Dub 101 

Epic Arts goes deep

FRI 4/4

There is no music deeper than dub. Sure, there may be styles whose messages compete with it on the level of philosophical complexity, political savvy, or spiritual significance. But none is so sonically thick, so dense and dark with stuff. The rubbery bass, clattering percussion, and hallucinatory vocals bounce off each other, reveling in an embarrassment of echoey riches. "Always, there is the bass," writes Louis Chude-Sokei in his Dubarcana, "in and out, disorienting like too much movement: the fits and starts of relentless migration. ... And the voices. A doubled eternity, trailing just out of reach to disappear into the silence we call history. Echoes are evidence of passing, footsteps carved in air." Friday, Chude-Sokei brings this love and knowledge of the form to Dub-Gnosis: The Science of Impossible Relationships at Epic Arts Studios. The writer, sound artist, DJ, bass player, and UC Santa Cruz lit professor will lecture on the history and influence of this underground, and often misunderstood, Caribbean art form. "I'm trying to stay away from the academic context," he says, "because that's what I'm usually asked to talk about. I'll probably just present sections from the Dubarcana and spin some records."

The Dubarcana is, in a way, Chude-Sokei's life's work, an "ongoing project compiling a lot of observations and ideas that emerge out of and in relation to dub. Dub informs every aspect of my work, writing, and music, all of the work that I write and publish." And the man knows whereof he speaks. Besides holding a BA and Ph.D in English from UCLA, and having been a distinguished lecturer at the University of the West Indies (presiding over the opening of the Bob Marley Center for Jamaican Cultural Studies), he held down the dub end of Ebony Tower Sound System, a political and media arts collective back that made the LA scene in the '90s. "He's got a really deep, melodic sense of the music that he's a part of and that he plays," says Justin Katz of Epic Arts.

Chude-Sokei will continue selecting records after the lecture ends, so come out and get both your learn and your groove on. The event begins at 8 p.m. Friday, and suggested donation for admission is $10. Epic Arts Studio is at 1923 Ashby Ave. in Berkeley. Call 510-644-2204 for further details.-- Stefanie Kalem

WED 4/2

Cheap Hangs

That's the Sway way

You, too, can afford great art. At least, that's what the folks say at Sway Gallery. One of a bumper crop of new indie galleries to pop up in the East Bay, Sway (2569 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley) hopes to lure new collectors to the creativity of local artists with -- gasp! -- affordable prices. Saturday, April 12, from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., nab a few choice works at Sway's reception, a collection of paintings and photography by six artists, with wine and live music. The exhibition is open daily through May 11 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 510-486-9940. -- Joy White

SAT 4/5

2 Tons of 2-Tone

Do you know how many ska kids it takes to screw in a light bulb? Four -- one to drop it and three to say "pick it up, pick it up, pick it up." Man, that joke never gets old for us, and neither do New York's venerable Toasters, the twenty-plus-year-old collective headlining the Bay Area Ska bill tonight at Ashkenaz (1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley). Rounding out the evening's bill are Warsaw (Skarizona), Go Jimmy Go (Haskaii), and Codename: Rocky (Southern Skalifornia). Doors are at 8 p.m., show starts at 8:30, and tickets cost $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Call 510-525-5054 for more info. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 4/3

Choo-Choo Meow

The Kitty.Hat.Train.Show. What a name. For the nonmercantile mind it opens up numerous whimsical possibilities: cats with hats driving locomotives, railroad engineers with kittens on their caps, etc. But no. "The Kitty.Hat.Train.Show" (note the clever modern use of dots) is really the title of a two-artist show of photography-based installations at 21 Grand in Oakland (449-B 23rd St., 510-444-7263). Adrienne Miller's photos are slices of life taken along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, which are then hung on twine with model train cars. The "kitty.hat" part is Yuri Kilburg's "Kittyhead" -- a series of shots of people wearing the same cat-eared hat. Oh well. Come to the April 10 reception. There's a DJ. www.21grand.org -- Kelly Vance

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