Friday, July 29, 2011

Birdland Shut Down — Again

by Ellen Cushing
Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Michael Payarano just can't catch a break from the City of Berkeley, it seems. Just months after retooling his insanely popular barbecue and jazz club to comply with city code, Payarano says he was cited again this morning for amplified noise, sidewalk obstruction, and a handful of other violations. "I think [city officials] are very cantankerous with me right now," he said. He was told cops will show up to tonight's shows — scheduled to start at 6 p.m. and feature, in order, Sheilani Alix Na Kayo, Little Brown Brother and Adobo with Rice
John Calloway Tumbong Tumbao, Jonathan Bautista Trio, and Jonah Levine Hot Five — but Payarano says show will go on, unamplified and for at least one more night. "My friends said I should cancel it, and I was like what for?" Payarano said. He's calling it an "acoustic whisper jazz" show; guests are advised to bring their own food because Payarano won't be barbecuing . Beyond that, Payarano's not sure what Birdland's fate will be — "so come, since it could be the last performance at Birdland."

Birdland Jazzista: Fighting the Law, Hoping to Win
  • Birdland Jazzista: Fighting the Law, Hoping to Win

Weekender: The Top Five Things to Do Over the Next Three Days in the East Bay

Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 5:06 AM

Happy Friday, East Bay. Plan the next 72 hours of your life with help from our critics.

Kenny Burrell 80th Birthday Celebration
The legends of jazz may be aging, but they're still producing some phenomenal music. Take Kenny Burrell, the Detroit-born guitarist who will celebrate his eightieth birthday this week at Yoshi's, with an all-star band. And, in this case, the term "all-star" is completely warranted. Trombonist Steve Turre, pianist Billy Childs, saxophonists Tivon Pennicott and Steve Wilson, and trumpeter Bobby Rodriguez will round out the proceedings, along with the Intergrand Orchestra, whose members will join Burrell for the late show on Sunday. Of course, the guitarist will be front and center at this elaborate celebration, regaling audiences with his nimble solos and dense, bedrock grooves. His résumé in jazz goes on for days, and includes collaborations with everyone from Wynton Kelly to Jimmy Smith and John Coltrane. He's one of the last masters you can still hear live, so don't pass up the opportunity. At Oakland Yoshi's (510 Embarcadero, Oakland) Thursday through Sunday, July 28-31. $20-$30. — Rachel Swan

The latest coinage from JoPro's forest of neologisms conjoins brambles and blurs; it's a good title for Katy Stone's relief sculptures and Allison Gildersleeve's paintings, which combine nature with abstraction. Stone, known for her witty floral collages and installations of folded paper and painted Duralar drafting film (seven of which are included here), is showing new laser-cut metal reliefs, generally painted in bright oil enamels, which suggest natural forms and textures like bark and foliage as well as stylized flames and clouds (or Lichtenstein's Pop stylings of AbEx brushstrokes). Gildersleeve paints her native Northeast's clapboard houses, stone walls, forests, and thickets using flat patches of heavy paint in the Fairfield Porter manner, but more ambiguously; her spatially flattened abstract landscapes are shaped by memory and process. Bramblur runs through August 18 at Johansson Projects (2300 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). 510-444-9140 or — DeWitt Cheng

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Say It Ain't So: Ludicra Disbands

by Kathleen Richards
Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Sad news this week. San Francisco black metal band Ludicra announced on Tuesday that it is disbanding after thirteen years together. Its web site is down and Invisible Oranges has a nice homage to its legacy. It's particularly sad because the local band was just getting significant national attention, especially with its last release, 2010's The Tenant, on Profound Lore. Ludicra is often uttered in discussions about quality metal coming out of the Bay Area and how certain black metal bands, especially those from the Pacific Northwest, are going beyond the classic Norwegian/Swedish sound from the '90s toward something more forward-thinking.

On Twitter, drummer Aesop Dekker, who's also involved in Worm Ouroboros and Agalloch, seemed sanguine about the news. "Thanks for all the love and kind words, but bands break up, most do it long after they should have. Ludicra ain't going out like that. ... Worm Ouroboros writing moving forward, Agalloch in Tel Aviv confirmed, really no time to mourn the past."

No doubt we'll still be hearing from these musicians in the future.

  • Ludicra

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Stop What You're Doing Right Now

by Ellen Cushing
Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 11:45 AM

and go check out the RapGenius entry for Kreayshawn's "Gucci Gucci." RapGenuis, if you're not familiar, is a site where laypeople attempt to interpret whatever the fuck is going on in rappers' heads when they write their songs, offering a line-by-line analysis not unlike what you might find in a freshman poetry class. Except, you know, Yeats never talked about swag coming out his ovaries (SADLY!!!!)

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Anders Nilsen and the Philosophy of Birds

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Jul 27, 2011 at 10:00 AM

About ten years have passed since I first stumbled upon Anders Nilsen’s Big Questions series in a little indie gift shop in Providence, Rhode Island. The comics were just these thin, xeroxed booklets back then, and the drawings could hardly have been more simple: two small birds in a panel, a curved line to mark the horizon.

Nilsen says he didn’t take drawing comics too seriously in those early days — saw them as more of a relief from the elaborate paintings and installation work he was doing at the time. Even so: I remember how eagerly I flipped through those first couple of volumes in the store, smitten with the juxtaposition between cute little birds and their strangely poignant existential musings. These were birds who were trying to figure shit out — about whether there was a higher purpose for their existence, whether it was really possible to connect with others in a meaningful way.

Maybe I dug the comics because, well, I was trying to figure a lot of the same shit out myself.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Memorials Guitarist Is MIA

by Rachel Swan
Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Nick Brewer, if you're out there, please phone home. So said a plaintive Facebook status update from Richmond-based rock trio The Memorials, who recently snagged a "Best Local Band" award from East Bay Express. The group canceled its most recent spate of shows — including one scheduled for Bottom of the Hill tomorrow — because drummer Thomas Pridgen and singer Viveca Hawkins can't find their guitarist.

Nick Brewer (left) with The Memorials
  • Nick Brewer (left) with The Memorials

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Local Pianist Mark Levine Returns Grammy Awards

by Rachel Swan
Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 11:39 AM

Many Bay Area musicians were angered by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS)' decision to cut the Grammy Awards down from 109 categories to a meager 79 — ostensibly to make them more special and rarefied. Unfortunately, the decision disproportionately affected Latin, African-American, roots, classical, and world music artists. That got a lot of people hot under the collar, including Latin Jazz pianist Mark Levine, who recently sent out a spate of e-mails announcing his decision to return a 2003 Grammy nomination and plaque, as well as a 2010 Latin Grammy nomination. "Your actions in delisting the categories that have most contributed to American music have been racist, and go against everything my parents taught me about America," Levine wrote, in an e-mail to NARAS president Neil Portnow, who has vehemently defended his decision to make the Grammy awards more narrow in scope.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Treasure Island Line-Up Announced: Death Cab for Cutie, Flying Lotus, Empire of the Sun, & more...

by Rachel Swan
Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 12:33 PM

All right, kids. Tickets for this year's Treasure Island Festival go on sale this Wednesday, July 27, at 10 a.m. and if you don't buy one, here's what you're missing: A dance-heavy Saturday line-up, featuring Empire of the Sun, Chromeo, Flying Lotus, Aloe Blacc, Dizzee Rascal, Cut Copy, Death from Above 1979, Buraka Som Sistema, Yacht, Battles the Naked & Famous, Shabazzz Palaces, and Geographer, followed by canonical indie rock on Sunday, with Death Cab for Cutie, Explosions in the Sky, Beach House, The Hold Steady, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Friendly Fires, St. Vincent, The Head & the Heart, Warpaint, Wild Beasts, The Antlers, Thee Oh Sees, and Weekend. It all goes down the weekend of October 15 and 16, and two-day early bird tickets are only $99. Go get ’em.


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Friday, July 22, 2011

Weekender: The Top Five Things to Do Over the Next Three Days in the East Bay

Fri, Jul 22, 2011 at 7:53 AM

Plan your weekends, cats and kittens. Herewith, the guaranteed-awesomest activities going down now through Sunday in the East Bay:

Dolly Parton
Even though Dolly Parton says she initially styled herself after a hooker in her Tennessee hometown, Parton ultimately parlayed her talents into a multi-faceted - and more respectable - career as a singer, songwriter, indie record label entrepreneur, drag queen icon, amusement park owner, and actress. Better Day, her newest self-released project, is packed with a dozen self-penned gems all strung together by a common theme of optimism. But even though it's graced with guest appearances by Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss, contemporary country music radio formats will undoubtedly forsake this Smoky Mountains native. That's a shame, considering that she's penned a lot of newer crossover fare that's blazed trails for the likes of Shania Twain and Faith Hill. That said, you can still catch her live. This petite music icon will be bringing her brand of country music to the great outdoors of Sleep Train Pavilion (2000 Kirker Pass Rd., Concord) on Sunday, July 24. 7 p.m., $34-$159.— Dave Gil de Rubio

Moe's Bookstore Tea Tasting
Best known as an iconic 52-year-old new-and-used book emporium, Moe's Books (2476 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) is now a purveyor of hot beverages. Herbalists at another longtime Berkeley business, Lhasa Karnak Herb Company, have created Moe's Breakfast Tea, a custom blend that includes Darjeeling and Ceylonese Orange Pekoe, among other elements, and is available only at the bookstore. The public is welcome to a complimentary tasting on Saturday, July 23. 2 p.m., free. 510-849-2087 or — Anneli Rufus

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Got Milk" Ads Pulled After Feminists Cry Foul

by Rachel Swan
Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 5:03 PM

Here's one for all the feminists who cried foul over the controversial "Got Milk" campaign launched by San Francisco ad agency Goodby, Silverstein, and Partners, which touted the drink as a cure for PMS (and female bitchiness). According to Bay Citizen, the California Milk Processing Board just pulled its 10-day old campaign, which initially linked to a web site called (It was presumably addressed to male victims of PMS fallout, and others who suffer the wrath of milk-deprived women.) Now the link redirects to a new site,, which is apparently the organization's attempt at damage control. The home page of the site says: “Over the past couple of weeks, regrettably, some people found our campaign to be outrageous and misguided — and we apologize to those we offended.” It also quotes praises from people who found the campaign "cute" or "educational." Talk about mixed messages.

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