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Friday, December 20, 2013

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

Zaineb Mohammed —  Fri, Dec 20, 2013 at 7:30 AM

It's Friday, it's almost Christmas, and tomorrow is the winter solstice—lots to celebrate! Here are our expertly selected suggestions for the five best ways to spend your time this weekend:

The 45th 45 Sessions
For its 45th show, the 45 Sessions will host Natasha Diggs and Danny Holloway at Legionnaire Saloon. Diggs and Holloway are famous in New York City and Los Angeles, respectively, for spinning vinyl on 45s: Self-described treasure hunters and vinyl collectors, they’re sure to bring their extensive catalogs and devotion to cratedigging to the festivities. Diggs, who opens a party for Q-Tip every week in New York, is partial to funk, soul, disco, and house. Holloway is an avid reggae fan — he spent a year living in Jamaica and worked on three Bob Marley albums. With their presence, the 45 Sessions — during which local DJs Platurn, E Da Boss, Enki, Delgado, and Mr. E typically spin soul and funk — should be even more eclectic than usual. Friday, Dec. 20. 9 p.m., $10. LegionnaireSaloon.comMadeleine Key

John Murry
  • John Murry

Winter Solstice Concert with John Murry and Friends
Singer-songwriter John Murry, who was born and raised in Tupelo, Mississippi but now lives in Oakland, makes poignant, bluesy rock ’n’ roll music. His debut album, The Graceless Age, released earlier this year, details his struggle with substance abuse and how he overcame addiction. It received acclaim from NPR, The Guardian, Uncut, and American Songwriter, but interviews with Murry reveal his river of discontent runs deep: He’s a poet that sees mostly darkness, with occasional flickers of light. On The Graceless Age, his husky-yet-delicate voice is accompanied by touches of guitar and piano. The album veers toward dreariness, but Murry’s storytelling is so unadorned and honest (e.g., I held my hands out, blood-stained, and I got my doubts) that he’s transfixing, not depressing. Listening to him, along with openers Melissa Phillips and Vincent Rodriquez, an Americana folk act, at The Starry Plough this week should be cathartic. Saturday, Dec. 21. 9 p.m., $7-$12. TheStarryPlough.comM.K.

The Octopus' Winter Solstice Salon
What better place to celebrate the winter solstice than at an observatory, and what better way to do it than with holiday-themed music, stories, and, of course, hot cider? This Saturday, the beloved, local literary event The Octopus takes over Chabot Space and Science Center for an evening of family-friendly lit-nerd fun, including musical performances by The Hot Toddies; a participatory reading of several original solstice plays, written by octopus founder Rebecca Grove; carols, storytelling, and crafts aplenty; a live video feed of the solstice sunrise piped in from Ireland; and access to Chabot’s super-powerful telescopes, all the better to gape at the setting sun and, later, the stars, with. Saturday, Dec. 21. 4-10 p.m., $12. OaklandOctopus.orgEllen Cushing

Oakland Ballet Companys The Nutcracker.
  • David DeSilva
  • Oakland Ballet Company's The Nutcracker.

The Nutcracker
Now in its fourth festive year, Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker is a renewed tradition for the Oakland Ballet. The homegrown company has performed versions of the holiday classic for more than forty years; this one is set in early-20th-century Vienna, and its grown-up party setting is an elegant complement to the Paramount Theatre. But Lustig emphasizes family-friendly fun throughout, with a cadre of children cast as dancing bonbons and waltzing snowballs, and a vibrant Land of Sweets confected from gingerbread, lollipops, and gumdrops — what could be a more perfect crossroads for the beloved Spanish, Russian, Arabian, and German dances? Michael Morgan directs the Oakland East Bay Symphony in Tchaikovsky’s soaring score, accompanied by Mt. Eden High School Women’s Ensemble and the Oakland Youth Chorus. Children can meet their favorite characters and enjoy refreshments at Sweet Dreams parties after the 2 p.m. shows (with separate $15 ticket). To save 10 percent on performance tickets, purchase at the box office and bring a nonperishable food item for the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Saturday through Tuesday, Dec. 21-24. Sat. & Sun. 2 p.m., Tues. 11 a.m., $20-$59.50. OaklandBallet.orgClaudia Bauer

Winter Solstice Celebration
Celebrate the longest night of the year at Upswing Aerial Dance Company this Saturday. The organization’s biennial party includes an aerial dance performance in which troupe members will swing from ropes, harness tissue, and bungee cords, as well as a dance by the company’s younger student group, Teens Who Fly. Beginning with an invocation led by musicians Sahib Amar and Amar Singh, the evening will ramp up with a performance by the Cajun/zydeco group Midnite Ramblers and a solo piece by vocalist Dave Worm. Get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions by participating in an art installation that invites audience members to share their intentions for the New Year. Saturday, Dec. 21. 5:30 & 8 p.m., $20 in advance, $25 at the door, $10 for kids seventeen and under. UpSwingAerialDance.orgZaineb Mohammed

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 Zaineb.Mohammed@EastBayExpress.com.

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