Numerous amazing female musicians are performing at the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention, which runs from Thursday to Sunday.
Of the several new music venues slated to open this year in Berkeley, the Back Room will probably be the comfiest.
With her 1,000-watt smile and huge, soul-drenched voice, Destani Wolf doesn’t tend to go unnoticed for long. But after 12 years of carving out a music career in Los Angeles, the Berkeley-raised vocalist quietly slipped back into town last September. She makes her first headlining appearance since returning to Berkeley 8 p.m. Saturday at Freight & Salvage as part of Rhonda Benin’s fourth “Just Like a Woman” extravaganza.
TAKACS QUARTET One of the world’s great string quartets, Sunday’s Cal Performances concert by the Takács Quartet includes works by Haydn, Brahms and the 30-year-old, California-born, Brooklyn-based Timo Andres. The program opens with Haydn’s G minor, Op. 74, No. 3, “The Rider,” one of his most popular quartets. Andres’ “String Language” was composed for the Takács, who premiered it last November in Baltimore. The program closes with Brahms’ third and final quartet (although written mid-career), the B-flat major, Op. 67. 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 21, Hertz Hall. Tickets starting at $64 from Cal Performances. (more…)
BCCO 50TH The Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra celebrates its golden anniversary this weekend with three concerts at UC Berkeley’s Hertz Hall. The program from the non-auditioned community chorus includes the first performances of “I Think I Shall Praise It,” composed by Napa-based Kurt Erickson for the BCCO 50th celebration, two movements from Brahms’ German Requiem, selections from Handel’s Messiah, Sibelius’ Finlandia and Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. In addition to the concerts, the BCCO has built a special website for the 50th birthday, filled with stories about the group’s first half century. Performances are free, but donations are welcome. Friday, Jan. 8, 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9 and Sunday, Jan. 10, 3 p.m., Hertz Hall. (more…)
Downtown Berkeley Association is hanging 85 colorful double banners from downtown Berkeley’s lampposts to launch a new branding campaign, “Meet Me Downtown.” The campaign is being led by the DBA with five partners, the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the new UC Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Freight & Salvage and Visit Berkeley.
Shelley Doty didn’t play in the school jazz band as a teenager but one concept she picked up at Berkeley High continues to shape her musical world. The polymorphous ensemble she brings into Freight & Salvage on Thursday is known as the Shelley Doty X-tet not because as an X-factor guitarist, songwriter and vocalist she can rock, groove, swing, stomp or croon as the particular musical moment demands. Rather, she christened her band with the indeterminate letter because “I recall from high school algebra that X is a variable,” Doty says.
Berkeley drummer John Hanes paid his blues dues at Larry Blake’s in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, a rigorous bandstand education in the fundamentals of laying down a sly Jimmy Reed shuffle and a searing John Lee Hooker boogie. His schooling in the crucible of Larry Blake’s “Rat Band” led to widespread work on the East Bay blues scene, and he attained the kind of authority that let him emerge at the end of a gig backing R&B legend Etta James without the salty tongue lashing she liberally bestowed on drummer’s faking the funk.
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.
NOVELLA CARPENTER AT THE LIBRARY Today, Friday, local writer, urban farmer, educator and activist Novella Carpenter will take part in a free author chat at the Claremont branch of the Berkeley Public Library. The talk coincides with the paperback release of Carpenter’s memoir, Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild. Claremont Branch Library, 2940 Benvenue Ave., 4-5 p.m. Call 510-981-6280 for more information or visit the library’s website. (more…)
Rupa Marya has long been acutely sensitive to issues of life and death. Though she no longer works on the ICU at UC San Francisco, where she’s a doctor on staff, she has spent a lot of time with families and patients in their final days. On stage, she’s married her passion for progressive activism to a global array of styles as the leader of the Rupa and the April Fishes, a high-energy acoustic band that has earned an international following with a series of multi-lingual albums.
BIG HERO 6 The last of this summer’s free movies in the park will be on Friday, Aug. 28 at Live Oak Park, starting at 8 p.m. The free movies are shown by Berkeley’s Parks Recreation & Waterfront Department on an inflatable, 20′ x 12′ screen. Moviegoers are asked to arrive at least 30 minutes before the movie begins. Bring blankets (although it may stay unseasonably warm tonight), sleeping bags and low-back beach chairs (maximum height: 9 inches off the ground). A flashlight or headlamp will help you walking out of the park at the end of the movie. The outdoor films are alcohol-free events. Friday, Aug. 28, 8 p.m., Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck Ave. (more…)
Alive! wasn’t the first top-flight all-women combo in jazz. Going back to at least the 1940s, when the International Sweethearts of Rhythm earned the respect of their male peers and discerning audiences, excellent female musicians have come together to swing and improvise. But the women in Alive!, who mark the 40th anniversary of the band’s founding with a reunion concert Sunday at Freight & Salvage, boldly trod onto new territory when they came together in the mid-1970s.