Not only is "local" the new black; it's also the dominant paradigm for progressive business movements. And it's particularly important in Oakland, where growth happens organically, and the economy hinges on small independent businesses. A panoply have sprung up in recent years, and they've all but transformed the city's once-sterile downtown. Walk down Broadway these days and you'll find a retail corridor dotted with artisan clothing boutiques, mom-and-pop restaurants, educational sex toy shops, and small breweries. If you remember the scene as recently as ten years ago, it's just mind-blowing.
Undeterred by an initial fall in ratings, and skepticism over whether a show about backstage pratfalls in musical theater can really make a viable prime time soap opera, producers at NBC have launched an aggressive promotional campaign for the new show, Smash — and now it includes a philanthropic component. NBC recently teamed up with the New York-based theater education company iTheatrics to launch a new program that would bring musical theater to underprivileged schools. The two companies will help bankroll musical theater programs at 20 schools in 20 US cities, including West Oakland, where they've mounted this weekend's production of Annie Jr. at West Oakland Middle School (991 14th St., Oakland).
Look out. For the first year ever, the Express will co-present this year's Art & Soul Oakland with the City of Oakland. The two-day event, to be held Saturday and Sunday, August 4-5, 2012, at Frank Ogawa Plaza (14th and Broadway), will feature a more diverse music lineup, plus an art show (courtesy de Young Museum artist fellows and artist-in-residence alumni, and American Steel), film projections, "light-based art," food trucks, and kids' activities. Also exciting: extended hours on Saturday night till midnight. Free bike parking and easy access by public transit. More details to be announced. Stay tuned...
Saturday, August 4, 2012, 2 p.m. to midnight
Sunday, August 5, 2012, noon to 6 p.m.
Advance online: $10 adults; $5 seniors (65 and older) & youth (13-17); free for 12 & under.
At the Gate: $15 adults; $8 seniors & youth; free for 12 & under.
Outside Lands announced its 2012 lineup this morning, and, as expected, it's quite the eclectic mix: Metallica, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Jack White, Foo Fighters, Beck, Skrillex, Sigur Ros, Justice, Dispatch, the Kills, Regina Spektor, Passion Pit, Andrew Bird, and many more. There's also a healthy sprinkling of local talent (in addition to Metallica and Mr. Young), including Grandaddy(!), Two Gallants, Geographer, Wallpaper, and Thee Oh Sees. Also worth noting: Big Boi is giving it another try. Other highlights: Zola Jesus, Tame Impala, The Walkmen, Washed Out, and Explosions in the Sky. The festival happens August 10-12 in Golden Gate Park. See the full lineup here.
Chicago-born free jazz saxophonist, Distinguished Darius Milhaud Professor of Music, and all-around idiosyncratic figure Roscoe Mitchell will premiere a series of new orchestral works at Mills College this Saturday, including pieces for string quartet, alto saxophone quartet, saxophone and piano, solo percussion, and chamber orchestra with opera vocal - baritone Thomas Buckner will sing a vocal composition based on the poem "Would You Wear My Eyes," by Beat writer Bob Kaufman. Mitchell is best known as a founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, both of which helped consolidate the avant-garde and improvised music scenes that were blooming in Chicago during the 1960s.
In case you missed it, Lil Kim (not this one, this one) has rebranded herself as a cabaret star, of sorts. During her last Bay Area tour, the famed mistress of Junior M.A.F.I.A. descended on the Rrazz Room at Hotel Nikko, for an "intimate," grown and sexy performance. At least one East Bay Express commenter gave it rave reviews. Now she's coming to Oakland for a night of hip-hop at the East Bay's premiere LGBT club, Bench & Bar (510 17th St., Oakland). It goes down Saturday, March 17, at 9 p.m. and tickets cost $60, though we suspect a night with the self-claimed "Ms. G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time)" could be worth every penny. Grab yours here.
Looking for a productive way to spend your Thursday? We recommend this evening's screening of The Interrupters, Steve James' multi-award-winning documentary about Ceasefire, a gang intervention group in Chicago whose members mostly came up in gangs themselves. James, who also directed the 1994 basketball documentary Hoop Dreams, has been snubbed twice by the Oscars, but his new film won the prestigious Best Director prize from the Directors Guild of America. Not to mention it garnered accolades from East Bay Express film critic Kelly Vance.
To borrow the language of former East Bay Express editor Rob Harvilla, here's another way to avoid cultural ostracism: Come to tonight's early show at The Layover bar, featuring Safe, Uncle Ricky, and DJ Bobby Peru. Then drop their names the next time you're at a cocktail party and the talk turns to music. You'll look really cool, we promise.
Show starts at 8 p.m. and costs nothing.
We're pretty impressed that Oakland Yoshi's is now rebranding itself as a sometime comedy venue, with its rather imaginative decision to host a series of SF Sketchfest shows this week, including Thursday's twofer with Reggie Watts and Robert Glasper. Dave Chappelle will appear there tonight and tomorrow, with what's sure to be the best comedy set Oakland has seen since — well, since the last time he came to The New Parish. For those who can't afford the $55 tickets (which are available online only), we have the cheapo redux below: