No Elephants 

Just elevated folk music


Already known for taking spiritually elevated folk music to a higher level with her electric cello solos behind such singers as Ferron and Jennifer Berezan, Jami Sieber made a new discovery when she met the Thai Elephant Orchestra. Her music had taken her to Bosnia, China, and Russia, but her trip to Thailand in 2001 to work on a film score changed her life and her thinking about music. Invited to the Elephant Conservation Center outside Lampang, Sieber met elephants that had been taught to play percussion, gongs, and xylophones, to raise funds for their preserve (the Thai Elephant Orchestra has issued two benefit CDs). She "jammed" with the elephants, and from that and subsequent visits, recorded some of their improvisations, including them on her third CD, Hidden Sky.

Sieber won't be bringing the elephants to her CD release concerts Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Berkeley's Belladonna (2436 Sacramento St., 510-663-8699), but for such a small space she has a large group: keyboardist Julie Wolf, guitarist Shelley Jennings, percussionist Michaelle Goerlitz, the Ya Elah Balkan Singers, poet Kim Rosen, Jami's violist sister Andrea Sieber (here from Minneapolis), and, on Friday only, singer Rhiannon. A multimedia presentation includes photos of Sieber with the endangered elephants.

As colorful as Sieber's expanded group is, the focus is on her and what she does with a cello -- running through her own set of electronic devices to create what sounds like a small orchestra. In addition to lending her music to theater and dance productions, and a number of films including 1999's Climb Against the Odds, Sieber has guested on dozens of CDs, including those by such jazz singers Kitty Margolis and Rhiannon, bluegrass star Laurie Lewis, and folk icon Rosalie Sorrels, plus tribute albums to Kate Wolf and Greg Brown. Her sense of meditative beauty in music is unique. It all comes from Seattle, where she grew up, studied classical music and nursing, then created a musical style that is as healing as it is inviting. -- Larry Kelp


Now See Here

Care to Dance?

They're back. Here & Now , the annual Black Choreographers' Festival, returns to the East Bay beginning Friday evening (8 p.m.) for three days of wide-ranging dance interpretations at Oakland's Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts (1428 Alice St.). The fest, presented by the African & African-American Performing Arts Coalition, the Black Performing Arts Network, and ODC Theater, brings together on one stage such diverse talents as narrative dancer Joanna Haigood, Alonzo King's LINES Ballet, the multicultural Kendra Kimbrough Dance Ensemble, and Robert Moses' Kin, with its athleticism. Tickets are $20, $15 students/ seniors/advance, $10 family matinee, from 415-863-9834. For more info: 510-801-4523. -- Kelly Vance

WED 2/2

Dancing for Funds & Profit

The Dallas Black Dance Theatre returns, bringing its well-trained mix of modern, jazz, African, and spiritual moves to the Knox Center for the Performing Arts almost a year to the day it was last there. And though you shouldn't need too much coaxing to attend, the DBDT needs you to do so more than ever, as, back at home, the company is in the midst of a $10 million campaign to complete the acquisition and renovation of an historic building for its permanent home. Your $7-$15 ticket could just do it. 7:30 p.m., Contra Costa College campus, San Pablo. for info, 510-235-7800 ex. 4564 for tickets. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 2/5

Big Hell Yeah

Once again, the SF-based, nationally known Big Moves dance company is giving a big "fuck you" to traditional ideas of danceability, and an even bigger "hell yeah" to the things that make life sweet. The group's fourth annual A Taste for Dance features an unlimited chocolate buffet provided by Bay Area chocolatiers, a plus-size lingerie fashion show, and snack-sized performances by Big Moves' Phat Fly Girls and Mass Movement troupes, Reva Lucian of the Original Fat-Bottom Revue, and more. The sweet moves happen at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th St., 7-9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets cost $20 at the door or $17 in advance at -- Stefanie Kalem



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