A new spin at Mills

MON 2/9

The storming of the pop music castle by DJs and other electronic musicians, starting in the '80s, was met with much consternation on certain fronts. Ignoring the fact that a guitarist without electric amplification is a folk-singing hippie, traditionalists whined about "organics," then went home to pout. With his recent work, DJ, artist, and instrument builder Kitundu puts a new spin on that old argument -- elemental turntables. Having already designed and created, among other apparatuses, an arcostylophone, 15- and 27-string phonoharps, a phonokoto, and a phonombau, the Tanzania-born, Minnesota-raised, SF-based artist now works with balloon-powered, current-driven, and depth-driven spool phonographs; turntables powered by the shifts of water, earth, fire, and wind; and a rain-powered acoustic turntable (placed curbside on streets with an incline, yo). Prepare to be amazed on Monday at 7:30 p.m. when Kitundu appears as part of Mills College's Songlines series in the Mills Ensemble Room, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. Free. Info: 510-430-2331 or -- Stefanie Kalem


Lit Happens

He invented the buzzword "cyberspace." He launched the cyberpunk genre. So what else has William Gibson done for you lately? Well, he's written Pattern Recognition, the first of his novels to be set in the present. Zipping from Moscow to Tokyo to London, it features techno-archaeologists, and stars a soothsaying "cool hunter." Meet the Award- winning trendsetter at Emeryville Barnes & Noble (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... Erstwhile woman warrior, Oakland Hills fire survivor, and grande dame of Asian-American lit Maxine Hong Kingston (above) reads her poetry aloud at UC Berkeley's Morrison Library as part of the Lunch Poems series (Thu., 12:10 p.m.). ... Being wrongly suspected of one measly murder is bad enough, but two murders -- feh. That's what happens to the heroine of Louise Hoblitt's new mystery, Two Dead, One to Die, set in Oakland. Meet Hoblitt at Orinda Books (Thu., 4 p.m.). ... What to read next? Random House's East Bay sales rep Ron Shoop delivers the scoop on his latest faves and offers inside advice for book groupers at Altamont Books (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). ... Sponsored by UC Berkeley's Center for Chinese Studies, postdoctoral fellow Sarah Allen delivers a lecture, "Tang Stories Reconsidered," in the International and Area Studies Conference Room (2223 Fulton St., 6th floor) (Fri., 4 p.m.). ... Hail civil-rights heroes at the thirteenth annual African-American Celebration through Poetry, held at the Oakland Public Library's West Branch, but don't be fooled by the name: There'll be dancing and other revelry as well (Sat., 1 p.m.). ... She shoots. She guts. She swoons at the sight of leather chaps. Pam Houston, author of the award-winning short-story collection Cowboys Are My Weakness, reads from her work in the Faculty Lounge, Rothwell Center, Mills College (Tue., 5:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

SUN 2/8

Freight Charge

Berkeley High School's justly prestigious jazz band program, famous as it is, cannot survive on fame alone. The world-renowned student music program (whose alumni include Benny Green, Joshua Redman, and Dave Ellis) shows off its chops and raises a little cash periodically, as in Sunday night's fund-raising gig at Freight & Salvage (1111 Addison St., Berkeley, 510-548-1761). The Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble and Lab Band , under the direction of Charles Hamilton, will be onstage at 8 p.m. See tomorrow's stars today for $16.50 at the door. For more info, visit -- Kelly Vance

SAT 2/7

The Hard South

If you like your hardcore crusty, Southern, and metallic, look no further then Berkeley's 924 Gilman tonight. Savannah, GA's Kylesa , featuring former members of Damad, headlines tonight, toting along a new 7" and EP. Also on the docket are the Bay Area's own sludge heroes Brainoil, Reno's Iron Lung (featuring members of Krilezac), and Desolation. 8 p.m., all ages, $5. Info: 510-525-9926. -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 2/6

Up a Tree

It's Kabbalistic, and you're invited

Just when you thought you'd seen the last New Year for a while, it's time to get ready for Tu B'Shevat, the "New Year of the Trees." Y'see, Judaism has a bunch of new years, and this one is used to keep track of how old trees are for the purpose of tithing. On the fifteenth day of the month of Shevat, the trees all begin another year of life, and oy, do they know how to party. Typical activities include planting trees and eating (well, it is a Jewish holiday) fruits and nuts, particularly those you haven't tasted yet in the current year. Seventeenth-century Kabbalists took it a step further and devised a special seder modeled on the Passover service. During the seder, participants drink four cups of wine and eat fifteen different types of fruits and nuts (if that doesn't turn you into a regular observer, nothing will). On Friday night, Chabad is sponsoring a Kabbalistic Tu B'Shevat Seder, featuring a gourmet Shabbat dinner and seven special fruits from Israel. Looking to get educated? Hike over to Congregation Beth El in Berkeley on Saturday, where local author David Gottfried, founder of the US Green Building Council, will read from his book Greed to Green: Transformation of an Industry and a Life, and talk about the contemporary meaning of the holiday; dinner is included.

The Kabbalistic Tu B'Shevat Seder takes place Friday, 6-10 p.m., at Redwood Gardens, 2951 Derby St., Berkeley. $18, $6 children under 12, $54 per family. Paid preregistration required; call 510-540-5824. The Gottfried talk and dinner is Saturday, 5-7 p.m., at Congregation Beth El, 2301 Vine St., Berkeley. $10, $15 family. Info/RSVP: 510-848-3988 ex. 11. -- Nora Sohnen


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