Our Seattle Times arts writers dish on next month’s most buzzworthy arts and entertainment events.
From the 18th edition of Sound Off!, MoPOP’s annual 21-and-under battle of the bands, to an opera about Steve Jobs, there’s no shortage of intriguing arts-and-entertainment events to entice you out of the house next month.
TOP 6 EVENTS IN FEBRUARY
Now in its 18th year, MoPOP’s annual 21-and-under battle of the bands has become an institution — a springboard for aspiring young artists and, for fans, a first look at Seattle luminaries of tomorrow. Alums include Dave B, Parisalexa (who topped our 2018 best-albums critics poll), rising rapper Travis Thompson and others making their mark on the local scene. The always eclectic showcase/tourney begins Feb. 9 and runs every Saturday through the championship round March 2.
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Feb. 9-March 2, Sky Church at MoPOP, 325 Fifth Ave. N., Seattle; $5-$14; 206-770-2700, mopop.org
Roger Guenveur Smith: “Frederick Douglass Now”
Actor and writer Guenveur Smith has an extensive filmography (“Do the Right Thing,” “American Gangster,” “Dope”), but the last time he came to town was 2016, with his solo show “Rodney King” — which Spike Lee produced for a Netflix release last year. This month, he returns with “Frederick Douglass Now,” a solo show based on the texts by the abolitionist and feminist, edited into “a jazz-infused narrative” and set between sections of Smith’s own writing. This should be great.
Feb 8-10; co-presented by Seattle Theater Group and LANGSTON at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave. S., Seattle; $25; 800-982-2787, langstonseattle.org
“The Sleeping Beauty”
If you like big, swoony story ballets, filled with ornate tutus, fairies and Tchaikovsky, get yourself to McCaw Hall posthaste: Ronald Hynd’s gorgeous version of “The Sleeping Beauty,” complete with its bravura title role for a ballerina (oh, those balances), is being presented at Pacific Northwest Ballet for the last time. (It will be replaced, in due time, with a different version.) Also in the Catch It While You Can department: Jonathan Porretta, a beloved scene-stealer at PNB for 20 years, will make his final performances as the wicked fairy Carabosse at every evening show; he’s retiring at the end of the season.
Feb. 1-10; Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle; $37-$189; 206-441-2424, pnb.org
Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer
Seattle, prepare to be enchanted by Gibson. The Choctaw-Cherokee sculptor and painter works through a hybrid of aesthetic influences: 19th-century Iroquois “whimsies” (beaded, Native-made ornaments for Victorian-era fashions); powwow regalia; rave culture; utopian models; and wild, club-oriented performance artists like Leigh Bowery (Boy George once said Bowery’s work “never ceased to impress or revolt”). But Gibson draws from these elements to make performances and objects (elaborate, fringed regalia of his own; colorful, geometric paintings on rawhide; a skateboard wrapped in painted goat hide; beaded punching bags reading “OUR FREEDOM IS WORTH MORE THAN YOUR PAIN,” among other things) that are both witty and unsettling. Gibson’s work isn’t “fusion.” It’s sui generis.
Feb. 28-May 12; Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., Seattle; $14.95-$24.95; 206-625-8900, seattleartmuseum.org
Noir City Seattle
Mid-February is a good time to lose yourself in a moviehouse for a little while, and the annual Noir City festival provides a perfect opportunity. This year’s edition includes 20 hardboiled films from the 1950s, from the familiar (Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil”) to the little-known; many of them newly restored and all of them featuring shadowy sidewalks, mysterious doings, shifty-eyed men and tough-minded women. Czar of Noir Eddie Muller will be on hand to introduce each film.
Feb. 15-21; SIFF Cinema Egyptian, 805 E. Pine St., Seattle; full series pass $150 ($100 SIFF members); 206-324-9996, siff.net
Lawrence Brownlee and Eric Owens in Recital
Tenor Brownlee’s career got a big boost at Seattle Opera, and now the internationally renowned star (capable of “banishing the ghosts of Caruso and Pavarotti”) returns to this city with the great bass-baritone Owens for a duo recital that extends from opera arias and duets to spirituals. An absolute must for fans of glorious singing.
2 p.m. Feb. 17; Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $28-$123; 206-215-4747, seattlesymphony.org
Best known for her short-story collections “Cowboys Are My Weakness” and “Waltzing the Cat,” Houston is here with her new memoir about life in the Colorado Rockies, “Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country.”
7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1; Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., Seattle; free; 206-624-6600, elliottbaybook.com
James N. Gregory
On Feb. 6, 1919, 65,000 Seattle workers went on strike for six days. On the anniversary of that event, Gregory — a history professor at the University of Washington — will discuss it, and sign copies of his book “The Seattle General Strike: Centennial Edition.”
6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4; University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., Seattle; free; 800-335-7323, ubookstore.com
Harper’s taut, tense thrillers set in Australia are a page-turning treat (her first, “The Dry,” is being adapted into a movie). “The Lost Man,” her third novel, takes place in the rural outback, in which two brothers try to understand why their middle brother took his own life. Harper will speak in conversation with Danya Kukafka, best-selling author of “Girl in Snow.”
7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5; Third Place Books at Lake Forest Park, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park; free; 206-366-3333, thirdplacebooks.com
Local setting alert: Kohnstamm’s novel “Lake City” is set in our very own Lake City; that quiet, not-quite-Amazon-ized neighborhood in the north end of Seattle, where a disgruntled young man finds himself living in his mother’s house just off Lake City Way. “The portrait Kohnstamm offers of a Seattle backwater trailing in the wake of the Emerald City’s rising glamour is indelible,” wrote Times reviewer Michael Upchurch.
7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7; Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., Seattle; free; 206-624-6600, elliottbaybook.com
Godden, former Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Times reporter/columnist and former City Council member (2003-2015), is making several local appearances with her new memoir: “Citizen Jean: Riots, Rogues, Rumors and Other Inside Seattle Stories.”
3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10; Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., Seattle; free; 206-624-6600, elliottbaybook.com. 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17; Third Place Books at Lake Forest Park, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park; free; 206-366-3333, thirdplacebooks.com. 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19; University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., Seattle; free; 800-335-7323, ubookstore.com
Lots of buzz for Land’s first book, the memoir “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive,” in which she details her life as a single mother working as a housecleaner and struggling with a system seemingly stacked against the working poor.
7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11; Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., Seattle; free; 206-624-6600, elliottbaybook.com
Dunn is host of the popular financial-literary podcast “Bad With Money,” and she’s here with her new book of the same title (which has as its subtitle “The Imperfect Act of Getting Your Financial Sh*t Together”). She’s also the author, with Allison Raskin, of the best-selling novel “I Hate Everything But You.”
7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11; University Temple United Methodist Church, 1415 N.E. 43rd St., Seattle; $16 (admits two; includes book); 800-335-7323, ubookstore.com
Mary Daheim and Candace Robb
How about a little crime fiction for Valentine’s Day? The Sisters in Crime Mystery Writers present an evening with two local authors: Daheim, author of the best-selling Bed-and-Breakfast cozy mysteries (her latest is “A Case of Bier”), and Robb, whose books include the Owen Archer series and the Margaret Kerr trilogy.
7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14; Third Place Books at Lake Forest Park, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park; free; 206-366-3333, thirdplacebooks.com
James, a 2015 Man Booker Prize winner for “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” is in town to launch the highly anticipated first book of a planned fantasy series, the Dark Star Trilogy. “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” is its first volume, set in an ancient Africa and combining African history, mythology and James’ fertile imagination.
7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16; Central Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle; free; 206-624-6600, elliottbaybook.com. 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16; Third Place Books Ravenna, 6504 20th Ave. N.E., Seattle; $45 (includes lunch and copy of book); 206-525-2347, thirdplacebooks.com
Gerald, the founder of MBAs Across America, tells the early years of his life story in his acclaimed memoir “There Are No Miracles Here,” and there’s a lot to tell: growing up poor in Texas, playing football for Yale, getting a Harvard MBA, finding viral fame with a TED Talk and, along the way, finding his voice as a gay black Christian discovering his own American dream. NPR’s critic called it “a shining and sincere miracle of a book.”
7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18; Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S. Massachusetts St., Seattle; free; 206-624-6600, elliottbaybook.com
Conklin, a former lawyer who lives in Seattle, became a New York Times best-selling author with her first novel, “The House Girl.” Her second, “The Last Romantics,” is out this month; it’s a tale of four Connecticut siblings confronting a family crisis.
7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19; Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., Seattle; free; 206-624-6600, elliottbaybook.com
Charlie Jane Anders
The Nebula Award-winning author of “All the Birds in the Sky” is here with her latest novel, “The City in the Middle of the Night.”
7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22; Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., Seattle; free; 206-624-6600, elliottbaybook.com
Shapiro, a teacher, novelist and memoirist, writes in “Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love” about her experiences upon discovering by accident that the father who raised her was not her biological father.
7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23; Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., Seattle; free; 206-624-6600, elliottbaybook.com. Also 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25; Third Place Books at Lake Forest Park, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park; free; 206-366-3333, thirdplacebooks.com
Ondaatje’s latest novel, “Warlight,” came out last spring, but he’s finally coming to Seattle to discuss it; like his 1992 novel “The English Patient,” it’s set against a backdrop of World War II, and is a story of spies, family secrets and lies. In her review of the novel, Mary Ann Gwinn wrote, “No other writer builds a world with the delicacy and precision of Michael Ondaatje.”
7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26; Central Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle; free; 206-624-6600, elliottbaybook.com
Smith’s first novel — 2000’s “White Teeth,” set in contemporary, multicultural London — immediately established her as a major voice in fiction; her most recent, “Swing Time,” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The British author’s most recent work is the essay collection “Feel Free.” She’ll speak in conversation with University of Washington School of Drama professor Valerie Curtis-Newton.
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27; Seattle Arts and Lectures at Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $35-$80; 206-621-2230, lectures.org
The former executive editor of The New York Times and currently a lecturer at Harvard University, Abramson will speak about her new book, “Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts,” in conversation with David Domke, professor and chair of the UW Department of Communications.
7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28; University Temple United Methodist Church, 1415 N.E. 43rd St., Seattle; $30 (admits two; includes book); 800-335-7323, ubookstore.com
Moira Macdonald: email@example.com
The Seattle Symphony Orchestra with pianist Jonathan Biss
What an intriguing premise! Pianist and scholar Biss performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 — and a brand-new work by the youngest-ever winner of the Pulitzer Prize for music, composer Caroline Shaw, who has written her new score as “a response” to the Beethoven concerto. Ludovic Morlot conducts; you’ll also get the feisty Symphony No. 1 of then-teenage Shostakovich.
7:30 p.m. Jan. 31, noon Feb. 1 and 8 p.m. Feb. 2; Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $22-$122; 206-215 4747, seattlesymphony.org
President’s Piano Series Presents Filippo Gorini
The prizewinning Italian pianist Gorini makes his Seattle debut with a most intriguing program: the last two piano sonatas of Beethoven (Nos. 31 and 32) bracket two very adventurous pieces by Bartók (the BB 88 Sonata of 1926) and Stockhausen (Klavierstück IX}. “The Guardian” has commended Gorini’s “brave, original playing for a musician of any age.”
7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15; Gerlich Theater at Meany Hall, University of Washington; $41-$49, youth 5-17 free (two per paying adult); 206-543-4880, meanycenter.org
“Songplay,” featuring Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano
Dubbed “the perfect 21st-century diva” by The New York Times, DiDonato dazzled Seattle Symphony audiences on opening night in 2016. Now she’s back, sans Symphony, for a more intimate and playful program: “Songplay,” with pianist Craig Terry and a jazz ensemble, and featuring everything from Italian Baroque arias to jazz ballads and songs from the Great American Songbook. If you love voice, don’t miss this one; The New Yorker called DiDonato “perhaps the most potent female singer of her generation.”
7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle; $45-$100; 206-215-4747, seattlesymphony.org
Seattle Opera presents “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs”
A new Mason Bates opera in 18 scenes, this in-depth portrait of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has earned raves for its inventive electroacoustic score, as well as the touching libretto by Mark Campbell. Seattle Opera presents the West Coast premiere of this high-tech work, following the world premiere’s “rapturous reception” (The Washington Post), and a highly successful run last season at Santa Fe Opera. Seattle Opera notes that the performance lasts 85 minutes (no intermission), and is rated PG-13 (for “some coarse language, brief drug use, and references to adultery”).
Saturday, Feb. 23, through Saturday, March 9; McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer Street, Seattle; $25-$335, 206-389-7676, seattleopera.org
Melinda Bargreen: firstname.lastname@example.org
CHOP SHOP: Bodies of Work
Now in its 12th year, CHOP SHOP is a contemporary dance festival designed to attract audiences from diverse backgrounds (newcomers, aficionados, younger folks, older folks) with performances and classes. This year brings Julie Crothers (Oakland), Javier Padilla & The Movement Playground (New York), The Stone Dance Collective (Seattle/Eastside), Lauren Horn//Subira vs. Movement Dance Company (Windsor, Connecticut), others.
Feb. 16-17; Meydenbauer Center, 11100 N.E. Sixth St, Bellevue; $15-$28; 425-637-1020, chopshopdance.org
Split Bill: Szalt and Lavinia Vago
Velocity presents an evening with Los Angeles-based company Szalt (which will perform its “Moon&,” an ensemble homage to things lunar, which LA Dance Chronicle described as “a singular experience that was not simply seen; it was felt”) and “NOESIS X, a solo for two,” a solo work by local dance artist Vago (perhaps best known for her collaborations with Kate Wallich + the YC and Rubberbanddance Group).
Feb. 21-24; Velocity Dance Center, 1621 12th Ave., Seattle; $15-$25; 206-325-8773, velocitydancecenter.org
Brendan Kiley: email@example.com
Garage A Trois
It’s been nearly 20 years since this uninhibited fusion troupe’s original core of Galactic drummer Stanton Moore, eight-string guitarist Charlie Hunter and Seattle’s eccentric sax king Skerik graced an Emerald City stage together. The adept improvisers bring their wigged-out jazz/prog-rock collisions to Fremont for three nights of aural mayhem. The Friday and Saturday shows quickly sold out, but Sunday tickets remained at press time. A rare treat for the adventurous.
8 p.m. Feb. 1-3, Nectar Lounge, 412 N. 36th St., Seattle; $30-$35, 206-632-2020, nectarlounge.com
Despite the fact that the Harlem rapper’s touring on his least satiating album to date — the more experimental “Testing,” which probably should have undergone further analysis — Rocky ought to have the ShoWare Center rocking when his Injured Generation trek (featuring Playboi Carti and others) wraps in Kent. Rocky’s always been a strong performer when not yielding too much of his stage time to his A$AP Mob cohorts and his catalog’s stuffed with enough hits and groggily pounding fan favorites to keep the crowd hyped. Ski Mask the Slump God and Comethazine also perform.
8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6; Accesso ShoWare Center, 625 W. James St., Kent; $25-$250, accessoshowarecenter.com
It was a slow burn, but eventually the music world caught on to the breakout R&B star’s undeniable “Boo’d Up,” which cracked the top 10 a year after its initial release, earning Grammy nominations for song of the year and best R&B song. Unsurprisingly, the Seattle stop on what’s billed as the London singer’s debut tour sold out almost instantaneously, with after-market tickets starting around $125. Mai is among a wave of bright young talents thankfully pushing R&B back into the mainstream. Kiana Lede and Lucky Daye open.
9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14; Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., Seattle; sold out; showboxpresents.com
Last year Musgraves became the latest in the line of country/pop crossover stars, while (perhaps more impressively) simultaneously finding favor among a swath of indie-rock fans. Her smoothly blended new album “Golden Hour” — which deploys banjos and steel guitar alongside synths and vocoder — scored her a gob of Grammy noms, including one for album of the year, largely without help from country radio. Don’t miss opener Soccer Mommy.
8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19; Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle; sold out, stgpresents.org
Michael Rietmulder: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to see some deep-level Chekhov, try The Seagull Project. The company (founded by actors and director/dramaturg Gavin Reub) works with the texts and each other more intensely, and for a longer period of time, than your garden-variety rehearsal period. This round, they’re staging “Uncle Vanya” with some great actors (Peter Crook, Alexandra Tavares, Amy Fleetwood, others), directed by John Langs. If you need a refresher, “Vanya” is about a little family get-together at a country estate that deepens into a bitter web of envy, lust, rage and a few other deadly sins, and includes some of the best gallows-humor small talk in the theatrical canon. Helena: “What a fine day! Not too hot.” Pause. Voitski (aka Uncle Vanya): “A fine day to hang oneself.”
Feb. 1-17; The Seagull Project at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle; $27-$52; 206-292-7676, acttheatre.org
“140 LBS: How Beauty Killed My Mother”
When Susan Lieu was 11 years old, her mother reclined on an operating table for plastic surgery. Five days later, she died in a coma. The surgeon was charged with medical negligence, Lieu’s family fractured and, 19 years after the death, she decided to dive into depositions — as well as some uncomfortable corners of her family’s past — and try to find the surgeon who Lieu calls “the killer.” “140 LBS” is an autobiographical solo show about the experience and what Lieu calls “the impossible ideal of Vietnamese feminine beauty.” Directed by can’t stop/won’t stop theater-maker Sara Porkalob, who’s been on a serious roll lately.
Feb. 7-17; Theatre Off Jackson, 409 Seventh Ave. S., Seattle; $18-$25; 800-838-3006, theatreoffjackson.org
Nicola Gunn: “Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster” and “In Spite of Myself”
A few years ago, Australian solo performer Gunn got into it with a stranger who was throwing stones at a sitting duck protecting her eggs. She told him to knock it off. He told her to buzz off. “What ensued was an angry, abusive and physical confrontation that achieved nothing,” Gunn wrote — except serving as the inspiration for “Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster,” a new dance/theater work about ethical conundrums (should one accost a man for throwing rocks at a duck?) and what happens when humans disagree. The following week, Gunn and her team will perform “In Spite of Myself,” involving a fictional retrospective of fictional work by a fictional version of herself. Confused yet? Brace yourself for more. According to On the Boards, “Myself” is “a dazzling whirl of video, sculpture, illustration, photography, text, audience debate and live performance” about “the gap between woman and myth.” Whoopee!
“Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster,” Feb. 14-16; “In Spite of Myself,” Feb. 21-24; On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., Seattle; $10-$70; 206-217-9886, ontheboards.org
Brendan Kiley: email@example.com
Anthony White: Smoke and Mirrors
This is the show people have been talking about. Anthony White is the youngest artist Greg Kucera Gallery has ever invited for a solo show and perhaps the only one to sell out every painting on the first day of his exhibition. White’s shiny compositions of 20-something detritus (cellphones, tacos, cigarettes, bared nipples, lipstick, drugs, credit cards and razor blades near drugs, liquor bottles, a slice of sprinkled birthday cake, fast-food wrappers) look like some 16th-century Italian mannerist decided to paint stills from Harmony Korine’s Florida-decadence film “Spring Breakers” using molten plastic and lipstick. White, in fact, uses a kind of molten plastic, painting his bright, busy canvases with a device that extrudes the material (a bio-plastic called PLA) like a hot-glue gun. The result is so textured, it looks almost woven.
Through Feb. 16; Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave. S.; free; 206-624-0770, gregkucera.com
In Tandem: Fay Jones + Robert C. Jones
The Joneses are a well-known, longtime Seattle art couple: he for his sketchy, colorful, but restless-feeling abstractions; she for her gnomic and floaty figurative painting, with the flattened perspective but evocative imagery that sometimes has faint echoes of Japanese ukiyo-e. The pair have styles that contrast without clashing — they both share a rough-hewn, earthy (dare I say “Northwest”?) sensibility. Mr. Jones passed away in December, mere weeks before gallery owners Gail Gibson and James Harris opened their dual exhibitions of the couple’s work. Expect a cocktail of gravity and celebration, befitting their legacies and their art.
Chicago-based artist Giles — who is intensely interested in police surveillance and the representation of black bodies — is also getting tandem exhibitions, at Jacob Lawrence Gallery at the University of Washington and the SOIL collective in Pioneer Square. To get a taste of Giles’ work: a 2016 project called “CPD POD” was a kind of dance marathon where participants, wearing headphones and listening to individual music, danced for as long as they could beneath a replica of a Chicago Police Department “police observation device” (cameras with facial-recognition and listening capabilities, which have drawn the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union). At Jacob Lawrence, Giles promises to examine “how Western aesthetics have structured whiteness” using art historians and theorists like William Hogarth and Johann Winkleman as springboards. At SOIL, he’ll show abstracted portraits of blackness as a cultural construction, with special emphasis on representations of Barack Obama in cartoons and costume masks.
Through Feb. 28 at Jacob Lawrence Gallery, art building, UW campus, Seattle; free; 206-685-1805, art.washington.edu/jacob-lawrence-gallery-exhibitions. Through March 2 at SOIL, 112 Third Ave. S., Seattle; free; 206-264-8061, soilart.org
Denial: Shelf Medication
Denial (also known by his street-art handle “D3N!@L”) is an Ontario-based artist who loves his subversions of pop-capitalist iconography: a gleeful anarchist Care Bear with a Molotov cocktail, a “dead end” sign emblazoned with the logos of familiar gas-station signs (Shell, Esso, Sunoco, et. al), the MTV logo flipped and tweaked to read “WTF.” His new show at Treason Gallery features, among other things, big pills with familiar branding, starting at McDonald’s and ending at Instagram, with some Apple, Gucci, Tinder, Disney and Chase Bank along the way.
Feb. 7-March 16; Treason Gallery, 319 Third Ave. S., Seattle; free; 206-257-5513, treasongallery.com
Brendan Kiley: firstname.lastname@example.org