Best Bets: Diablo Ballet, Pepe Romero, and ‘Looney symphony’  

(Original promotional art courtesy Lucía González Ippolito aka @CiaLuArt)

Freebie of the week: With Valentine’s Day arriving mid-week this year (it’s next Wednesday, but you knew that, right?) it’s a good idea to take advantage of the pre-V-Day weekend to get in the proper celebratory mood. A good opportunity to do just that arrives Saturday with Lovers Lane SF, a Mission District celebration full of music and poetry, dancing, food and art that makes a lovely day-date for a couple or simply a fun time for those who aren’t currently romantically attached.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10 along Balmy Alley (off Balmy Street and 25th Street, between Harrison and Treat streets), and features amusements from live music and poetry readings to dancing, local artists and muralists (including several creating works live), arts and craft vendors (we can only imagine they will have plenty of romantic trinkets on sale) and lots of yummy food for sale. Among the musical and poetry performers are Wray Velez, The Soulistics, Aleja Ajela, Miss Nanaa, Louie El Ser, Alien Mac Kitty, and such DJs as The Frisco Gang Vinyl Collective, Thee Homegirls of Soul, DJ West Carolina, Brown Amy, Isaias Martinez, and more.

Admission is free, but tickets are recommended. More information and tickets are at

Cuban-born jazz pianist and composer Harold López-Nussa will spotlight his new album “Timba a la Americana” in concert at the St. Regis San Francisco on Feb. 9. (Courtesy Harold Lopez-Nussa).

A Cuban hotshot: The always terrific Festival Napa Valley returns this year from July 6-20 with its usually packed lineup of concerts, fine dining and other events. But the organization stages events throughout the year, including this weekend, when its Winter Season brings Cuban-born pianist Harold López-Nussa to the St. Regis San Francisco on Friday as part of the Olivia Decker Power of Music series.

Lopez-Nussa, a jazz pianist and composer, is celebrating his new album “Timba a la Americana,” his first release since signing with the revered Blue Note label. The 10-song collection (all originals) was produced by his longtime pal, Snarky Puppy bandleader Michael League, and reportedly features a new sound that reflected López-Nussa’s desire, as festival organizers put it, “to escape the conventional thinking about song form and structure that has defined Latin jazz since the 1950s.”

His website describes the album as “teeming with joy and pathos that was inspired by the pianist’s recent decision to leave his Cuban homeland and begin a new life in France.” The pianist will be joined with a topnotch band including Grammy-winning harmonica player Grégoire Maret, Latin jazz bass great Luques Curtis, and his brother, drummer Ruy Adrian López-Nussa.

The event kicks off with a wine-and-light-snacks reception at 5:30 p.m. with the concert at 6:15 p.m. The St. Regis is at 125 Third St. Tickets are $85. Go to

Amanda Farris and Marco Clemente perform in “Sleeping Beauty’s Wedding” for Diablo Ballet. (Courtesy Rosselyn Ramirez/Diablo Ballet)

The devil of a dance company: Walnut Creek’s Diablo Ballet is celebrating its 30th season, a remarkable achievement for any relatively small dance company competing in an arts-rich market (and we won’t get into dealing with an extended period of pandemic closures). For its performance this weekend, the troupe is presenting the kind of program for which it is revered: a mix of something old and something new. Plus a dash of “Confetti.”

The something new is a world premiere commissioned work by award-winning choreographer Penny Saunders, who’s created works for companies including Hubbard Street, Cincinnati Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, Sacramento Ballet and the Royal New Zealand Ballet. She also worked previously with Diablo Ballet, a company she holds in high regard because, she says, it “has a different feel than the bigger ballet companies, everyone has to pull their weight, has to be able to do everything.” Debuting this weekend, “Dr. Magic” is her first commissioned work for the company. It’s an homage to a longtime fan and benefactor of Diablo Ballet who was known for her yin-yang career, as a dentist and as a performer doing magic and clowning. Also on the program is the third segment of the classic ballet “Sleeping Beauty,” as well as a revival of Gerald Arpino’s “Confetti.”

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. Tickets are $37-$48. Go to

Classical guitarist Pepe Romero will be featured in a recital on Feb. 10 at the Herbst Theatre, presented by San Francisco Performances and OMNI Foundation for the Performing Arts. (Courtesy Anton Goiri)

A king of the strings: A much revered member of the vaunted “Royal Family of the Guitar,” classical artist Pepe Romero is on tour in this, his 80th year, stopping this Saturday night at the Herbst Theatre for a recital sponsored by San Francisco Performances and OMNI Foundation for the Performing Arts.

With more than seven decades of appearances behind him, many in concert with his brothers Celin and Angel (all three sons of their celebrated father Celedonio), the Spanish virtuoso has appeared on stages all over the world, given many world premieres and produced more than 60 recordings. His program at 7:30 p.m. at the Herbst will feature works by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Enrique Granados, Ángel Barrios, Isaac Albéniz, Luys Milán, Gaspar Sanz and his own father’s composition, “Fantasia Cubana.”

Find tickets, $55-$75, at (415) 392-2545 or Also on the program is the lovely “Capricho Árabe,” by Francisco Tárrega, which you can preview here.  

Bugs Bunny and his pals can be seen and heard, to the live accompaniment of the San Francisco Symphony, in the afternoon on Feb. 10 in Davies Hall. (Courtesy San Francisco Symphony)

Looney Tunes goes highbrow: “Eh (munch, munch), what’s up, Doc?” Get that question answered, to hilarious effect, in Davies Hall Saturday afternoon as conductor George Daugherty marshals the forces of the San Francisco Symphony to give live accompaniment to the antics of Bugs Bunny and his cartoon cohorts: Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Wile E. Coyote, et. al.

“Bugs Bunny at the Symphony,” co-created by Daugherty and tour conductor David Ka Lik Wong, opens with the overture to Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” and dives right into the “The Warner Bros. Fanfare” and the “Merrie Melodies Theme” before launching more than a dozen cartoons and cartoon excerpts projected onto a giant onscreen stage. You’ll witness such endearing classics as “Baton Bunny,” “Long-Haired Hare,” “One Froggy Evening,” “Fur of Flying,” “Coyote Falls” and “Duck Amuck” while listening, in many instances, to music from original longhairs such as Rossini, Wagner, Johann Strauss, Smetana and Donizetti. And yes, you will get to hear Elmer Fudd sing “Kill the Wabbit!” to the tune of the “Ride of the Valkyries,” as the Chuck Jones-animated 1957 smash hit cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?” is one of the selections.

The performance time is 3 p.m. Get your tickets (quick, before they’re all gone), $87.50-$250, at or (415) 864-6000.

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