Holy Catfish! 

Friday Night Fish Fry at Sweet's

FRI 3/26

"Saturday Night Fish Fry" is a post-WWII jump boogie tune by Louis Jordan. The Arkansas alto sax player and singer was a chief architect of rhythm & blues and a popular stylist from the late 1930s to the '50s. With his group the Tympani Five, Jordan crossed over with a humorous menu of tunes on the Decca label, scoring hits with metaphorical food themes like "Honey in the Bee Ball," "Boogie Woogie Blue Plate," "Beans and Cornbread," and "Saturday Night Fish Fry." The idea of food, music, and dance as espoused by Jordan inspired trumpeter Khalil Shaheed and the Big Belly Blues Band to organize its own Friday Night Fish Fry. Starting this Friday, the gifted jazz and blues collective opens a monthly series of dance-party shows with guest bands at Historic Sweet's Ballroom in downtown Oakland. For this aural and gastronomic series, the distinguished Mr. Shaheed, a jazz educator who heads the Oaktown Jazz Workshops, has invited Berkeley's own Mingus Amungus to share the stage. Led by bassist Miles Perkins, the ensemble draws from the music of Charles Mingus for its improvisational explorations, using hip-hop with hardbop and an array of African-rooted music -- of course with a little Mingus lard to help sizzle the fish.

Also sizzling is Happy Homes Seafood, who will be frying up fresh catfish, snapper, and sole dinners with hush puppies. Doors open at 7 p.m., so get there early, because the Big Belly band might swoop down on all the fish! Only kidding -- HHS will make sure there's plenty for everybody. Upcoming guest musicians include Ledisi, O-Maya, and the African Highlife Band.

Historic Sweet's Ballroom, 1933 Broadway, Oakland. This event is 21+ and wheelchair accessible. 510-526-4546. Info: BigBellyBlues.com -- Jesse "Chuy" Varela



Lit Happens

As a child imagining radical tomorrows, Philippa Gregory demanded that her school library stock Mao's Little Red Book; today she spins distant yesterdays. Gregory reads at Lafayette Books from her latest novel, The Queen's Fool, in which rivalries roil between England's Queen Mary and that irresistible androgyne: her half-sister, Elizabeth (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... Leaving Manhattan, Phoebe heads back to her old New Jersey bedroom in Why She Went Home, the latest from chick-lit sage Lucinda Rosenfeld. Ask the author why, indeed, at Livermore's Rios-Lovell Winery, scene of today's Literary Luncheon (reservations required; for details, call 925-443-4354) (Wed., noon). ... After learning her craft at France's prestigious L'École Lenôtre, Alice Medrich turned Berkeley into the new world headquarters for chocolate truffles. Meet the James Beard Foundation Award-winning author of Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate at Cody's Fourth Street (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... He won a Pulitzer and now his latest novel is out in paperback. Berkeley's Michael Chabon reads at Diesel from last year's Summerland, a baseball fantasy aimed at making you never want to grow up (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). ... Born old, Max Tivoli has his work cut out for him when it comes to love. Luckily for him, he's fictional. Andrew Sean Greer reads from The Confessions of Max Tivoli at Rakestraw (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... Those kids: They smoke, they drink, they wax bardic. Spot 'em at the Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam semifinals at Berkeley's La Peña Cultural Center ($4-$10) (Fri. and Sat., 7 p.m.). ... It's more or less raining men in Patricia Haley's new novel Blind Faith. But will our heroine Courtney choose successful all-black Roger or successful biracial Sebastian? Meet Haley at Marcus Books (Sat., 6:30 p.m.). ... Less famous than the Golden Gate, the new suspension bridge connecting Contra Costa and Solano counties has its own high points. Crockett's John V. Robinson hosts a slide show at Easy Going based on his book, Spanning the Strait: Building the Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge (Tue., 7:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus


Fellowship of the Thing

In trying to figure out what sets fraternity members apart from other beer-slurping, skirt-chasing, partymongering college men, photographer Andrew Moisey hit upon the idea that a surplus of brotherhood is "responsible for everything bad and good that happens inside the fraternity house." The Berkeley grad was allowed a certain amount of free access to Greek life because of his younger brother's pledge status, and the result is his debut exhibition, Evidence of Brotherhood, a show of silver gelatin prints currently on display at Cal's ASUC Auxiliary Art Studio. Moisey is now a first-year doctoral student in film studies; his photos owe much to movies, in that they capture action in crisp tones. But don't expect Animal House -- the pictures show ceremonial machismo, quiet bonding, and romantic canoodling (hetero, of course) in a way that highlights their subjects' occasional foolishness, but most often, their vulnerability. Info: 510-642-6161. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 3/28

Late Bloomers

Party in memory of Pat

In 1978, at the age of 53, San Francisco resident Pat Bond was interviewed for Rob Epstein's landmark chronicle of the gay movement, Word Is Out. Thus began the storytelling and acting career of the former WAC and bartender, now deceased. Every two years since 1992, creative late bloomers like Bond have been given the Pat Bond Memorial Old Dyke Award, a prize bestowed upon Bay Area lesbians over sixty. This year, the award will be presented to such local gems as musician, author, and teacher Avotcja; photographer Cathy Cade; Judy Freespirit, architect of the fat liberation movement; Barbara Jue, cofounder of Women Over Fifty and Their Friends; activists Ina May Murri and Stella Lopez-Armijo; and therapist, scholar, author, and teacher Marge Nelson. This year's event, at St. John's Presbyterian Church (2727 College Ave., Berkeley), will kick off at 3:30 p.m. with a reception, and will feature music by activist folk singer Ronnie Gilbert. Donation of $15-$30 is requested per reservation; for info, call 415-392-6257 ex. 321 or visit PatBondAward.com/reservations.html -- Stefanie Kalem


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