Circus Finelli and the Black Hats: Clowns Meet Klezmer

LR-Circus Finelli by Guy Webster.JPG
Guy Webster
Circus Finelli
​Our city is a political circus. Joshua Norton declared himself emperor of the United States during the Gold Rush. Punk rocker Jello Biafra and comedian Will Durst ran for mayor. District Attorney Terence Hallinan was nicknamed "K.O." because he liked fistfights. Mayor Frank Jordan broadcast himself showering with two radio DJs. There's a lesser-known face in this storied group who ran for mayor last year. His name is Blinky Winky, and we have it on good authority he's now aiming for the White House. Mr. Winky also belongs to another circus -- Circus Finelli, whose members appear Wednesday with the Black Hats at El Rio.

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Mr. Winky campaigns at City Hall, 2011
​No word on whether Mr. Winky is in the lineup -- he's probably in Florida getting out the puppet vote before the primary there -- but his spirit will drive the performance, which is part circus act, part concert. According to co-founder Luz Gaxiola, bassist Juliana Frick performs acrobatics during the set. Drummer Mahsa Matin rides a unicycle. Molly Shannon does a samba dance. Meanwhile, the Black Hats -- who bill themselves as "country, Irish, Israeli, and Klezmer" -- perform Eastern European numbers with fast and confusing time-signatures, using something called Bulgarian bagpipes.

"We're culture confusers," says Gaxiola, noting that Circus Finelli has no Italian members. During a recent interview Gaxiola spoke of a possible upcoming "midnight presidential fundraiser" for Blinky Winky -- which might be the first step in establishing a real puppet regime.

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Monica Crane
Luz Gaxiola might be a bear.
​Circus Finelli and the Black Hats start at 9 p.m. at El Rio, 3158 Mission (at Precita), S.F. Admission is $6-$10.

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El Rio

3158 Mission, San Francisco, CA

Category: Music

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