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Friday, April 13, 2012

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

Fri, Apr 13, 2012 at 6:15 AM

Fuck Coachella, there's plenty going on right here in the East Bay. The five our critics are most excited about:

Small Worlds
Robert Brady is a treasure — a prolific East Bay genius who has been consistently showing his art locally for 45 years. In his new show, Small Worlds, an intimate collection of work at Trax Gallery (1812 Fifth St., Berkeley), we get a succinct cross section of the master's portfolio of ceramic sculpture. The cozy gallery, complete with koi pond and shaggy dog, is the perfect casual environment for this understated show. Amid an almost biological array of large, painted stones are small, figurative works that resemble bright, animistic totems nearly springing to life with expressionist candor and a kind of wit that only decades of honest practice can bring. Even in Brady's few paintings on display, form is a platonic notion that's not understandable without the filter of his own interpretation. Small Worlds runs through April 29. 510-540-8729 or TraxGallery.com — Obi Kaufmann

EBX <3 RM
  • EBX <3 RM
Rachel Maddow: "Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power"
If you don't have a major crush on Rachel Maddow by now, you're not paying attention. Already a Rhodes Scholar, celebrated news-show host, and vaunted amateur mixologist, the Stanford alumna apparently decided that wasn't enough and decided to write a book. Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power proves that Maddow isn't only one of the sharpest minds out there, but she's a bang-up writer as well. She'll discuss it at a KPFA-sponsored lecture hosted by Max Pringle at the King Middle School Auditorium (1781 Rose St., Berkeley) on Friday, Apr. 13. Tickets are sold out, but you'd be forgiven for selling your firstborn for a Craigslist find. 8 p.m., $15. KPFA.org/events — Ellen Cushing

The Seshen
Local seven-piece outfit The Seshen might seem top-heavy with personnel, but its debut album, which mixes urban house and world-music styles, sounds remarkably polished and clean. Bassist and producer Aki Ehara is the core of the band. He constructs songs with heavy, mechanized drumbeats and warm, ample hooks, buoyed by the warbled voices of Lalin St. Juste and Akasha Orr. The band already has a strong local buzz, and its debut — available for $5 on its Bandcamp page — will only propel it forward. The Seshen will celebrate its album release this week with Audio Angel (aka Rashida Clendening), a singer who launched her career in the underground house scene but has the vocal capacity for jazz and soul. She'll perform with DJ Matt Haze, who specializes in German, Nigerian, and Brazilian music, and touts his talent for "disemboweling" a crowd — well, let's hope not. DJ Gstar of Hella Gay will round out the lineup with hip-hop, pop, and electro. At Vitus (201 Broadway, Oakland) on Saturday, Apr. 14. 9:30 p.m., $5, $10. VitusOakland.com — Rachel Swan

Wild, Foraged, and Indigenous Foods Fest
At the Berkeley Farmers' Market (Center Street at Martin Luther King Jr. Way) on Saturday, Apr. 14, a Wild, Foraged, and Indigenous Foods Celebration features free samples galore while spotlighting some of the local wild produce that Native Americans ate centuries ago. Kevin Feinstein (aka Feral Kevin) of the Foraging Society will introduce his book The Bay Area Forager, Tanya Stiller will explain how to harvest and prepare wild seaweed, Kyra Epstein will discuss her handmade herbal teas, and Emilia Sumelius-Buescher will discuss the syrup she crafts from local elderberries. Finally, Alicia Funk will present her book Living Wild. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. free. 510-548-2220 or EcologyCenter.org — Anneli Rufus

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The Bad Plus
Doing a trio version of a pop song has become standard practice in the jazz world, and, with groups like Robert Glasper Experiment putting their own spin on Nirvana or Floetry, it's certainly not outré to hear a group like The Bad Plus tackle David Bowie or Tears for Fears. That said, this New York outfit takes an unorthodox and weirdly reverent approach to its deconstruction and reinterpretation of familiar tunes. Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer David King understand that pop offers certain pleasures — cloying sentiment, earwormy melody, ample harmonies, and a slick finish — that are all worth retaining, even in an avant-garde format. Thus, their take on "Smells Like Teen Spirit," while syncopated and dissonant, is every bit as catchy as the original. Same goes for their slow, balletic rendition of Radiohead's "Karma Police." Here's a group that could easily build its career reinventing Cole Porter; instead, it's done something both more accessible, and more imaginative. The Bad Plus will appear at Yoshi's (510 Embarcadero, Oakland) Friday & Saturday, Apr. 13-14, at 8 & 10 p.m., and Sunday, Apr. 15, at 6 & 8 p.m. $15-$20. Yoshis.com — Rachel Swan

Plus...
Get your cheapskate on: This is how much we love you guys: Here are our searchable listings of every single free event happening in the East Bay this weekend.

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Feed Us: Got any East Bay news, events, video, or miscellany we should know about? Holler at us at Ellen.Cushing@EastBayExpress.com.

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