The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley, weekend of May 3-5

The fifth annual Bay Area Book Festival takes place this weekend, with hundreds of authors at venues throughout downtown Berkeley and a free outdoor festival. Photo: Michael Hitchner

BAY AREA BOOK FESTIVAL The fifth annual Bay Area Book Festival runs at numerous venues in downtown Berkeley on Saturday and Sunday. Over 300 authors will be speaking in more than 100 sessions, many of which are free to the public. Here’s an entirely subjective Berkeleyside pick of some Book Festival events that should be top of your list. 1. The Uninhabitable Earth: author David Wallace-Wells interviewed by Julian Brave NoiseCat, 10 a.m. on Sunday. Wallace-Wells’ book is depressing, compelling and essential reading to understand how understated many of our worries about climate change are. 2. The Unbreakable Human Spirit: Albert Woodfox, who spent four decades in solitary confinement for a crime he didn’t commit, interviewed by Shane Bauer on Sunday at 5 p.m. 3. Let the World Move: Speculative Fiction from the Periphery. First and second-generation immigrant writers Lesley Nneka Arimah, Alice Sola Kim, Carmen Maria Machado, and Namwali Serpell in conversation about their work at 1:30 p.m on Saturday. 4. The Business of Brutality: Slavery and the Foundations of Capitalism. Pulitzer Prize winner David Blight, Stephanie Jones-Rogers and Caitlin Rosenthal examine how much of our economy was built on the backs of slaves, at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. 5. There are three sessions moderated by, ahem, Berkeleyside staff (which of course should be top of your list). On Saturday at 11:45 a.m., Lance Knobel interviews George Estreich and Jamie Metzl about their books on genetic engineering and What Does It Mean to Be Human; Frances Dinkelspiel moderates Christian Kiefer, Lauren Wilkinson and Takis Würger in Which Side Are You On? Loyalty in Fiction at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday; and, finally, Knobel interviews acclaimed historian Nell Painter about her memoir of going to art school at age 64, Old in Art School, also at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday. In addition to the many author talks, there’s a free outdoor fair and children’s events throughout the festival. Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5, from 10 a.m. throughout downtown Berkeley. You can also watch documentaries on Berkeley author Ursula K. Le Guin and former Berkeley resident (and journalist and Congressional candidate) Robert Scheer.

BULBFEST OK, we know this is outside Berkeley’s borders. But just a few steps away, you might want to check out Bulbfest, a two-day festival to highlight the landscapes of Albany Bulb with dance performances and new art installations. The theme of the 2019 festival is “Resilience,” and organizers says the works will explore the resilience of nature in the face of climate change and sea level rise, as well as human resilience in the face of individual and societal changes. The art opening for Bulbfest will be on Saturday from 4:30-6:30 p.m.; dance performances are on Sunday from 12-4 p.m. Albany Bulb. To learn more, don’t miss the Berkeleyside write-up by Andrew Gilbert.

DIDO AND AENEAS Since it’s a weekend strong on literary themes, how about immersing yourself in Henry Purcell’s rendering of Virgil’s tragic tale of Dido and Aeneas, in two performances by the University Baroque Ensemble. Apparently, the ensemble is the only student group worldwide that performs on original 18th-century instruments, not just replicas (and, needless to say, plays with performance styles based on what scholars have determined was prevalent in the baroque period). Friday, May 3, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 5, 2 p.m., Hertz Hall.

GUITAR TRIFECTA Award-winning guitarists Calvin Keys, Carl Lockett and Lloyd Gregory have come together to form The Guitar Trifecta, which will perform at The Back Room on Saturday. Here’s what The Back Room has to say: “The distinct voice of each member, from the soulful and melodic grooves of Lloyd Gregory to the muscular single note solo style of Calvin Keys to the exhilarating creativity of Carl Lockett, combine to create the type of musical conversations that Wes Montgomery would listen in on.” Saturday, May 4, 8 p.m., The Back Room, 1984 Bonita Ave.


FREE COMIC BOOK DAY Back to the literary undercurrent of this weekend: all of the branches of Berkeley Public Library will be celebrating Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, with (you guessed it) hundreds of free comics being given away. In addition to the free comics, there are workshops and other activities in all the branches. The day overlaps with Star Wars Day – bad pun alert: May the 4th be with you – so many of the events will have Star Wars themes. Saturday, May 4, 1-4 p.m., all branches of the Berkeley Public Library.

Don’t miss these other events covered on Berkeleyside:

At BAMPFA: A notable retrospective of abstract classicist artist Frederick Hammersley
‘The Chaperone’ marks a return to Berkeley for Louise Brooks
Have piano, will travel: John Brothers Piano Company plays the Book Festival