MARK MORRIS MAKES MAGIC Berkeley is blessed to have the Mark Morris Dance Group perform annually at Zellerbach Hall as part of Cal Performances. The group is in residence this weekend and will be performing what the New York Times says “is his luminous masterpiece L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, set to the Handel oratorio of the same name.” Morris’s epic returns to Cal Performances for the fifth time since it premiered in 1988. The production includes a cast of 24 dancers and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorus. “I find no end to the intricacies of Mr. Morris’s construction and the meanings that continually pour from them. It fills the soul with wonder; it fascinates the mind with suggestion” (The New York Times). The performances are Friday and Saturday, March 11 and 12 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 13 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets start at $40. (more…)
Berkeley drummer John Hanes paid his blues dues at Larry Blake’s in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, a rigorous bandstand education in the fundamentals of laying down a sly Jimmy Reed shuffle and a searing John Lee Hooker boogie. His schooling in the crucible of Larry Blake’s “Rat Band” led to widespread work on the East Bay blues scene, and he attained the kind of authority that let him emerge at the end of a gig backing R&B legend Etta James without the salty tongue lashing she liberally bestowed on drummer’s faking the funk.
BIG HERO 6 The last of this summer’s free movies in the park will be on Friday, Aug. 28 at Live Oak Park, starting at 8 p.m. The free movies are shown by Berkeley’s Parks Recreation & Waterfront Department on an inflatable, 20′ x 12′ screen. Moviegoers are asked to arrive at least 30 minutes before the movie begins. Bring blankets (although it may stay unseasonably warm tonight), sleeping bags and low-back beach chairs (maximum height: 9 inches off the ground). A flashlight or headlamp will help you walking out of the park at the end of the movie. The outdoor films are alcohol-free events. Friday, Aug. 28, 8 p.m., Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck Ave. (more…)
Howard Alden makes a powerful impression, even when you can’t see him. In Woody Allen’s great 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown the veteran jazz guitarist supplied the beautiful fretwork delivered by Sean Penn’s fictional Emmet Ray, a tormented musician who describes himself as “the second greatest guitarist in the world” (topped only by the very real guitar legend Django Reinhardt). At the time, Alden wasn’t particularly associated with Reinhardt’s Gypsy swing sound, but he’s a highly versatile player who thrives in just about any setting.
Rafael Manriquez is no longer here to sing his own songs, but the Chilean-born troubadour’s friends, family and colleagues are making sure that his poetic calls for justice continue to reverberate.
BEGINNER’S PARKOUR CLASS Most Berkeleyside readers know the ins and outs of our city. So why not take a weekend to explore familiar terrain from a new vantage point: upside-down, in the air, or rolling over it. SFParkour hosts monthly introductory classes, which occasionally — such as this Saturday, Jan. 10 — take place at UC Berkeley. Parkour is a sport that involves moving quickly and creatively through obstacles in an urban environment. Participants in the class will learn the philosophy of parkour, safety tips, and the basic moves. Everyone is welcome, but attendees under 16 need parental permission. Wear comfortable clothes and running shoes, and meet at Mulford Hall (north of University Drive) at 12 p.m. (more…)
As a griot, Mali’s Bassekou Kouyaté traces his musical lineage back to Sundiata Keita’s expansive 13th century empire, a wealthy polity that encompassed a huge swath of West Africa. His ancestors entertained the royal court and every note he plays on the ngoni, a plucked string ancestor of the banjo, embodies a tradition handed down for generations by word of mouth. But Kouyaté is not beholden to the past. Ngoni Ba, the band he brings to Zellerbach Hall on Saturday for a Cal Performances double bill with Ethiopia’s Krar Collective, represents a radical evolution.
THREESOME: ARTISTS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE The eye-catching title refers to an artistic trifecta — performance, visual, and literary. All three modes of expression will be squeezed onto one bill at the Subterranean Arthouse on Saturday, August 30. Berkeley based singer/songwriter Austin Willacy will perform, as will performance poet Graham Hackett, who goes by LoosiD. East Bay artist Laura VanDuren’s sculptures will be on view. The show begins at 8 p.m. at 2179 Bancroft Ave. Tickets are $15-20. (more…)
The Berkeley City Council declared last May 10 Avotcja Jiltonilro Day and issued a proclamation honoring her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Poetry. The distinction was well deserved, but to get the full measure of this extraordinary woman, come by La Peña on Sunday for her 73rd birthday bash. As a poet, radio producer, playwright, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, and invaluable DJ on KPOO (89.5) and KPFA (94.1FM), she’s connected with a vast and varied array of artists, many of whom will be on hand at the party to read their work, tell their tales, sing their songs, and play their tunes.
STAND UP SIT DOWN If you’re looking for laughs, try the La Peña Cultural Center this Friday for a comedy show hosted by Karinda Dobbins and Dhaya Lakshminarayanan. The socio-political comedians will be treating guests to some stand-up comedy and a sit-down interview with special guest Bryant Terry, a chef and activist who is working to create a sustainable and just food system. Guest comedian Nato Green will also be joining in to humorously discuss current events. To help readers get a proper sense of the event, the La Peña website asks them to “imagine if renegade comedians locked Wolf Blitzer in a broom closet and then ran CNN’s ‘Situation Room.’” The show will go from 8-9:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. (more…)
FOURTH OF JULY AT THE BERKELEY MARINA If you’re not going away for the long weekend and haven’t yet figured out your Fourth of July plans, consider heading down to the Berkeley Marina for a day of live entertainment, food and fireworks. The event starts at noon with musical performances by Bang Data, The Boston Boys, and others on the main stage. On the Buddy Club Stage in Shorebird Park, spectators will be treated to juggling, magic acts and Afro-Cuban drumming. Performances will go until 9:30 p.m. During this time, eventgoers can also indulge in dragon boat rowing (until 5 p.m.), massages, live pony rides, carnival rides and a fireworks show over the water at 9:35 pm. Food trucks and booths will be present as well. This year, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream co-founder Ben Cohen is also bringing his one-of-a-kind StampMobile to the event “to help stamp money out of politics on Independence Day.” Vehicle parking in the marina is $15 for the day and admission is free. (more…)
BERKELEY WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL The 11th annual Berkeley World Music Festival is this Sunday. The free festival will feature Bay Area world musicians outdoors and in various cafés from noon to 9 p.m., and a global crafts fair from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., on Telegraph Avenue. There is also a featured concert of Motown and Latin rock in People’s Park from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., sponsored by Amoeba Music. The crafts fair will feature homemade quilts, hula hooping and other family activities. For more information visit the festival’s website or Facebook page. (more…)