Friday, June 27, 2014

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

by Zaineb Mohammed
Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Huzzah, Friday! Time to watch this Game of Thrones re-make with only pugs, Pugs of Westeros, and then read our list of the five best events that are happening this weekend:

Evolution Expo
A new event in Oakland seeks to put the science back into science fiction. The expo, which will take place at the Oakland Marriott City Center this weekend, is intended for science fiction fans, professional scientists, and the general public. So in addition to autograph signings and photo opportunities with sci-fi actors such as Star Trek's Tim Russ and Battlestar Galactica's Ty Olsson, the expo will feature science lectures geared toward professionals, and an educational program called Evo-Kids during which astronauts will discuss the challenges of manned space operations. The science lectures will include talks by Dr. Pascal Lee, co-founder and chairman of the Mars Institute, who will discuss the mission to Mars, and UC Berkeley adjunct associate professor Jennifer Fletcher, who will speak about genetics in science and science fiction. On Sunday, The Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik, who has a Ph.D in neuroscience, will give a presentation on what it's like to be both an actress and a scientist. In addition to panels and presentations, there will also be space-age karaoke, a performance by Jefferson Starship and progressive rock band Spock's Beard, a charity ball, and private meet-and-greets with celebrities. Friday-Sunday, June 27-29. General weekend pass: $25-$150; elite weekend pass: $150-$1000. — Zaineb Mohammed

  • Assemble
Cocktail-Making Class
Who said mixology is only for professionals? At a monthly cocktail-making class at Assemble, you, too, can learn the fine art of knowing how much tequila is too much and, more to the point, how to mix a tasty, well-balanced adult beverage. This month, the $50 price of admission pays for three summery drinks (a Riesling-based wine cocktail, a fruity mezcal-and-tequila number, and a dessert cocktail made with sparkling rosé), each one shaken or stirred by your own hand. To make sure you’re not drinking on an empty stomach, Assemble’s kitchen team will serve up small bites to go with each cocktail: a mini grilled-cheese sandwich, shrimp ceviche, and strawberry shortcake. Afterward, participants are welcome to stay for dinner or — why not? — another drink or two while enjoying the great waterfront sunset view. Friday, June 27. 6:30-8:30 p.m., $50. — Luke Tsai

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

by Zaineb Mohammed
Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 7:00 AM

The weekend is almost here! Time to celebrate by reading our list of the five best ways to spend your time today through Sunday:

Berkeley Gay Comedy Festival
When Marga Gomez organized the first Berkeley Gay Comedy Festival in 2011, she and her fellow comedians performed to sold-out crowds for four nights. She was excited by the warm reception, but then got busy with other projects and wasn't able to host the event for the next couple of years. But this Friday at Freight and Salvage, the pioneering Bay Area lesbian comic is bringing the festival back, and she hopes to make it a regular affair. "I wanted to create an event bringing gay comedy to the East Bay," said Gomez, pointing out that so many events for Pride Month happen in San Francisco. She will be headlining the festival along with Oakland-based comedians Micia Mosely and Sampson McCormick, whose style she described as being intelligent without being highbrow and snooty. Friday, June 20. — Zaineb Mohammed

Destiny Muhammad
As a kid growing up in Southern California, Destiny Muhammad was inspired to play the harp after watching Harpo Marx on TV, though Dorothy Ashby, who had emerged in the 1950s as the most prominent and accomplished harpist in the history of jazz, eventually became her heroine. Also in the ’50s, Count Basie saxophonist Frank Wess was among the first players to popularize the use of flute in jazz, and in 1958, he recorded two albums — Hip Harp and In a Minor Groove — with Ashby for the Prestige and New Jazz labels. On Saturday, Muhammad and flutist Melvin Butts, with bassist Ken Noriyuki Okada and drummer Leon Joyce Jr., will pay tribute to the two late musicians at Musically Minded Academy in a concert titled “On the Corner of Wess and Ashby.” Saturday, June 21. 8 p.m., $12, $15. — Lee Hildebrand

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

by Zaineb Mohammed
Fri, Jun 13, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Hey party people it's Friday (the 13th)! Check out this amazing Tumblr that psychoanalyzes your favorite emojis and then read on for our list of the five best events that are happening this weekend:

Ambient Mafia
The Ambient Mafia, a collective of San Francisco DJs that formed in 1999, want you to know that they’re chill — real chill. In the collective’s barely 100-word bio, they use chill as a descriptor no less than five times. As a fellow over-user of the word and aficionado of all things “chill,” I find this both hilarious and sonically promising. This Friday, four members of the Ambient Mafia — DJs Speakeasy Ray, Skywise, Sneaky Hippie, and Unagi — will be spinning down-tempo, trip-hop, mid-tempo, old-school soul, dub, bossa nova, Northern soul, funk, and classic hip-hop at the Ivy Room. In the words of the Mafia, “Times may change, but [our] mission remains the same: To give people music that makes them think, dance, and of course above all … chill.” Friday, June 13. 8:30 p.m., free. — Madeleine Key

Live Oak Park Fair Edible Tastings
Now heading into its 44th year, Berkeley’s annual Live Oak Park Fair has long been a feel-good celebration of handmade jewelry, quilts, pottery, and other assorted arts and crafts. This year it’s also aiming to be a worthy destination for food lovers — especially those who are frugal. The art festival’s newest feature, introduced by producer Jan Etre last year, is an “Edible Tastings” section that will showcase ten up-and-coming food artisans — makers of kombucha, Southern-style barbecue sauce, high-end iced tea, the Belgian cookie known as speculoos, and more. While all of the artisanal food products will be available for sale, and a concessions booth will cater to those looking for a full meal, the emphasis will be on free samples. Come prepared to get your nibble on. Saturday and Sunday, June 14-15. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., free. — Luke Tsai

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

by Zaineb Mohammed
Fri, Jun 6, 2014 at 7:00 AM

It's first Friday! If you're trying to make some exciting weekend plans, read our list of the five best events to check out in the East Bay:

Honeydrop Hometown Throwdown
The California Honeydrops have come a long way from the days when Lech Wierzynkski and Ben Malament played obscure, old-timey, handmade instruments at local BART stations. Since then, the band — which now also includes Johnny Bones on tenor sax and clarinet, Lorenzo Loera on keyboards, and Beau Bradbury on bass — has completed nine European tours, performed at major festivals such as Outside Lands, and released four albums. But the self-described “party band” still sounds as humble, down-to-earth, and dedicated to exploring the vast spectrum of American roots music — a unique blend of New Orleans second-line, soul, funk, and Americana — as ever. This week, the group will play two shows at The New Parish; Cajun blues band Tri Tip Trio and New Orleans-style brass band MJ’s Brass Boppers will open the show, and the food truck Roderick’s BBQ will be selling Southern food. Friday, June 6. 7:30 p.m., $15, $20. Madeleine Key

Urban Palette
What’s more awe-inspiring: Rock Wall Winery’s incomparable views of San Francisco or the work of fifty-plus local artists and crafters being exhibited during its Urban Palette party on Saturday? Judge for yourself while sipping more than 25 wines; visiting food trucks and booths (Munch India, Whip Out, The Melt, Cocotutti, Fist of Flour, Bombzie’s BBQ, and many more); and listening to DJ Riktor, Gypsy Fire, and other performers. Saturday, June 7. 1-5 p.m., $10. — Anneli Rufus

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Yoshi's San Francisco Sold to New Ownership Group

by Kathleen Richards
Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Yoshi's San Francisco has been sold to a new ownership group, it was announced today. The new group, Fillmore Live Entertainment Group, LLC, will take over beginning July 1. As we've previously reported, the San Francisco venue has struggled financially over the years, and increasingly booked non-jazz acts. According to the statement released today, Yoshi's Oakland will continue to operate under its current management.

Here's the full announcement:

Yoshi's San Francisco, the Jazz Club & Japanese Restaurant which opened in the Historic Fillmore District in November 2007, has been sold to a new ownership group, Fillmore Live Entertainment Group, LLC. The new ownership group has infused new capital and is committed to ensuring that this will be a seamless and successful transition from one ownership group to the other. Fillmore Live Entertainment Group, which has retained Bob Burke of Ovation Consulting Restaurant + Hospitality to oversee operations, will take over Yoshi's San Francisco on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

Mr. Burke draws experience from a number of other venues which include: Gordon Biersch, Piatti, Pat Kuleto Restaurants, and Forge. The new ownership is expected to keep Yoshi's San Francisco's name for the foreseeable future, and has no plans to make immediate changes in the live music and food & beverage program. All previously paid for show tickets, gift cards and dining vouchers will continue to be honored under the new management as appropriate.

“This transition provides the opportunity to implement exciting plans for the future including re-branding the entire concept. This will include more diverse music programming, a new food and beverage menu, and creating a dynamic guest experience,” said Michael Johnson, Managing Partner of Fillmore Live Entertainment Group. “While Yoshi's SF, has achieved substantial success over the last 6 years, this is a tremendous opportunity to build on that, and position this venue in the marketplace for even greater success in the future."

Kaz Kajimura, the outgoing Manager of Yoshi’s San Francisco said “I want to thank my management team in San Francisco for their hard work in making Yoshi’s a respected name in the San Francisco restaurant and music business.” We have provided quality food and entertainment to over a million patrons since we opened in 2007.”

Yoshi's Oakland will continue to operate unchanged with its current management at its Jack London Square location, offering the same high-quality entertainment and food, as it has for over 40 years.

For media concerns relating to Yoshi's San Francisco's current ownership, please contact: Lisa Bautista, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, at or regarding Fillmore Live Entertainment Group, please contact: Brad Flewellen at


Founder of Studio Grand Passes Away

by Madeleine Key
Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Holly Schneider, the founder of Studio Grand — a new community arts space located at 3234 Grand Avenue — died on May 3, just three weeks after being diagnosed with a rare blood cancer. The news was publicized in the venue’s June newsletter, which went out this morning.

According to Tricia Heath, a volunteer at Studio Grand, Schneider died at her home in the Grand Lake neighborhood, surrounded by friends and family. Heath and fellow volunteer Vanessa Camarena are continuing to operate Studio Grand with the support of Schneider’s husband, Jamie Keller. “We are hoping to take what Holly started, which we believe is filling a much-needed void for the community, and continue her vision," said Heath. "We are currently setting up a fundraising campaign to raise money for the space." She said they hope to launch an Indiegogo campaign by next week.

Holly Schneider
  • Holly Schneider

As we reported in March, Schneider opened Studio Grand in September with the intention of creating an informal space where artists and community members could experiment, teach, collaborate, and perform. It has since held hundreds of music performances, classes for children and adults, poetry readings, and art exhibitions. Programming for the month of June can be found on Studio Grand’s website

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Birdland Update: Official Launch Planned for July as Music District Takes Wing

by Paula Martersteck
Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 2:17 PM

The official launch of the Birdland Jazzista Social Club's North Oakland venue has been pushed back to the first or second weekend of July, while renovations are completed on the former Tea Cakes cocktail lounge at 4318 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, located about three blocks from the MacArthur BART station.

In the meantime, now that the Jazzista Social Club is no longer hosting events out of a Berkeley garage, the 2,700-square-foot Oakland building has filled in on the fly, with four shows taking place there in May. Birdland founder Michael Parayno has also installed about sixty of his quirky, recycled-material birdhouses along a surrounding five-block stretch. (Although secured to fences and other supports, some of the birdhouses have flown the coop, but, as Parayno put it, "Consider it an offering to the neighborhood." He said he plans to keep building birdhouses and replacing ones that go missing.)
The new North Oakland site of Birdland Jazzista Social Club, which was founded by Michael Parayno (bottom right).
  • The new North Oakland site of Birdland Jazzista Social Club, which was founded by Michael Parayno (bottom right).

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