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Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013 4:43 PM

Does wood have memory? Did certain trees through history house spirits and might these now inhabit ancient instruments?

Experience the shadowy pleasures of the Conservatory of Flowers after dark with chanteuse and storyteller Jill Tracy, hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as "a femme fatale for the thinking man," in a special after hours event for the 21+ crowd that conjures the spirits of musical instruments past and present.

Tracy will be joined by long time collaborator Paul Mercer, an award-winning violinist and composer based in Atlanta, for an evening of musical seance and discussion exploring the art, craft and mysterious voices of violins. Mercer, whose current instruments include a late 19th century violin named Daphne, a luminous 17th century violin named Abigail, and a stunning 1820 viola named Henryetta, will enchant guests with chilling tales of ancient instruments, fascinating facts about the wood and other plant compounds that are used to make them, and musical demonstrations of their distinct personalities.

In addition to the discussion and several musical sets with percussionist Randy Odell, Tracy and Mercer will conduct their signature Musical Seance that night, during which compositions are "channeled" instantaneously from tales of cherished treasures brought in by the audience. (Guests are invited to bring an item of significance to the show -- jewelry, photo, toy, token -- and share its story). "This plays an integral part in manifesting the music," says Tracy. "Every object holds its story, its spirit. Energy, resonance, impressions from anyone who has ever held the object, to the experiences and emotions passed through it. So these compositions are delicate and glorious living things– they materialize, they transport, and in the same second they vanish. No two shows are ever alike. That is the rare beauty of it. The audience drives the show.”

Throughout the night, guests enjoy the chance to experience the beauty of the old Victorian greenhouse at night. Cash bars throughout the building will offer a variety of craft brews and wine. Guests can also sample truffles by Vice Chocolates, taste the rich olive oils of We Olive, inhale the darkly elegant wood-based scents crafted by master perfumer Emerson Hart of Nocturne Alchemy, and even receive a private tarot and essential oil reading from Owl Tree Healings (there is an additional fee of $20-40 for private readings).

Jill Tracy is a San Francisco-based singer/pianist/storyteller and “musical evocateur” who has garnered multiple awards and a passionate following for her eerie and beautiful cinematic music, sophisticated lyrics, old-world glamour, and curious passion for strange tales. With six albums to her credit, Tracy’s music has appeared on CBS, NBC, PBS, and numerous independent and feature films. Named Best of The Bay, and a two-time California Music award nominee, she has collaborated with music legends such as Steven Severin (Siouxsie and the Banshees,) David J (Bauhaus,) Jello Biafra, and famed author Lemony Snicket. She has worked with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, Film Noir Foundation, and is the first musician in history to receive a grant from the renowned Mutter Museum of medical oddities in Philadelphia. She will spend 2013 completing a musical work based on the Mutter collection.

Paul Mercer, born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, is a self-taught composer and performer. He has been enthralling audiences since the early 1980s when he first learned his improvisational style, street performing in the subterranean alleys of Underground Atlanta and practicing in overgrown old cemeteries. In the 1990s, he co-founded the critically acclaimed neoclassical quintet the Changelings. He later joined dp3, a notorious avant-garde jazz ensemble. Currently he is with The Ghosts Project and is also a member of experimental prog rockers Brass Knuckle Surfer. Mercer has performed widely in North America, Canada, and Japan including the annual Edwardian Ball in San Francisco, Conflux Dark Arts Festival, Earth Awakenings in Salt Lake City, The Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club and Endless Night Halloween events in New Orleans. He lectures widely and has created haunting compositions for both the theatre and cinema. he has had the good fortune to play several renowned instruments such as an 1842 Nicolas Vuillaume and two Stradivari, including the magnificent Firebird Stradivari 1718 ex Saint Exupery.


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• Location: Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco

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