Dan, Dan, He's Our Man The SF Weekly page folks turn to first, people tell me again and again, is the one featuring Savage Love, the nationally syndicated sex-advice column by Seattle writer Dan Savage. His refreshingly blunt advice jives with common sense, and his wit is barbed, but some readers weren't laughing initially when Savage encouraged his readers to preface their letters with the salutation "Hey, Faggot." Experimental performance series "downhear" gives Savage a live forum to wax philosophical about life, love, sex, the column, and whatever's left, followed by questions from the audience. Performance band AWD close out the show, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $10; call 861-5016.
The House of Escher Haven't seen an Escher since you left the dorms? Now's your chance: The Vorpal Gallery celebrates the late Dutch printmaker M.C. Escher's 100th birthday with an expansive collection of his drawings, woodcuts, and lithographs. Most people remember the white-shirt- and suit-coat-wearing hands drawing one another against white paper, or the dizzying cascade of staircases, but they tend to overlook the fact that Escher drafted his mathematically precise repetitive images and perception-warping landscapes before the advent of computers and the glut of computer-generated art that followed. Get lost in Escher's graphic world at this show, which opens with a reception at 5:30 p.m. (and is up through June 27) at the Vorpal Gallery, 393 Grove (at Gough), S.F. Admission is free; call 397-9200.
Comeback Kid Former Kipper Kid Brian Routh briefly revisits his old performance persona in Psychic Attack, a piece employing elements of comedy, music, dance, and improv to riff on the search for spirituality in the era of information overload. As satiric duo the Kipper Kids, Routh and partner Martin von Haselberg appealed to New York's Kitchen crowd and that ilk with similarly vaudevillian performance. In this piece, Routh adopts a variety of guises to reflect on the Bible, Jung, and puppets and their relationships to the New Age movement, conspiracy theories, aliens, and other systems of belief to which people attach themselves. The show begins at 8 p.m. in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $10; call 978-ARTS.
They Put a Spell on You The dancers of Omulu Capoeira and Afro-Brazilian dance troupe Fogo Na Roupa (translation: "Clothes on Fire") plan to do more than just show audiences a good time at Tropical Tax Evasion. The samba, merengue, and acrobatic martial arts of the performances are expected to spill over into salsa and hip hop on the dance floor at a post-show dance party, and proceeds from the event benefit the Community Action Project, a nonprofit group that teaches the dance and martial arts of capoeira to low-income kids. The show begins at 7 p.m. at Brady Street Dance Center, 60 Brady (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 285-6689. Meanwhile, some of the city's better modern companies, including Robert Moses' Kin and Scott Wells & Dancers, stage two evenings of imaginative, theatrical, high-flying dance to benefit online dance resource DanceNet; the show begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday) at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $15-25; call 863-9834.
Spring, Rolls and Otherwise There are so many tasty things to eat at Japanese spring celebration the Cherry Blossom Festival -- spring rolls with sweet-and-sour sauce, bento and sushi, plates of savory pad thai noodles, green tea ice cream -- that you could momentarily forget (although you shouldn't) other attractions like Japanese dance, calligraphy, and ikebana (flower-arranging) demonstrations, martial arts, and taiko drumming. The festival begins at 11 a.m. (also Sunday, plus April 24-26) in Japantown, Post & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free; call 563-2313. The same is true of SpringFest, part of the events scheduled for UC Berkeley's Cal Day, where barbecue tables and veggie treats threaten to eclipse the arts and crafts tables and performances by the Marin Chinese Lion Dancers, the Harmonics Caribbean Steel Band, and various other international groups. It begins at 11 a.m. at the International House, 2299 Piedmont (at Bancroft), Berkeley. Admission is free-$3; call (510) 642-9460.
Save the Children Even though we're beginning to sound like a telethon, it's time once again to make a plea on behalf of the tots at the Telegraph Hill Cooperative Nursery School: Drink beer. Sapporo and Guinness, Chimay and HeBrew, plus bottlings from Guatemala, Germany, and California will be poured at the 15th annual International Beer Festival, which offers unlimited tastings of 75 international brews and microbrews in all. Celtic band Storm in a Teacup will play live and local restaurants will serve appetizers designed to soak up some of the alcohol, ranging from sausages, sushi, and seafood to vegetarian treats and lasagna. Proceeds benefit the school and all the adorable, wide-eyed innocents who love it, so if you stay home sober tonight, how will you live with yourself tomorrow? The festival begins at 8 p.m. at Fort Mason Center, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is a tax-deductible $30; call 346-0820.
Soil Yourself The weekend prior to Earth Day is full of hands-on opportunities, some more hands-on than others. At the Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, activity booths scattered throughout the gardens will show guests how to pot plants, make flower garlands and prints, peer at flowers through a microscope, or watch birds through binoculars, giving themselves a garden tour in the process. The Earth Day Celebration begins at 10 a.m. at Strybing Arboretum, Ninth Avenue & Lincoln Way, S.F. Admission is free; call 661-1316, ext. 314. At the Oakland Earth Day Cleanup and Celebration, meanwhile, participants will be rewarded for picking up litter and planting trees with a post-cleanup picnic and free T-shirts, not to mention cleaner, greener neighborhoods. Cleanup begins at 9 a.m. at various Oakland locations; call (510) 238-7611 for details.
Pit Stop The band has logged so many touring miles in its nearly decadelong career that the Reverend Horton Heat qualifies as one of the hardest-working groups in show biz. It makes them naturals for the Kings of the Road Rock 'n' Roll Revue and despite the generally lukewarm reception for their new album, Space Heater, the trio, who coined the phrase "psychobilly" with slap-happy stand-up bass playing and the Rev's searing Gretsch guitar style, have always sounded better live anyway, and will probably draw a decent-size crowd of die-hard fans because of it. They'll share the bill with Orange County punk band Face to Face, who've racked up plenty of mileage themselves opening for Bad Religion (whom Face to Face singer Trever Keith credits with his switch from metal to punk) and the Offspring, who ran away with the acclaim Face to Face were sort of hoping to attract when they jumped into punk's early '90s revival. Their eponymous A&M release echoes the mild melodic charge of straight-edgers 7 Seconds and has the generic appeal of radio-ready punk like Green Day, but maybe they sound fresher live, too. Big Sandy & His Fly Rite Boys open the show at 8 p.m. at the Warfield, 982 Market (at Sixth Street), S.F. Admission is $17.50; call 775-7722.
Company B Never mind that two of the three are actually dead: The Andrews Sisters live again in Artfull Circle Theater's comic cabaret musical revue The Andrews Sisters' Hollywood Canteen. This isn't the first time Artfull Circle has had some fun at the expense of expired divas: Joan Crawford is even scarier with a 5 o'clock shadow in Artfull's annual holiday show Christmas With the Crawfords, where the Andrews Sisters parody made its first appearance. The real-life sibling rivalry among Maxine, Patty, and Laverne Andrews was reportedly intense, and since drag and catfights go together like fake nails and glue, viewers might expect a little melodrama with their wartime standards. Canteen is run like a USO show, with comedy bits and audience participation between songs. As the sisters, Mark Sargent, Trauma Flintstone, and Flynn de Marco perform over 30 songs from the '40s, many of them Andrews hits like "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy." Special guests Connie Champagne, Mark Johnson, and David Bicha (of Dirty Little Showtunes!) join in the three-, four-, and five-part harmonies. After the show, DJ Chicken spins house music and the floor is cleared for dancing. Canteen opens at 9 p.m. (and runs indefinitely) at Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $5; call 861-5016.
April 21, 1998
A Second Chance for the First Lady of Jazz Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater was so worried that jazz purists would fault her interpretation of jazz great Ella Fitzgerald's songs that she considered giving up on her idea of recording a tribute album. But one of Fitzgerald's former husbands urged her to do it, and with the support of other jazz artists, Bridgewater put out Dear Ella, a collection of standards like "Midnight Sun" and lesser-known Fitzgerald numbers like "Undecided," winning this year's Grammy for best jazz vocal performance for her efforts. Bridgewater, an American who settled in Paris after she performed in Sophisticated Ladies there, has played Billie Holiday in international productions of Lady Day and performed stateside with Max Roach and Sonny Rollins over her own extensive career. She and her regular band bring "Dear Ella: A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald" our way for a weeklong series of shows coinciding with what would have been Fitzgerald's 81st birthday. The show opens tonight at 8 p.m. (and continues through April 26; on Fitzgerald's birthday, April 25, the band will give away Fitzgerald box-set recordings) at Yoshi's, Jack London Square, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland. Admission is $5-20; call (510) 238-9200.