Category Archives: Events

Giving thanks for Laurie Lewis, playing Berkeley Saturday

The Right Hands, left to right, Patrick Sauber. Laurie Lewis, Tom Rozum , Tatiana Hargreaves, and Todd Phillips
Print Friendly

Laurie Lewis has a long list of musicians she’s grateful for, and somewhere near the top are Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard, bluegrass music’s foremost foremothers. The longtime Berkeleyan gives a sneak peak at her upcoming album The Hazel and Alice Sessions at Freight & Salvage on Saturday with her band The Right Hands featuring her partner in twang Tom Rozum (mandolin, mandola, and guitar), Patrick Sauber (banjo), Todd Phillips (bassist extraordinaire), and Tatiana Hargreaves (fiddle).

“Tatiana is just amazing,” says Lewis, 65, noting that she’s the younger sister of fiddle star Alex Hargreaves. “I’ve known her since she was seven. She’s a little tiny 20-year-old who’s studying at Hampshire College in Amherst. I call her Hoss.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Unflinching and timely: ‘Disgraced’ at Berkeley Rep

Bernard White (Amir) and Nisi Sturgis (Emily) in Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced at Berkeley Rep.

Photo by Liz Lauren
Print Friendly

The exceptional and intense Pulitzer prize-winning drama, Disgraced, is a timely and unflinching exposition into the power and perils of race and ethnicity in America. Talented novelist (American Dervish) and playwright Ayad Akhtar elegantly communicates these multifaceted concepts using only four main characters, whose lives change over the course of a social dinner.

Amir Kapoor (Bernard White), a Pakistani American corporate lawyer, is hoping to make partner at his predominantly Jewish New York law firm. He claims to be Indian (and therefore Hindu), hoping to hide his less acceptable Muslim background. After all, he has rejected his religion, calling the Koran, “one very long hate mail letter to humanity.”

Living a sophisticated American life is far more significant to Amir than looking backwards at his religion and race. But, as much as he wants to escape his heritage, like a dark enveloping shadow, it hauntingly reappears. As my mother was fond of saying, “If you try to escape your background, people will be glad to remind you of it.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Good showing for Berkeley in city’s third Half Marathon

One of the top five finishers in the Berkeley Half Marathon 2015. Photo: Ted Friedman
Print Friendly

On Sunday, Anna Bretan of Berkeley took first place in the women’s race of the 2015 Berkeley Half Marathon for the third consecutive year. Bretan, whose time was 1:18:34, has also finished first in the San Francisco Marathon for the past three consecutive years.

There was also a Berkeley connection for Oakland resident Sam Robinson, who placed first in the men’s race, with a time of 1:12:22. Robinson is a student at UC Berkeley, finishing his Ph.D. in history.

And Holly McIlvaine, also of of Berkeley, took second place in the women’s half marathon with a time of 1:21:12. (See full results on the Berkeley Half Marathon’s website.)Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Berkeley Half Marathon organizers are expecting 10,000 runners to participate this year. Photo:
Print Friendly

BERKELEY HALF MARATHON The third annual Berkeley Half Marathon is closed in terms of signing up to participate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take part by cheering on the runners. It takes place Sunday, Nov. 22, and features new race options, challenges and post-race festivities that are open to the public. In addition to the 13.1-mile half marathon, runners there is a half marathon relay (two participants), 10K race or 5K race. A Finish Line Festival that is open to the public will be held following the race at Civic Center Plaza, featuring a Lagunitas beer garden and various local food vendors. And there’s a free bike valet service. The half marathon course starts and ends at Civic Center Park, taking racers through the UC Berkeley campus, the Gourmet Ghetto, Telegraph Avenue and along the scenic Bay Trail. Funds raised through the Berkeley Half Marathon helped the Berkeley Public Schools Fund reach its record $1million fundraising goal last year. For more details, visit … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Fred Randolph: Tales from a busy bassist

A bassist for all occasions (photo by Ruby Ray)
Print Friendly

A consummate musician who can be found playing jazz, salsa, samba, rock, fusion and any number of other styles, Fred Randolph is one of the busiest bassists in the Bay Area. The story of how he attained that enviable status is full of unlikely twists, with several instrumental detours along the way.

Though usually employed as a sideman, he’s released several engaging albums under his own name, most recently Song Without Singing (Creative Spirit Records), a project that showcases his rhythmic range and melodically charged compositional vision. Featuring Berkeley-raised trumpeter Erik Jekabson, pianist Matt Clark, saxophonist Sheldon Brown, and drummer Greg Wyser-Pratte, the Fred Randolph Band celebrates the album’s release 8 p.m. Friday Nov. 20 at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists as part of Jazz in the Neighborhood program (pianist Ian McArdle, a former student of Randolph’s, opens the show). He’s joined by the same exceptional cast at the California Jazz Conservatory on January 15. … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Protesters rally in Berkeley to show solidarity with black students across the nation

Students and supporters held a demonstration on the UC Berkeley campus on Wednesday Nov. 18 in support of diversity and equity for students of color. Photo: Amber Stewart
Print Friendly

An estimated 100-200 people took part in a rally and march that began on the UC Berkeley campus Wednesday, held to demonstrate solidarity with black students at universities across the country, including at the University of Missouri.

Chanting refrains including “Oh people don’t give up,” “Victory will be ours one day,” and “Ain’t no power like the power of the people ‘cos the power of the people won’t stop,” the demonstrators, many of whom wore black, gathered in front of the Campanile on the Cal campus, then marched through downtown Berkeley and ended the protest in Civic Center Park, in front of Berkeley City Hall.

The demonstration was organized by the UC Berkeley Black Student Union (BSU), and mirrored similar ‘Student Blackout’ walkouts at Yale, UCLA, Emerson College, Occidental College and a host of other universities across the nation in recent days. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Architecture and the devil: ‘The Monster-Builder’ at Aurora

Architects Rita (l, Tracy Hazas*) and Gregor (r, Danny Scheie*) have a tête-à-tête in Aurora Theatre Company’s The Monster-Builder
Print Friendly

Although The Monster-Builder is at times captivating, I’m still a bit flummoxed by its construction. It’s mostly a comedy that interlaces cogent comments about post-modern architecture. However, it awkwardly mixes its moods, alternatively presenting satire, farce and sex-capades with observations on building design, but without creating an integrated theatrical experience.

We all can recognize post-modern architecture by our strong reaction to it. Sometimes we are in awe of the creativity and experimentation shown in a startlingly gorgeous building. Other times, we wonder what the architect and client could have been thinking when we notice an odd-shaped building that doesn’t fit its location or purpose. Playwright Amy Freed (Freedomland- 1998 Pulitzer Prize nomination, The Beard of Avon; Still Warm; Restoration Comedy, You, Nero), the daughter of an architect, seems to only express the negative aspects of modern architecture. … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

Dear Prudence: The Beatles’ muse returns to Berkeley

Preudence Farrow with Ringo Starr and the Maharishi The Beatles and their wives at the Rishikesh in India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, March 1968. Credit:  Colin Harrison/Avico
Print Friendly

Growing up in the belly of the Hollywood film industry, Prudence Farrow learned early on that meeting stars in the flesh usually led to disappointment. But her fateful encounter with the Beatles at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Rishikesh ashram in early 1968 left her pleasantly surprised. It also left John Lennon with a song that ended up as the White Album’s second track “Dear Prudence,” which he wrote to coax her out of the room where she retreated for endless hours while seeking solitude and transcendence.

Prudence Farrow Bruns returns to Berkeley, where she spent years studying at Cal, and eventually earned a PhD in South Asian Studies, to talk about her recent memoir Tuesday at Northbrae Community Church at 7 p.m. Titled (what else?) Dear Prudence: The Story Behind the Song, the self-published book details how and why she ended up in India at the height of the tumultuous ‘60s, starting with her family life as the fifth of seven children by Irish-born MGM star Maureen O’Sullivan and Australian-born film director John Farrow.

“At seven I was crazy about Mario Lanza and had all of his records,” says Bruns, 67, her voice a dead ringer for her older sister, Mia Farrow. “My mother took me to spend a whole day with him and his family and he was a drinker. Starting from that day, I never wanted to meet anyone I admired. So I was not looking forward to meeting the Beatles, and I was pleasantly surprised.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Caribbean Allstars
Print Friendly

CARIBBEAN ALLSTARS The Caribbean Allstars, pioneers on the Bay Area reggae scene, return to Ashkenaz on Saturday Nov. 14 at 9:30 p.m. The ensemble, whose geographical roots range from Jamaica and South America to West Africa and the U.S., began joining together their musical forces and international backgrounds during the early 1970s. Not only do the Caribbean Allstars play Jamaican reggae with a traditional electric bass-drums-guitars-keyboards lineup, they also add steel drums to bring in South Caribbean calypso and soca styles of Trinidad and Tobago, producing rhythms that drive listeners to the dance floor. Tickets: $15 ($10 for students). More info at Ashkenaz. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Exuberant send-up of ‘Pirates of Penzance’ at the Rep

Matt Kahler as the Major-General and the cast of The Hypocrites’ Pirates of Penzance entertain the crowd at Berkeley Rep with their immersive rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan’s topsy-turvy world.

Photo courtesy of
Print Friendly

The Hypocrites, an ebullient, talented young musical troupe from Chicago is storming the beaches of Berkeley Rep (and Penzance) in their loving send-up of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. These performers are so gifted in both voice and acting that they could probably perform the operetta Pirates of Penzance as written by Gilbert and Sullivan in 1879. Instead, director and adapter Sean Graney with co-adapter Kevin O’Donnell have spoofed, shortened (to 80 minutes) and transformed it into a modern musical version, using many of the melodies and lyrics of the original songs.

Upon entering the Rep’s new Osher Studio on Center Street, one is immersed in the joyous, colorful, tuneful, noisy world of the Hypocrites. Each member of the cast wears a silly costume, and sings, jumps, grins, claps, throws beach balls, engages the audience and plays an instrument (including banjos, guitars, clarinet and a saw). If you have booked “promenade seating,” you may be sitting on a bench or in the kiddie pools with the yellow rubber duckies. And be alert, you may be asked to move out of the way when the players need your seat during the performance. All part of the fun. … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Accordion time traveling with Rob Reich in Berkeley

By Eddy Joaquim
Print Friendly

Some of the musicians featured at the recently launched Bands at Brower series approached the performance like any other gig, presenting their usual material. But for Rob Reich the David Brower Center’s ecological mission is a feature not a bug, and he’s designed an immersive multimedia event that explores the way music and natural settings can alter our consciousness.

This Friday’s Bands at Brower show introduces Reich’s new project Thymesia, which he describes as “a meditation on time and memory. I think most people have had the experience of music warping their experience of time. I want to tap into this powerful quality.”

Playing by candlelight to create the feeling of “an autumnal meditation,” Reich says the music will be accompanied by original abstract video projections by local video artists Thomas Bates, Ben Flax, and Brett Stillo. It’s just the latest musical sojourn by an artist who can always be found keeping interesting company, like an event next year with two other Bay Area luminaries who share his name, Cal’s Robert Reich and Stanford poli sci professor Rob Reich (the debut of new Rob Reich Trio?). … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Big Screen Berkeley: ‘What Our Fathers Did’

What Our Fathers Did
Print Friendly

I let you off easy with last week’s Tab Hunter Confidential. This week, I am afraid to say, we’re back in deadly serious territory with What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy, a valuable if rather depressing documentary opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday Nov. 13.

Directed by David Evans ( “Downton Abbey”), the film brings together three very different people — two children of Nazi bigwigs, and one dedicated human-rights lawyer. Their mission: to come to terms with the terrible crimes committed by – and against — their fathers during the Second World War.

In addition to being one of the world’s renowned legal experts in genocide and crimes against humanity, Philippe Sands is also the author of several noteworthy books, including 2006’s ‘Lawless World’, which examined the Blair-Bush conspiracy to invade Iraq. With the exception of his father, who escaped to Britain, his extended family all died in the Nazi concentration camps in German-occupied Poland. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

‘Patient No More’ show in Berkeley documents a historic disability rights protest

Caption: A segment of the sweeping mural at the Ed Roberts Campus 
Photo credit: Fran Osborne
Print Friendly

By Margit Stange

“Patient No More: People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights,” a multi-media exhibit, is as bold and engaging as the historical movement it documents.

On April 5, 1977, disability rights protesters marching on San Francisco’s federal building spontaneously transformed a sit-in into a 26-day occupation, achieving the longest sit-in of a federal office building to date. Four years earlier, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 made it illegal for federally funded facilities or programs to discriminate against disabled people. But Joseph Califano, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), withheld his signature, blocking implementation of Section 504. By 1977, angered and impatient, a coalition of activists launched protests across the country.

San Francisco’s occupation of the HEW Building at 50 United Nations Plaza became the focal point of the protest. Enduring hardships, deprivations and medical risks, the occupiers dug in, finally emerging to join an April 30, 1977, victory rally after Secretary Califano signed the 504 regulations unchanged. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,