Happy November! Here's what you're doing this weekend.
Dwele and Slum Village
For someone who mostly sings about love and relationships, Andwele Gardner (aka Dwele) is actually pretty hard knock. At age ten he saw his father get fatally shot outside the family home. That childhood trauma, and the emotional wounds it generated, ultimately steered Dwele toward music. The singer said he began writing songs as a form of catharsis. He also played a variety of instruments (trumpet, guitar, piano) and listened to a ton of hip-hop. Dwele made his name working with the late producer J. Dilla and singing hooks for the group SlumVillage, though he eventually consolidated his career as a solo artist. His 2010 album W.antsW.orldW.omen drew influences from jazz, gospel, and R&B, and included political ballads that begged comparison to Marvin Gaye. Its lead single, "What's Not to Love," was beautiful and immediately catchy, bolstered by Dwele's luxuriant tenor. He'll perform with SlumVillage at The New Parish (579 18th St., Oakland) on Saturday, Nov. 5. 9 p.m., $28-$45. TheNewParish.com— Rachel Swan
The fact that playwright Brian Thorstenson based his new work, Embassy, on a Joan Didion quote should tell you two things: First, that it's high-minded, and second, that he didn't intend for it to be intelligible. Hence the bizarre plot: An ambassador on an unnamed Caribbean island is trying to remodel his embassy, right as the US government issues orders for him to redeploy to war-torn New Kazakakurgistan. And there's more complication, in the form of a boat of low-wattage light bulbs sailing in from Venezuela, a bat-guano harvesting operation, secret agents, mistaken identities, and someone called "The Third Man." Got it? If not, don't worry. The main selling point of this play is the character acting, which is singularly fantastic. Richard Frederick plays the likeable dandy, Ambassador Blundercart; Olivia Rosaldo plays his sassy housekeeper (and main eavesdropper) Carmelita; and Cole Alexander Smith is improbably convincing as The Third Man, whose entrance in Act II is preceded by Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man." Gary Graves directs. Through Nov. 20 at BerkeleyCity Club (2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley). $14-$25. 510-558-1381 or CentralWorks.org — R.S.
Space lovers will find ample opportunity for stargazing at the Bay Area-wide Star Party on Saturday, Nov. 5, in which twenty schools, observatories, and science centers from Antioch to Walnut Creek (including Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science at 1 Centennial Dr.) open their doors and share their telescopes for free observations of the night sky. Held in conjunction with the nine-day Bay Area Science Festival, the event features viewings and observation tips by both professional and amateur astronomers, plus astronomy-related lectures and events at certain locations. Check website for a full list of participants and activities. 7-11 p.m., free. 650-949-7888 or AstroSociety.org/events/starparty.html — C.H.
Hula Festival and Competition
The spirit of aloha will fill the Alameda County Fairgrounds (4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton) on Friday through Sunday, Nov. 4-6, when it's home to the 31st Annual Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival and Competition. In fact, the spirit has wafted far and wide, and halaus from the East Bay (including Oakland's own Academy of Hawaiian Arts, which took home numerous awards last year), the Peninsula, Central and Southern California, Washington State, and, of course, Hawaii are set to participate in solo (Friday) and group (Saturday and Sunday) competitions. There are numerous men's, women's, and junior categories to watch, and hopefully swell weather for perusing the Hawaiian arts and crafts booths while savoring island-style food. Fri. 3-11 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; $12-$15. 650-355-6451 or KumuHulaAssociation.com. — Claudia Bauer
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.