Can I get a witness? This is one of those shows that you'd wish you'd known about if you happened to miss it -- and if you knew about it, you'd do what you could to make sure you didn't miss it. To put you in the know, NY native Maya Azucena returns to town with her "From Brooklyn with Love" show to continue what she calls her "love affair with the Bay Area." The last time she was here, the audience couldn't get enough of her "raw soul" sound. Even after a half-hour encore she left them hungry. But never fear, she's ba-ack to feed your soul with cuts from her universally acclaimed, mind-blowing debut album Maya Who? plus some new stuff from her creative lab. "Performing is a spiritual experience for me," Azucena says. And it's obvious that there is more to her than a pretty face. What she brings to her audience is an energy that begs you to sweat -- at the same time providing a cooling sigh of relief, assuring today's soulful music lover that real singers with rhythm, voice, and writing skills can exist in the plastic world of emp-TV.
While Azucena's voice puts rose blossoms in your ears, her lyrics are more revolutionary than much of the mainstream music industry, with an uplifting and powerful message that is refreshingly inspirational, a sure force to be dealt with. One could go on with wondrous words of appreciation, but they would be slippery, elusive, and inaccurate -- a near miss compared to what she brings to her music. The best anyone can do is to attempt to convince you to peep Azucena and her five-piece band alongside the ubiquitously famous Soul Deluxxe Bay Area legend, DJ Sake-1 this Saturday at 9 p.m. at the Shattuck Down Low in Berkeley, 2284 Shattuck Ave. 'Nuff said. If you didn't know, now you know. You can thank me at the bar.
When it comes to attaching stuff to blank pages, everyone is an author. And every Wednesday night is Scrapbooking Night at Oakley Library, where the spotlight of tonight's meeting is a sticker swap (Wed., 6:30 p.m.). ... In her novel Pope Joan, soon to be a major motion picture, Donna Cross -- true to her name -- created a cross-dressing medieval woman who served under the cross as pontiff. Hash it out with the Sacred Feminine Book Club tonight at Changemakers (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... Wanna chew yet more fat with friends about fiction? For their latest Book Club Evening, staff members at Pendragon present their top choices for future book-club selections. Club members of every stripe can take notes, buy books, sip wine, and shift alliances (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... A model farm, a mountaintop, a president's yacht -- it's all in the newly revised eighth edition of Carol Terwilliger Meyers' Weekend Adventures in San Francisco and Northern California. She shows slides about the seashore and more at Fremont Main Library (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... A teen dies, leaving behind a creepy confessional ledger, which becomes a kind of Bible for his bereft dad in The Every Boy, Sundance award-winning docu-director Dana Adam Shapiro's debut novel. This book, too, will be a film, so ask Shapiro for an audition at Cody's Telegraph (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). ... After suffering massive permanent brain damage from a ruptured aneurysm three months before giving birth to a son, Alan Bern's young wife survived another four years. At Belladonna, in collaboration with dancer Lucinda Weaver, Bern performs poetry he wrote about those years (Sat., 7 p.m.). ... Her previous book The Madonna Murders was a mystery about a missing holy icon; Oakland Episcopal priest Pamela Cranston's new one is a poetry volume, Coming to Treeline. Dream with her about the Adirondacks at Diesel (Sun., 3 p.m.). ... You can't get much more venerable than East Bayite and The Blindfolded Elephant author H.D. Moe, who's the star of a poetry-book party at Pegasus downtown. He shares the mic with Shattering the Veil author Mary Elizabeth Grant (Mon., 7 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus
Shake Your Belly
Belly dancing is often thought of by Westerners as one inclusive art form; most don't realize it incorporates many diverse cultural dance traditions. Take, for instance, the Ghawazee style, which originated along the Nile River in Upper Egypt, and is traditionally accompanied by drums, hand percussion, and mizmars (a cross between an oboe and a trumpet). East Bay belly dancer Alexandria studied Ghawazee under the direction of the famous Banat Mazin family, before founding the Near Eastern Dance Company in 1976. In addition to teaching weekly classes at Ashkenaz, she also presents a showcase every three months or so, spotlighting Egyptian, North African, and Near Eastern folkloric dances, as well as flamenco. Sunday's belly-dancing display, also at Ashkenaz, also features Nitya Venkateswaran, performing South Indian Bharatanatyam dance, and a costume boutique (many hand-sewn by Alexandria) for practicing belly dancers or those who just want to look like them. 7 p.m., $10. Ashkenaz.com -- Eric K. Arnold
Beyond Buena Vista
Hip-hop without Cash Box
Cuban hip-hop's fusion of American rap with traditional Latin and Caribbean influences has already produced one superstar group -- the Orishas -- and at least two compelling documentaries, Cuban Hip-Hop All Stars and Inventos. The cross-cultural phenomenon reveals that not only do the rhyming cadences of rap perfectly blend with the melodic sensibilities of the Spanish language, but that outside of the United States, the culture hasn't lost its heart to the seductive bling of materialism. Social change, economic struggle, and insightful, intelligent lyrics are all recurring themes within the cubano rap genre, and more often than not, the artists' personal stories prove as interesting as their music. The latest film to spotlight this international trend is ANC Hip-Hop Revolution, a documentary which follows rap group Anónimo Consejo ("anonymous advice" en español) through their songwriting, rehearsing, and performance routines, connecting spoken-word rituals to contemporary culture while exploring relevant social issues. The film screens Thursday at 7:30 at La Peña, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, $8. -- Eric K. Arnold
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