Best Bets: Creem rises to top in new doc, Stern Grove Festival, and Dorothea Lange works at OMCA

The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.

Creem founder and editor Barry Kramer appears in a scene from the new documentary “Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine.” (Image courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment)

‘Creem of the crop’: Jaan Uhelszki, who was based for many years in Berkeley, is one of the country’s best rock critics and was one of the first women to break into the male-centric field. She got her start in Detroit at the scrappy, irreverent and ultimately extremely influential Creem magazine, which covered the popular music business in the 1970s and beyond with such passion, attitude and creativity that alternative music and entertainment criticism would never be the same. Now Uhelszki has co-written a new documentary about the publication and the free-thinking people who worked for it titled “Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine.” The film is accessible as part of the Virtual Cinema series hosted by indie cinemas across the country. Head to the websites of the Roxie Theater, www.roxie.com, or the Smith Rafael Film Center,rafaelfilm.cafilm.org, and you can stream the film for $7-$11, with proceeds benefiting the theater and the filmmakers. A lot of indie film theaters, as well as such places as the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, offer a wealth of films from around the world these days as a way to generate revenue during these shelter-at-home times.


A whole lotta banging going on: Bang on a Can, the New York-based classical musical organization that champions new music, is throwing a live digital marathon starting at noon on Aug. 16 that will open with world-renowned pipa instrumentalist Wu Man and close out almost six hours later with piano superstar Jeremy Denk playing the devilishly difficult “The Devil’s Staircase” etude by György Ligeti (the composer Stanley Kubrick ripped off for the very eeriest music in “2001: A Space Odyssey”). Twenty other artists will perform in between, 11 of them featuring world premieres of newly commissioned, “boundary-smashing” works, including one from conductor, composer, pianist and clarinetist Teddy Abrams, who will play his own piece. (And you have to tune in to find out which instrument or instruments he will be using.) The concert is free, but you can purchase a $10 ticket online to support the organization if you are kind of heart and noble of purpose. More information is atwww.marathon2020.bangonacan.org.


• It’s a wrap: Music lovers, tune your big-screens to KPIX-TV CBS at 4 p.m. Aug. 16, as San Francisco’s much-beloved Stern Grove Festival winds up its 83rd season (and its first all-digital run) with a one-hour blowout finale featuring Michael Franti, Los Lobos and singer-songwriter (of Death Cab for Cutie fame) Ben Gibbard. TV/radio personality Liam Mayclem emcees the program, which will also feature performances from Brazilian-American singer Bebel Gilberto, rock group ALO and Fantastic Negrito with Tarriona “Tank” Ball. Sister station KBCW44/Cable 12 will also carry the program, which simultaneously streams on Stern Grove’s Facebook page, where Mayclem will be hosting a watch party. It’s all free, but a generous challenge grant will match donations from viewers who would like to support this long-running outdoor summer festival. Visit www.sterngrove.org for more information. 


• Coronavirus concert: This event will not be for everyone, but how many live concerts do you hear about these days? Yes, we mean where you go someplace outside your home and listen to people perform music. San Francisco’s The Chapel is offering one on Aug. 15. The Mission District venue has set up an outdoor theater where you can catch dinner and a show by Red Room Orchestra, a chamber outfit that specializes in performing David Lynch scores. They’ll be delivering music from “Wild at Heart,” “Twin Peaks” and “Eraserhead.” Tables will be set up to accommodate two or four people at socially safe distances, and you must wear a mask to get in. About 80 people will be admitted in all. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Ticket packages, which include prix fixe dinner options, run $250-$450 and proceeds benefit the Independent Venue Alliance. Find tickets and more information at www.thechapelsf.com.


The Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California. The artifact pictured is a digital scan of a copy print made from Dorothea Lange’s personal print and negative collection. Digiitized for the Oakland Museum of California.

• Lange’s work online: The Oakland Museum of California owns one of the world’s most important collections of Dorothea Lange’s photographs and other works, and now it is sharing a lot of those iconic works with us online. Head to dorothealange.museumca.org and you’ll get to spend time with scores of Lange’s work from four main stages in her monumental career: “The Depression,” “World War II at Home,” “Post-War Projects” and “Early Work/Personal Work.” There is also plenty of information to add perspective to the photos. Lange was one of America’s most important photographers, combining art and photojournalism to create a vivid and piercing portrait of human grief and resilience during times of great change. The Lange archives are free to peruse, but donations are encouraged.

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