Sunshine!!! Anyone who's lived in the Bay Area for more than a millisecond knows this is short-lived, so enjoy it while you can. Here are our critics' top five picks for what's going down this weekend:
Laurel Street Fair
It’s common for street fairs to follow the same format of food and drink purveyors, arts and crafts vendors, and family-friendly street performers replicated in indistinguishable iterations at festivals across the US. Still, some fairs succeed in standing apart — and the Laurel Street Fair (MacArthur Blvd. and 35th Ave., Oakland) is a good example. The thirteenth annual fest spans three blocks, featuring everything from a fashion show and flash mob to a classic car show and music performances by The Marcos Silva Quintet and other local acts. It also coincides with the final event in the illustrious Oakland-based soul singer Valerie Troutt's Laurel Pop-Up Series (3832 MacArthur Blvd.), which includes an impromptu choir, dance lessons, and art-making from noon to 5 p.m. On Saturday, Aug. 11. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., free. LaurelDistrictAssociation.org — Cassie McFadden
Sample and compare thirty different Zinfandels while savoring smoky fare prepared by chefs from Bocanova, Sonoma Smokehouse, and Picán at the second annual Grille-O-Rama on Saturday, Aug. 11, at Rock Wall Wine Company (2301 Monarch St., Suite 300, Building 24, Alameda). Organized by nonprofit Zinfandel Advocates & Producers, the event features wines from El Dorado County, Nevada County, Sonoma County, and six other California growing regions. Winning wines and chefs will be selected by a panel of expert judges. 2 p.m., $50. 530-274-4900 or RockWallWines.com — Anneli Rufus
Johnny Talbot & De Thangs
Guitarist Johnny Talbot was the principal architect of Oakland funk, having deep fried Texas blues and second-line New Orleans syncopation in a pot of East Bay grease. One of the few musicians to have played The Fillmore auditorium when it was a black dance hall operated by Charles Sullivan and when it was a rock palace run by Bill Graham, he and De Thangs were the band of choice in the mid-1960s for opening James Brown shows and backing such touring artists as Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Etta James, and Big Mama Thornton. The Texas-born musician has kept a relatively low profile in recent times, although he continues to rehearse his sextet at least twice a month. Talbot and De Thangs make an extremely rare appearance at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Capri Lounge (474 Roland Way, Oakland), $15, DMCBayArea.com — Lee Hildebrand
What is a place, let alone a “true” one? Eleven Portland-based artists have trained their practices on more or less this question, each digging at it from a different angle. In appreciation of their shared thematic and aesthetic sensibilities (all of them work predominantly in paint), the group recently formed a collective that gathers monthly for critique and dialogue. Now, they are exhibiting together at Swarm Gallery. The artists’ points of inquiry vary dramatically: Adam Sorensen produces alien, iridescent landscapes that read somewhere between the utopian and the post-apocalyptic, while Kendra Larson describes more realistic locales, imbued with the romantic sense of awe and reverence that one may find in solitude in the woods. Ruth Lantz, meanwhile, working from the limited information of pinhole photographs, yanks her scenes into indeterminacy and abstraction. Space and place seem to trouble one another on her canvases, where potential landscapes cower behind fractured geometric patterns. True Places runs through August 19 at Swarm Gallery (560 2nd St., Oakland). 510-839-2787 or SwarmGallery.com — Alex Bigman
Fans of heavy music will have a tough time trying to choose which show to attend on Saturday, Aug. 11, with Portland's Agalloch at Great American and Tigon's record release at SUB-Mission. But perhaps they should try a third option: One of the most unusual and ethereal performances will be held in a backroom at the Oakland Metro (630 3rd St., Oakland), where the Providence, Rhode Island-based all-female choir Assembly of Light will perform with and alongside sludgy Portland two-piece The Body and Greensboro, North Carolina's atmospheric experimentalists Braveyoung. Two years ago, the choir contributed to The Body's All The Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood album, a union (and subsequent tour) that was apparently so fruitful that it led to continued collaboration, this time on Assembly of Light's self-titled debut, which will be released later this month by At a Loss Recordings and which features The Body vocalist Chip King, plus members of Braveyoung, Work/Death, Daughters, and more. On this tour, Assembly of Light, The Body, and Braveyoung will perform their own sets separately and collaboratively, plus special guests SutekhHexen and Evan Caminiti of Barn Owl. It should be unlike anything you've heard before. 7 p.m., $10. OaklandMetro.org — Kathleen Richards
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