Category Archives: Events

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

A festival on Saturday night at La Pena aims to raise funds for the creation of at least five murals on the Berkeley-Oakland border. Photo: Bill Newton
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MURAL FESTIVAL AND FUNDRAISER On Saturday Aug. 27, 8 p.m. to 11:55 p.m., La Peña Cultural Center will host the Bay Area Mural Festival (BAMFest 2016) whose purpose is to bring together master muralists and mural groups, and at-risk youth through a series of artist residencies and workshops culminating in the painting of five or more murals along the Berkeley-Oakland border. The theme of the festival will be focused on migration and displacement in the community. During the week of the festival, artists will give lectures and workshops at La Peña Cultural Center. Saturday night’s event includes music provided by Hip Hop for Change, live art, and food and drink for sale. Tickets are $10-$20. La Peña, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Information and tickets.Continue reading »


Reeling in the tears at the Starry Plough with Crying Time

Myles Boisen, Jill Randall, Tim Rowe and Peter Garellick play heartbreaking music in Crying Time, Saturday at the Starry Plough. Photo by Jenya Chernoff.
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Sometimes a band’s name tells you everything you need to know. With a moniker cadged from Buck Owens’s oft-covered 1966 country standard, Crying Time is an East Bay combo devoted to the gloriously rhinestoned collision between Nashville country and Los Angeles pop. The band celebrates the release of its second album, Linda, 9 p.m. Saturday at the Starry Plough as part of a triple bill with Bear Flag Trio and Danny Allen’s High Diving Horses.

Featuring North Oakland vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Jill Rogers, her younger Berkeley-based brother Peter Garellick on bass and vocal harmonies, drummer Tim Rowe, and Myles Boisen on guitar, lap steel and vocals, the quartet has honed a lachrymose repertoire of Glen Campbell, Freddy Fender, and George Jones and Tammy Wynette, along with excellent originals that powerfully evoke the same era. Pedal steel guitar legend Bobby Black contributes to a few tracks on the album, but won’t be joining them at the Starry Plough.

The band released its debut album Ten Golden Hits, last year on vinyl and for download. Like that project, Linda was recorded at Boisen’s Guerilla Studio with analog sound akin to the classic country music from which Crying Time draws inspiration. The title can be understood in several ways, referring to Linda Ronstadt and in Spanish it means“pretty,” which “definitely applies to these beautiful sad songs,” Boisen says. … Continue reading »


Eve Ensler to speak at Uncharted Festival of Ideas in Berkeley — Early-bird tickets end Aug. 25

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Playwright, performer, feminist and activist Eve Ensler will be joining the speaker lineup at the 2016 Uncharted Festival of Ideas in Berkeley, which is produced by Berkeleyside.

Early-bird ticket prices to this year’s festival, on Oct. 14-15 in Berkeley, end Thursday, Aug. 25 at midnight.

Early-bird tickets end Thursday Aug. 25 at midnight.

Ensler, probably most well-known for her iconic work The Vagina Monologues, will be in conversation with writer Kevin Powell, one of the most acclaimed political, cultural, literary and hip-hop voices in America today, and author of The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood.

Other speakers this year include Jay Rosen who teaches journalism at New York University and is an incisive critic of the national press and its coverage of politics; Kathy Kieley, a veteran White House correspondent and commissioning editor for; Iranian American comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh; and Kenji López-Alt, James Beard Award-winning author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. Kenji will host a hands-on workshop called ‘The Steak Myth;’ and Andrew Hessel, who is leading the nascent synthetic genome project. Other workshops and musical and dance performances will be announced in September. See more confirmed speakers on the Uncharted website. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: ‘The People versus Fritz Bauer’

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First, let’s get my minor complaint out of the way: the marketing for The People versus Fritz Bauer (Der Staat gegen Fritz Bauer, opening at Landmark’s Opera Plaza Cinema on Friday, Aug. 26 – no East Bay play dates are currently scheduled) leaves something to be desired. Specifically, a more accurate translation of the film’s original title would be ‘The State Against Fritz Bauer’, which is a far more accurate representation of its content.

Written and directed by Lars Kraume, Fritz Bauer tells the true story of the State of Hesse’s post-World War II Attorney General. A Jewish émigré who fled Germany for the safety of 1935 Denmark (and later, 1943 Sweden), Bauer returned (along with friend and future Chancellor Willy Brandt) to his homeland after the end of the war, determined to bring Nazi war criminals to justice at the hands of a democratized West German judicial system.

Some of those war criminals — including such infamous villains as Martin Bormann, Adolf Eichmann, and Josef Mengele — had, of course, long since fled Europe for South America. Many less prominent former Nazis, however, had settled into the business of rebuilding and governing the new bundesrepublik, insinuating themselves into the reborn country’s business, governmental, and judicial bureaucracies. … Continue reading »

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

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‘TWELFTH NIGHT’ FREE IN THE PARK Opening Saturday, Aug. 20, in John Hinkel Park’s amphitheater, and running through Sept. 4 on weekends, is Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, “An Acoustic Rock Musical” brought to us — for free — by the Actors Ensemble of Berkeley. Take a picnic and celebrate the end of summer with Shakespeare’s most finely wrought comedy, with rollicking music to top it off. The production is directed by Michael R. Cohen, with music by Jay Africa, and musical direction by Linda Giron. The amphitheater consists of wide stone steps; blankets and/or low lawn-chairs are recommended. Wheelchair accessible, reservations especially for those with limited mobility, call 510-649-5999. Questions: Directions and other information at Weekends at John Hinkel Park Amphitheatre, Aug. 20- Sept. 4 at 4 p.m. Special performance Monday, Sept. 5 (Labor Day), also at 4 p.m. Continue reading »


One guitar. One week. One song. The Acoustic Guitar Project comes to Berkeley

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If the Acoustic Guitar Project demonstrates nothing else, it offers a potent reminder that no matter where you live there’s nothing like an impending deadline to provide motivational power. A global concert series that’s taking place in 43 cities around the world, the AGP proceeds with a simple conceit. Every selected artist gets a guitar for one week and a commission to compose and record one song on the instrument in that time period, no editing allowed.

What started as a one-instrument lark in New York City in five years ago has quickly ballooned into an international undertaking, with the second Bay Area installment premiering next Saturday Aug. 27 at Freight & Salvage. Curated by Berkeley musician Steve Gallup, a guitarist who spent years touring with the roots rock band Hipshakers, he tapped five local singer/songwriters for the project, including Jessie Bridges, Steve Meckfessel, Jeff Desira, DB Walker, and Jill McAnally. The videos that each artist recorded of themselves playing their song are posted on the project’s website.

“I’ve always liked all kinds of music, but the curatorial process was kind of intimidating,” says Gallup, who settled in North Berkeley about three years ago after decades in Half Moon Bay. “The first person I contacted was Jill McAnally. She and her husband had a big rig they drove for 15 years out of Texas. She’s the real deal and comes by her voice and music in such an authentic way.” … Continue reading »


Review: ‘An American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst’

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Jeffrey Toobin will be in conversation with Bill Petrocelli at Book Passage in Corte Madera tonight, Tuesday Aug. 16, at 7 p.m.

@@@@@ (5 out of 5)

In early 1974, the United States was in turmoil. Richard Nixon was about to be impeached, the Vietnam War was still grinding on, the OPEC Oil Embargo was underway, and an average of 2,000 bombs had been exploded in the country in each of the three preceding years. Then, on Feb. 4, a 19-year-old woman bearing one of the most famous names in the country was kidnapped in Berkeley. Her grandfather was the press lord William Randolph Hearst, a towering figure in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Patty Hearst, or Patricia as she strongly preferred, was a junior at UC Berkeley. Patricia’s story is brilliantly chronicled in American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin.

The sensational kidnapping of Patty Hearst

Only the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh Jr. could match the sensationalism of Patty Hearst’s seizure from her apartment. Now, more than 40 years later, the Hearst kidnapping quickly headlined news stories around the country. It was not just that Patricia’s name was famous. The kidnappers were an unknown and mysterious revolutionary band calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. They were the same people who three months earlier had assassinated the universally popular superintendent of Oakland schools, Marcus Foster. … Continue reading »

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

Don Reed's hit show East 14th, 
the first installment in his hilarious coming-of-age trilogy,
extends at The Marsh Berkeley through August 21.

Photo credit: Aaron Epstein
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DON REED IN EAST 14TH AT THE MARSH Bouncing between a Jehovah’s Witness mom and a pimp dad, Don Reed’s childhood in Oakland was colorful to say the least. His show East 14th, which chronicles his teen years in Oakland, is playing through Aug. 21 at The Marsh Berkeley. (The work includes Reed’s story, “I Miss Toni” recently featured on NPR’s podcast Snap Judgment.) Reed is a three-time Emmy nominee, a former warm-up comedian for late night’s The Jay Leno Show, a NAACP triple nominee for Best Actor and Best Playwright, and a Bay Area Theatre Critics nominee. Performances are Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. The Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston Way, Berkeley. For tickets ($20-$35 sliding scale, $55-$100 reserved), visit The Marsh Berkeley or call 415-282 3055 between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.Continue reading »


Waking up to Asleep at the Wheel’s Chris O’Connell

Former Asleep at the Wheel vocalist Chris O'Connell plays her first show in Berkeley in three decades Saturday at The Back Room with her band the SmartAlleks
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Chris O’Connell was only 18 when she signed up for the ride of her life. A shy young woman with a big bold voice, she joined Asleep at the Wheel in 1970 when the incipient western swing juggernaut was still shacked up in West Virginia, woodshedding a repertoire of Grand Ole Opry standards. She spent 15 tumultuous years with the band, including nine albums and Asleep’s first Grammy Award, but largely left her performing career aside after leaving the band to raise her daughter.

Since moving back to the East Bay in 2010 O’Connell has gradually started establishing a career under her own name, and she plays her first Berkeley gig in some three decades 8 p.m. Saturday at the Back Room with her band the SmartAlecks and a special guest, pedal steel great Bobby Black.

“I’ve known Bobby for 40 years and have had the pleasure of touring with him and doing plenty of pick-up jobs with him over the years,” says O’Connell, who lives in Alameda. “He played with the Wheel for a time in the ’80s, but we met in Oakland in ’71. The Wheel’s first California demo was done at the studio Bobby and his brother Larry owned in San Carlos. I still have the recordings, including one Tex Ritter song called ‘I Can’t Get My Foot Off the Rail.’” … Continue reading »


Uncharted Festival of Ideas is back in Berkeley, Oct. 14-15

Speaker grid 2016 v1
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The Uncharted Berkeley Festival of Ideas returns to Berkeley on Oct. 14-15 for its fourth year.

Produced by Berkeleyside, the festival is two days of conversations and performances, hands-on workshops, food and drink, as well as a convivial party on the beautiful UC Berkeley campus. Writing about the festival, UrbDeZine described it as: “A delectable spread of ideas on the edge, tapped from the fertile environment of Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay Area.”

Early Bird tickets now available.

As in previous years, 2016 speakers come from a wealth of locations and fields of expertise — from Aminatou Sow, founder of Tech LadyMafia; through Aaron James, Professor of Philosophy, UC Irvine, and the author of the book, Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump; Iranian-American comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh, and Scott Budnick, Founder of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, as well as the producer of The Hangover movies. See more speakers at … Continue reading »

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Floating lanterns in Berkeley mark 71st anniversary of atomic bombings

Dozens of lanterns float on the water near Aquatic Park of Aug. 6 to mark the bombing os Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Thousands of people gathered at the north end of Aquatic Park in Berkeley on Saturday night for the 15th annual Peace Lantern ceremony, which commemorates the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

People wrote messages and drew pictures on lantern shades, which were then floated on the water. In addition to decorating lanterns, people folded origami cranes.

Aug. 6 and 9 mark the 71st anniversary of the U.S. dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombings and their aftermath killed 129,000 people and prompted Japan to surrender during World War II. It remains the only use of nuclear weapons in the world.

In 1948, survivors of the Hiroshima bombing and local residents floated lanterns on nearby rivers in Japan to mark the third anniversary and to pray that friends and relatives killed in the blast were at peace. The commemoration turned into an annual event with thousands of candle-lit lanterns floated on the water.

“Traditionally, the Japanese write a victim’s name and their own names on a lantern,” according to the website of the San Francisco Bay Area Peace Lantern Ceremony. “But these days, many participants write prayers for peace or draw pictures on the lanterns and float them.” … Continue reading »


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

Herding the Lanterns
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GILMAN ART WALK Four participating studios and seven local businesses are collaborating for the Gilman Art Walk on Saturday afternoon. The four studios — Firehouse Art Collective Gilman Studios, Firehouse Art Collective Toki Building, Potters’ Studio and Makers Workspace — will open their doors for visitors to talk to artists and browse new works. The seven businesses — Whole Foods Markets, Philz Coffee, Doughnut Dolly, T-Rex Restaurant and Bar, Stella’s Studio, Eastern Classics and Farm Burger — will display artworks by artists from Gilman District art studios. The free art walk will run from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 6 in the Gilman District, centered around the intersection of Gilman and Tenth Street.  … Continue reading »


Suzanne Pittson plays Berkeley, and it’s a family affair

Jeff, Suzanne and Evan Pittson bring their Pittson Family Band to the California Jazz Conservatory on Saturday
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Suzanne Pittson made her mark as a jazz vocalist with a series of daring albums exploring compositions by Oliver Nelson, John Coltrane, and Freddie Hubbard. Collaborating with her husband, the resourceful pianist/keyboardist Jeff Pittson, she delivered dexterously scatted lines with her sleek soprano, or sang original lyrics crafted around the contours of surging post-bop themes.

About a year ago, their son Evan Pittson, who was finishing a degree in visual art at City College of New York, asked about sitting in on a gig the couple had coming up in New York City. He had played viola since grade school but the request “came from out of nowhere,” Suzanne says. “I had been thinking to myself I want to go in a different musical direction. We brought him up to play and the audience was mesmerized. I guess this is our new direction.”

Joined by El Cerrito bassist Dan Feiszli and New York-based drummer Dave Meade, the recently formed Pittson Family Band makes its Bay Area debut 8 p.m. Saturday at the California Jazz Conservatory. The concert is part of a rare California tour for the Bay Area natives, who moved east in 2005 when Suzanne landed an assistant professorship at City College of New York, where she’s the director of the jazz vocal program and chair of the music program. … Continue reading »