Tag Archives: Freight & Salvage
The Blondies are five teenage boys from Berkeley and Oakland, ages 14 to 17. They are the youngest band to be named Gibson artists and recognized by BAM magazine for their incredible performance energy and original songs. Their harmonies and instrumental prowess are way beyond their years. The band consists of Simon Lunche (lead vocals and guitar), Frank Klopotowski (bass and vocals), Zak Meghrouni-Brown (lead guitar and vocals), Paul Davis (drums and vocals), and Jerry Feist (keyboards and vocals). They attend Berkeley High, Oakland Tech, and Head Royce.
They did a recent Q&A for Berkeleyside:
How did you meet and start your band?
We met through Bandworks, a band camp in Oakland, about six years ago. At that time we had a different bassist. After playing together for about six months, we took a short break and when we got back together our bassist decided not to continue. That’s when we brought Frank in, who Simon also knew from Bandworks. Some of us were already taking guitar lessons from Chris Solberg, formerly of Santana, so we decided to have Chris coach us. … Continue reading »
Guitarist Eric Thompson has been the heart and soul of Berkeley’s old-time and American roots music scene since the mid-1960s, but he got his start down the peninsula in Palo Alto as the youngest member of the Black Mountain Boys, a bluegrass trio featuring Jerry Garcia on five-string banjo and David Nelson on mandolin. A short-lived combo that never recorded — though there’s a bootleg or two floating around — the Black Mountain Boys are regrouping for a performance Friday as part of Ashkenaz’s 40th anniversary celebration (which kicks off tonight with a talent-laden band led by Garcia’s future Grateful Dead bandmate Mickey Hart).
With Garcia unavailable due to his ongoing big gig in the sky, the banjo chair is being filled by Rick Shubb, a distinguished old-time musician who’s probably better known these days as the inventor of the Shubb Capo, beloved by guitarists far and wide. Nelson, renowned as a founder of the New Riders of the Purple Sage, plays guitar, trading roles with Thompson, who’s handling mandolin duties. Filling out the band are fiddlers Paul Shelasky and Suzy Thompson (Eric’s wife and partner in musical mayhem in the Aux Cajunals, Bluegrass Intentions, Todalo Shakers, and other rootsy bands), and bassist Paul Knight, who tours with Peter Rowan and Kathy Kallick. Wake the Dead shares the bill. … Continue reading »
By Tara Taylor
A year ago, Berkeley author Annie Barrows received an email from an old friend that resulted in bringing the characters from her best-selling children’s book series, Ivy + Bean, to life. The email, from Nina Meehan, executive director of Bay Area Children’s Theatre, was a simple question: what do you think about making Ivy + Bean into a musical for kids?
Barrows, along with her publisher Chronicle Books, loved the idea and gave BACT the blessing to transform Ivy + … Continue reading »
Four decades is a long wait between albums, but Chester “CT” Thompson hasn’t been wasting his time. A rising Hammond B3 organ star on the chitlin’ circuit jazz scene in the late 1960s, he recorded his first album as a leader in 1971 for the Black Jazz label, Powerhouse, an LP that’s now a pricey collector’s item (listing for $175 on eBay).
When Thompson gained national notoriety with Tower of Power during its 1970s heyday he gave up his solo career, and went on to a quarter-century run with Santana from 1983-2009, including key contributions to the smash album Supernatural. Since coming off the road, he’s started to delve back into his original soul jazz bag, and he celebrates the release of his second album Mixology (Doodlin’ Records) Friday at Freight & Salvage.
“It’s a little different for me, but I’m having a ball,” Thompson said from his house in Millbrae. “Normally I’m in other bands as one of the supporting cats. I’m working with great players, and that says it all for me. We’ll be featuring cuts off the new CD, and maybe a couple of surprises.” … Continue reading »
Violinist/vocalist Dina Maccabee came to Joni Mitchell relatively late, but once she discovered “Blue” the nakedly confessional 1971 album lodged deep in her musical consciousness. She had the rare opportunity to reimagine the album last year as guest curator for UnderCover Presents at Brava Theatre, an event reprised Monday and Tuesday at Freight & Salvage with the same dazzling cast of some 50 artists.
“Joni’s lyrics stand as poetry on the page; the melodies are inspired and the lyrics are inspired, but her singing is so central to her music it can be hard to separate the core melody from her vocal ornamentation,” says Maccabee, an invaluable presence on the Bay Area music scene who plays and sings in the duo Ramon & Jessica and the Real Vocal String Quartet, among other ensembles. “I was interested in whether you can you take a Joni Mitchell song and not sing it the way she does and still have it stand up.” … Continue reading »
An entire generation of East Bay Jews has grown up celebrating Hanukah with Kaila Flexer. Since launching Klezmer Mania! at the Julia Morgan Theater in 1989, the Oakland violinist has produced an annual Jewish music event that brings an international array of talent to local stages. She serves up the fourth version of “Pomegranates & Figs: A Feast of Jewish Music” at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday Dec. 15 at Freight & Salvage.
Opening with a menorah lighting to celebrate the last night of Hanukah, the triple bill with Berkeley’s Veretski Pass, a klezmer power trio, the string-centric Oakland Folkharmonic, and the blazing Balkan brass ensemble Inspector Gadje. The evening always ends with an all-hands-on-deck finale.
“Each year has its own flavor,” says Flexer, whose primary musical vehicle in recent years is her extraordinary Near Eastern duo with Berkeley string wizard Gari Hegedus. “We’ve been rehearsing in various combinations, which is how it ought to be with musicians living in close proximity. I’m not so interested in throwing things together.” … Continue reading »
NOW IS THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT It seems appropriate that during after such a contested and divisive election The Actor’s Ensemble of Berkeley is performing Richard III, the classic Shakespeare tale of ”the lust for power gone berserk.” The king won’t let anyone stand in the way of his desire for the crown of England. Richard III, directed by Sharon Huff Robinson, is the Actor’s Ensemble’s final production for its 55th season. It runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until Nov 17 at Live Oak Theater.
BOOKS OF ALL STRIPES, GALORE Every book lover in town knows that the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library’s annual book sale is a great place to pick up tomes at a discount. All books, CDs, DVDs, and records are only 50 cents apiece. This year the Friends have added new categories such as sexuality, humor, and vintage. The sale takes place on Saturday Nov. 10 on the third floor of the Central Library at 2090 Kittredge Street and runs from 10 to 4 pm. Lines can be long, so arrive early. … Continue reading »
When it comes to the world’s most dynamic traditional Scottish music duo, everything old is new again. Over the past decade, Scottish-born fiddler Alasdair Fraser and Menlo Park-raised cellist Natalie Haas have turned the Celtic music scene on its ear with their dazzling partnership, a creative bond forged in the Santa Cruz Mountains at Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle School. While the instrumentation initially left many people scratching their heads, wondering about the lack of a piano, guitar or accordion, Fraser points out that in the 18th- and early 19th-century fiddle/cello duos were the standard combo for dances.
“It’s astonishing to me that the cello was so prominent, but it’s well documented that fiddle and cello was the dance band of choice,” says Fraser, 57, who performs with Haas on Friday at Freight & Salvage. “The more we play together the more we feel like the instruments really are bonded musically. It makes perfect sense, two string instruments that speak the same language.
“Our goal is, you have two voices, what kind of conversation can we have, and how full a sound we can make?” Fraser continues. “It’s about carving out a sonic space where we don’t actually say everything. We can allude to the bass notes, and the middle harmonies and touch in on them and leave. We both love the challenge of setting things in motion, and keeping the plates spinning.” … Continue reading »
The four women of the Real Vocal String Quartet know they have something rare and unusual going, but it wasn’t until they answered a last-minute call to collaborate with the Canadian singer/songwriter Leslie Feist that they fully realized the singular nature of the ensemble.
Launched almost a decade ago by Berkeley violinist Irene Sazer, the RVSQ started as a vehicle for her stylistically expansive tunes and arrangements. But with a bevy of the region’s most versatile musicians as collaborators, the group gradually took on a collective identity.
Featuring violinist Alisa Rose, violinist/violist Dina Maccabee, and cellist Jessica Ivry, the RVSQ celebrates the release of its second album “Four Little Sisters” (Flower Note Records) Saturday at Freight & Salvage.
With a program ranging from Regina Spektor’s “Machine” and Gilberto Gil’s “Copo Vazio” to David Byrne’s “Knotty Pine” and Duke Pearson’s “Sweet Honey Bee,” the album encompasses an astonishing array of traditions reconfigured by the quartet’s hardy mélange of conservatory chops, roots soul, and sumptuous vocal harmonies, all laced with improvisational brio. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley High jazz program is the gift that keeps on giving. Hardly a year goes by without at least a handful of excellent young musicians emerging from its ranks, and, while many head east to attend elite conservatories and music schools, Berkeley’s oversized gravitational pull often brings them back home.
Oba, a member of the talent-laden class of 2004, performs Friday (tonight) at the Jazzschool, celebrating the release of her alluring new duo project with bassist Chris Bastian, “Carry On.” One of the finest trumpeters in the Bay Area, Jekabson, class of 1991, performs Tuesday at Freight & Salvage, focusing on music from his ambitious new album “Anti-Mass,” a stellar project inspired by artwork at the DeYoung Museum.
On her debut album Oba displays a gift for crafting memorable melodies and a savvy sense of space, letting her notes breath and ring. As an interactive duo with both musicians inhabiting the foreground she and Bastian engage in a series of graceful pas de deux rather than extended solos with accompaniment. They each contribute four original pieces to “Carry On,” and Oba’s music hints at her primary compositional influence, Thelonious Monk, while her keyboard touch evidences an affinity for the lustrous tone of Bill Evans. … Continue reading »
You can tell a lot about a musical scene by looking at the settings in which it thrives. Two very different events in the coming days embody the way that the demands and practices of a particular tradition can shape its presentation.
On Thursday, Freight & Salvage hosts Alasdair Fraser’s Freight Fiddle Summit, a communal celebration that marks the beginning of the 29th season of his Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School in the Santa Cruz Mountains. And on Saturday, the Transbay Creative Music Calendar presents the 11th/12th Annual Bay Area Skronkathon Bar-B-Q at the Berkeley Arts Festival space on University Avenue, a sprawling all-day event that brings together a vast and varied menagerie of improvisers.
The Summit features the startlingly accomplished Menlo Park-raised sisters Brittany and Natalie Haas, the former a fiddler heard at the Freight last week with Darol Anger and the Furies, and the latter an innovative cellist who often performs in a celebrated duo with Fraser. Reaching beyond the Celtic world, the program also showcases New York accordionist Rob Curto, who tours with Mexican-American vocalist Lila Downs and leads Forró For All, and Claudio Rabeca, who plays his namesake instrument, the rabeca, a fiddle from the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco, where he’s been an essential creative force for the past decade. … Continue reading »
Akira Tana’s affinity for James Bond makes perfect sense when you think about it. A suave and sophisticated drummer with a killer sense of time, Tana quietly infiltrated the Bay Area after some two decades in New York City playing with the baddest cats on the scene. He’s a supremely musical drummer whose persuasive sense of swing leaves a band stirred but not shaken.
After an illustrious career as a first-call accompanist, the San Jose-born, Palo Alto-raised Tana has gradually taken to spearheading his own high concept projects. His 2011 album “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (Sons of Sound) explores title themes from James Bond films, covering four decades of pop cultural artifacts from the era of Mad Men to the twilight of the Clinton Administration. With songs like “Nobody Does It Better,” “Live and Let Die” and “Gold Finger” set to an enticing array of rhythms, James Bond has never sounded so hip.
“It’s really in the jazz tradition to take pop songs and movie music and reimagine them,” says Tana, 60, who presents the Secret Agents at the Freight on Thursday. “Jazz players are constantly looking for new material to interpret.” … Continue reading »
Frieda Hoffman, who runs Local 123, a popular west Berkeley café, trained to be a social worker and wanted to work in the addiction field. She spent six years in Berlin with her then-husband, a German, but had difficulty landing work in her area. So when an American friend decided to open up a café there, and became quickly overwhelmed, she jumped in to lend a hand and discovered that she rather liked the barista business and wound up managing the java joint.
Hoffman and her husband returned to the States in 2008 and toyed with the idea of running an eco inn along the coast, but soon realized that was cost prohibitive. So then they started scouting for café locations – and found the storefront on San Pablo Avenue, formerly a video rental store and a beauty supply shop. (During the build-out, much of which the Local 123 crew did themselves, they discovered placenta hair gel, among other artifacts.)
Her marriage didn’t survive the cross-Atlantic shift but Hoffman decided to soldier on with opening the café – the business was a welcome distraction – and her sister-in-law Katy Wafle, stepped in to help. Hoffman lived above the café until the summer of 2009, when she decided she was done waking up to the sound of coffee grinders. … Continue reading »