Flow Charts 

Tomorrow's avant-garde today

3/31-4/3

Another school year is drawing to a close, which usually means lots of tests, final papers, and stress. In this case, however, it offers an excellent opportunity to see and hear what the graduate students in the music department at Mills College have been busy creating. The 2005 Signal Flow Music and Sound Art Festival showcases cutting-edge works that run the gamut from sound sculptures to multimedia spectacles. Mills has long been regarded as one of the vanguard learning grounds for electronic, experimental, and improvised sounds, and the current faculty boasts such familiar names as Fred Frith, Pauline Oliveros, John Bischoff, and William Winant. With previous graduates including the likes of Steve Reich, Zeena Parkins, and even Dave Brubeck, this is your chance to see the next generation of avant-garde superstars before they move on. Several of the works utilize mixed media, allowing for a wide variety of expression. Each performance promises to be both innovative and entertaining, but highlights are sure to include the following:

Thursday (opening night) features a collaborative effort from Sean Clute and Pauline Jennings, "Disembodied Head, No. 4." The piece combines elements of music, video, animation, and dance to create a surreal universe of interactivity. Another unusual work, part of Friday evening's program, is "Visions of Excess" by Molly Thompson. It is, in the words of the artist, "a video/opera piece which explores the close divide between pleasure and pain inherent in the tattooing process." Be sure to arrive a little early for the 8 p.m. show on Saturday night, "Bicycle Ride" by Theresa Wong. Apparently located in the foyer on the way into the concert hall, this performance piece explores the sounds of both an amplified bicycle and a bicycle-driven record player.

All shows are free and open to the public. Signal Flow begins Thursday, March 31 and concludes on Sunday, April 3 -- with a special sound installation opening on Wednesday, March 30. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with a 4 p.m. matinee Saturday, and two Sunday matinees, 1 and 3 p.m., at the Mills concert hall, with some works presented at other nearby locations on campus. Info: 510-430-2296. -- Michael Henning

4/2-5/28

Marv-elous

Make you wanna holler

If there ever was an unlikely Trouble Man, it was Motown R&B singer Marvin Gaye, whose mellow soul grooves ("What's Going On," "Mercy Mercy Me," "I Heard It Through the Grapevine") were alarmingly offset by his bumpy personal life: violent marital relationships, income tax hassles, a cocaine habit, and the crowning insult, to be shot to death by his own father in 1984. But Gaye's music lives on and continues to inspire creative types -- like Soul Salon 10, a group of visual artists from the Bay Area and Southern California. This Saturday (1-4 p.m.) at the African American Library and Museum at Oakland (AAMLO), Soul Salon 10 opens an exhibition of paintings, installations, photos, and sculptures devoted to Gaye, now through May 28. OaklandLibrary.org -- Kelly Vance

THU 3/31

Steve the Plough

Steve Poltz has come a ways since the prank-folk of the Rugburns. Maybe it's age. Maybe it's Jewel, whom he pulled up onstage with him at a San Diego coffeehouse, then dragged down to Mexico to co-write "You Were Meant for Me." Whatever it is, the man's mellowed out. Not much, though -- his songs are still wicked witty, but the pace is slower and the love songs are more obviously so, even if they do say things like "You chewed me up and spit me out like sweet and sour pork." Poltz plays the Starry Plough tonight. 9:30 p.m., $12 cover. 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. StarryPloughPub.com, 510-841-2082. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 4/3

BBQ à la Butch

It doesn't matter if you just bought your first pack of wife-beater tees, or your third mustache-trimming kit needs replacing, the Yo-Yo Brotherhood wants you. If you identify anywhere on the butch meter, they say, you're welcome to check out the social group this Sunday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at Fremont's Centerville Community Center and Park. There will be hoops, there will be vittles, there will be flag football, tennis, and softball, and there will be good times, and all they want from you is a $5 donation and your sweet smile. Interested? Drop a line to yoyobrotherhood@hotmail.com, or just drop by. --Stefanie Kalem

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