We believe in Rufus Wainwright

  • by Roberto Friedman
  • Tuesday June 11, 2013
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"Rufus the Baptist I am!" sang Rufus Wainwright<br>at Davies Hall. Photo: Courtesy SFS
"Rufus the Baptist I am!" sang Rufus Wainwright
at Davies Hall. Photo: Courtesy SFS

From the moment singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright strode onto the stage of Davies Symphony Hall last Sunday night for a solo concert on piano and guitars, he totally owned the joint. As he said himself, he looked great. He began with "The Art Teacher," a grown woman's paean to her early mentor, and by evening's end, he'd sung songs in tribute to his husband; his daughter; his sister; his late mother, folk legend Kate McGarrigle; and even to his once-estranged father, folk legend Loudon Wainwright III. He was a showman, a virtuoso, a raconteur, and an out and proud gay liberationist.

Having recently appeared in concert in Paris during the recent demos there against gay marriage, he said the French riot police wore uniforms designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, "and they were hot! So it was a gay man's dream �" pitted against a gay man's nightmare." Then he launched into his gayest song ever: "Better pray for yourself, cause The Gay Messiah 's coming!" None too soon, Rufus, none too soon!

It was the start of the San Francisco Symphony 's popular Summer and the Symphony series, which brings such personages as Johnny Mathis , Michael Feinstein , Bernadette Peters and Jessye Norman to Davies Hall. For info, go to www.sfsymphony.org.


Americano restaurant and Wild Foods Dinner chef Kory Stewart. Photo: Courtesy Americano

Wild at heart

At Americano restaurant's third annual Wild Foods Dinner last week, master chef Kory Stewart and forage expert Connie Green presented five yummy courses prepared with foraged or wild ingredients, a project clearly close to both their hearts. We had wild boar meatballs paired with morels and green harissa; smoked mackerel escabeche with watercress; house-made ricotta tortellini with porcini harvested from the Sierras, wild pecans and honey; local king salmon with fried seabeans; and roasted venison with fiddlehead fern, elderberry mustard, morels and Douglas fir jus. The meal was preceded by Douglas fir and cucumber gin sours on a rooftop terrace, and washed down with excellent Medlock Ames wines. Dessert was candy-cap mushroom S'mores. With our tablemates, we reminisced about our days foraging for miner's lettuce on a gay commune in Southern Oregon (true story!). We're three for three for the Wild Foods fete, now a red-letter date on our late-spring calendar.


Choir joys

Like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet, the new film Unfinished Song �" screening for free on Sat., June 15, 11 a.m. at the Vogue Theater �" gives older actors a chance to star instead of playing somebody's grandparent. In this instance Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp are in the spotlight as a devoted couple dealing with a serious illness that threatens to part them. Obeying her wishes, he joins an offbeat local choir she used to belong to. The choir director (Gemma Arterton) pushes him to get fully involved, a process that brings him closer to his son (Christopher Eccleston).

This free screening is brought to you by the Mostly British Film Festival. For screening admission, e-mail [email protected] with Song in the subject line, and the number in your party (two max) in the body.


Culture makers

He Moved Swiftly But Gently Down the Not Too Crowded Street: Ed Mock and Other True Tales in a City That Once Was is a site-specific performance by Amara Tabor-Smith about the life and work of choreographer Ed Mock , an influential black gay artist who died of AIDS in 1986. Mock inspired and influenced Bay Area dancemakers with his combination of tap, jazz, Afro-Haitian, Afro-Cuban, modern dance and mime. The piece is presented as part of Dancers' Group's ONSITE series, and all performances are free, June 15-23. He Moved Swiftly will feature about 30 artists and will travel through multiple locations in San Francisco. Find more info at www.dancersgroup.org.

We stand corrected: Last week's Out There asserted that Cyndi Lauper is the "first woman not part of a songwriting team to be nominated for a Tony for her original score." This was so wrong: We were cribbing from other Tonys coverage, and garbled it. The first woman to be nominated in the category was Micki Grant for Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, in 1973 (and she is African American, too). There have been several other solo song-writing women nominated over the years: in 1978, Elizabeth Swados for Runaways; in 1985, Barbara Damashek for Quilters. In 1991, Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman (the only female team) were nominated for The Secret Garden. In 1999, Jeanine Tesori was nominated for Twelfth Night (but we guess this isn't the same thing, because she wrote a score for a Shakespeare play in which Willie the Shakes wrote the lyrics). And in 2009, Dolly Parton was nominated for her score for 9 to 5. But we're happy to say, after last Sunday's Tony Awards, Lauper is now the first sole female winner in the category. Thanks to theatre maven Jerry Metzker for setting us straight, so to speak.