News Column

Sacramento Live: Genre Peak at Luna's Cafe

June 21, 2013


June 21--If there were a form of music called "prog electronica," the label would hang on Martin Birke's Genre Peak project.

Over three albums -- "9 Microspheres" (2013), "Preternatural" (2008) and "Ends of the Earth" (2006) -- that feature an international cast of contributors (the late Mick Karn, Benito Cortez, Gustaf Fjelstrom and Tara C. Taylor), the composer and electronic percussionist has created a series of dark, brooding soundscapes grounded by dense grooves.

Birke has pulled together Northern California-based Genre Peak alumni to play a rare performance tonight at Luna's Cafe. Joining Birke are Christopher Scott Cooper on guitars, Stephen Sullivan on guitar-synths and Percy Howard on vocals.

The various members have recording and performing experience with expansive artists like Robert Fripp and Bill Laswell and with the beautifully coiffed singer Michael Bolton.

Howard, a powerful, Sacramento-based singer-songwriter, has recorded with numerous modern music makers including Vernon Reid, Trey Gunn, and Fred Frith. Howard and Birke teamed up in 2011 as Hardboiled Wonderland and released "As Small As a World and Large As Alone."

It should be a bruising evening of music as the band pulls tunes from all of the members' recordings. Genre Peak plays at 8:30 p.m. today at Luna's, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Odd Moniker opens. (916) 441-3931; for information. Tickets: $6 at the door.

Fun of the 1950s

Remember the '50s?

I don't, either, but I'm told it was a simpler time when our worries were minimal (the atom bomb and communists), sex was personal and private (no Internet), and marriage went according to plan. At least that's what Robert Bastron's new comedy "A Contemporary American's Guide to a Successful Marriage 1959" says.

The new Big Idea Theatre production takes the form of social guidance "how to's" from the Eisenhower era as it follows two couples into marriage and beyond.

Justin Munoz directs with Ian Cullity, Stephanie Hodson, Joshua Glenn Robertson and Amanda Johnston starring. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through July 13. (No performance July 4.) Tickets: $10-20. At the Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento. (916) 960-3036;

A year in a life

If you want a straightforward, uplifting show sans irony and sarcasm, look no further than "Unbeatable the Musical" at Roseville's Tower Theatre. The show is based on cancer survivor Laurie Frey's book chronicling a year in her life facing the challenges of her disease, holding her family together and maintaining her trademark sense of humor.

The musical play has been developed through readings and productions around the country; this is its West Coast premiere. The musical was co-created by Frey and Michael Barnard, with a book by Eric Coble and songs by Todd Schroeder and Kevin Fisher. Schroeder directs with Jennifer Bortz in the lead as Tracy Boyd, the character based on Frey.

Performances at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through June 30. Tower Theater, 417 Vernon St., Roseville. Tickets: $10-20. (916) 837-7469;


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