Friday, August 31, 2012

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 8:04 AM

Three-day weekend! Here's what you're doing.

West Coast Jazz and Crab Festival
Get cracking at the West Coast Crab and Jazz Festival on the Kaiser Roof Garden on Saturday, Sept. 1. Live jazz, soul, and R&B performances by Miki Howard, Angela Winbush, Howard Hewett, and Freddie Jackson accompany a five-hour, eat-as-much-as-you-like, Southern-style buffet featuring fried and barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, shrimp Creole, greens, candied yams, Dungeness crab (naturally), and much more. 6:30 p.m., $125. JazzandCrab.MyEvent.comAnneli Rufus

Oakland Pride
As is the case with any festival popular enough to be replicated around the world, LGBTQ Pride celebrations — whether in San Francisco or São Paulo — tend to share a few familiar trappings: a parade, a proliferation of rainbow flags, and at least a few men clad in leather chaps. Still, it's inevitable that each city would bring something unique to the template. In Oakland, which the 2010 US Census found to have one of the largest populations of same-sex couples of any American city, Pride has come to be something of a family affair, complete with a sizable children's area that includes a petting zoo and ample arts and crafts. But don't worry, that familial atmosphere hasn't tempered events for kid-free folks who come for the unbridled entertainment: This year's festival, on Sunday, September 2, features four themed music stages on which Santana tribute band Caravanserai, R&B vocalist CeCe Peniston, and the Flipmode Squad's Rah Digga will be some of the headliners. A "Community Health Pavilion" offers free HIV screening, counseling sessions, and other LGBTQ-related wellness services. But it's fair to say that much of the revelry will be shaped by the festivalgoers themselves, the tens of thousands of people anticipated to show up and celebrate. "It's not just about Oakland Pride," said organizer Amber Todd. "It's about community and civic pride. And being proud of who you are." The festival happens in Uptown Oakland (Franklin St., between 17th and 22nd sts.). 11 a.m.-7 p.m., $5-$10. 510-545-6251 or OaklandPride.orgCassie McFadden

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Sharing Economy: Dancing it Forward in Berkeley

by Jen Chien
Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 11:18 AM

When it comes to “going out dancing,” most people think of it as a Saturday night type of affair—a chance to get dressed up and show off some sweet moves, staying up until the wee hours. Well, it’s 11am on Sunday morning now, and for the dancers gathered at Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center, this is the perfect time to get their groove on.

Inside the barn-like space, a trio of women in sweat pants and bare feet do an improvised line dance; a man lies still on the worn wooden floor with his eyes closed; others are stretching, or just swaying to the beat. There are adults and kids of all ages, including several toddlers and one small baby. People look comfortable, not dressed to impress. This is Soul Sanctuary, a community freestyle dance event that happens here every Sunday.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Esperanza Spalding Shows a More Fully Defined Concept at the Paramount

by Rachel Swan
Tue, Aug 28, 2012 at 10:54 AM

The easiest criticism to make of bassist Esperanza Spalding, in previous years, was that her live shows didn't have any overarching theme or direction. She'd mix a typical jazz repertoire — standards, rearranged pop songs, ballads with revised lyrics — with scattered pieces of Brazilian music, or songs that more closely resembled contemporary R&B. Audience members occasionally accused her of solipsism, or at the very least, of being more concerned with her own creative muse than with putting on a great show.

Esperanza Spalding
  • Esperanza Spalding

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 at 10:30 AM

As Katy Perry once said: TGIF. Here are our weekend recommendations, slightly late because of an extremely unfortunate hangover unforeseen circumstances:

Prometheus and Faces
House and apartment galleries haven't caught on in the Bay Area as they have in other cities — Chicago, for example. For this and other reasons, the relatively young Important Projects, located in an inviting craftsman-style house in Rockridge, is a distinctive addition to the Oakland gallery scene. Resident artists/curators Joel Dean and Jason Benson painted their warm upper story white, and there they have been showing work by artists both local and not. Currently on display are two exhibitions that seem purposely to resist interpretation. In Prometheus, Nicolás Colón hangs a baggy T-shirt drenched in gold paint, the imprint of which he has left on the wall, as well as a series of blown-up, indecipherable color photographs. In between: small, pinched clay sculptures and store-bought stalks of verbena. Miniaturized sculpture gardens? One room over, Brooklyn-based Austin Eddy's Faces presents a series of crude portraits, a sculptural bust, and the artist's signature in dripping sherbet colors.Prometheus and Faces run through August 28 at Important Projects. Alex Bigman

Non Stop Bhangra
Seldom does San Francisco's hottest world-music dance party, Non Stop Bhangra, make it across the bridge, so this Saturday's East Bay iteration is certainly a special occasion. And the organizers planned accordingly, booking Om Records producer J-Boogie and DJ Sol Rising, who are both well-reputed in a variety of circles. J-Boogie is known for hip-hop and lounge mixes, but he's also maintained a long residency at Dub Mission, a weekly reggae party at San Francisco's Elbo Room. Similarly, Sol Rising grew up steeped in hip-hop, but ultimately forayed into global fusion — he now mixes popular rap samples with bass lines that are redolent of dub or reggae. They'll both appear alongside bilingual hip-hop group Bang Data, whose members give traditional Latin styles (ranchera, cumbia, and norteño music) a contemporary spin. At The New Parish on Friday, Aug. 24. 10 p.m., $10. TheNewParish.comRachel Swan

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Rest in Peace, Oasis Club Owner Fessehaye Mebrahtu

by Rachel Swan
Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 9:36 AM

We were saddened to learn about the death of Fessehaye Mebrahtu, owner of Oakland's African restaurant and world music club, Oasis. Known to his friends as "Fish," Mebrahtu was instrumental in generating a fecund reggae scene in downtown Oakland, long before the city's entertainment district began to really flower. He was laid to rest Wednesday afternoon at St. Mary's Cemetery, just a month before his fifty-fourth birthday. Mebrahtu will be mourned and missed by the East Bay's world music community, and he'll be remembered for more than a decade of popular DJ dance nights at Oasis.

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Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 7:37 AM

Happy Friday!! Here's what's on tap for the weekend:

BACON: Berkeley Art Crawl Open Neighborhood

How to draw a crowd when your business is located just a little bit off the beaten path? The proprietors of three West Berkeley businesses — Local 123 Cafe (2049 San Pablo Ave.), Lanesplitter Pizza (2033 San Pablo Ave.), and Acme Bar (2115 San Pablo Ave.) — found the answer: bacon. Berkeley's answer to Art Murmur (albeit more low-key and less gallery-based), Berkeley Art Crawl Open Neighborhood, or BACON, is a new art walk held on the third Saturday of every month. The second iteration, on Saturday, August 18, includes a pop-up barbecue with sangria specials on Local 123's back patio, and corresponds with the 200 Yards art show on display inside, while Acme serves bacon-themed cocktails and Lanesplitter hosts a live band and displays new art on its walls. Patrons can procure stamps at each business for discounts at the others. 7-10 p.m., free. 510-647-5270 or — Cassie McFadden

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

High on Fire's Matt Pike Out of Rehab, "Sharper and Stronger" Than Before

by Kathleen Richards
Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 3:06 PM

High on Fire frontman Matt Pike is officially of out rehab and "healthy," according to the Oakland metal band's publicist, and, to celebrate, the band just released a video for "Fertile Green" off its new album De Vermis Mysteriis. In a statement, Pike, who was recently spotted at Oakland's Art & Soul Festival (which the Express co-produced) to watch friends/fellow Oaklanders Saviours perform, said in a statement: "As I acclimate back to society, I realize the beast within is even sharper and stronger!"

As we previously reported, Pike entered rehab back in June for a drinking problem, just after performing with his old band Sleep at the Fox Theater, which caused High on Fire to have to cancel its appearance on the Mayhem Festival tour.

The band announced it will perform a handful of dates in Australia in September.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Willows Theatre Closes, for Real

by Rachel Swan
Wed, Aug 15, 2012 at 3:23 PM

By some measures we were too early announcing the death of Willows Theatre three years ago. The theater did, indeed, shutter briefly as a result of declining ticket sales and donor funding, but eventually found a deus ex machina in the form of managing and funding consultant David Faustina, who was anointed managing director when the theater reopened in 2011. Faustina enjoyed a year and-a-half tenure during which he attempted to resuscitate the ailing, then 36 year-old Concord venue via budget whittling and personnel cutbacks. Despite his efforts, Willows was ultimately unable to keep up with production costs. In a press release sent Tuesday and reprinted in the Contra Costa Times, the theater said it will close again. Its board also canceled the remaining performances of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, which was supposed to run through Saturday.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 8:31 AM

Sunshine!!! Anyone who's lived in the Bay Area for more than a millisecond knows this is short-lived, so enjoy it while you can. Here are our critics' top five picks for what's going down this weekend:

Laurel Street Fair
It’s common for street fairs to follow the same format of food and drink purveyors, arts and crafts vendors, and family-friendly street performers replicated in indistinguishable iterations at festivals across the US. Still, some fairs succeed in standing apart — and the Laurel Street Fair (MacArthur Blvd. and 35th Ave., Oakland) is a good example. The thirteenth annual fest spans three blocks, featuring everything from a fashion show and flash mob to a classic car show and music performances by The Marcos Silva Quintet and other local acts. It also coincides with the final event in the illustrious Oakland-based soul singer Valerie Troutt's Laurel Pop-Up Series (3832 MacArthur Blvd.), which includes an impromptu choir, dance lessons, and art-making from noon to 5 p.m. On Saturday, Aug. 11. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., free. — Cassie McFadden

Zinfandel Grille-O-Rama
Sample and compare thirty different Zinfandels while savoring smoky fare prepared by chefs from Bocanova, Sonoma Smokehouse, and Picán at the second annual Grille-O-Rama on Saturday, Aug. 11, at Rock Wall Wine Company (2301 Monarch St., Suite 300, Building 24, Alameda). Organized by nonprofit Zinfandel Advocates & Producers, the event features wines from El Dorado County, Nevada County, Sonoma County, and six other California growing regions. Winning wines and chefs will be selected by a panel of expert judges. 2 p.m., $50. 530-274-4900 or — Anneli Rufus

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Sorry, Guys: Outside Lands Sold Out

by Rachel Swan
Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Those of you who refresh the Outside Lands web page every ten seconds may have noticed that the last remaining ticket options — a small handful of single-day passes for Friday, and $495 weekend VIP packages — were no longer available this morning. According to a giddy press release from festival organizers, this year's event is entirely sold out, trumping last year's impressive-but-not-quite-capacity sales. "Please do not come to the festival unless you have a ticket," the press materials warned, adding that a significant portion of ticket sales will benefit San Francisco's Recreation and Park Department. Outside Lands is also a boon for the local economy, generating more than $67 million last year, according to a study by San Francisco State University Professor Patrick Tierney. This year's complete sell-out augurs an even greater windfall.

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