Folk what you heard: Dar could hang 12 rounds with Ani DiFranco.
NOSE TO NOSE with Ani DiFranco, Dar Williams is a female folk artist lending a steady voice of reason for a generation of emotionally defunct, politically phobic, young adults of the Bush Regime. We need people like Dar like our moms needed Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and Janis Ian. Williams' lyrics range from personal to political, graceful in their simplicity. On her new album, My Better Self, the song "Empire" is by far the most lyrically complex and musically interesting, addressing U.S. imperialism, sexism and the immigrant laborers' short end of the stick. She packs it all in, and uses the sun as metaphor for the undisputed power status this country held for so long. And regardless of certain weaknesses in the album, including the spiritually optimistic but lyrically unimpressive "Echoes," one suspects she'll make up for these in performance by revisiting some ingenious old favorites like "Spring Street" and "When I Was a Boy." (Laura Mattingly)
Dar Williams performs on Saturday (Jan. 27) at 7 and 9pm at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Center St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $26. (831.427.2227)
Outta Hand: Award-winning pianist Jon Nakamatsu flaunts one of the tools of his trade.
Santa Cruz County Symphony
TO KICK OFF the new year, the Santa Cruz County Symphony reaches out across Highway 17 for guest artist Jon Nakamatsu. The San Jose-born Japanese-American pianist caught everyone's attention 10 years ago when he snagged a gold medal in the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition with his performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto no. 3. For the Santa Cruz Symphony, Nakamatsu will perform Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 1. The other pieces scheduled are Rossini's La Gazza Ladra and Mendelssohn's Incidental Music From A Midsummer Night's Dream. Incidentally, some of that score features the very familiar Wedding March. (Michael S. Gant)
Santa Cruz County Symphony performs on Saturday (Jan. 27) at 8pm at Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $15-$55. (831.420.5260)
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