God's Spell 

Gospel musical at Scottish Rite

SAT 7/17

A pimp was once a man who kept company with a prostitute -- but she paid him to hang around her, after her customers had gone home. Somewhere along the line, that relationship switched around, so that women became far more exploited than the men ever were. In Delaina Burton's new touring gospel play, A Sugga Daddy Ain't Always Sweet, the wife of a corporate exec-turned-evangelist loses interest in her marriage as her husband's bank account dwindles. In search of a new meal ticket, she falls in with a gaggle of pimps and playas, and her husband rallies the strength of God -- and a group of God's people -- around him to survive. Burton codirects this music-filled production with Sid Burston (whose Street Soldiers recently played at Berkeley's Black Rep), and stars include Darryl White (son of Barry), Suga-T, gospel-singing star Keith Pringle, Fitz Houston, and Trish Mann.

Sugga Daddy stops off at the Scottish Rite Theater Saturday, with a show at 3 p.m. and another at 8. Tickets cost $33-$37 from Ticketmaster.com -- Stefanie Kalem

7/14-7-20

Lit Happens

Writing in an obsolescent language didn't keep Isaac Bashevis Singer from winning the Nobel Prize in 1978. As part of the Oakland Public Library's program celebrating Singer's centennial, Naomi Seidman of the Graduate Theological Union leads a discussion in the Main Branch of his famous story, "Gimpel the Fool" (Wed., 5 p.m.). ... WMD or no WMD? Counterintelligence expert William Turner says Bush blew the war on terror. Ask him about that sarin and mustard gas found this month south of Baghdad when he reads from Mission Not Accomplished at Barnes & Noble Berkeley (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... An R&B ace is murdered amid down-and-out denizens of a town that looks a lot like Vacaville in David Corbett's Done for a Dime. Local ex-private investigator Corbett reads at Orinda Books from his thriller, new this summer in paperback (Thu., 4 p.m.). ... Still awake? Berkeley martial arts expert and Healing from Within with Chi Nei Tsang author Gilles Marin teaches anti-insomnia techniques based on qi gong at Elephant Pharmacy (Sat., 3 p.m.). ... Hanging with the likes of David Hockney and Roman Polanski, former New Yorker staffer Lawrence Weschler produced the essays that comprise his collection Vermeer in Bosnia -- in which art, war, memory, and peace spark insights into how everything is related. Black Oak (Mon., 7:30 p.m.). ... Sometimes Father doesn't know best and Mom belongs in jail. El Cerrito's own Margaret Judge reads from her debut novel Time and Time Again, the story of a young survivor of parental sexual abuse, at the El Cerrito Library (Tue., 7 p.m.). ... Crime, colonialism, and Caribbean history catch fire in The Polished Hoe, Austin Clarke's Commonwealth Prize-winning novel. Meet Clarke, whose celebrated memoir was called Growing Up Stupid Under the Union Jack, at Cody's Telegraph (Tue., 7:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

THU 7/15

Two-Man Nut

We're just going to take the liberty of christening Thursday night's event at 21 Grand (449-B 23rd St., Oakland) the Ches Smith and Devin Hoff Fest . Let's start with the nut: Drummer Smith and contrabassist Hoff's acoustic duo, Good for Cows , is playing. They'll be joined by Redressers , featuring Smith, Hoff, Bay Area avant-garde superviolinist Carla Kihlstedt, and cellist Marika Hughes; and 7 Year Rabbit Cycle , featuring Smith, Hoff, some former Deerhoofers, and more. All this envelope-shoving, improv-oriented avant-rock kicks off at 8:30 p.m. 510-44GRAND, 21Grand.org -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 7/17

Celebrate Peace

Gregory Joe Bledsoe began the Oakland Peace Street Festival in response to the events of 9/11. It's now in its third year -- its second at Lake Merritt's Lakeside Park. From noon to 5 p.m., enjoy healthy food, community booths, family activities, speakers such as Angel Kyodo Williams, and Nancy Nadel, and live music by Source of Light, Mary Watkins, Fiyawata, and many others. SourceofLight.com/streetpeace -- Stefanie Kalem

7/6-9/25

World Up

It could only happen at Ashkenaz

We live in one of the richest lodes of world music anywhere, but when was the last time a singer from Guinea or trumpeter from Serbia sat down with you and explained where his or her music came from, how it's made, and why it's so important? That one-on-one is a rarity; bands come, play, and leave for the next city. We cheer and our lives are enriched, but that direct personal connection doesn't happen. Until now. Taproots & New Growth: Cultivating World Music, a brilliant music series beginning this week at Ashkenaz, combines informative, behind-the-scenes talks by world music artists with rousing concert dances. As produced by the venerable Berkeley music and dance community center, where all the events will be staged, "Taproots" premieres this Friday with French Roma (Gypsy) band Les Yeux Noirs. The ensemble hosts a lecture demonstration at 8 p.m., joined by Martin Schwartz, an international expert on Jewish and Greek music. At 9:30 p.m., the band plays its regular concert of Django-meets-klezmer swing. Tickets for that and most of the series events are $5 for the lecture or demo, or $15 for both.

Guinea's Bembeya Jazz stars on July 21 and 22, followed by the Congo's Kekele (July 31), Madagascar's Jaojoby (August 13), Near East Far West (August 13-14), and Serbia's frenetic Boban Markovic Orkestar (September 19), with more events in coming months. Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley.

For more info or a "Taproots" full schedule, call 510-525-5054 or visit Ashkenaz.com -- Larry Kelp

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