Since 1981, SF Live Arts at Cyprian’s (formerly Noe Valley Music Series) has earned a reputation as one of the most diverse and innovative music/performance series in the Bay Area.
The series has garnered praise for its programming of nationally and internationally known musicians (many who’ve won Grammys, Academy Awards, Mac Arthur “Genius” Grants and Guggenheim fellowships) and Bay Area performers of the highest quality. Founded by jazz flutist, Larry Kassin, SF Live Arts depends on grants and donations to bring their special blend of international and local musical talents to San Francisco.
An unforgettable double bill features the Earl Brothers exploring the dark recesses of bluegrass, and a one-time-only cinematic retrospective performance, with former Crooked Jades members back in the lineup, for the latest of their rare, always mysterious, moving and unpredictable shows.
The Crooked Jades, called “the finest string band in America” by The Boston Herald, continue their mission to re-imagine old-time music for a modern age, pushing boundaries and blurring categories with their fiery, soulful performances. Innovative and fearless, constantly evolving and passionate, they’ve brought their driving dance tunes and haunting ballads to rock clubs, festivals, traditional folk venues and concert halls all over the world. Known for their rare and obscure repertoire, beautiful original compositions, inspired arrangements and eclectic, often vintage instrumentation, The Crooked Jades began with band leader/founder Jeff Kazor’s vision to revive the dark and hypnotic sounds of pre-radio music. With this old-time foundation, the band has created the unique Crooked Jades sound by exploring the roots of Americana and interweaving the diverse musical influences of Europe and Africa. Filtering these old-world sounds with universal and ancient themes through a post-9/11 lens, they seek to make sense of the future, reaffirming the importance of connecting to our roots in a time of intense digital connection.
Joining founders Jeff Kazor and Lisa Berman and long-time member Erik Pearson (composer of the Crooked Jades tune featured by Sean Penn in his 2007 film Into The Wild) are former band members and collaborators, bassist Megan Adie, mandolinist Bill Foss, and banjo master Tom Lucas. In addition to their work on the Into the Wild soundtrack, the Jades have won awards for their PBS documentary soundtrack for Seven Sisters, a Kentucky Portrait and their score for choreographer Kate Weare’s piece “A Bright Land”.
“Chords in unexpected places, out-of- this- world harmonies, and some of the most powerfully-arranged material I’ve ever encountered.” –Bluegrass Unlimited
The Earl Brothers, led by banjo master Robert Earl Davis, have been delving into the dark side of bluegrass for more than a decade now, and their fifth and latest album, Outlaw Hillbilly, takes them further down that rough road. They’re not a good time bluegrass band – they’re more interested in exploring the really bad times – but their music, like the blues, has that paradoxical effect of taking you so deep into the mire that you come out feeling a little better than you did before. “These guys are very talented musicians, vocalists, and songwriters, but their sound is raw,” says the website Country Standard Time, which praises their “terrific new album”, Outlaw Hillbilly, as “jarring in its intensity” and “simply the next step in the steady progression of a band that continues to gain ground within the bluegrass community.”
Their raw and ravaged sound brings to mind Ralph Stanley at his bleakest – and that’s a good thing!
“The Earl Brothers have got the soul and the songs and the attitude that brought us all into bluegrass music in the first place,” says Chris Hillman of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers. “Their songs cry of the mountains, of the people, and of the traditions down through the ages. Bluegrass music is alive and well.”
“Quirky and smart, a poet with a guitar, SONiA is a master of crafting songs that make you simultaneously want to dance, sing and change the world.” –Georgia Voice, USA
SONiA (Rutstein) disappear fear delivers powerful songs of passion and hope, that challenge injustice as she performs to a devoted and always expanding fan base in over 20 countries. SONiA has been described as the “female Dylan”, using one voice and one guitar, bending sound and light into her own songs and helping fans leap to their feet for nearly 30 years.
SONiA was awarded of the Coin of Honor from a joint coalition of United States military for her humanitarian efforts. Some of the other honors she has received include the GLAMA Award (Gay and Lesbian Music Awards) for Female Artist of the year and the GLAAD Award (Gay and Lesbian American Anti-Defamation) for Best Album.
As SONiA has toured from the Opera House in Sydney, to bomb shelters in the Middle East, to the Woody Guthrie Festival, to Phil Ochs nights and to intimate living room corners, she has had the thrill of sharing the stage with many of her heroes including Bruce Springsteen, Peter, Paul and Mary, Chris Thile, Sarah McLachlan, Emmy Lou Harris, Ferron, Sheryl Crow, Pete Seeger and many more.
“In SONiA, I found a contemporary artist with Lennon’s way with a phrase. From that night until this, she’s been my favorite singer/songwriter.” – Cliff Weimer, In the Balcony
Arwen Lawrence and Jorge Liceaga, a mariachi torch singer and Mexican flamenco guitarist founded Cascada de Flores in 1999. Adding other virtuoso musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area, they began journeying into hidden corners of Mexico. They have since spent 17 years swimming in a magical place somewhere between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, where music from México, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Colombia meet. They have recorded 5 albums, created theatrical concerts such as Radio Flor and The Tree & the Donkey, collaborated in projects with local masters of Latin cultures, and have scored music for film, shadow-theater and modern dance. Cascada de Flores draws their audience into the music, and every song, and each instrument has a story.
Tarimba is a collective comprised of local Bay Area musicians who have embraced the traditional genre of Son Jarocho music, a regional folk musical style from Veracruz, that combines African and Mexican elements. The core members of TARIMBA, Lolis García and Kyla Danysh, are master multi-instrumentalists and vocalists who actively perform and teach in the Bay Area music community.
Dolores “Lolis” García is the Co-Director of the East Bay Center’s resident arts company, Son de la Tierra and has mastered a number of string and percussion instruments in a variety of Son traditions including Huasteco, Jarocho, Tixtleco, and Mariachero. She has taught workshops and performed at festivals in Mexico and the U.S. and teaches extensively at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.
Kyla Danysh grew up studying classical and Klezmer music, and discovered her passion for improvisation through the exploration of Son Jarocho, Son Huasteco, boleros, “gypsy jazz”, and Balkan music. She has since traveled to Veracruz a number of times to study, record and perform.
‘Tarimba’ is believed to be the African root word of ‘tarima’, the wooden dance platform that serves as the heart of the Son Jarocho tradition of El Sotavento.
NOTES AGAINST TRUMP’S TRAVEL BAN: A musical response from the 7 Countries
A concert by Aswat Ensemble and Guest Performers showcasing the music of the Seven Countries listed on January 27th’s Executive Order
“These artists put on a stirring performance.” -BBC
“Presenting music from Libya, Yemen, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Iraq, the concert serves dual roles as ambassadorial outreach and as a healing salve.” -Gabe Meline, KQED
Internationally renowned performers from each of the seven countries listed in the January 27 travel ban will perform music from their homeland, assisted by the Aswat Ensemble. Reverend Michael Yoshi will reflect briefly on the executive order that interned the Japanese (including his parents) during WWII and the current ban against Muslims.
This special evening will start with Basma Edrees, a Juliard graduate who will play violin and sing a Muslim prayer of Supplication and will feature: Michael (Mohammed) Nejad, an Iranian musician who plays 45 instruments, Jalal Takesh , performing on Qanun (Arabic autoharp), Persian singer & Setar player Abolhassan Mokhtabad, and many others. Iman Hassen , a Somali American will be reading Somali poetry about the immigrant experience.
Two pieces of music from each of the seven countries that are part of the Jan 27 travel ban will be performed. The songs may be religious, secular or folk, but in every case will showcase the most-loved, most-typical music from each country the music that makes people think of home. Translations of each song will be projected on a screen for the audience.
Music is a microcosm of a culture: it is the element that accompanies most rituals and rites. Its rhythmic structures are the pulse, its tonal/melodic structures are the soul, and its poetry is the language of the heart and mind. We are convinced that once one has experienced the artistic richness of another culture, they are much less likely to dehumanize them by seeing them through media-propagated stereotypes. -Nabila Mango, Aswat Ensemble Director
The Aswat (meaning voices in Arabic) Ensemble uses bowed and stringed instruments along with percussion; such as the violin, oud, qanun, tar and other drums. The performers include Iranian, Arab and American musicians.
Tickets available soon!
Hosted by the ever-congenial Merle Kessler & intrepid musical director Joshua Brody, we present An Evening of Song. 25 singers each choose a song to perform on the (probable) given theme “summer means fun,“ accompanied by the Experimental Love Orchestra.