Seattle Jewish Film Festival
The organizers of this beloved annual film festival promise “36 films, 180 emotions. Thousands of friends.” But who’s counting? This year’s SJFF lineup includes 93Queen, a documentary about the mother of six who founded an all-female Emergency Medical Service in an ultraorthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn; The Interpreter, a twist on the “strange bedfellows” genre, featuring a Slovak translator bent on avenging his parents’ death paired with the son of the SS officer who killed them; and Leonard Bernstein: Larger than Life, on the occasion of the complicated composer’s centennial. –B.D.
If you go: Seattle Jewish Film Festival, March 23-31 and April 6-7. Times, prices and venues vary.
Tonight we join the African desert-blues revolution already in progress. Among the most celebrated musicians in this thriving, multifarious scene coming out of central Africa is Omara “Bombino” Moctar, the 39-year-old Nigerian-born Tuareg tribesman who sings in Tamasheq and plays guitar in a sinuous style that’s alternately meditative and incendiary. Moctar earned his nickname after teaching himself guitar as a youth while in exile from his war-torn home. Since then he’s become an icon of righteous, rebellious rock ’n’ roll, releasing mesmerizing albums produced by indie tastemakers like Dan Auerbach and David Longstreth. His latest, 2018’s Deran, an expression of hope and frustration wrapped in luscious, expansive grooves, was the first Nigerian-made album to earn a Grammy nomination (for Best World Music Album). His live shows, supported by a relentlessly rhythmic band and harmonizing backing vocalists, are a link to the other side of the world. –J.Z.
If you go: The Crocodile, March 28 at 8 p.m. (All ages; $25)
Stephanie Land: Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive
If you’re lucky enough to find it hard to imagine that one missed paycheck could plunge you into poverty, it’s time to read Maid. Stephanie Land’s best-selling memoir traces her swift transformation from a young hopeful writer living in the Pacific Northwest to a single mother cleaning toilets and scrambling to avoid homelessness. The story here is a personal take, but it speaks to the countless Americans lacking the privilege of a safety net, friends and family with an extra room, or the ability save up the first and last month’s deposit for an apartment. With a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickeled and Dimed, the book joins the growing canon of contemporary stories about the working poor. For this Hugo House appearance, she’ll be in conversation with Seattle novelist Jennie Shortridge. –B.D.
If you go: Hugo House, March 28 at 7 p.m. (Free)
Dancers behave as magnets in Dearest Home, the latest piece by New York City-based Kyle Abraham and his company, A.I.M. As often as they pull each other into a tight embrace, they repel each other, like two north-facing poles pushing apart. A.I.M’s signature style is in full evidence here: athletic grace blended seamlessly with gestural movements (a head tap, a handhold) and founded in tangible emotion. For this Seattle appearance, the diverse mixed bill also includes the contemplative ensemble piece Meditation: A Silent Prayer; the ceaselessly energetic duet, Drive; and INDY, a solo performed by the esteemed choreographer himself. –B.D.
If you go: The Moore Theatre, March 29-30 at 8 p.m. ($32.50-$52.50)
SAM Remix: Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer
Powwow regalia, pop music song lyrics, arrowheads, animal hides, Everlast punching bags sourced on eBay, an earring saved from high school — artist Jeffrey Gibson incorporates all manner of materials into his vibrant work, and the results are unparalleled. A citizen of the Choctaw Indian tribe with Cherokee heritage, Gibson grew up all over the U.S. and Europe, and his work exhibits influences from formal art school to queer club culture. In his new show at SAM, Like a Hammer, he shows textured sculptures, wall hangings, paintings and videos that reflect his interests, from the personal to the openly political. In all cases his work beckons the viewer’s gaze — whether to the intricate beadwork adorning a punching bag or the hole-riddled ceramic skulls on figures he saw in a dream. For maximum immersion, consider checking out the show during SAM’s Remix event, featuring music by DJ Riz, personal exhibit tours by Seattle artists such as Anthony White, dance performances and art-making opportunities. –B.D.
If you go: Seattle Art Museum, Remix: March 29, 8 p.m. - midnight. (21 and older; $15-$30) Exhibit runs through May 12. ($14.95-$24.95)
Revel in Dimes
From desert blues to delta blues: After your night in Belltown with Bombino (see above), make your way to Beacon Hill for Revel in Dimes. The quartet from Brooklyn traffics in ragged, righteous rock ’n’ roll steeped in American blues from Mississippi to Chicago, electrified with a punkish sense of urgency and concision. Lead vocalist Kia Warren came from a gospel background to inject a profoundly soulful spirit, while the rest of the band grew up on stage, gigging in and around New York state. Revel in Dimes is joined by Seattle’s own Bearaxe, another band that, like Adia Victoria and the Black Tones, resets the modern blues idiom by finding new ways to express eternal emotions — and putting fierce feminine energy at the fore. –J.Z.
If you go: Clock-Out Lounge, March 29 at 9 p.m. (21 and older; $10-$13)
Terror/Cactus, Orquestra Pacifico Tropical
This double bill features two of the most exciting bands from the Northwest’s burgeoning alt-Latinx scene, a loose-knit confederacy of young, wildly creative artists bound by a shared sense of identity more than any single sound or genre. Hidden behind stylized animal masks and speckled with psychedelic projections, Seattle’s Terror/Cactus builds man-machine jams from a foundation of cumbia, the shuffling pop-music heartbeat of the Southern Hemisphere. At their best, the shows are transportive yet earthy, weird yet uplifting. Portland-based Orquestra Pacifico Tropical eschews electronics in favor of an 11-piece band heavy on horns and percussion. Their thunderous, brassy roar complements Terror/Cactus’ digital minimalism, spanning the Latin diaspora and inciting a dance party in the process. –J.Z.
If you go: Lo-Fi, March 30 at 9 p.m. (21 and older; $8)
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Believe: The Music of Cher
Divas don’t come bigger or brighter than Cher, and no one embodies her better than Chad Michaels, RuPaul’s Drag Race royalty and the glamorous guest star of the new show by Seattle Men’s Chorus. Michaels, who has the goddess of pop’s mannerisms down to every vocal inflection, eyeroll and lip lick, is the perfect accompaniment to SMC — the long-standing group excels at programs that turn back time, Vegas-style. As you’re alternately humming along and cracking up, listen for original arrangements with complex themes that most large ensembles have trouble pulling off with any precision. SMC is engaged in the community, and it shows in its programs: Sunday’s audience will get to hear an original song developed through a songwriting workshop in collaboration with Washington Middle School and Seattle Women’s Chorus. –Stephen Hegg
If you go: Seattle Men’s Chorus at McCaw Hall, March 30 at 8 p.m., March 31 at 2 p.m. ($25-$81)
Translations: An Exploration of Glass by Northwest Native Carvers and Weavers
Whenever visual artists play with a new medium (a painter throws pottery, a metalsmith picks up a camera), it sparks inventive results. That’s exactly what happened when several Pacific Northwest Native artisans were brought together to create work in the Museum of Glass hot shop. For Translations: An Exploration of Glass by Northwest Native Carvers and Weavers, the artists started with historical baskets, bentwood boxes and sculptural figures from the archives of the Washington State Historical Society as inspiration. With help from the hot shop experts, they created glass objects that both hark back to the originals and reveal a contemporary spin. Among the intriguing entries are a wide-brimmed “hat” made of blown and sand-carved glass and a tableau that sets traditional animal imagery adrift on an icy sheet of glass. –B.D.
If you go: Museum of Glass in Tacoma, opening March 30. ($14-$17)
Trimpin, Stiefel & More
Rejoice! The machinations of mononymous musical mad scientist Trimpin are coming to the Seattle Symphony’s high-tech new space, Octave 9. The Seattle-based “sound sculptor” is best known for dissecting and reassembling pianos, creating the “Guitar Tornado” at MoPOP and Frankensteining all manner of instruments into intriguing and artful combinations. We can picture Trimpin up on a ladder, tinkering with the venue’s futuristic honeycomb ceiling — which houses 62 speakers, 10 subwoofers and 28 microphones — just to see what new sounds he might invent. Instead, the symphony will present Trimpin’s Solo Flute, Eight Pottery Wheels and Assorted Vinyls. (And you can bet that is a literal title.) Also on the bill is Andrew Stiefel’s Five Ways to Listen to a Mockingbird and a percussion chamber piece by Arx Duo. –B.D.
If you go: Octave 9 at Benaroya Hall, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. ($20)