Blues is the Word. Courtesy of Kim Addonizio

Blues is the Word. Courtesy of Kim Addonizio



Writer Kim Addonizio curates an evening of performance that explores the self, place, and portraiture through poetry, prose, film, music, and more.

Across numerous artistic disciplines, portraiture reveals singular details about both the maker and subject. These revelations are found in the countenance of the figure, as in photography, or the structure of a phrase, as in the written arts. In this evening of poetry, prose, music, and film, writer Kim Addonizio draws upon the exhibition Michael Jang’s California to explore the concept of portraiture—of the self, artists, and art forms—as it relates to the places we find ourselves.

Reflecting the exhibition’s prolific documentation of musical subcultures, the evening is infused throughout with the spirit of the Blues–an American musical genre that has influenced so many notions of the self in artistic practice. The program includes a special rendition of Addonizio’s poem “Blues Guitar,” a tribute to beloved Bay Area blues musician Johnny Nitro with musical backing by Nitro’s contemporaries from The Saloon on Grant Avenue, the storied North Beach blues joint where he played for decades.

With its spirited lineup of readings and performances by Susan Browne, Brittany Perham, Steve Ehrmann, Steve Freund, Beth Kohnen, and Paul Revelli, People/Places/Performance brings this immersive exhibition to life.


Kim Addonizio is a poet, novelist, and essayist who has lived in the Bay Area since the 1970s. She’s published seven poetry collections, two novels, two story collections, and two books on writing poetry, including Bukowski in a Sundress: Confessions from a Writing Life (New York: Penguin; 2016); Mortal Trash (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2016); My Black Angel: Blues Poems and Portraits (Nacogdoches: Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2014); The Palace of Illusions (New York: Soft Skull Press, 2015); and Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2009). Her collection of poems Tell Me (New York: BOA Editions Ltd., 2000) was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation and has been awarded two Pushcart Prizes. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times and Best American Poetry, and has been translated into several languages including Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Hungarian, and Spanish. She lives and works in Oakland, California.

Susan Browne is a poet based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications from Ploughshares to 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. She has published two books of poetry, Buddha’s Dogs (New York: Four Way Books, 2004) and Zephyr (Bowling Green, KY: Steel Toe Books, 2010). Awards include prizes from Four Way Books, the Los Angeles Poetry Festival, and the River Styx International Poetry Contest. She received a fellowship from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and her work has been nominated for three Pushcart Awards. Her third collection, Just Living, won the Catamaran Poetry Prize and is forthcoming. She teaches at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California.

Steve Ehrmann is a bassist who has played in the bands of, among others, John Lee Hooker, Charlie Musselwhite, Roy Rogers, Elvin Bishop, Coco Montoya, Katy Webster, The Gospel Hummingbirds, Mighty Mike Schermer, Angela Strehli and The Blues Broads. He has also accompanied Lightnin’ Hopkins, Big Walter Horton, Johnny Adams, Earl King, Luther Tucker, Tad Robinson, Sista Monica Parker, Terry Hanck, and more. Erhmann regularly collaborates with slide guitarist Roy Rogers in the Delta Rhythm Kings, the guitarist Daniel Castro, and saxophonist Nancy Wright. He lives in San Francisco, California.

Steve Freund is a guitarist, producer and bandleader who has been praised by Rolling Stone for his “masterful, no-nonsense guitar work.” Freund produced seven albums and appeared on over fifty albums, including the Rockwell Avenue Blues Band’s Back To Chicago (Chicago: Delmark Records, 2017). His third studio album, Lonesome Flight, was released by 9 Below Productions in 2010 and included nine original songs along with four blues classics. Steve’s most recent solo recording, Come On In This House (San Francisco: 9 Below Productions, 2013), has received a great deal of critical acclaim. He has two solo records released on the historic Delmark label, “C” for Chicago (1999) and I’ll Be Your Mule (2001). Freund has also played on Koko Taylor’s Grammy Award-winning Blues Explosion (New York: Atlantic, 1984). Freund lives in San Francisco, California.

Beth Kohnen is a Chicago blues harmonica player and vocalist. Born in South Portland, Maine she grew up playing piano and played harmonica in an all-girls jug band. In 1998, a chance encounter with the deep harmonica blues of Big Walter Horton changed her musical trajectory, leading to a meeting with Steve Freund, the last guitarist to play with Big Walter. Since 2008 Kohnen has been playing music full time. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Brittany Perham is the author of Double Portrait (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2017), which received the Barnard Women Poets Prize and was nominated for a Northern California Book Award; The Curiosities (Anderson, SC: Free Verse Editions, 2012); and, with Kim Addonizio, the collaborative chapbook The Night Could Go in Either Direction (Sleepy Hollow, NY: Slapering Hol Press, 2016). Her work has received support from the Wallace Stenger Fellowship Program, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the James Merrill House Foundation, and the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University and lives in San Francisco.

Paul Revelli is a drummer born and raised in San Francisco. He has performed or recorded with many musicians, including B.B. King, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Carlene Carter, Jimmie Vaughan, Boz Scaggs, James Cotton, Clarence Clemmons, Howard Tate, Joan Baez, Maria Muldaur, Charlie Musselwhite, Chuck Prophet, Bill Kirchen, Roy Rogers, Pinetop Perkins, Angela Strehli, Tracy Nelson, Elvin Bishop, and Frank Bey.