This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 2 Oh, crikey. Someone has given that former Express cover boy, Liminal Arts' Devin Satterfield, a night to book at the Ivy Room, and he's tucking into the pie with gusto. Tonight at the East Bay's best dive bar, the main attraction is singer-songwriter Sam Edson (late of Walrus) and some of Satterfield's favorite local DJs. Next Wednesday will feature the Black Swans, Bermuda Triangle Service, and Dominic East, and on the 16th, the Hobo Goblins will entertain. These showcases are always free, and rumor has it the bar is now regularly stocking spicy green beans for a superior Bloody Mary experience. The Ivy is at 858 San Pablo Ave. (at Solano) in Albany, and it's always 21-and-up. 9 p.m. 510-524-9220. IvyRoom.com -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 3 Ralph and Carter Stanley's legendary bluegrass band was even more of a family affair than you may realize -- the boys' mother taught them the clawhammer style of banjo picking they became known for. After Carter's death in 1966, Ralph soldiered on, and Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys became a celebrated bluegrass outfit, notable for their gospel flavor and, more important, for Ralph's high, haunting, and dead-on singing style. It's no surprise that the San Francisco Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival is kicking off its sixth year tonight and tomorrow night with the band's current incarnation (including guitarist Ralph Stanley II) at the Freight & Salvage. And if you really want to support the fest, it's hosting another two-night stand at Epic Arts on the same nights, with the Barefoot Nellies and Jeff Kazor and the Swerve Beats. Info: SFBluegrass.org -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 4 Regardless of what Punxsutawney Whatshisface said on Wednesday, winter isn't leaving the Bay Area any time soon, which makes it awful hard to leave the house some Friday nights. "But it's Friday!!" you mewl to the bathroom mirror, loath to slap on face paint and brave the whistling wind into the weekend. You're not sixteen anymore, dammit -- so what if you want to stay home with your crocheting and your favorite loose-leaf tea? Well, Julie's Coffee and Tea Garden has the answer to your recreational conundrum: Crafting Night at Julie's. Spend tonight in the bucolic island hamlet of Alameda, sipping soothing brews and getting your craft on. Stitching, knitting, weaving, drawing, whatever -- bring it on down to 1223 Park St. between 7 and 10 p.m. Fridays, and just chill. 510-865-2385. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 5 Despite assiduous programming by film festivals over the past fifteen years or longer, Africa remains the most unexplored continent in world cinema. There are a lot of films being made there, but most are for local consumption. The New York African Film Festival and the Pacific Film Archive want to change all that, which is why the traveling African Film Festival has now set up its tent at the PFA. Do yourself a favor -- take a bath in the river of African film tonight. Begin with Tunde Kelani's Nigerian political comedy Agogo Eewo at 5 p.m. Gaze at the Campus Queen in director Kelani's video feature about rival university clubs, a School Daze-style musical romp, shown at 7. Then visit Senegal at 9 for Moussa Sene Absa's ultracolorful feminist socialist musical (that's right), Madame Brouette. The PFA is at 2575 Bancroft Way on the UC Berkeley campus. BAMPFA .berkeley.edu -- Kelly Vance

SUN 6 Noël Coward was the popular British playwright, author, and bon vivant whose dry, uppercrust wit amused the WWII generation, from the stage hit Blithe Spirit to his rollicking pink-gin colonial anthem "Mad Dogs and Englishmen." His friend Gertrude Lawrence, while appearing in the occasional Hollywood movie, was most renowned for her romantic stage roles in London and New York. The two English-born, high-octane showbiz personalities became notorious buddies, and their relationship is celebrated in a musical play, Nol & Gertie, now playing at Center REPertory Theater in Walnut Creek. The show, devised by Sheridan Morley using scenes from Coward musicals and starring Mark Farrell and Celia Shurman, is directed by Barbara Damashek. There's a 2:30 p.m. matinee today. Lesher Center for the Arts is at 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. Tickets ($20-$32) at 925-943-7469. DLRCA.org -- Kelly Vance

MON 7 Have you ever longed to build your own robot, but lacked the time? Ever dream of elaborate practical jokes in which garage-door openers start sprinkler systems or TV remotes automatically dial Kazakhstan and order a pizza ("Gimme a yak-butter and goat-meat Neapolitan with a side of peppers")? Boy, do we have a class for you. If I Only Had a Brain: Intro to Microcontroller Programming teaches you how to program the tiny computers inside ordinary household devices and bend them to your haughty will. Go ahead, let your mind caress the possibilities. But it ain't cheap. The six-session Berkeley course, which meets Monday evenings beginning tonight (6:30-9:30) costs $300, which includes all parts and supplies. But think of the groovy things you can do widdit. E-mail contact@buildcool stuff.com -- Kelly Vance

TUE 8 Berkeley writer Sylvia Brownrigg is a modern-day Bay Area scribe, from the top of her artfully unstructured hairdo and on down to her Mountain View-born toes. The award-winning author of the novels Pages for You and The Metaphysical Touch and the story collection Ten Women Who Shook the World favors tales involving lattes, e-mail, and cell phones, often in touching, romantic, even sexy ways. And her love for reading -- also typical of our literate region -- also makes itself known frequently. The Salon contributor will read in the first-floor living room of Mills Hall during the latest installment of Mills College's Contemporary Writers Series, today at 5:30 p.m. The event is free; Info: Mills.edu or 510-430-3250. -- Stefanie Kalem

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