So much to talk about this week, but the biggest news of course is both Hardly Strictly Bluegrass’ return – for the first time since the death of founder Warren Hellman – and new venue Preservation Hall West at the Chapel.
Below, you’ll get the basic need-to-know info on the shows you must see; but check Tofu and Whiskey, my music column in this week’s paper, for the details behind it all. A sort of Behind the Music on the newly constructed Mission venue and the cherished Golden Gate Park fest, if you will.
Here are your must-see Bay Area concerts this week/end:
Patrick Wolf (acoustic)
The glitzy British multi-instrumentalist returns, this time repping hefty sixth record, Sundark and Riverlight. The double album is a career retrospective – marking 10 years since debut studio album, Lycanthropy – that will include rejiggered acoustic versions of his favorite songs. It sees release Oct. 15 on Bloody Chamber Music/Essential Music.
Tue/2, 8pm, $21
Great American Music Hall
859 O’Farrell, SF
While bone-rattling noise has its very important place in my heart, there’s something to be said for warm cooing and surreal lyrics. For that, you can crawl up the grand staircase of the Swedish American and quietly opera clap for English folk plucker Laura Marling. Her honest lilt and fluttering riffs have gained her comparisons to Joni Mitchell, but she has a distinctly British affect to these American ears. She played Grace Cathedral earlier this year and returns on her “Working Holiday Tour” to play from her most recent album A Creature I Don’t Know (Ribbon Music, 2011) at this more intimate venue.
Wed/3, 8pm, $25
Swedish American Hall
2174 Market, SF
Niki and the Dove
“Sweden is exporting a lot more than bedframes and meatballs. Stockholm’s Niki and the Dove is an electro duo giving a dark depth to pop music. Vocalist Malin Dahlström and keyboardist Magnus Böqvist met when writing music for the theater, giving their recorded music and their live shows a dynamic, dramatic quality that pop so often lacks. Dahlström’s sugary voice soars above the churn and chime of Böqvist’s catchy and sometimes unsettling beats.” — Haley Zaremba
With WOLF GANG, Popscene DJs
Thu/4, 9:30pm, $15
155 Fell, SF
Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Robert Earl Keen
The new, all-ages Mission venue kicks its doors wide open for the first time this Thursday with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band – of the much-loved New Orleans venue that inspired the West Coast version. The swinging Pres Hall Jazz Band will play with various Hardly Strictly Bluegrass acts throughout the weekend, but the first show goes to country-folk singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen.
Preservation Hall West at the Chapel
777 Valencia, SF
Ticketfly: Preservation Hall West
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
It’s free; it’s the best swarming, long-running outdoor bluegrass-folk-rock’n’roll fest in San Francisco. Do you need more? Well there’s Elvis Costello, Chuck Ragan, Jenny Lewis, Lumineers, Robert Earl Keen, the Chieftains, Steve Earle, Red Baraat, the Head and the Heart, Cowboy Junkies, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Emmylou Harris, Ralph Stanley, Dwight Yoakam, Patti Smith, and more. You get it.
Fri/5, 10am-7pm; Sat/6-Sun/7, 11am-7pm
Golden Gate Park, SF
For those who just can’t get enough Conor Oberst: Oberst will also be playing Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and will likely bring some of his friends from the fest to this show. (Thinking Jenny Lewis, perhaps? That’s my best guess.) Here’s hoping he plays a broad spectrum of trembling, angsty folk, from Bright Eyes to the Mystic Valley Band.
1805 Geary, SF