturday Night Live vet Maya Rudolph starred in the landmark comedies Idiocracy and Bridesmaids, but the daughter of legendary soul singer Minnie Ripperton was bound to find a musical outlet. Teaming with college friend and songwriter Gretchen Leiberum, the pair delves into the Purple One's early catalog of hits with their loving tribute act Princess. Powered by a talented crew of L.A. session players, the group returns to Sketchfest to deliver scorching takes on such lascivious classics as "Head" and "Darling Nikki" (8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, at Mezzanine; $40).