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

    BERKELEY BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATION Berkeley’s third annual Black History Month Celebration takes place Sunday, Feb. 28, 2-5 p.m. at the Ed Roberts Campus. The theme this year is “History Makers” and throughout the day people and events important to Berkeley’s history will be acknowledged and celebrated. The program includes a workshop at 2 p.m., “Violence in the Black Community: Cause and Strategy,” facilitated by Cal State East Bay sociology professor Benjamin Browser; and a panel presentation with Black Lives Matter members Barbara Ann White, Spencer Pritchard and Marcel Jones, discussing the rationale for the organization, operating principals, and the group’s work and activities. There is also a premiere showing of Fair Legislation: The Byron Rumford Story, a documentary about the second African-American assemblyman elected to the California State Legislature. A reception and Q&A with producers and cast members will follow the 3:30pm screening. There’s live music by Soul Progression; gospel mime group Double Portion of Praise; and six-year old singing sensation De’Or — as well as  RJ Reed’s “Black Inventions Display”, created to teach children about the contributions of black American inventors. Berkeley Black History Month Celebration, Sunday Feb. 28, 2-5 p.m. Doors open at 1:30pm. Admission is free and open to the public. Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St. (opposite Ashby BART).
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  • The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

    COACHING FOR LITERACY EVENT Coaching for Literacy has partnered with Cal Bears basketball to offer an “all-access” fan experience to raise funds for literacy work during the Saturday Feb. 6 Stanford game in Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears join 17 other NCAA institutions and the Washington Wizards as a member of Coaching for Literacy’s 2015-16 Assistant Coach Program schedule. The initiative is to raise valuable awareness about the problem of illiteracy in America. Currently, 19% of high-school graduates in America are functionally illiterate. Financial support will also be raised and directed to literacy efforts in the Bay Area through The Re(a)d Zone – an initiative of the 50 Fund, the legacy initiative of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. Details at CalBears.
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  • The utopian vision of the Ben Goldberg School

    Interviewing choreographer Twyla Tharp for an upcoming story about her 50th anniversary tour I was struck by her description of her new dance “Preludes and Fugues” set to J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier as belonging to a utopian streak long at the center of her work. “You take a huge responsibility in imagining the world as it should be,” she said.

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

    EAST BAY OPEN STREETS Thousands are expected to take to the streets of North Oakland and Southwest Berkeley this Saturday, May 30, from 11 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for car-free fun at the second annual Love Our Neighborhood Day, a production of Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) in association with the Downtown Berkeley Association and North Shattuck Association. A one-mile stretch of San Pablo from Ashby to Stanford will be closed to traffic to make way for the public to walk, bike, skate, dance, stroll, play and experience these evolving neighborhoods in a whole new way. More than 60 interactive health, fitness and arts activities will take place hosted by local artists, performers, community organizations, churches, neighborhood groups and area businesses. Sales are limited to food from local vendors and area brick-and-mortar businesses. Highlights include: “Riveropolis,” an interactive play river curated by North Oakland artist Gregory Gavin; egg-carton gardens with City Slicker Farms; pedal-powered sewing machine art; recycled art with Sticky Art Lab; Berkeley Maynard Academy student science fair exhibit; and community story boards and chalk art activity. There’s also a plethora of live music all along the one-mile footprint, as well as delicious food offerings. Visit www.eastbayopenstreets.org for full details. (more…)

  • Paul Hanson: Bringing the Bass(oon) to Berkeley Friday

    Paul Hanson has spent much of his life taking the bassoon into realms where the horn has never before traveled. From world jazz and klezmer to funk and rock, the Berkeley native refuses to be bounded by the irascible double-reed’s traditional symphonic role. Based in American Canyon since the end of a four-year stint with Cirque du Soleil in Japan, he returns to town for a California Jazz Conservatory performance at 8 p.m. Friday with the duo Oon featuring the inventive electric bassist Ariane Cap.

  • New music in Berkeley: Leaping into unexpected realms

    There’s something irresistible about experiencing a composition at its premiere, about the possibility of witnessing an imaginative leap into unexpected musical realms. On Friday, East Bay trumpeter Ian Carey reprises his new work Interview Music: A Suite for Quintet + 1 at the Hillside Club, where he’ll be recording the suite with his talent-laden ensemble. And on Sunday, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (SFCMP) launch Project TenFourteen at Hertz Hall, an unprecedented season-long collaboration with Cal Performances featuring 10 newly commissioned works premiering over the course of four concerts.

  • The It List: Six things to do in Berkeley this weekend

    REMEMBERING HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI  Aug. 6 and 9 mark the 69th anniversaries of the nuclear bombings of the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki by U.S. armed forces, effectively ending World War II. This Friday, to commemorate these anniversaries, the Newman Nonviolent Peacemakers will be hosting a movie screening of Oliver Stone’s “The Bomb” — part of his series, “The Untold History of the United States” — followed by a discussion. The event is free and will go from 7-9 p.m. at Newman Hall, 2700 Dwight Way. (more…)

  • Aoife O’Donovan: Off the crooked path

    After a decade-long run as lead singer in Crooked Still, Aoife O’Donovan is taking full advantage of her unattached status. Since the popular Boston string band announced an amicable disbanding in 2012, O’Donovan seems to be popping up everywhere, lending her cool, silvery vocals to a fascinating array of settings.

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

    CONVERGENCE One of the highlights of this year’s Jewish Music Festival will be Sunday night’s performance of Convergence by Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, together with Bay Area klezmer trio Veretski Pass. “I knew no precedent of a Yiddish song organically growing out of a Negro Spiritual, but inside my own head — and I hesitate to say this, but in my heart — I felt I didn’t particularly need a precedent,” explains Russell. Convergence combines diverse strains of traditional Jewish and African-American music to explore exile, spirituality, hope and redemption. The performance includes animation work by San Francisco-based artist Meredith Leich. Tickets ($25, $22 for students, seniors and JCC East Bay members) are available from Brown Paper Tickets. 7 p.m. Sunday, March 23, JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut St.  (more…)

  • An all too black comedy of unintended consequences

    You probably know that you and I — actually, all of us collectively, homo sapiens the species — are responsible for a truly alarming reduction in the number of other species on Planet Earth. But apart from occasional stories in the media about endangered polar bears and black rhinos and the like, you may feel, as I do, that it’s tough to get terribly excited.

  • Saxophonist Steve Heckman gets off the Trane track

    For much of his career, Oakland saxophonist Steve Heckman has worshipped at the altar of John Coltrane, with every gig a veritable quest to attain the spiritually charged intensity that defined Trane’s epochal recordings of the early 1960s. He left no doubt about his mission with first two albums, 2003’s With John In Mind and 2005’s Live at Yoshi’s. But his new CD, Born To Be Blue, finds Heckman in a more lyrical state of mind, focusing on American Songbook standards like Berlin’s “How Deep Is the Ocean,” Van Heusen’s “I Thought About You,” and Schwartz’s “Alone Together.”