The twang gang

THU 3/24

Okay, what's the difference between a banjo and an onion? No one cries when you cut up a banjo. How many banjo players does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Five -- one to screw it in, and four to complain that Earl wouldn't have done it thataway (for the uninitiated, that's a reference to Earl Scruggs, whose three-finger picking style revolutionized the field). Yep, there are plenty more where those came from; banjos and their players have been getting the short string for a lo-ooong time now. Maybe that's why Bill Evans and Jody Stecher are so eager to set the record straight by opening up The Secret Life of Banjos to the public this Thursday at the good ol' Freight & Salvage. Bluegrasser Evans (not that Bill Evans) and folkie Stecher, who've picked with the best of 'em in bands such as Perfect Strangers, Due West, and Bluegrass Intentions and have a combined 82 years of experience with banjos, will be surrounded by all kinds of, um, banjos. Steel-, nylon-, and gut-stringed; fretted and fretless; resonator-fitted and open-backed ... you name it, they'll bring it. Banjophobes, beware -- you will be outnumbered. 1111 Addison St., Berkeley, 8 p.m., $17.50 advance/$18.50 door. Tickets at the box office, from or 866-468-3399. – Nora Sohnen


Lust for Life

Someone's gotta do it

The artist's life is hard. One must be prepared to suffer. Take the Tuscany Travelers. Their job was to go to such Northern Italian vacation spots as Siena, Florence, and San Gimignano, unpack their supplies and set up their easels, then let the creative juices flow. It was grueling, but someone had to do it. And now the East Bay art club and its members -- among them Diane Rodriguez, Norma Webb, Cassandra Antkowiak, Simone Archer, Susan and Dick Dennis, Louise Gray, and Shirl Riccetti -- are back on their home turf for an exhibition of paintings based on their experiences in and around Fonterutoli in Chianti, Toscana, Italia. The show runs through April 22 at John O'Lague Galleria, 777 B St. in Hayward's City Hall (a short walk from BART). There's a reception Friday evening, 5:30 to 8 p.m. 510-538-2787. – Kelly Vance

WED 3/23

The Whole Palabok

To some, director Gene Cajayon's 2000 film The Debut might seem like just another ethnic-tilted coming-of-age romantic comedy, another hyphenated-American youth-market timewaster. But The Debut is one of the first Filipino-American youth comedies, a distinction not lost on the programmers of the Diablo Valley College Film Series, which is screening it this afternoon (Wednesday, March 23, 1 p.m.) in the Forum room of the library building. It's free. 321 Golf Club Rd., Pleasant Hill, 925-687-4445. -- Kelly Vance

FRI 3/25

Ladies Lyrical

Mrs. Wordsmith goes to Oaktown

If you're of the female persuasion and know your way around a rhyming dictionary, there could be $100 and a magazine write-up waiting for you at Club Anton (428 3rd St., Oakland). MCs and spoken-word poets are invited to step up to LIP: An All-Grrrl MC Battle, starting at 10 p.m. Friday. There will be two rounds: one to drop two minutes' worth of original work, and a thirty-second freestyle round. Los Angeles-based rapper, singer, and all-around hip-hop hottie Medusa will perform, and space is limited, so preregister at Info:; admission is $10 before 11 p.m., $12 after. 510-595-5504. – Stefanie Kalem


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