Ara's Epic antics

Thu 10/21

The band name Iron & the Albatross conjures up some clunky imagery: a huge white gooney bird in leg shackles; a Sunbeam hot press with a big unmanageable problem. Either scenario might make you wonder who's dragging down whom, and neither one gives an inkling of the grace with which Bay Area composer Ara Anderson leads his small chamber group through sonic circus grounds, haunted junkyards, silent movie screenings, and Brazilian street fairs. The trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist has played, recorded, and collaborated with such diverse notables as Tom Waits, Jolie Holland, Killing My Lobster, Okgo, Victoria Williams, Jonathan Richman, the Brass Monkey Brass Band, Sean Hayes, and Transmission, and also leads Boostamante. In Iron & the Albatross, Anderson is joined by a roving cast of characters (including cellist Alex Kelly, percussionist Dave Mihaly, and pianist Kymry Esainko) ready, willing, and overly able to move from delicate piano-and-glockenspiel interplay (on the music box fugue "Pennies)" to tripped-out samba boogie (on "Bottle Funk"). Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave at MLK, Berkeley, with the Speakers, a band led by songwriter Brian Miller. All-ages, $5-$10 (suggested donation, no one turned away for lack of funds). 510-644-2204. -- Stefanie Kalem



Perspectives on peoples at Cal

In the multimedia piece Strangulation, Rheim Alkadhi references a case in which a McDonald's Employee of the Month was fired for speaking in her native tongue. "The Arabic language," she writes, "is repeatedly mistaken for a bomb." Alkadhi, daughter of an American mother and an Iraqi father, is one of eight artists participating in Somewhere Elsewhere, wherein curator Saná Makhoul attempts to enlighten the East Bay's still-unenlightened, in terms of the impact of stereotypes and aspersion cast upon Arabs and Muslims since 9/11. The exhibit at UC Berkeley's Worth Ryder Gallery (116 Kroeber Hall) includes work by Alkadhi; Gallery Subversive founder and director Haleh Niazmand, whose works play fast and furiously with Western perceptions of Arab women; Khalil Bendib, Doris Bittar, Ali Dadgar, Taraneh Hemami, and Annemarie Jacir. There will be a symposium October 31 with an artist panel and film screenings. Info: 510-642-2582. -- Stefanie Kalem

Sun 10/24

Freely Returning

Last year was the first in 34 that the Concord Jazz Festival didn't take place. But this year, perhaps with a little help from its eponymous pal, the Fujitsu Concord Jazz Festival goes on, in the hall that its previous success inspired to create, the Chronicle Pavilion. For the rock-bottom welcome-back price of free, check out the smooth Benoit/Freeman Project, R&B vocalist Regina Belle, the Poncho Sanchez Latin Band, and guitarist Paul Jackson Jr., starting at 2 p.m. Ticketmaster.com -- Stefanie Kalem

Tue 10/26

¡Vamonos a la Havana!

No parking on the dancefloor

This is the year for Palenque, the resident Cuban son group led by troubadour Germán Donatien. Its debut release Soy Montuno introduced Donatien's voice and original songs and the band's traditional sound, with flute and acoustic guitars as the principal melodic instruments, and energetic rhythms propelled by conga drummer and producer Ben Krames. At this year's San Jose Jazz Festival, the band put the crowd into a Havana spin with Afro-Cuban classics like "El Cuarto de Tula." This Tuesday they appear at Yoshi's in Oakland's Jack London Square, and the hardwood floor will be open for dancing. Tickets: $12 for the 8 p.m. show, $8 for the 10 p.m. Yoshis.com or 510-238-9200. -- Jesse "Chuy" Varela


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