Modern dance and old-time music may seem like strange bedfellows, but the Kate Weare Company and local bluegrass collective the Crooked Jades are in the process of bringing the two seemingly disparate elements together in a production called Bright Land. Then again, Jeff Kazor has been bucking trends since forming the Jades in the mid-'90s and cofounding the SF Bluegrass & Old-Time Festival in 1999.
"When I was in college, immersed in the alternative-music scene, I realized that old-time music was more alternative than anything I was listening to on college radio," he says. "I decided I wanted to start a band and turn other people on to it."
The Jades and the New York-based Weare first made a connection when the choreographer caught one of the band's shows at Café Du Nord while she was on tour. "I have to admit, at first it is a strange pairing," Kazor says. "But Kate and I share a fascination with the ritual around old-time string-band music, how it emerged and how it was a staple during the 1920s for rural mountain communities for social gatherings [and] worship; songs that reflect the hard times and make them go by easier with a song."
The work-in-progress, whose full-length version will premiere in New York in August before making it to San Francisco next year, will be previewed in modified form on Saturday at Noe Valley Ministry. Several of the dances will be interspersed with two sets of music by the Jades. "We're combining the two events, rather than diluting the energy by putting on a separate show," Kazor says. "This helps us to create synergy combining our audiences. Modern-dance audiences usually don't know anything about old-time music, and vice versa."
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