The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley, weekend of June 16-18

Berkeleyans enjoying the 2016 Juneteenth Festival. The free festival runs this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Adeline and Alcatraz. Photo: Nancy Rubin

JUNETEENTH FESTIVAL On June 19, 1865, slaves in Galveston, Texas, found out they were free. Juneteenth celebrations started in Texas and have spread nationally. The 30th annual Berkeley Juneteenth festival runs on Sunday with music on two stages (among the performers: Samba Funk, Sistahs of the Drum, and The Chris Black Experience), food, dance, arts and crafts, and historical exhibitions on five blocks on Adeline Street and Alcatraz Avenue in the Lorin District. Sunday, June 18, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Adeline Street and Alcatraz Avenue.

GAY PRIDE COMEDY NIGHT Bay Area comedian and comedy producer Lisa Geduldig (of Kung Pao Kosher Comedy fame) brings together a multicultural gaggle of East Bay-based queer comedians for Gay Pride Comedy Night at Ashkenaz on Friday. Among the comedians featured are Karen Ripley, Mimi Gonzalez, Sampson McCormick, Nate Blanchard, and Geduldig. Ripley has been a fixture of the LGBT comedy movement in San Francisco for 40 years. Gonzalez has been performing at Pride festivals “since before being gay was spelled with three letters.” McCormick has been dubbed “one of the funniest LGBT comics” by the Huffington Post, and is featured in the upcoming Netflix documentary “A Tough Act to Follow.” Blanchard started his comedy career aged 19, and had a hit YouTube video, Shit Expat Berliners Say. Geduldig’s Kong Pao Kosher Comedy – Jewish comedy in a Chinese restaurant on Christmas – will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year. Friday, June 16, 8 p.m., Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave.

OJAI AT BERKELEY Cal Performances stages Ojai at Berkeley by appointing a music director to reimagine the festival each year. This year, Vijay Iyer, the trailblazing pianist, improviser, and composer, returns to Berkeley (where he earned his PhD nearly 20 years ago) as music director. Saturday night’s program seems particularly intriguing. Stravinsky & Iyer pairs Cliff Colnot’s arrangement of The Rite of Spring (performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble) with Iyer’s RADHE RADHE: Rites of Holi, a collaboration with filmmaker Prashant Bhargava. The film is modeled on the structure of Stravinsky’s composition, but transposed to the Holi festival, where celebrants throw colored powders at each other. Saturday, June 17, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall.

JAMES KENNEY PARK CELEBRATION West Berkeley’s James Kenney Park has undergone major repairs and renovations over the last two years. The city spent millions addressing building repairs and seismic issues at the community center, as well as updates to the picnic and play areas. Most of the funds came from the parks tax and general fund, with additional monies from a FEMA seismic grant and Measure WW funds. On Saturday, the grand reopening of the park will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting, food, music and plenty of family fun. Saturday, June 17, 1-3 p.m. (ribbon cutting at 2 p.m.), James Kenney Park, 1720 Eighth St.


FATHER’S DAY DOUBLE BILL On Sunday afternoon at the Freight, two songwriters share songs about fatherhood and families. Steve Seskin “will have you wiping away a tear one minute and laughing out loud the next.” Seskin has written seven number one songs, including “Don’t Laugh at Me,” which became the impetus for the Operation Respect/Don’t Laugh at Me Project, a curriculum to teach tolerance which has been implemented in more than 20,000 schools. John Lester, a singer-songwriter-bassist, is back in the Bay Area after a decade living and touring in Europe. His Freight returns marks the release of his sixth album, “Fathers and Sons.” Along with his 100-year-old upright bass Sarah, Lester plays a variety of instruments, including baritone guitar, nylon string guitar, and a 1930s Martin ukulele that belonged to a grandfather he never met. Sunday, June 18, 2 p.m., Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison St.

Don’t miss these other events covered on Berkeleyside:

Big Screen Berkeley: Movie picks from Frameline 41
George Lewis’ ‘Afterword,’ an opera of revolutionary ideas