Tag Archives: Freight & Salvage

Leave sharp objects at home: David Bromberg is back

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Multi-instrumental wizard David Bromberg isn’t indulging in drug humor when he says that his most important memories of Berkeley “are the ones I don’t have.”

It’s true that he was a ubiquitous presence in the late 1960s, a studio legend who collaborated with the likes of Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, George Harrison, and Jerry Jeff Walker before he even started releasing his own classic albums for Columbia in 1971. But the Berkeley memories he lost came not via acid dropped but a road not taken.

Relocating from the East Coast to the Bay Area in the spring of 1977, he settled in Marin “when I should have moved to Berkeley,” says Bromberg, 68, who performs with his band at Freight & Salvage on Sunday. “There were and are so many good musicians there, and one guy I learned more from than anybody was Jody Stecher. He was the biggest influence on my playing. But I was locked up in the studio and didn’t get out and around a lot.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley turns out to honor Pete Seeger at concert

At the end of the concert, Ronnie Gilbert, Holly Near, Country Joe McDonald and others sand "Goodnight Irene." Photo: Colleen Neff
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Hundreds of people waited hours in line Monday night to get into the Freight & Salvage for a free, all-star tribute to Pete Seeger, who died Jan. 27.

The singers who crowded on stage included Ronnie Gilbert, who formed The Weavers with Seeger in 1948, Holly Near, Barbara Dane, Johnny Harper, Country Joe McDonald, Wavy Gravy, Vicki Randle, Lichi Fuentes, Fernando Feña Torres, Joel Rafael, Evie Ladin, Keith Terry, Erik Pearson, Gerry Tenney, Bill Amanteek, Robin Flower, Barbara Higbie, Shelley Doty, Roy Zimmerman, and Blame Sally. There were so many of them on stage at the same time that their guitar and banjo necks touched. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley becomes her: Suzy Thompson’s old-time odyssey

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Some 40 years ago, Suzy Thompson inflicted on her mother and father just about every aspirational parent’s worst nightmare. Though she had been accepted to Yale, the folk-music-besotted teenager left her Connecticut home, boarded a Green Tortoise bus and headed to Berkeley, where she knew exactly one person.

Thompson not only ended up staying, she’s played a central role in turning the city into an extraordinarily vibrant nexus for an intersecting array of American roots music traditions. A powerful fiddler, skilled guitarist, and beguilingly blues-inflected vocalist, she’s an invaluable force as a player, bandleader, and inveterate organizer responsible for the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention.

Thompson celebrates her amazing musical journey Wednesday at Freight & Salvage with a stellar cross-section of friends and family, including bluegrass icon Laurie Lewis and her long-time musical partner Tom Rozum, and Kate Brislin and Jody Stecher, whose potent and celebrated partnership in old-time music making dates back 40 years. Amazingly, the evening features the first musician she heard perform in Berkeley, jug band legend Jim Kweskin, who she encountered at the Freight within days of her arrival. “I didn’t actually meet him, but I met other musicians and one thing led to another. It was a life-changing thing to hear him play.” … Continue reading »

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The return of vocalist extraordinaire Rhiannon

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Whether she’s improvising fearlessly on stage, teaching a master class, or raising organic produce on her farm in Hawaii, Rhiannon wants to change the world.

A legendary figure among vocalists who helped found Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra, the former Berkeley resident returns for an all too infrequent run of engagements over the coming week, an array of events that offer rare insight into this singular and widely influential artist. On Saturday she celebrates the release of her memoir Vocal River at the Jazzschool with a discussion and performance (she also teaches a Jazzschool master class Sunday morning). On Monday she’s performing at the Jazzschool’s 5th Annual Mark Murphy Scholarship Concert, joining a glittering cast of jazz vocalists at Yoshi’s including Clairdee, Nicholas Bearde, Jackie Ryan and Laurie Antonioli. And on Nov. 25 she performs at Freight & Salvage with the WeBe3, an improvisational vocal trio with Joey Blake and David Worm. … Continue reading »

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Iva Bittová: Deep tales from behind the Iron Curtain

Czech violinist Iva Bittová
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As a  young artist coming of age in Czechoslovakia during the dark years of communist rule, Iva Bittová faced an array of stark options. She could challenge the despotic state directly and face censure and prison, or flee to the west and make her way as an exile. Instead, she choose a different path, mapping her interior landscape and the vagaries of the human heart. With her haunting, darkly sensual vocals and plangently evocative violin, she’s honed a powerful body of work that combines folkloric sources, conservatory technique and avant garde practices.

Singing about life as a series of mysterious encounters grounded in commonplace detail, Bittová makes a rare Bay Area appearance Saturday, Nov. 2, at Freight & Salvage as part of a brief North American tour in conjunction with the release of an eponymous album for ECM (a tour that culminates in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she joins the Calder Quartet for performances of Béla Bartók’s 2nd and 6th string quartets).  … Continue reading »

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Lorin Benedict scats and the Berkeley Festival of Choro

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From a late blooming jazz musician to a versatile flutist besotted with Brazilian music, here are two tales of very different, but equally intense creative sojourns.

Describing Oakland’s Lorin Benedict as a scat singer is kind of like calling Sherlock Holmes a detective. It’s accurate as far as it goes, but doesn’t begin to capture the singular nature of his achievement. Over the past decade, Benedict has crafted an uncanny vocal style employing words and phrases that can easily be mistaken for English, but in fact are entirely of his own invention. At first encounter, he often inspires double takes, followed by slack-jawed amazement at the exuberant but rigorous musicality of his performance.

Benedict performs two shows on Sunday, playing an afternoon Jazzschool gig with the long-running collective trio The Holly Martins featuring saxophonist Kasey Knudsen and Berkeley guitarist Eric Vogler, and an evening Berkeley Arts Festival show introducing a new collective trio with Knudsen and Berkeley clarinet master Ben Goldberg. … Continue reading »

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Bob Dylan’s ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ visits Berkeley

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UnderCover Presents has refined a simple and winning concept. Select a savvy Bay Area musician as guest curator, choose an iconic album, and hire a stylistically diverse cross-section of artists to perform and record each reinvented track. Working with Faultline Studios over the past three years UnderCover has honed its mission with a series of sold-out concerts at various venues exploring six different albums, including The Velvet Underground & Nico, Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, and Joni Mitchell’s Blue.

On Thursday and Friday, UnderCover returns to Freight & Salvage, where they reprised the beautiful Blue production in January, to re-imagine Bob Dylan’s epochal 1965 record Highway 61 Revisited under the direction of Berkeley-raised vocalist Karina Denike (a tremendously gifted and prolific singer who is just starting to come into her own as a songwriter and bandleader). Highway 61 concludes Sunday at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

In an unusual move for UnderCover, the Jewish Museum played a pivotal role in selecting the artist and the album, though Denike says she’d been considering Dylan since getting tapped as guest music director. The museum had been talking with UnderCover executive director Lyz Luke about collaborating for a while, and its exhibition Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg, which closes on Sunday, made Dylan a natural choice. … Continue reading »

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Events

The Freight at 45: Teach your children well

Natalie Cressman. Photo: Michael Weintrob
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If one measure of a music scene’s vitality is the involvement of young musicians committed to making their own mark, the Bay Area is looking hale and hearty. In many cases, an artistic inclination is a family affair, and over the next week Freight & Salvage hosts an array of stellar young players reared in musical households.

On Monday, trombonist, vocalist and songwriter Natalie Cressman performs with a quartet celebrating the release of her beautiful Joni Mitchell-inflected album Turn the Sea. And on Saturday, Aug. 24, the Freight marks its 45th anniversary with Generations, a quadruple bill assembled by Berkeley fiddler/vocalist Suzy Thompson, who performs with her husband, guitar great Eric Thompson, and daughter Allegra, a bassist and vocalist who’s making a name for herself on the old-time scene with the Drifter Sisters.  … Continue reading »

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Planting in the sky: Berkeley’s secret rooftop gardens

The Berkeley animal shelter's roof garden as of fall 2012. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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There’s a secret green side to Berkeley, one that is not visible from the sidewalk.

They are Berkeley’s roof gardens — oases of calm amidst a city of concrete. Some were created to provide food, others to make buildings more energy-friendly. Whatever the reason, they remain mostly unseen.

Over the past few weeks, Berkeleyside has located several living roofs around Berkeley. Of course, journalists can’t fly, so we likely did not find every rooftop garden. By contacting architects, squinting at Google Maps, and combing through past exposés on green living, we found four living roofs scattered around the city. If you know of any roofs that we missed, please let us know in the comments. … Continue reading »

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Grooves from the East: Davka plays the Freight tonight

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Klezmer violinist Daniel Hoffman moved to Israel with ambitious plans to reintroduce the Jewish state to its Eastern European roots, but instead he’s the one who’s been transformed with an infusion of Greek and Turkish soul.

Based in Berkeley before he moved to Tel Aviv in 2005 with his wife, actress Korine Koret, Hoffman was a creative force on the Bay Area Jewish music scene for many years, leading the innovative quartet Davka, which reunites for a performance tonight at 8pm at the Freight & Salvage, and Klez-X (formerly the San Francisco Klezmer Experience), which performs Saturday at St. Cyprian’s Church in San Francisco as part of the Noe Valley Music series.

In struggling to make a living in Israel, a country with a surfeit of accomplished violinists, Hoffman has found himself engaged for a steady flow of Turkish music and Greek rembétika, a raucous style anchored by the percussive strains of the bouzouki. He’s still committed to klezmer, but playing the music in Israel means he’s swimming determinately against the cultural current. … Continue reading »

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Stringing at the Freight: Shasta String Celebration

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In a technologically driven society hurtling toward omnipresent connectivity, embracing a traditional art form can be downright countercultural. For the extraordinary siblings Tristan and Tashina Clarridge, who have won six Grand National Fiddle Championships between them, creating a communal gathering where some of the world’s finest bluegrass, Celtic, jazz and old-time players share hard-won musical wisdom is an extension of an itinerant upbringing that included roughing it in a teepee.

“We were privileged to grow up in an unusual way, which prepared us for the way this event unfolds,” says Tristan, 27, who along with Tashina, 32, presents the rousing conclusion to their Mt. Shasta Music Summit on Saturday at Freight & Salvage. The Shasta String Celebration showcases the dazzling array of talent attracted to the fiddle camp to teach and study, including Indian violin master Kala Ramnath, Grammy-winning Berkeley fiddler and singer/songwriter Laurie Lewis, Appalachian fiddle star Brittany Haas, Nickel Creek bassist Mark Schatz, Scottish fiddle champion Jeremy Kittel, the Clarridges’ innovative chambergrass ensemble The Bee Eaters, and many others. … Continue reading »

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Heard at the movies: Orchestra Nostalgico plays Berkeley

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A great film score doesn’t just highlight the action on screen. It can set the scene, amplify the mood, juice the rhythmic flow, and add psychological depth to characters. At its best, movie music can stand apart from the images for which it was conceived, and for almost two decades Orchestra Nostalgico has dedicated itself to celebrating the work of masters such as Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone, and Bernard Herrmann.

After a long hiatus, Nostalgico is getting ready to record again, and in preparation for the studio the nine-piece ensemble performs Sunday at the Berkeley Art Festival performance space on University. Featuring some of the finest musicians in the region, including woodwind experts Phillip Greenlief and Sheldon Brown, trumpeter Chris Grady, and violinist Catharine Clune, the band is delving into Herrman’s scores for Vertigo and Psycho, Ennio Morricone’s Once Upon A Time In the West, and a suite of John Berry themes for James Bond films. … Continue reading »

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Nell Robinson: Let a thousand flowers bloom

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As a musician, Berkeley’s Hilary Perkins may be a late bloomer, but she’s on the cusp of earning a well-deserved spot on the national stage. A singer-songwriter steeped in bluegrass, country and old-time songs, she performs and records as Nell Robinson, a moniker adopted in honor of her Alabama-raised grandmother. In just a few years, she’s released three critically hailed albums and patiently honed an arresting musical production exploring the stateside costs of American military engagements.

Perkins returns to Freight & Salvage on Saturday with the latest incarnation of the show, formerly known as Soldier Stories and now rechristened as The Rose Of No Man’s Land, with a glittering cast of collaborators including Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, John Doe, Maxine Hong Kingston, and guitarist Jim Nunally (Perkins’ steady musical partner). Perkins is donating proceeds from the concert to support hiring a full-time chaplain for the Berkeley Food and Housing Project. … Continue reading »

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