Tag Archives: Linda Tillery

Rupa Marya: A songwriter at the cusp of life and death

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Rupa Marya has long been acutely sensitive to issues of life and death. Though she no longer works on the ICU at UC San Francisco, where she’s a doctor on staff, she has spent a lot of time with families and patients in their final days. On stage, she’s married her passion for progressive activism to a global array of styles as the leader of the Rupa and the April Fishes, a high-energy acoustic band that has earned an international following with a series of multi-lingual albums.

These days however, Rupa’s musical and personal focus has shifted decidedly inward. Since giving birth to her son Bija in September of 2013, she’s recalibrated her sound to harmonize with her changing consciousness, a transformation wrought by bringing a new life into the world and nurturing him. Her remarkable new album Oval , which surrounds her voice with a silken skein of strings, reflects her new state of mind, and she’s celebrating the CD’s release Wednesday at Freight & Salvage. … Continue reading »

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Tango with a Z: Playing the seductive dance in Berkeley

Photo: James Marco Starr
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With its seductive conflation of eros and combat, tango has beguiled many a music and dance lover, so there’s nothing surprising about Bendrew Jong’s obsession with Argentina’s most passionate export. What’s unexpected is that his expertise in tai chi and kung fu provided ideal physical and mental training for mastering tango’s intricate dance moves, and that dancing has made him more dangerous on the mat.

“Tango is the ballroom dance closest to martial arts, and when I spar I use tango moves all the time,” says Jong, the lead singer and bandoneon player for Orquesta Z, which performs at Ashkenaz on Thursday, March 6 and Palache Hall in St. Clement’s Episcopal Church on Claremont Avenue on Sunday afternoon, March 9.

“Tango is all about balance, keeping focused, extending a leg but not shifting weight, and it felt natural after all the tai chi I’ve done.”

Founded by Jong around the end of 2010, Orquesta Z is a quintet featuring an impressive cast of musicians, including violinist and Crowden School instructor Jim Shallenberger, a founding member of Kronos Quartet who spent years touring with the hugely popular production Forever Tango. Holy Names Symphony violinist Carol Braves was earliest member of the ensemble to join Jong, followed by Prometheus Symphony bassist Sandy Schniewind, and pianist Barbie Wong, who teaches at the Oakland Public Conservatory and also plays a mean ukulele. … Continue reading »

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Soul Queens on the scene: Linda Tillery and Faye Carol

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Let us now praise soulful women. Linda Tillery and Faye Carol aren’t merely charismatic singers with an encyclopedic command of African American musical idioms. They’re activists who have devoted their lives to tending the roots so that rising generations can draw spiritual sustenance from that same gloriously rich culture.

On Tuesday, a glittering cast gathers at Freight & Salvage to raise funds for Tillery, who’s facing medical bills and down-time after knee replacement surgery. The program features Tuck and Patti, trombone wizard Wayne Wallace’s Quintet, pianist/composer Rebeca Mauleon, body music innovator Keith Terry, guitarist Ray Obiedo and Caribe (which features members of Santana), and vocalists Molly Holm and Faye Carol.

“I think Linda is a warrior princess,” says Carol, a longtime Berkeleyan who is also presenting a concert at the underutilized Black Repertory Group Theatre on Sunday to raise awareness and funds for her afterschool program Music In the Community (MITC), which she’s operated on shoestring for the past decade. … Continue reading »

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