Local News Matters Arts & Entertainment newsletter

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The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The latest COVID surge has prompted the cancellation of some Bay Area shows. Make sure to check a show’s or venue’s website for COVID updates before attending any live performance.

Khatia Buniatishvili played the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland in 2011. (Photo courtesy Gavin Evans/Ony Classical)

Rach your world: Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor is one of most ravishingly romantic works in the repertoire, and many a talented keyboard artist has scaled its heights since it was composed in 1909. You can hear it from home at your leisure, no ticket buying (or face-masking) required, since YouTube has mounted a full version of the piece as performed by Georgia-born pianist Khatia Buniatishvili with the Verbier Festival Orchestra, under the baton of conductor Neeme Järvi in Switzerland a little more than a decade ago. Another advantage of this approach to concert-going, besides not having to dress up or lighten your wallet, is that the camera angles provide you with the opportunity to watch her fingers flying as she plays and the rapturous expressions on her face as she listens. Check it out: https://youtu.be/TLpufG9s0QY.

Actor and singer Darren Criss performs with SF Symphony early on New Year’s Eve. (Photo courtesy Scott Schafer)

Darren in Davies Hall: You may have caught him on the tube in “Glee” and been impressed or on “American Crime Story” as Gianni Versace’s cold-blooded assassin and been chilled to the bone. Now you can spend at least a part of your New Year’s Eve with Darren Criss as the actor, singer and songwriter returns to his native San Francisco to give a 7:30 p.m. performance Friday night in Davies Hall with the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Bruce Anthony Kiesling. We don’t have specific program information, but we’re willing to bet he’ll be dipping into material from “A Very Darren Christmas,” an album he released this year. Find tickets, $25-$185, at sfsymphony.org or (415) 864-6000. 

Grammy-nominated band Monsieur Periné heads to the SFJazz Center this week for a New Year’s Eve run. (Photo courtesy Monsieur Periné)

A little bit of everything: Before jumping into the music business, Colombian singer Catalina Garcia was an anthropology student in Bogota. Which seems kind of fitting, since Monsieur Periné, the Grammy-nominated band she now fronts, delights in exploring a wide variety of cultures. The 13-year-old band’s musical foundation includes bits of bolero, tango, jazz, lush pop ballads, French cabaret, gypsy jazz, Afro-Latin and other influences. In concert, Garcia is known to sing in Spanish, French, English and Portuguese. But Monsieur Periné (the moniker reportedly evolved from a joking reference to the male anatomy) is way more about making fun, danceable music than following some scholarly pursuit. Fueled by Garcia and her sparkling, versatile vocals, guitarist Nicolás Junca and multi-instrumentalists Santiago Prieto and Jairo Alfonso, the band has become a global sensation, especially after the 2015 release of “Caja de Música.” And now they’re headed to San Francisco to help us celebrate the dawn of 2022. Monsieur Periné plays a four-day New Year’s run at the SFJazz Center. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday. All shows will feature an open dance floor (hint, hint!) and the New Year’s Eve show includes a complimentary glass of sparkling wine, a balloon drop, party favors and a large disco ball. Proof of vaccination is required, and masks must be worn inside the theater. Tickets are $25-$65 ($35-$80 New Year’s Eve). Go to sfjazz.org.

Bay Area comedian Greg Proops returns to the Punch Line in San Francisco for a New Year’s Eve run. (Photo courtesy Greg Proops)

Props to Proops: Among Bay Area comedian Greg Proops’ gigs is hosting a pop culture/humor podcast titled “The Smartest Man in the World.” The title, of course, is a joke, but anyone who has ever watched Proops onstage knows there is a certain amount of truth to it. We don’t pretend to know how he prepares for a stand-up show, but we’re pretty certain he could easily fill a 90-minute set with completely instantaneous observations about the world that would leave you amazed and in stitches. His quick-mindedness has served him well as an A-list improv artist who’s known for his involvement in the Drew Carey-hosted TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” But stand-up comedy is probably Proops’ best suit, and for the past few years, he has been headlining a New Year’s Eve run at the Punch Line Comedy Club in San Francisco. After missing 2020, Proops returns to the Punch Line this week. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday. Proof of vaccination is required, and masks must be worn inside the club. Tickets are $25-$35, $42-$57 on New Year’s Eve. Go to punchlinecomedyclub.com.

Rebecca Roudman (front) and Dirty Cello bring their bluesy bluesgrass sound to Livermore’s Bankhead Theater for New Year’s Eve. (Photo courtesy Dirty Cello)

Foul-mouthed stringed instruments: We don’t know why singer/musician Rebecca Roudman calls her blues-meets-bluegrass band Dirty Cello. Maybe it’s because the sounds she coaxes from her cello are so unorthodox that purists would find it obscene. Or maybe she has even gotten to where she can get the instrument to utter expletives, which would probably come in handy in a crowded BART car. In any event, Roudman is a one-of-a-kind musician and her talented band offers a unique style of blues and Americana music. And they are a ton of fun to watch onstage. You can find out for yourself when the Bay Area band heads to Livermore on Friday for a New Year’s Eve show at the Bankhead Theater. The show kicks off at 8 p.m. and will be followed by a reception with champagne, desserts and snacks. Proof of vaccination is required, and masks must be worn in the theater. Tickets are $20-$58; go to livermorearts.org.

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