That’s what early settlers said about the wild mint growing all over the peaceful hills and oceanside that would one day be paved over and known as San Francisco.  In fact, for many years starting in 1835, that’s what the settlement was called, only in Spanish: Yerba Buena.

History lives on in the name of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, located on 3rd Street between Mission and Howard. YBCA’s New Frequencies performance series, curated by Performing Arts Manager Isabel Yrigoyen, is well underway, and offers a couple of intriguing choices in coming days.

First on Saturday evening, August 22, we have local avant-cabaret luminary Amy X Neuburg, backed up by the Cello ChiXtet of Jessica Ivry, Elaine Kreston and Elizabeth Vandervennet.  Their set consists of selections from The Secret Language of Subways, a song cycle for voice, cello trio, electronic percussion and live electronic processing which Neuburg conceived of while riding New York City subways.  It begins promptly at 8:00 p.m. in the YBCA Forum, and serves as an opener for Argentine singer/composer Juana Molina, who’ll take the stage at 9:05.  Tickets are $25 general and $20 for YBCA members, students, seniors, and teachers.

If visual art is your thing, you can have that plus contemporary music on the same evening on Thursday, August 27. Gallery visitors will find that’s one of the nights musicians have been called in to respond directly to the work of the eight visual artists commissioned for the Wallworks exhibition.  The August 27th contingent will be composer, pianist, and electronic musician Chris Brown, Mason Bates (as DJ Masonic), and upright bassist David Arend. Their sounds are free with gallery admission: $7 regular, or $5 for seniors, students, and teachers. (And non-profit employees, KQED members, and folks carrying a valid public transportation pass or a public library card.)

By Polly Moller

Polly Moller is a composer, performer, improviser, performance artist, and curator based in Oakland, California, USA. She practices a lot, writes many grant proposals, drinks a lot of mochas, and serves on the Board of Directors of Outsound Presents.