Hats Off 

When is a trio more than a trio?

WED 2/16

The extraordinary, rapidly morphing avant-chamber ensemble Tin Hat Trio has always been more and less than the sum of its parts. Featuring three conservatory-trained musicians who have been friends since junior high, Tin Hat grew out of the Bay Area's mid-'90s creative cauldron, developing an omnivorous sound that organically reconstituted elements of everything from tango and bluegrass to jazz, new music, and Nino Rota. But the Tin Hatters have also pursued numerous projects on their own, establishing vivid musical personalities away from the trio. Guitarist Mark Orton, who now lives in Portland, has been working as a film composer, gaining recognition with his score for Miguel Arteta's The Good Girl. Oakland-based violinist and vocalist Carla Kihlstedt has spent much of the last three years on the road with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, the outrageously creative art-rock band created by former Idiot Flesh provocateurs Nils Frykdahl and Dan Rathbun. She also has turned into a canny bandleader in her own right, a facet she introduced with her compelling song-based ensemble 2-Foot Yard, which in 2003 released a breathtaking eponymous album on Tzadik. Orton and Kihlstedt join forces tonight at the Freight & Salvage with a double bill that shows off their Tin Hat side projects. Kihlstedt opens the performance with 2-Foot Yard, featuring her stunning work on violin and vocals, Marika Hughes on cello, and Shazad Ismaily on percussion. That's followed by the debut of Orton's Aurora Septet, which includes Kihlstedt, Hughes, and Dina Maccabee on viola, and Ben Goldberg, Beth Custer, and Cornelius Bumpus on clarinets. "The septet is a beautiful palette of sounds, really lush," Kihlstedt said from Manhattan, where she was preparing for the Bang on a Can All-Stars to rehearse a new piece of hers commissioned by the celebrated new-music group. "You'll recognize Mark's orchestrations from Tin Hat. 2-Foot is rockier. It's more song-based than the septet. I tend to put myself in groups surrounded by really strong writers and performers, and 2-Foot was my effort to find out what I sound like without Mark Orton, or Nils and Dan Rathbun around."

7:30 p.m., $17.50. Info: TheFreight.org -- Andrew Gilbert

SAT 2/19


Hayward Pu'iwa

The East Bay's rich Pacific Islander community (and a little bit of the Filipino one) comes together at Island Boy's ambitious Hawaiian Lavah Concert II at Chabot College's Performing Arts Center (2555 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward) this Saturday. Entertainment ranges from the impersonations and character-filled comedy of SF-born, Filipino-American emcee Joey Guila to the elegantly arranged, long-harmonizing all-gal musical trio Kaleo O Kalani, with stops off at hula, traditional Hawaiian music, and many places in between. Doors open at 4 p.m. for vendor-booth perusing, and the show starts at 6 p.m. Tickets: $25-$35, available at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, Hawaiian Sista's Cafe, and Aloha Kitchen. Info: 510-427-4386, 510-909-6319, or 510-909-0936. -- Stefanie Kalem


Tale Draggin'

Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Snoopwiggistan, an evil sorcerer, jealous over a beautiful maiden, turned a handsome young warrior prince into a chocolate truffle. The little Truffle Prince's only hope was to cross the River of Forgetfulness, then ... but you know that story. In fact, if you're at all aware of DunDraCon XXIX, the annual games convention taking place at the San Ramon Marriott Hotel this four-day weekend (February 18-21), you probably have heard of most of the role-playing games, miniatures games, live-action role-playing games (LARPs), and card games that will occupy lo, these many hours. Want to go? Of course you do. DunDraCon.com -- Kelly Vance

THU 2/17

Drunk and Naked Again

We can't stress enough how cool Speisekammer's biweekly Musik Musik series is. Where else can you enjoy bratwurst and a million beers (or so) while local music luminaries strip down -- on a school night? Of course, if you attend this week's event, the Court and Spark's MC Taylor, Willow Willow, the Wolfkings' Michael Talbott, and Al James (of Portland's Dolorean) won't necessarily be dropping trou -- but those who normally use amps will be leaving them at the practice space to serenade your meat-stuffed drunk ass with sweet soft folk, of the country variety and otherwise. Music starts at 8:30 p.m., and it's free. 2424 Lincoln Ave., Alameda, 510-522-1300. -- Stefanie Kalem


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