Tag Archives: Freight & Salvage

Sounds of Oaxaca: Pasatono Orquesta play Berkeley

Pasatono Orquesta
Print Friendly

The southern Mexican state of Oaxaca is a realm where indigenous culture continues to thrive in the 21st century. Rather than closing themselves off to outside currents, the Mixtecs, Zapotecs and other peoples of the region are constantly integrating new information, evolution that’s evident in Pasatono Orquesta, a fascinating nine-piece ensemble that makes its Bay Area debut at Freight & Salvage on Wednesday on a double bill with Cascada de Flores.

Championed by artists like vocalist Lila Downs, the intermittently Oaxaca-raised daughter of Mixtec cabaret singer Anita Sanchez, the band has compiled a vivid repertoire of tunes played by the Mixeteca orchestras that traveled the region in the middle decades of the 20th century. Sounds infiltrated from the north and south, and often hung around in Oaxaca long after they went out of fashion elsewhere, like the jaunty Charleston which figures in some Pasatono pieces. But Pasatono’s latest album, Maroma, is something of a departure. Drawing on the music that accompanies Oaxacan circuses, it’s an intoxicating mix of influences such as jazz, polka, chilena and cumbia. … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

Enter the Labyrinth with the True Life Trio

True Life Trio
Print Friendly

While neuroscientists are busy trying to unravel the mysterious ties between music and memory, the women in True Life Trio are conducting their own investigation. A spin off of Kitka, TLT has expanded on that innovative all-women vocal ensemble’s powerfully evocative repertoire of traditional Eastern European and Balkan songs with finely crafted arrangements of Cajun, Appalachian and even Mexican standards. Singing gorgeous three-part harmonies, Leslie Bonnett (voice, fiddle, percussion), Briget Boyle (voice, guitar, percussion) and Juliana Graffagna (voice, bass, percussion) weave together disparate cultural currents to create an improvisation-laced sound that’s raucous, soulful and achingly beautiful.

The trio presents their most ambitious work yet, Like Never and Like Always: A Memory Project, Saturday and Nov. 15 at the Rose Labyrinth in Berkeley’s Grace North Church. A collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Gari Hegedus, Like Never and Like Always is a site-specific song cycle designed to unfold as a life lived backwards. In many ways the Labyrinth itself provided a jolt of inspiration for the project. Initially conceived as a seamless sonic journey, the piece took shape when the women encountered the rose-patterned floor design in a hall ideal for presenting unamplified string music. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

There’s more to Berkeley’s Uncharted festival than ideas

There's more to Uncharted pic
Print Friendly

Discussion, debate, insights, revelations, laughter and inspiration — all of these are a given at Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas which is happening on Friday Oct. 24 and Saturday Oct. 25 in downtown Berkeley. You wouldn’t expect anything less when participants engage with speakers like these.

But Uncharted is a festival. So there is much else to enjoy. Here’s the ‘beyond ideas’ line-up:

Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

UCLA Charles Mingus Ensemble
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , , ,

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

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 »

Print Friendly
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Oh Happy Day! Dorothy Morrison, Blues Broads

bluesbroads_presspic2_notext
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , ,

Cascada de Flores: Incandescent songsters in Berkeley

Cascades De Flores. Photo: Gael McKeaon
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , ,

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
Print Friendly

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.’)

Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

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

2012 Sunday Streets. Photo: Alan Tobey
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , , ,

The definition of funk: Mo’Fone plays Berkeley

Mo Fone
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , , , ,

Leave sharp objects at home: David Bromberg is back

Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , ,

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
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , , , , ,

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

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 11.12.28 AM
Print Friendly

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 »

Tagged , , ,