Category Archives: Events

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

Berkeley Humane's Bark and Meow Adopt-A-Thon takes place Saturday July 23. Photo: Berkeley Humane
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BARK AND MEOW ADOPT-A-THON: On Saturday July 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Berkeley Humane will once again host one of the largest annual adopt-a-thon events in the East Bay. Bark and Meow Around the Block, which will take over two city blocks in West Berkeley, is also the location for NBC Bay Area’s “Clear The Shelters” nationwide campaign which encourages individuals throughout the country to adopt a shelter animal and help clear the shelters. Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales of the “Today Show” are taking part in the event where more than 200 animals will be available for adoption with waived or reduced adoption fees. Said Berkeley Humane Executive Director Jeffrey Zerwekh: “Pet homelessness is a solvable problem, if more people are able to open their homes and adopt. This event will include food, beer, live music, games and a pet psychic to entertain the entire family while looking for a new dog, cat, puppy or kitten.” Saturday, July 23, 10am-4pm; Ninth and Carleton streets, Berkeley (corner of 2700 Ninth St.) Berkeley. Visit Berkeley Humane online for details.Continue reading »

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Lies, love, sacrifice in Shotgun Players’ ‘Grand Concourse’

Cathleen Riddley as Shelley in Grand Concourse. Photo: Pak Han
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Why do people volunteer at soup kitchens? Is it so that they may selflessly serve others? Is it to make themselves feel worthy? Satisfy religious commitments? Or is it to forget their own problems? These questions and themes of friendship and falseness are presented in the stimulating and entertaining Grand Concourse, well directed by Shotgun’s Joanie McBrien. Playwright Heidi Schreck is a two-time Obie Award-winning actress and author of There Are No More Big Secrets, Creature, and Showtime’s Nurse Jackie.

Fresh from its New York and Chicago runs, Grand Concourse is set in the kitchen area of a soup kitchen (and soup is the only meal on the menu) in a Bronx Catholic church basement, run by the habit-less nun Shelley (great work by Cathleen Riddley). Shelley arrives early each morning so that she can scrub the dining room after the night janitors have finished cleaning it. Shelley is having trouble concentrating on her prayers, however, and has taken to lengthening her prayers by timing them with the microwave timer. Watching her look into the microwave as she prays is charming, as well as spiritual — in a 21st-century kind of way.

Shelley’s calm, caring and conscientious demeanor seems too good to be true, and it turns out that it is. She is suffering from the burnout common to the self-sacrificing. We see her question whether her work is actually helpful and learn that her reasons for joining her religious order more closely resemble an act of teenage rebellion than true religious conviction. … Continue reading »

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Gillian Margot brings Black Beauty to Berkeley (and Geoffrey Keezer)

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The musical partnership of vocalist Gillian Margot and pianist Geoffrey Keezer is still in its infancy, but the two extraordinary musicians have already forged a creatively charged connection. The San Diego-based duo make their Bay Area debut 8 p.m. Saturday at the California Jazz Conservatory, though Keezer has performed dozens of times in the East Bay, from his teenage stint in the hard bop cauldron of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers to his well-documented three-year run with legendary bassist Ray Brown (Margot and Keezer also give a CJC workshop Saturday afternoon “The Art of Accompanying a Vocalist”).

One of the most celebrated pianists of his generation, the 45-year-old Keezer even lived in San Leandro briefly about a dozen years ago, in the midst of a Grammy Award-winning stint with bass maestro Christian McBride’s electro-acoustic band. These days he spends much of his time writing music for various projects and commissions, and can be found on stage working as an accompanist for masterly jazz vocalists like Dianne Reeves, Denise Donatelli, and Oakland’s Kenny Washington (who joins Keezer’s trio as a special guest Sunday afternoon at Jazz at Filoli).

“One thing musicians like to do is keep working,” he says. “As a pianist, I like working with vocalists, and singers value what I bring to the table. I’m not much of a singer myself, but I like writing songs, and with my own trio gigs I’ll invite Gillian or Kenny to come up.” … Continue reading »

‘Gold Mountain’ reading leaves audience hungry for more

Monica Ho and Jonny Hsu Lee, as “Yook Mei” and “Lit" in a stage reading of Gold Mountain at the Aurora Theatre Berkeley.
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By Bonnie Britt

The musical drama Gold Mountain taps into the rich emotional lives of the too-often-forgotten Chinese immigrant labor force who gave their all to connect the eastern United States with western states in the construction of the first transcontinental railroad.

A staged reading of Gold Mountain at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley on July 11 was presented by LaborFest and the SAG‑AFTRA SF‑NorCal local.

Actors flew in from New York and Los Angeles to join Bay Area professionals for the one-act performance that left the audience wanting more from Jason Ma, a natural‑born storyteller, whose credits include writing the script and music for the musical Barcelona.Continue reading »

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

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BLOCK PARTY William Byron Rumford was the first African American elected to state public office in northern California and he authored legislation banning discrimination in employment and housing. On Sunday, July 17, Rumford will be celebrated with a block party on Sacramento Street, between Ashby and Julia. At 3 p.m., a sculpture memorializing Rumford will be unveiled. In addition, there will be music, a barbecue, kids’ zone, presentations on neighborhood history, and two screenings of a documentary on Rumford. Sunday, July 17, noon to 5 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Kalil Wilson and Love in Berkeley; other recommended gigs

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Walking down Shattuck a few weeks ago during the Bay Area Book Festival I came across a young man on the corner singing “A Foggy Day” ably accompanied by a keyboardist. Possessing a lithe and soulful sound, he swung effortlessly while imbuing Ira Gershwin’s epiphanic lyric with a true sense of surprise. I wasn’t the only pedestrian halted by his fine-grained tenor and graceful presence, and, despite running late for a coffee date, I lingered to hear three more tunes. This was my introduction to Kalil Wilson, a tremendously gifted vocalist who performs Sunday afternoon at the California Jazz Conservatory with his band, Love.

I’d been seeing his name around for a while, but hadn’t made it to one of his gigs yet, so catching him unexpectedly on the street, with no preconceptions or forewarning, was particularly pleasurable. Note to self: it’s good to get out of the house. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Microbe and Gasoline’

Theo and Daniel enjoy a snack in Michel Gondry's Microbe and Gasoline
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Generally, things are just a little bit off-kilter in the world of Michel Gondry. From Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to Be Kind Rewind (and with the notable exception of his 2012 feature, the comparatively neo-realistic The We and the I), the French filmmaker has displayed a penchant for telling stories with a slightly surreal bent.

Gondry’s latest feature brings us firmly back to his magical-realist comfort zone. Microbe and Gasoline (Microbe et Gasoil), a whimsical shaggy dog tale about two teenage outcasts and a remarkable road trip, opens at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, July 15.

Daniel (Ange Dargent) is 14 years old but looks two or three years younger. Nicknamed Microbe by schoolyard bullies, the quiet, artistically talented youngster has a (presumably doomed) crush on classmate Laura (Diane Besnier).

Theo (Théophile Baquet) is new to Daniel’s school, and shows up for the first day of term riding a motorized scooter with a homemade sound system. Immediately dubbed Gasoline, Theo makes common cause with fellow nerd Daniel, and the new friends hatch a wild plan to travel across France during the summer months in a bespoke automobile. … Continue reading »

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DIY in Berkeley, with pianist Caili O’Doherty Trio and The Miscreants

Caili O'Doherty's trio performs Friday at Jupiter and Sunday afternoon at the California Jazz Conservatory
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New York City pianist Caili O’Doherty has found cool blue waters in the Bay Area, while Berkeley clarinetist Ben Goldberg has plunged into the roiling New York rapids. What these two very different musicians share is a commitment to making their own gigs happen.

At 24, O’Doherty is already a familiar face in the Bay Area. Following the release of Padme, her heralded 2015 debut album, she performed widely around the region last year, making a powerful impression with her lyrically charged original compositions. She returns this week with a lustrous body of new music for her New York City trio featuring drummer Cory Cox and Israeli-born bassist Tamir Shmerling.

“I always like the idea of creating your own opportunities,” says O’Doherty, who plays Jupiter on Friday, Webster Haven Presents house concert in Berkeley on Saturday, (email jsteere@igc.org or call 510-849-1969), and a Sunday afternoon California Jazz Conservatory concert with special guest Steven Lugerner on alto saxophone and bass clarinet (she also gives a workshop Sunday at the CJC 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on “Using Language as a tool for Improvising”).   … Continue reading »

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

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SAN FRANCISCO MIME TROUPE It’s summer. It’s park time, which means it’s time for the annual production of the Tony-award winning San Francisco Mime Troupe. This time, the acting ensemble takes on the question of education in its 57th production, “Schooled.” Who is it for and who pays for it? From their program notes: “Education. It’s like the weather: everyone has an opinion but nobody does anything about it. That’s how Lavinia Jones feels about her son Thomas’ new school, Eleanor Roosevelt High. Decades of funding cuts have resulted in old textbooks, crumbling classrooms, and underpaid teachers,  making Roosevelt exactly the sort of public school that has failed students time and time again. Isn’t it time for something… efficient? And efficient is exactly what Fredersen Babbit, from Learning Academy for Virtual Achievement (LAVA Corp.), promises to bring to the district. New Technology, remote learning, computer-generated teachers –LAVA promises to put the “virtual” in achievement! ” The Mime Troupe opens its 2016 season Saturday, July 2 at 2:00 p.m. at Cedar Rose Park at 1300 Rose St., near Chestnut. Music begins at 1:30 p.m. There will be a second performance, same time, same place on July 3. It will also play in Live Oak Park on July 9 and 10th at 2:00 p.m.and at Willard Park Aug. 20 and 21st. … Continue reading »

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

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bigger pictureFIGHTING DIABETES WITH POETRY Type 2 diabetes, caused by eating the wrong food and a sedentary lifestyle, is on the rise. It’s also preventable. Now Youth Speaks and the Center for Vulnerable Populations have come together to form The Bigger Picture Campaign, a novel way to get word out about the disease. Tonight, eight young poets will be premiering their poetry about the disease from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at The David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way. “This is poetry of provocation, witness, and social justice. We want all like-minded health warriors to be present.” … Continue reading »

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

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BERKELEY JUNETEENTH FESTIVAL Family entertainment is the focus of the annual Berkeley Juneteenth Festival which this year takes place Sunday, June 19, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The RD Bonds main stage will be showcasing the best of the African-American experience: upcoming acts in African drumming, jazz, blues, neo-soul, gospel, rhythm and blues, and reggae. The Lothario Lotho stage will feature specialty performances like dance, spoken word, fashion, and community performers. Alameda County health agencies will be on hand to offer informational workshops and health screenings. There’s a two-on-two basketball tournament; historical exhibits; art for children; and of course, delicious food. Pick up a copy of Vision Magazine when you’re there — a Berkeley Juneteenth souvenir publication featuring highlights about the performers and artists, and stories pertinent to the community. For more details visit the Juneteenth website. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Frameline40 in the East Bay

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It’s time once again for the annual San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival (more succinctly known as Frameline40). This year the Festival further expands in the East Bay, offering five days of programming at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood.

I’ve always had a soft spot for biker movies, so when I read the précis for Ovarian Psycos (screening at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, June 20) my interest was immediately piqued. Could the film possibly be a distaff version of 1971’s legendary gay biker epic, The Pink Angels?

Alas no, but Ovarian Psycos still largely succeeds on its own terms. While the Psycos might be considered a ‘gang’ by some, they ride pedal bikes as opposed to Harleys, and are actually more of a community organization cum bicycle club serving women of color living in or near East L.A.’s Boyle Heights neighborhood.

Primarily (though not exclusively) young and Latina, the Psycos organize large-scale rides through the streets — sometimes dubbed ‘Clitoral Mass’ — in an ongoing effort to reclaim the streets for women. Their meetings also serve as open-ended opportunities to discuss issues that affect members’ daily lives — particularly male violence against women. … Continue reading »

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She’s the boss: Ojai at Berkeley celebrates amazing women

Tyshawn Sorey's "Josephine Baker: A Portrait" closes Ojai at Berkeley Saturday at Zellerbach Playhouse
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Tyshawn Sorey grew up hearing about Josephine Baker as a matriarch of the civil-rights movement who knocked down racial barriers around the world. It wasn’t until recently, however, when the drummer, pianist and composer started to collaborate with poet Claudia Rankine and soprano Julia Bullock, that he came to appreciate her vocal prowess. Cal Performances presents his new work Josephine Baker: A Portrait 8 p.m. Saturday at Zellerbach Playhouse as the closing event of Ojai at Berkeley.

Programmed by artistic director Peter Sellars to celebrate an array of heroines, the festival opens tonight at Zellerbach Playhouse with Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s oratorio “La Passion de Simone” inspired by radical 20th-century French philosopher Simone Weil. The new restaging by Sellars features International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the vocal group Roomful of Teeth, and Julia Bullock singing the part of Weill, a role originally created for her former teacher, the transcendent Dawn Upshaw. … Continue reading »