Star Trip 

From fire dancing to fashions

SAT 5/7

"Bathing her body in fire has taken her to many lands." For the nonmercantile mind, that line of publicity-bait puffery from the bio of former "Cuban fire dancer" Georgeva fairly explodes with metaphorical possibilities. The East Bay performer, now reborn as a fashion designer intent on creating "apparel that might be seen on a Las Vegas runway or a Mardi Gras in New Orleans" in addition to women's business suits, church clothes, and evening wear, wants your mama to spend the day before Mother's Day at Georgeva's thirtieth Annual Mother's Day Fashion Show -- which takes hold of the Best Western Inn at 920 University Ave. in Berkeley this Saturday and never lets go. Tickets are $35 in advance (from Georgeva.com or 510-234-9371) or $50 at the door, which entitles you to the fashion show and hors d'oeuvres. When it comes to Georgeva's line of pigskin skirts, chenille fashions, and French silk outfits, you're on your own. Doors open at 6 p.m., showtime at 7:30. Remember Georgeva's maxim: "Everybody is somebody's star." – Kelly Vance

5/4-5/10

Lit Happens

Catch 'em when they're saplings: Winners of university poetry prizes along with promising students nominated by creative-writing instructors assemble for this installment of UC Berkeley's Lunch Poems series, at Doe Library (Thu., 12:10 p.m.). ... Trust your doctor? New York Times writer David Kirby discusses his book Evidence of Harm -- Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy at Black Oak (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). ... Under the weather? Lie down, listen to the drums, and await the laying-on of hands as Carolyn Brandy and Motherpeace author Vicki Noble lead a group healing ritual at Belladonna (Fri., 7:30 p.m.). ... Murder in a small Southern town sparks suspicion -- what was that grown-up out-of-towner doing with that smooth-talking seventeen-year-old? -- in Jennifer Patrick's debut novel The Night She Died, from which she reads at Spellbinding Tales (Sat., 7 p.m.). ... Life in the projects is cool for successful drug-dealer Chancey, but maybe -- just maybe -- he's found something to make him change his ways: Paula Edwards reads from her streetwise novel The Last Bad Decision at the Oakland Public Library's Eastmont Branch (Mon., noon). ... Stock up on your summer reading, for cheap. Kensington Library's secondhand book sale is at the community center across the street (59 Arlington Ave.), with already-low prices slashed at 3 p.m. (Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.). ... His previous novel One Thousand White Women was the Wild-West tale of how a Cheyenne chief arranged with President Grant to find Caucasian brides for a thousand Cheyenne men in order to produce mixed-race kids. Now in The Wild Girl, Jim Fergus explores Apache life during the Great Depression. Meet him at Orinda Books (Tue., 4 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

THU 5/5

¡Viva la Liberación!

Cinco de Mayo means different things to different people. Instead of drinking large amounts of Corona in a bar, performance artist Maria Elena Fernandez is spending Thursday evening onstage at La Peña getting in touch with her Ancestral Body Navegante -- the name of her first spoken-word piece. Fernandez' performance details her mixed feelings about Mexico -- pride at its liberation from France at the Battle of Puebla, anger at its repression of women -- and her own liberation from shame about her sexuality. The one-night-only show begins at 7:30 p.m. Info: www.lapena.org -- Kelly Vance

SAT 5/7

Different Drummers

There's something in store for you at the Third Annual Oakland Day of Percussion , Saturday at Malonga Casquelourd Center at 1428 Alice St. in downtown Oakland. Come pirouette with the San Francisco Renegades Drum and Bugle Corps and Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble, plus former Journey-man Steve Smith. The 1 p.m. event includes workshops, concerts, and a raffle. $10 adults, $7 students. -- Rachel Swan

FRI 5/6

Stairwell Songs

Old-time is not forgotten

The women of the Stairwell Sisters had no trouble picking their second CD's title, Feet All Over the Floor. It's a line from the old folk song "Cindy," and if there's anything the quintet enjoys at least as much as playing old-time string-band music together, it's dancing, from square dancing to clogging. However, they'll be leaving their dancing shoes in the closet for Saturday's CD release concert at 8 p.m. at the Freight & Salvage.

Everyone sings, and there is no leader dictating the band's direction, "but we all have strong opinions," fiddler Stephanie Prausnitz says. "The Stairwell Sisters' sound blends all of our influences, ultimately old-time, but with country and bluegrass mixed in. Everything comes from that acoustic, Southern Appalachian, African-Scottish-Irish blend." The group really did get its start in a stairwell five years ago, where dobro guitarist and banjo player Lisa Berman and guitarist Sue Sandlin first tried singing together. Berman, Prausnitz, and bassist Martha Hawthorne all played in acclaimed '90s old-time band Crooked Jades, and when they found banjo player and clogger Evie Ladin, the Stairwell Sisters were complete. Inspired by such pioneers as fiddler Tommy Jarrell and mandolinist Bill Monroe, they also cherish the less-heralded female thread in this American music: the two-thirds women Carter Family, the Coon Creek Girls, the duo Hazel & Alice, and the Bay Area's '70s women string bands Good Ol' Persons and Any Old Time. "Women have always made this music," Prausnitz says, "but they haven't gotten the gigs or recordings the men have." It is a heritage the Stairwells proudly carry on. Tickets cost $18.50. TheFreight.org or 510-548-1761. – Larry Kelp

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