Tag Archives: Freight & Salvage

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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Bob Dylan’s ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ visits Berkeley

karina blk and white - beth
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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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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 »


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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