Every year, a small but diligent East Bay Express editorial staff convenes to decide on a theme for our annual "Best of" issue — which is our alt.weekly counterpart to the Oscars or the VH1 Music Awards. Before said issue goes to press, there's plenty to look forward to: the love letters from local businesses clamoring for our affections; the opportunity to write ecstatic panegyrics to all the small eateries and funky arts spaces that we don't get to salivate over on a regular week; the meetings where we sit in swivel chairs, smoke imported cigars, and wrangle over who makes the final cut.
Okay, I was kidding about the cigars. But the rest is pretty much true: Best of the East Bay is a labor of love. Especially this year, which marks the first "Best of" since the East Bay Express untethered itself from Village Voice Media and became an independent alternative newsweekly. To celebrate, we decided to take it back to the old school, honoring all the people and places who resist the temptation to modernize, franchise, or technologize: the crab shacks and soul food joints where B.B. King still plays on the jukebox; the dive bars with vintage decor; the bands that use MPC drum samplers and live instrumentation; the balladeer who can drape herself over a piano while singing "Willow Weep for Me," and sound like she really means it; the stores that sell coachwhips or typewriters; the DJs who know how to fade a record into another without using Serato Scratch software; the leisurely old-school games whose object was merely to "go home"; the venues where you can sip pre-Prohibition-era cocktails while gazing at cool old shit; the places to find actual old people.
We'll honor the winners this Friday, July 11, at Best of the East Bay Party at the Oakland Museum of California (1000 Oak St.), a beloved old-school institution that's become notably hip. Join the Express at a good-times romp featuring the electro-rap group Hottub (think: fly girly emcees and 808 bass beats); local rock heartthrob B'nai Rebelfront (his bass player is killin'!); the Kev Choice Ensemble (a hip-hop band with a phenomenal horn section and piano player emcee); well-established local ska band the Uptones, Savage Jazz Dance Ensemble (because Mr. Savage is straight from the old school), DJs Malachi and Wonway (OMG, what a couple of hunks!), legendary punk pioneers Flipper (featuring ex-Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic), and more other people than I can rhapsodize about in the space of this preview. There will be food, drinks, movies, skateboards, street dancers, a talent show, a kids' party zone, and much, much more. Check out the program in the center of this week's issue for compete details. Best of all, admission is free. 7 p.m.. MuseumCA.org
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