Tag Archives: Freight & Salvage

Berkeley’s own return to town to perform jazz the LA way

UCLA Charles Mingus Ensemble
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You’ll rarely get an argument on the streets of Berkeley by disparaging Los Angeles. While oft-maligned as a cultural wasteland, LA actually boasts a vast, vibrant and well-entrenched cultural scene that continues to draw the East Bay’s sons and daughters, particularly standout players from Berkeley High’s vaunted jazz program. On Sunday, several recent BHS graduates return from the Southland to perform at Freight & Salvage with the UCLA Charles Mingus Ensemble under the direction of composer James Newton.

Originally created as part of a class that Newton teaches as a professor of ethnomusicology in UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music (he’s arguably the most celebrated jazz flutist of the past four decades and a longtime collaborator with Berkeley percussionist/bandleader Anthony Brown), the group took on an identity of its own during a tour of Macedonia and Kosovo earlier this year. … Continue reading »

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Uncharted Berkeley Ideas Festival: What’s it all about?

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Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas is coming to downtown Berkeley on Oct. 24-25.

You may have heard about Uncharted, either recently, or last year, when the inaugural festival was held to much acclaim.

But what is an ideas festival? What happens there? Why should you come? Check out the snappy video above which was created to answer those questions, and more. … Continue reading »

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Oh Happy Day! Dorothy Morrison, Blues Broads

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As a young gospel singer, Richmond-raised Dorothy Morrison was used to people catching the spirit in the pews. But nothing prepared her for the lightning strike of gospel’s biggest hit ever, “Oh Happy Day,” which she recorded in 1968 with the Edwin Hawkins Singers at Berkeley’s Ephesian Church of God in Christ. These days, she’s bringing sacred music to the rough-and-ready repertoire of the Blue Broads, the powerhouse foursome that returns Freight & Salvage Thursday June 26 featuring church-proven belter Annie Sampson, blues great Tracy Nelson, and Texas tornado Angela Strehli. … Continue reading »

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Cascada de Flores: Incandescent songsters in Berkeley

Cascades De Flores. Photo: Gael McKeaon
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Asked to name four or five of the most important Bay Area venues where musicians can try out new concepts and even savvy music fans are likely to overlook Berkeley’s Cheese Board Collective. But with two acts a day Tuesday through Saturday, the informal setting has proven to be an invaluable proving ground for acts like internationally acclaimed jazz crooner Ed Reed, the versatile blues combo Kickin’ The Mule, and most recently the incandescent Latin American songsters Cascada de Flores.

Celebrating the upcoming release of a gorgeous new album, Radio Flor, the duo of vocalist Arwen Lawrence and guitarist Jorge Liceaga perform Saturday at Freight & Salvage with a bevy of close collaborators, including percussionist Brian Rice, bassist Saul Sierra-Alonso, and Marco Diaz on piano and trumpet. … Continue reading »

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

The artists of The Possible gather on the rug at the Berkeley Art Museum. Photo: Fritz Haeg
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THE POSSIBLE CLOSING CEREMONY The closing ceremony for ‘The Possible,’ an exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, will begin this Friday, May 23, at 7:30 p.m. ‘The Possible’ re-imagines the museum as the locus of an ever-evolving artistic projects that connects the artists with the community. This final celebration of creative spirit will draw together artists from around the Bay Area. There will be music, dancing, and ceremonies honoring those who made the whole exhibition, well, possible. Tickets are $7. It should be noted that there will also be a free garden bazaar on Sunday, May 25, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., where the gallery will be ceremonially emptied. Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2626 Bancroft Way. (Read our review of ‘The Possible.’)

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Food, culture, campus: Downtown Berkeley’s best?

2012 Sunday Streets. Photo: Alan Tobey
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Downtown Berkeley has seen a major revival in recent years, with a profusion of new restaurants and extensive development planned. Not everyone is happy with the changes, and the future of downtown continues to be a controversial topic.

On a lark, Berkeleyside asked readers to share some of their favorite downtown spots on Facebook. And, given the penchant in this town to offer criticism or complaints as a means toward progress, it was a bit of a shock to see the immediate outpouring of excitement about places locals love downtown.

Within a few hours, we had nearly 50 comments. Ideas — totaling about 80 recommendations — continued to come in for days. By no means is this intended to be scientific or exhaustive, but our question certainly hit a nerve.

We’ve included all the suggestions, along with some highlights provided by readers, in the map below. Click the markers to learn more. … Continue reading »

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The definition of funk: Mo’Fone plays Berkeley

Mo Fone
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The Oxford English Dictionary has yet to add the word “’Fonology” to its hallowed lexicon so let me provide this helpful definition for the euphonious noun. ’Fonology: the study of distilling grooves to essential components. Credit for its coinage goes to the potent East Bay trio Mo’Fone, which celebrates the release of its captivating third album ’Fonology Thursday May 15 at the Freight & Salvage.

Featuring El Cerrito drummer Jeremy Steinkoler and the prodigious horn section tandem of San Francisco baritone saxophonist Jim Peterson and Berkeley altoist Larry De La Cruz, Mo’Fone has honed a singularly propulsive sound based on the insight that less can be more when it comes to funk. … Continue reading »

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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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