Female singer/songwriters are a dime a dozen these days. But Jonatha Brooke has always jumped out of the crowd with the sophisticated structures and worldly wise notions of her songs, and a steely, cut-to-the-quick vocal style to match.
For Brooke's new, prophetically titled album, "Careful What You Wish For," she's aiming to connect with younger ears via busy, pop-rocking hooks that may put off longtime fans.
But Jonatha's still writing lyrics to her 40-ish peers - women who've made romantic mistakes but are willing to risk a few new ones. The set is front-loaded with songwriting and vocal collaborations with local notable Eric Bazilian (the Hooters), plus a couple of his recent writing play pals, JC Chasez and Nick Lachey. The boy-band grads won't be visible tonight, but I'll bet anything Eric shows up.
Keswick Theatre, Easton Road and Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 8 tonight, $29 and $35, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com.
- Jonathan Takiff
Unique Philly indie theater company Brat Productions was always just as comfortable in rock clubs, so it's no wonder that they teamed up with members of the music scene to produce "Three Chord Fiction." Musicians Allison Polans, Devin Greenwood, Franzschubert, Danny Mackane and Toothless George each worked with writers such as Big Mess' Greg Giovanni and directors like Lee Etzold to create short musicals in just three days. Actors include Heather Henderson (Soulamite, Peek-A-Boo Revue, Pousse Cafe).
Khyber, 56 S. 2nd St., 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday and Monday, $15, 215-238-5888, www.thekhyber.com.
- Sara Sherr
It was a big deal locally when HanSoul left mainstream hip-hop to focus on holy hip-hop in the late '90s. The youth minister has a unique, authentic way of grabbing young ears through positive message music.
HanSoul will display those tactics at his record-release party Jesus Saves! Our City, along with such message-minded artists as Japhia Life, Da T.R.U.T.H., Tuff Crew's Tone Love, J. Johnson, Nneka Best, Energy and Minister Andrew Grannum. Christopher Martin, formerly of pioneering rap group Kid 'N Play, will host. The New Covenant Youth Choir will perform.
New Covenant Church of Philadelphia, 7500 Germantown Ave., 7 tonight, free, 267-767-6031, www.myspace.com/hansoul.
Tonight marks Valery Ponomarev's second visit to Philly in less than two months, but the Russian-born, New York-based trumpeter can be forgiven for staying close to home. Ponomarev made news last September as an exemplar of draconian security measures: his arm was broken by security at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport when he protested their demands that he check his horn.
If Ponomarev is opting for gigs within driving distance, that's to our advantage. The trumpeter is a hard-bop vet, having joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers for four years after moving to the States in 1973. That will put him in good stead with local tenorman Bootsie Barnes, whose organ trio (Lucas Brown on the keys and Dan Monagahan on drums) will play host.
Chris' Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom St., 8 and 10 tonight, $12, 215-568-3131, www.chrisjazzcafe.com.
- Shaun Brady
Mahler's huge Second Symphony - the subtitle of which, "Resurrection," celebrates the rebirth of the human spirit - continues the Philadelphia Orchestra's ambitious cycle of symphonies by the composer. They are all close to conductor Christoph Eschenbach's heart and artistic sensibility. His previous Mahler explorations have been among his finest work.
Soprano Simona Saturova (replacing Barbara Bonney) and mezzo Yvonne Naef, along with the Philadelphia Singers, will add their glow to this exalted and inspiring masterpiece.
Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce, 8 tonight and tomorrow, $10-$84, 215-893-1999, www.philorch.org.
- Tom Di Nardo