Beenie, Baby 

Dancehall at DownLow

7/22, 7/23

A major dancehall reggae star like Beenie Man performing at a relatively small venue like the Shattuck DownLow qualifies as a big bumbaclaat deal for those who follow the dancehall scene. Arguably the genre's biggest contemporary star, Beenie Man (born Moses Davis) has been a consistent notcher of lyric-infused hits (among them "World Dance," "New Suzuki," and "Wicked Slam") since the mid-'90s, leading dancehall's recent surge into international acclaim with 1997's "Who Am I (Zim Zimma)." Since then, Beenie has recorded with A-list hip-hop and R&B stars like Wyclef, Mya, and Janet Jackson, stormed the UK charts, and weathered the storm of a gay activist campaign against his occasionally homophobic lyrics, which he claims he no longer performs live in this country. As they say in Jamaica, easy star! Musically, Beenie is the reggae equivalent of a stylistic smorgasbord, with a thematic range encompassing everything from Rasta mon chants ("Kettle Drum") to antiviolence cautionary tales ("Murderer Remix") to "Look, ladies, I'm sexy" tunes ("Dude") to historical remembrances of martyred black leaders ("Steve Biko") to twangy C&W/dancehall mash-ups ("Ain't Gonna Figure It Yet"). To see him in a club environment should make the experience more personal and intimate, and might even be worth the $35 cover charge for his two shows Friday and Saturday nights. For wha' gwaan, visit ShattuckDownLow.com -- Eric K. Arnold

7/20-7/25

Lit Happens

Fine dining becomes more sinister than ever in Kit Sloane's latest mystery, Extreme Cuisine, as a film editor and a director scope out mayhem in a chic Hollywood restaurant. Sloane signs copies at Borders Pleasant Hill (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... Harboring the muse since 1848, the Golden State produces poets and raisins. Diesel hails the fifth anniversary of UC Press's New California Poetry series with readings by Laura Mullen, Geoffrey G. O'Brien, Martha Ronk, Carol Snow, and Juliana Spahr (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... Too young to become an author? No way. A picture-book-making workshop at the Oakland Library's Rockridge branch shows kids aged six to eight how to get started (for registration and details, call 510-597-5017 (Thu., 3 p.m.). ... Which parts of you are still asleep? An experiential workshop at Berkeley's Elephant Pharmacy, led by psychotherapist Linda Graham, author of the forthcoming book Growing Up and Waking Up, set those inner alarm clocks (Fri., 12:30 p.m.). ... Three Sudanese Dinka boys fled their besieged villages and became refugees before being relocated to America. Benson Deng, Alephonsion Deng, and Benjamin Ajak discuss their survival -- as described in They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky -- at Cody's Telegraph (Sat., 7:30 p.m.). ... A heroin overdose killed David Lerner, but many still miss the Mission District poet. Poetry Express hosts a book party and reading for Lerner's The Last Five Miles to Grace at Berkeley's Priya Indian Cuisine, featuring Bruce Isaacson, Julia Vinograd, David Gollub, Mark States, Vampyre Mike, and others, followed by an open mic on the theme "dead poets" (Mon., 7 p.m.). ... Merging the surreal and the traditional, venerable Greek poet Nanos Valaoritis -- author of Allegorical Kassandra and Feathery Confession -- is a legend in his own time. Valaoritis' friends read from his work at Moe's (Mon., 7:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

FRI 7/22

Sibling Bling

Zadell sounds like a made-up jazz scat word, as uttered by Ella Fitzgerald or Dinah Washington, but it's actually an amalgam for talented brother-and-sister act Dave and Zoe Ellis. Both have earned their props: Saxophonist Dave was an original member of the Charlie Hunter Trio, and has led his own various groups, while vocalist Zoe has clocked time in the Mo'Fessionals, the Braids, and SoVoSo. In addition to microbrews, local love will flow at Jupiter on Friday, as the duo is joined by Miles Perkins, Sundra Manning, Martin Reynolds, Caitlin Cornwell, and Dmitri Matheny. 8 p.m., no cover. JupiterBeer.com -- Eric K. Arnold

SAT 7/23

Main Street Mix

Nothing says "Summer's here, it's time to party!" like classic rock 'n' roll. The right mix of sound is crucial for an eight-bar confessional to touch your soul -- say, bluesy guitar with haunting organ riffs and yearning, desperate lyrics -- like the Mixers do on "Seven Days." They'll be in fine form Saturday for their first-ever Pleasanton appearance at Main Street Brewery, 830 Main St. 9:30. -- Eric K. Arnold

SAT 7/23

He's Good for You

Now shut up and take your Knopfler

Proselytizing for Mark Knopfler to anyone under thirty is a real ball-buster. How do you compete with one of the biggest stadium rock hits of the '80s, complete with an absently bleating Sting, the proud brandishment of sweatbands, and the only Top 40 appearance of the word "faggot"? If coercive methods like starvation, humiliation, and the undermining of social support structures don't do the trick, here's a useful program: First, purge the environment of any evidence of Brothers in Arms and all subsequent albums. Establish a daily regimen of the first three Dire Straits records, '78 to '80. This is where Knopfler, an Englishman to the core despite his Scottish/Jewish heritage, cut the template for what he still does best -- wry but beautiful impressions of tough neighborhoods, hardworking loners, and complicated lasses, with virtuoso guitar work expressive enough to inspire any musical illiterate. Skip ahead to his solo work, where he finally lives down "Money for Nothing" and broadens his themes to include Jim Crow, the California dream, and pirate love. At this point, the victim should be ready for the arena rockabilly that Knopfler stoked to stardom in 1985. But better than a drawn-out hazing process, just drag the skeptic to Berkeley's Greek Theatre on Saturday (show time 8 p.m.). This should have the same effect as a bracing Shakespeare production on a squirmy kid. Girl it looks so pretty to me, like it always did, the now-white-haired maestro will rasp, like the Spanish city to me, when we were kids. If by then the word has still not been received, the quarry obviously has no soul to save. For info and tickets, call 510-642-9988 or Ticketmaster: 415-421-TIXS. -- Andrew Marcus

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