Category Archives: Events

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

Photo by Steven Fruhwith: “Our son Zander Fruhwirth, 4 years old, was a boy in a bubble today at the Berkeley Marina!”
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FOURTH OF JULY AT THE MARINA Celebrate the Fourth of July on Saturday at the Berkeley Marina, from noon to 10 p.m. Enjoy food trucks and booths, handmade crafts, free dragon boat rowing from 12 to 5 p.m., pony rides, a petting zoo, an inflatable bouncy area, water bubble balls (pictured above) and more. The Adventure Playground will be open until 8 p.m. for children to use hammers, nails, saws and paint with parent supervision. The event culminates in fireworks over the water south of the Berkeley Pier at 9:35 p.m., presented by the City of Berkeley. The Berkeley Marina is at 201 University Ave. Parking in the Marina is $15 for the day, or you can ride your bike over the Berkeley bicycle overpass and use the free valet parking near Adventure Playground. Admission is free. Details on transportation and events at www.anotherbullwinkelshow.com.Continue reading »

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Sparkler, or a Berkeley High reunion at the Freight?

Sparkler
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Did you hear about Monday’s Berkeley High reunion at Freight & Salvage? It’s listed on the club’s calendar as a double bill pairing Peter Apfelbaum’s Sparkler and Natalie Cressman’s band, but the indefatigably creative Apfelbaum has essentially assembled a Yellow Jacket conclave with his new electronica-laced band, which features a multi-generational cast of Berkeley High grads and a couple of ringers from nearby. The group released an EP of shimmering dance music last year, I Colored It In For You (M.O.D. Technologies), which includes a remix by bassist and studio wizard Bill Laswell.

For the Freight show Will Bernard, class of 1977, is out from New York with Apfelbaum to provide relentlessly grooving rhythm guitar. East Bay-based Erika Oba, class of 2004, is filling in for the band’s regular keyboardist, while Brooklyn’s Charlie Ferguson, class of 2006, is covering the drum chair (he brings his stellar Afrobeat band Zongo Junction to The New Parish on Aug. 7 with tenor saxophonist Noah Garabedian, another Berkeley-to-Brooklyn classmate).

“We have this whole reservoir of musicians,” says Apfelbaum, who belongs to the first generation that came through the groundbreaking jazz-steeped BUSD music education program that Herb Wong introduced in the late 1960s. “And not just in jazz. There are so many different style that these musicians play. Charlie had already studied with Josh Jones for three years while at Berkeley High before he studied with me at the New School. I’ll show him some rhythmic figure and he does his own thing with it. I don’t need explain a lot.” … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: ‘The Third Man’ — The perfect film?

The Third Man courtesy of Studiocanal 05
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There are very, very few films I consider ‘perfect’ —  if perfection can ever truly be achieved in the field of cinema. Any discussion of ‘perfect films’, however, surely must include The Third Man (1949), a suspense classic coming to Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas for a short run beginning Friday, July 3 in a newly remastered print.

Directed by Carol Reed, The Third Man stars Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins, an American traveling to Austria for a job offered him by old friend Harry Lime. Arriving in Vienna, Martins is told that Lime has been killed in a horrific traffic accident — but the truth of the matter is that Lime has staged his own ‘death’ in order to escape responsibility for selling deadly black-market penicillin.

Reed’s film magnificently blends suspense and noir sensibilities, as Holly pursues Harry’s ghost until a third act ‘reveal’ in which Lime finally steps into the spotlight. That he’s played by Orson Welles somehow seems oh so appropriate: scarred, rejected, and hated by the studio system, Welles’ was about to embark upon a life in the cinema shadows. His demeanor in The Third Man suggests he was well aware of the fact. … Continue reading »

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Detroit: Unpredictable, dark comedy shines at the Aurora

Kenny, Mary, Sharon, and Ben (l-r, Patrick Kelly Jones*, Amy Resnick*, Luisa Frasconi, Jeff Garrett*) have a wild backyard barbeque in Aurora’s Bay Area Premiere of Detroit
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The fiery dark comedy, Detroit, written by Lisa D’Amour, richly deserves the Obie Award it won in 2013 for the Best New American Play. When it first opened in Chicago at the Steppenwolf Theatre in 2010, the U.S. was floundering through the sudden and severe recession that turned people’s lives inside out. Detroit adroitly captures those angst-filled times and weightier concerns, yet has plenty of humor and satire that lessens the pall. It is also an exploration into the dream or mirage of the American middle class life.

Mary (Amy Resnick (Body Awareness, Collapse) and Ben (Jeff Garrett, QED, Berkeley City Club, Assassins, Shotgun) live in a post-World War II close-in suburb near an unnamed city. Mary is a paralegal, but is more interested in shopping online than doing her work. Ben has been laid off from his job as a bank loan officer, but has big plans to start an online site to help those in debt. And he surfs motivational websites. Perhaps he still has a shot at the American Dream. … Continue reading »

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At UC Berkeley: A celebration of marriage equality ruling

A group photo of the celebration rally. Photo: Ted Friedman
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After the U.S. Supreme Court decided Friday that same-sex marriage is a right guaranteed by the Constitution, members of the UC Berkeley LGBTQ community gathered on Sproul Plaza at noon to celebrate the landmark decision with music, an open mic, and each other.

The ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges, falls one day before the official Pride celebration in San Francisco in a community that has been rainbow-colored for weeks.

Alix Schwartz, a Berkeley resident, called it “a historic moment” and said the ruling will be compared to the 1968 case, Loving v. Virginia, that legalized interracial marriage. She said she was not surprised by the ruling.

“I was hopeful,” she said. … Continue reading »

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

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UC BOTANICAL GARDEN’S 125TH BIRTHDAY During its 125 years of existence, the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley has served as a haven for endangered plants rescued from smugglers, a lab for studying climate change, biomagnetism and hummingbirds’ territorial behavior, a seed bank, a classroom for children and an idyllic backdrop for weddings. The Berkeley garden, home to one of the oldest, largest and most diverse collections in the U.S,. kicks off its 125th anniversary celebration on Sunday, June 28, with music (by the Tiny Rock Band and The Banjo Racketeers), a beer garden featuring Trumer, cupcakes (by Kelsey Robinson of The Whole Cake), lemonade, and gelato (by Bar Gelato) at its 34-acre site overlooking San Francisco Bay. Read all about it.Continue reading »

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Regina Carter: Fiddling with genius in Berkeley

Regina Carter
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Being dubbed a genius isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Regina Carter, jazz’s most visible and celebrated violinist, found out about the downside of the vaunted designation when the MacArthur Foundation awarded her a coveted “Genius” Fellowship, which led to good natured ribbing from her husband, drummer Alvester Garnett, and the rest of her band.

“Alvester was really excited when I told him I got the grant, then he went online and checked it out and said, ‘You know, they call this thing the ‘genius award’ and you can’t even go around the block without getting lost!’” says Carter, who makes her Freight & Salvage debut 8 p.m. Sunday. “If I do something crazy at home, he’ll say, ‘alright genius.’ I’m always getting razzed by him and the band.”

Not that Carter is complaining. Receiving the $500,000 no-strings grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has allowed her to embark on a series of musical journeys that use her ancestral roots as a point of departure. She spent years exploring music by contemporary African composers, a quest that materialized on her 2010 album Reverse Thread (E1 Entertainment). Fascinated by the fiddle’s seemingly infinite variety of permutations Carter notes that the instrument “has traveled and evolved and been part of many traditions. It seems like every music on the planet has an instrument that reminds me of the violin.” … Continue reading »

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Preview: San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival

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It’s time once again for the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, which – in addition to screenings in Berkeley – expands its East Bay presence into Oakland this year. The festival (produced, as in years past, by Frameline) comes to both Rialto Cinemas Elmwood and Landmark Theatres Piedmont, bringing with it a wide assortment of programming – including a number of films made by local artists.

Screening at the Elmwood at 9:30 p.m. on Wed. June 24, director Laura Bispuri’s Vergine giurata (Sworn Virgin) is an Italian feature about young Albanian Hana/Mark (Alba Rohrwacher), born and raised female but now living as male. Despite taking a traditional vow of chastity that ‘allows’ the locals to recognize her as a man, Hana/Mark still finds the ultra-conservative climes of her homeland stifling and decides to up sticks for liberal Italy, where stepsister Lila (Flonja Kodheli) now lives. … Continue reading »

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

Photo: Berkeley Juneteenth
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EATS, BEATS & BREWS The food, drink and dancing street party returns to Berkeley this Sunday, June 21, from 12-6 p.m. on Center Street in downtown Berkeley. Eats, Beats & Brews is held the third Sunday of the month throughout the summer, with this first event featuring Fito Reinoso y su Ritmo y Armonia. Ruth Caspary of Latin Connection Dance will be teaching a basic salsa lesson. Food trucks with a variety of cuisines will line the streets, and a beer garden courtesy of Drake’s Brewing Company will spring up along the sidewalk. Center Street’s Restaurant Row will showcase over 15 different international cuisines and even more options from food trucks such as Kenny’s Heart & Soul food truck. The spacious outdoor beer garden will feature Bay Area favorite Drakes Brewing Company, transforming the street into a pedestrian promenade in the heart of downtown. … Continue reading »

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Bluegrass in Berkeley: The family that picks together sticks together

OMGG
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It might seem strange to refer to Monday’s OMGG performance at Freight & Salvage as a reunion concert, given the quartet’s average age hovers around 18, but these bluegrass musicians have already logged a lot of miles since they last performed together four years ago. The moniker stands for Obviously Minor Guys and a Girl, and the quartet brings together young players who have established themselves as fully equal to the task of performing with veteran masters.

Featuring Berkeley High junior Max Schwartz on bass and five-string banjo and his older brother Nate Schwartz, an impressive mandolin player who’s studying jazz guitar and composition at UCLA, Boulder Creek’s Marty Varner, now studying guitar at Clark University in Massachusetts, and the stellar vocalist and fiddler AJ Lee, a 16-year-old from Tracey who has been touring and recording with the Tuttles, the musicians essentially “grew up together in the California bluegrass community,” says Max. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Amazing documentary ‘The Wolfpack’

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What happens when you sequester yourself in a Lower East Side apartment for the better part of 20 years and raise your family of seven (six sons, one daughter) on a steady diet of home schooling, movies and rock music? Why, you get The Wolfpack, of course, an amazing documentary opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, June 19.

Brought up by parents who found themselves living in a Manhattan housing project when they probably would have preferred a commune or a kibbutz, the Angulo siblings spent their formative years indoors. Some years, they might leave home once or twice – under strict supervision, of course. Some years, they never left at all.

So what did they do when Mom Susanne wasn’t teaching them reading, writing, and arithmetic? Why, spent their time watching lots and lots of movies — and, later on, spent copious time recreating those movies. So intense was their love affair with film that the boys would literally write down every word of dialogue, memorize this unofficial ‘script’, and reenact the story (complete with costumes and props), all within the narrow confines of their apartment. … Continue reading »

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Urban Air Market hops the bay, lands in Berkeley

A crowd at the Urban Air Market. The San Francisco-based festival is branching out to Berkeley and Oakland locations. Photo: Urban Air Market
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The Urban Air Market, a festival for local designers, is hosting its first East Bay event in Berkeley on Saturday June 20. The Berkeley market, which has been in the works for nearly ten months, will set up shop on Allston Way adjacent to the weekly farmers market on Center Street.

Vendors hail from across the Bay Area and are independent artists, designers, and curators who use environmentally friendly and sustainable practices to create their products. Repurposed hardware, vintage-style, even products scavenged from landfills and reworked as high-end sustainable goods and fashion, are all markers of a UAM vendor. … Continue reading »

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Ellen Johnson: A jazz child’s child in Berkeley

Ellen Johnson, playing
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Is there anything that chocolate can’t do? An offering to the Mayan gods, a source of joy for children around the world, and an abiding bond between two great jazz musicians who perform 8 p.m. Saturday at the California Jazz Conservatory.

Polymathic vocalist Ellen Johnson was attending a jazz education convention in Toronto back in 2003 when she met the well-traveled tenor saxophonist Don Braden, an encounter that led to an intermittent but ongoing collaboration. Over the years they’ve conducted numerous workshops demystifying the sinuous dance between singers and horn players, performed occasional concerts, and a developed a firm friendship cemented by their love of dark chocolate. … Continue reading »

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