The Lab

The Lab is a nonprofit experimental art and performance space located in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Susan Alcorn / Phillip Greenlief

8:00pm Doors / 8:30pm Music
$15 Guests / Free for Members
Reserve Seats: member login or guest registration

One of the world’s premiere exponents of her instrument, Susan Alcorn has taken the pedal steel guitar far beyond its traditional role in country and western swing music. Well-known among steel players for her virtuosity and authenticity in a traditional context, Susan Alcorn first paid her dues in Texas country & western bands. Soon she began to expand the vocabulary of her instrument through her study of modern classical music (Olivier Messiaen, Edgard Varèse, Krzysztof Penderecki, Pauline Oliveros), visionary jazz (John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman), and world musics (Indian ragas, South American songs, and gamelan orchestra).

Though mostly a solo performer, she has collaborated with numerous artists including Pauline Oliveros, Eugene Chadbourne, Chris Cutler, Joe McPhee, Evan Parker, Josephine Foster, Mary Halvorson, Jeff Snyder and the Mivos Quartet among others. She is also a member of the Mary Halvorson Octet. New releases include solo albums “Evening Tales” (Mystra), “Soledad” (Relative Pitch), and “Away With You” (Firehouse 12) with the Mary Halvorson Octet. As an improvisor and composer, Alcorn has proven to be visionary. Her pieces reveal the complexity of her instrument and her musical experience while never straying from a very direct, intense, and personal musical expression. Alcorn currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

“Alcorn’s pedal steel tones, stretch, float, and dance in the air, and on the ears, expressing something that’s worlds beyond words, yet able to communicate on the deepest level.” – Signal to Noise

“Susan Alcorn is a great player who has mastered and redefined an unlikely instrument. With an exquisite touch she invoked it’s history, extended its emotional and ethereal strengths and explored its microtonal possibilities, drawing it out of the contexts that traditionally render it invisible, or generic, and into its own mature discourse, reminding improvisers that ‘free’ includes the right to be romantic, melodic and four to the bar.” – The Wire (UK)

“Beautiful, glassy and liquid, however far she strays from the pulse and conventional harmony.” – The Guardian


Since his emergence on the west coast in the late 1970s, saxophonist/composer Phillip Greenlief has achieved international critical acclaim for his recordings and performances with musicians and composers in the post-jazz continuum as well as new music innovators and virtuosic improvisers. He has performed and recorded with Fred Frith, Meredith Monk and They Might Be Giants; albums include THAT OVERT DESIRE OF OBJECT with Joelle Leandre, and ALL AT ONCE with FPR (Frank Gratkowski, Jon Raskin, Phillip Greenlief). Recent residencies have included Headlands Center for the Arts and from 2012 to 2014 he was the curator at Berkeley Arts, a home for progressive music. He is the recipient of a San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award.

"The Bay Area's do-it-yourself ethos has produced a bevy of dazzlingly creative musicians, but few have put the philosophy to work as effectively as Phillip Greenlief." – Andrew Gilbert –San Francisco Chronicle

"Phillip Greenlief is a reedman versatile enough to achieve anything except peace in Palestine" – Greg Burke, LA Weekly