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Music on the Edgetone

7/30, 7/31

Are you ready for two nights of experimental music that rips apart the usual elements of a specific musical genre and reconstitutes them in fresh and unusual ways? That's what's happening Friday and Saturday at Oakland's 21 Grand, as Edgetone Music label founder, saxophonist, and sound artist Rent Romus presents the 2004 third annual Edgetone New Music Summit. Participating artists, all of whom live along the California coastline, will present a wide range of genre-busting musical exploration. "There's always room to explore within a specific genre," Romus explains. "We've got artists from rock, jazz, and electronic music backgrounds, some of whom play traditional instruments but in different ways. These artists are always in the process of exploring the sonic possibilities of their instruments." Friday begins with miba, aka Kristin Miltner and Mark Bartscher, who employ various self-created software patches that scan audio files to create rhythmic granular textures ranging from harmonic washes to dense noise. If you know exactly what that will sound like, you know more than the improvisatory artists themselves. Matt Davignon then enlists four-track and other effects to create slow-motion music. Finally, as if there were an ultimate phrase to define an area of definition-shattering expression, the Jonathan Segal and Dina Emerson Duo will perform works that employ violin and electronics and voice soundscapes. (Vocalist Emerson has toured the world with Meredith Monk and others, and has also worked with Tan Dunn and Cirque du Soleil.)

Saturday's show begins with Say Bok Gwai songwriter and guitarist Alex Yeung and Bay Area experimental music mainstay Andre Custodio offering punk-style improvisations set to Cantonese lyrics. C.J. Reaven Borosque and Ellen Weller then explore the far-ranging musical possibilities of noise, employing turntable, sax, flute, and clarinet. Last but not least, Damon Holdzborn offers "extreme laptop," subjecting sources such as guitar and field recordings to computer manipulation. If California is the final frontier, this summit points to what lies beyond its borders. 9 p.m. $6-10 sliding scale. 449B 23rd St. Info: 21Grand.org or 510-44GRAND. -- Jason Victor Serinus


Beatts Me

Make me laugh

Anne Beatts knows funny. The Emmy-award-winning writer is a veteran of NBC's Saturday Night Live, where she and her writing partner Rosie Shuster created bits and characters for the likes of Laraine Newman. Later, Beatts created and produced the TV series Square Pegs, the second show to star Sarah Jessica Parker. Now, Beatts is offering to teach her comic writing skills in ... (wait for it) ... Lafayette. Her seminar is called Saturday Night Live in Five Easy Lessons. Lorne Michaels may want to talk to her about that name, but in the meantime, from August 1 through 8 at Lafayette's Town Hall Theatre, Beatts runs showbiz hopefuls through what has been called "SNL boot camp" -- a week of three-hour nightly sessions on sketch comedy and performing. Cost is $500. Details: THTC.org or 925-283-1557. -- Kelly Vance

SUN 8/1

Conspiracy of Voices

San Rafael's Skywalker Ranch is getting quite the rep for adventurous, large-ensemble recording. First came the Bay Area's Punk Rock Orchestra. Now, Austin, TX chamber choir Conspirare will start work in August on its debut at George Lucas' plush studio compound. To warm themselves up to our part of the universe, the singers, under the leadership of Craig Hella (oh, he's going to love it here) Johnson, will play a series of concerts winding up Sunday at 4 p.m. at St. Mark's Episcopal, 2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. The program is an international one, with pieces by Alberto Ginastera, Gordon Binkerd, a new work by Frank Ticheli, and others. $15, Info: 512 -476-5775, or Conspirare.org -- Stefanie Kalem


Sureally Straight

It was a real thing -- a Web page with a counter for each day Matthew Shepard had been burning in hell -- that galvanized playwright Kathryn McCarty to write Straight-Laced: A Cantata . But don't expect a ripped-from-the-pages realism this weekend at the Knox Center for the Performing Arts (Contra Costa College in San Pablo). Codirector Clay David describes his and Andrea Weber's style as employing the characteristics of Antinaturalism, Theatre of the Absurd, and Grotesque in staging the tale of a psychiatrist treating a young man to "cure" him of homosexuality. Straight-Laced will be workshopped Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. before its official run at Dean Lesher, August 8-12. $10. Info: 510-235-7800 ex. 4274. -- Stefanie Kalem


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