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Friday, June 29, 2012

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 7:01 AM

FRIDAY. Here's what's up this weekend:

Alameda County Fair
Last year, the Alameda County Fair made the Guinness World Records for producing the world's largest "commercially available" hamburger (it weighed in at a whopping 777 pounds). This year marks a less caloric (though no less weighty) landmark for the annual fete: the fair's centennial. Festivities are already well underway at the Alameda County Fairgrounds (4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton), but you can still catch events like the hot-dog eating contest on Wednesday, July 4; the diaper derby on Friday, July 6; and all the barbecued, battered, and fried delights that keep us coming back each year. Through July 20. Tue.-Thu. 11 a.m.-10 p.m; Fri.-Sun. 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; July 4 11 a.m.-9 p.m. $6-$10, free for kids under six. 925-426-7559 or AlamedaCountyFair.com — Cassie McFadden

Mayer Hawthorne
Stones Throw crooner Mayer Hawthorne isn't the only current pop artist to traffic in old paradigms — so-called "revival music" has enjoyed wide currency for at least a decade. And it continues to proliferate, as more young musicians realize that the best way to honor their Seventies forbears isn't via chopped samples, but rather through capable, exacting imitations. That notion helped fuel the success of artists like Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, the late Amy Winehouse, cloying balladeer Bruno Mars, and even Hawthorne's labelmate, Aloe Blacc. But 33-year-old Hawthorne stands out in particular, not only because he's mastered the high falsetto warble and dapper sartorial choices of a doo-wop singer, but also because he's given the style his own contemporary spin. Hawthorne draws as much inspiration from J. Dilla and Madlib as from old Isaac Hayes records — many of his songs have the ultra-clean polish of contemporary hip-hop or R&B. For a nostalgia act, he's remarkably fresh. Hawthorne and his band, The County (a catch-all moniker for a rotating cast of backup musicians) will open for Foster the People at The Greek Theatre (2001 Gayley Rd., Berkeley) on Friday, June 29. 7:30 p.m., $37.50. APEConcerts.com — Rachel Swan

Metaphysical Graffiti
There are only a couple days left to see one of the best shows of the year. At Art Murmur's newest gallery, Famous Four Colors (1525 Webster St., Oakland), Chicago artist Hydeon and Oakland-based artist Billy Sprague combine their visions for Metaphysical Graffiti, a show of drawings featuring magical landscapes populated by dreamlike creatures that aim to rule and hypnotize all they encounter. While pattern-based fantasy art — if that is indeed a genre — is already becoming blasé in many graphic-oriented art circles, these two shirk that trend by reaching deep down into a motif-filled grab bag of prisms, owls, swords, scales, and other medieval-like symbols, and pull out an entirely fresh, even revelatory mix of wildly imaginative work. Through June 30. 510-999-5059 or FamousFourColors.org — Obi Kaufmann

The Kipling Hotel
To watch Don Reed's 2009 one-man show, East 14th: Tales of a Reluctant Player, was to fall in love with his style. He displayed an uncanny knack for chopping a four-year period out of his autobiography, shaping it into a perfect narrative arc, conveying the story through a repertory of character impersonations, and squeezing a moral from the end. And Reed managed to accomplish all that without resorting to platitudes (not until the end, at least) or sacrificing any humor. His new show, The Kipling Hotel, is about serving brunch to senior citizens as a part-time job while studying speech and debate at UCLA. Reed uses his endlessly elastic body to morph easily from character to character — he even throws in an over-the-top E.T. impression — while providing a vivid account of what it was like to be an African-American college student who'd come up from the inner-city. The historical backdrop — Los Angeles during the era of Reaganomics, crack cocaine included — heavily informs Reed's story, though he manages to find humor in even the most unfair and painful circumstances. Through March 25 at The Marsh Berkeley (2120 Allston Way, Berkeley). $20-$35. 510-704-8291 or TheMarsh.org — Rachel Swan

DJ Nu-Mark
An average DJ is someone with hand-eye coordination, nice gear, and a tasteful record collection. A great DJ has all of those things, plus the technical skills to treat his turntables as a melodic instrument. But a superlative DJ is someone with real ingenuity and imagination. Los Angeles-based turntablist Nu-Mark is one such example. In two years of slinging wax, he's accumulated more than 35,000 records, served in the alt hip-hop group Jurassic 5, and incorporated children's toys into his sets — including a wind-up monkey with cymbals, a tiny miniature drum set, and even a rubber band. He'll perform at The Rock Steady (1741 San Pablo Ave., Oakland) on Sunday, July 1, alongside Platurn and Enki, two locals whose fixation with seven-inch records led them to create the popular 45 Sessions dance party. For them to bag someone of Nu-Mark's caliber was definitely a coup, and should be a treat for Oakland's hip-hop scene. If you want to see a high level of craftsmanship restored in DJing, look no further. 3 p.m., $5. TheRock-Steady.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.

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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