Friday, June 26, 2015

This Weekend's Top Five Events

June 26, 27 & 28

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 10:20 AM

With marriage equality now a nationwide reality, this weekend is one for celebration. But if you're not too busy partying at Pride in San Francisco,  here are our five other favorite events happening this weekend. 

OG Maco
  • OG Maco
OG Maco
OG Maco — who plays at Venue (420 14th St., Oakland) on Friday — is one of the most notable young rappers to emerge from the current wave of left-field Atlanta emcees. But unlike his peers Migos or Young Thug, Maco’s approach to trap skews more toward punk than hip-hop. Whenever an OG Maco song comes on at a club, people don’t dance — they mosh. He first became known for his single “U Guessed It,” on which he crafted a catchy hook by emitting guttural yells and maniacal whoops over a sparse piano loop. His verses are animated to the point of chaos, with occasional interludes in a monotone drawl. Earlier this year, Maco appeared in XXL’s 2015 Freshman Class, a roundup of the country’s top up-and-coming rappers. While the MC previously said that his first hit was a fluke, he has been steadily releasing well-received, new material that has shown fans and critics that he’s more than a one-hit wonder.— Nastia Voynovskaya
Fri., June 26, 8 p.m. $20.

Obsidian Blade
For years, creatures in the orbit of shadowy, party-forward organizations such as Spaz and Katabatik beheld the inimitable live sets of Obsidian Blade, which intersected skittish mechanical throbs with the particular scree of a clamorous techno peddler from the noise camp. It was all courtesy of a fellow known as Joey Casio — though lore has it that the artist’s birth certificate was done in pencil, enabling a lifetime of reinvention — until Obsidian Blade seemed to disappear, its already minimal web presence petering out unceremoniously. All transmissions stopped. Industrial techno kids wandered from warehouse to warehouse, wondering why the void in their hearts had grown ever more deep and black, until Obsidian Blade announced its return — at least, just for one night at B4BEL4B Gallery (184 10th St., Oakland) on Friday.— Sam Lefebvre
Fri., June 26, 10 p.m. $10.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

California Arts Council Gets $7.1 Million Annual Increase

by Sarah Burke
Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 6:03 PM

Earlier today, Governor Jerry Brown signed a state budget that includes a $7.1 million permanent increase in funding for the California Arts Council, which will be allocated from the state's general fund. That will bring the total general fund support for the California Arts Council up to approximately $8.3 million, which will become the new baseline for the state's art funding, allowing the council the opportunity to hire two new permanent staff people to dole out the funds through various grants and initiatives. 

That will bring the total 2015-2016 California Arts Council budget up to approximately $11.8 million. The council also receives funding through California's Arts License Plate initiative, the Keep Arts in Schools Fund, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Brown established the California Arts Council, which consists of ten members, in 1975. The largest its budget has ever been was in 2000, when it reached $32 million. But in 2003, general fund support was cut to just $1 million, decreasing its contributions by more than 90 percent. That meant that across the US, California put the least money per capita toward the arts until 2011, when Kansas decided to cut its art budget entirely. In 2013, the budget received a one-time increase from the Assembly's operating budget. And in 2014, it received another one-time increase of $5 million from the general fund. 

"Members in both houses and both parties of our state legislature have demonstrated growing support for the arts over the past several years," Craig Watson, director of the California Arts Council, said in a press release sent out today. "They have listened to their constituents call for greater cultural expression and creativity in their communities, and to research that shows how an investment in the arts can boost local economies, raise student achievement, stimulate community development, increase public safety, and expand tourism, along with many other critical state goals."

The statewide increase comes at a time when Oakland artists and arts organizations have joined together under the umbrella of the Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition to demand that the city allocate more funding toward the arts. Members of the coalition attended the city council's budget meeting on Monday, requesting that the city re-establish the Oakland Arts Commission and allocate $130,000 from the general fund to create an additional full-time staff position within the city's Cultural Funding Program for the next two years. The city currently has no arts commission and only one employee running the sparse Cultural Funding program. Realistically, chances are slim that the city will increase its arts funding before the 2015-17 budget is adopted on June 30. But the coalition plans to continue meeting and organizing actions to push for an increase in public arts funding. Its next meeting will take place on July 8. 

Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly referred to the Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition as the Oakland Creative Communities Coalition. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kehlani, Iamsu!, Lil B, G-Eazy, and P-Lo Team Up for Warriors Anthem

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 1:33 PM

Even though the Golden State Warriors' historic NBA Championship win was over a week ago, Oakland can't stop celebrating. There's still yellow and blue confetti littered all over downtown, people are setting off the last of their fireworks, and five up-and-coming East Bay artists recently joined forces for a musical homage to the Dubs. Titled "Champion," the underdog anthem features triumphant verses from singer Kehlani and rappers Iamsu!, Lil B, and G-Eazy over P-Lo's synth-heavy production. 

See more:
Warriors Parade Draws Massive Crowd
Rapper Lil B Curses James Harden to Help the Warriors go to the NBA Finals
The East Bay Hip-Hop Scene Will No Longer Be Ignored

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Friday, June 19, 2015

This Weekend's Top Eight Events

June 19, 20 & 21

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Winning the NBA Finals can be kind of like giving birth to a child. After all that time spent cheering for your team, there's the potential for the equivalent of postpartum depression. You may find yourself heading to the bar only to find that Curry is not on the overheard TV. You may look into the mirror to find that you've instinctively clothed yourself in a full blue and gold get up. But alas, basketball season is over. To help you through your Warriors withdrawals, we not only rounded five events this weekend, but a whopping eight. Fill that hole in you heart with book releases, rap shows, and pig roasts. And don't forget to say "I love you" to your Dad on Sunday. 

A Circuit of Yields Book Releases
E.M. Wolfman General Interest Small Bookstore frequently hosts events that highlight underground authors and small-press publications. Now, it has published a book of its own. The new release is a volume of Oakland-based poet Jacob Kahn’s latest writings titled A Circuit of Yields. Featuring illustrations by Jack Metcalf, A Circuit of Yields is described as “conventional wisdom for giants.” If that sounds slightly nonsensical, it should: Kahn’s poetry is visceral and surreal, with plenty of oxymorons and non-sequitors throughout. To celebrate the book’s release, E.M. Wolfman is hosting two events. The first is the Solstice Potluck Picnic and Performance at Lake Anza in Berkeley on June 21 at 4 p.m. Kahn will perform at the gathering. Local experimental musicians Gossimer and Select All will play, and Ava Rosen will do a dance performance. For those who can’t attend the picnic, there will be a more conventional launch party with a reading at E.M. Wolfman on June 26 at 7 p.m. — Nastia Voynovskaya
Both events are free.

  • Henry Kaiser
Garden of Memory
The solstice celebration at Chapel of the Chimes, which is one of the local experimental community’s most anticipated annual events, will feature about fifty performers from conservatory, jazz, underground, improv, and academic electronic backgrounds, all stationed throughout the beautiful Julia Morgan-designed columbarium on Sunday. Attendees are encouraged to rove around, perhaps chancing upon storied guitarist Henry Kaiser in an alcove before encountering renowned local percussionist William Winant in a prayer chamber. Meanwhile, the labyrinthine structure is awash in natural light and each sonic encounter is punctuated by the sound of running water. Performers include the pianist and curator Sarah Cahill, Maggi Payne, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, and Moe! Staiano, among many others, and the event runs from 5 to 9 p.m., just as it has every June 21 since 1996. — Sam Lefebvre
June 21, 5 p.m. $5, $15. 

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Friday, June 12, 2015

This Weekend's Top Five Events

June 12, 13 & 14

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Jun 12, 2015 at 7:00 AM

It's the weekend and yet again Oaklanders are faced with the challenge of figuring out what to do with themselves between Warriors wins. But have no fear! We're here to help. These are our top recommendations for things to do this weekend:

Tarik Abdullah.
  • Tarik Abdullah.
The Chef and the Revolutionary
This week’s dinner for a worthy cause comes from the good people behind Acta Non Verba, a working farm in deep East Oakland where local youth plan, plant, harvest, and sell all of the produce — and have 100 percent of the proceeds from those sales placed into individual college savings accounts. It’s fitting, then, that the fundraising dinner at Kingston 11 (2270 Telegraph Ave.) would feature a couple of revolutionary guests: Former Black Panther Party chair Elaine Brown will lead a discussion on “food as revolution,” and Seattle-based TV chef Tarik Abdullah will cook a globally inspired five-course meal that will highlight some of the produce grown by the kids, as well as the flavors of North Africa (e.g., harissa-spiced Moroccan chicken) and the Caribbean (jerk-spiced lamb sliders). A separate vegan menu will be available. Tickets can be purchased via AVNFarmBenefit.— Luke Tsai
Sun., June 14, 6-10 p.m. $75. 

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Treasure Island Music Festival 2015 Lineup Announced

Performers include Deadmau5, Run the Jewels, Father John Misty, and more.

by Sam Lefebvre
Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 1:06 PM

Following Kendrick Lamar's recent visit to Treasure Island, the Treasure Island Music Festival just revealed a host A-list performers set to grace the same scenic chunk of earth on Oct. 17-18. 

The lineup, announced today, includes one of dubstep's strongest brands, Deadmau5, critic favorite Run the Jewels, a lauded beard named Father John Misty, and reunited San Diego post-hardcore act Drive Like Jehu, whose influence appears to be resurgent. The War on Drugs is also scheduled, but the understated rock act's local almost-collaborator and sparring partner Mark Kozelek is not. 

In fact, there is only one local act, San Francisco DJ Viceroy. Mikal Cronin, lest we forget, is an Angeleno now. Treasure Island's native pirate-punk population is reeling. 

Tickets are available starting Thursday and the full lineup is below. 

The National
Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique
Father John Misty
Run The Jewels
The War On Drugs
Azealia Banks
Panda Bear
José González
Hudson Mohawke
Drive Like Jehu
Lower Dens
Mikal Cronin
Viet Cong
Cashmere Cat
Skyler Spence

Live Review: D'Angelo's Simmering, Soulful Funk at The Fox

by George Schlesinger
Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 11:11 AM

  • Eric Nelson
The role of the soul singer is slippery. Like a shape-shifter, the front man can take on many forms: the lothario (Barry), the political critic (Sly), the funky prankster (George), the mysterious mystic (The Purple One), and the eclectic bohemian (Erykah), to name a few. On Sunday night at the Fox, D’Angelo gave nods to each, switching up his outfits and inspirations throughout a nearly two-hour set of simmering, soulful funk.

For a sold-out show, the crowd trickled in slowly, thanks in part to the Warriors devastating OT loss. As a result, many missed the opening act, upcoming singer-songwriter Meg Mack, and instead were greeted by Dilla beats to up the ante of anticipation. It was as if The Ummah was in the house, and the crowd was keyed up. It had been more than 15 years since D’Angelo rocked a stage in Oakland. People were ready for the house lights to start dimming.

To bring the lushness of The Black Messiah, to life, D’Angelo rolls with a 10-piece band, aptly titled The Vanguard. From the jump with “Ain’t That Easy,” the outfit showed off its JB’s-like precision, helping make the modern Godfather comparison even stronger. Longer than the album cut, the opener let the band stretch out and lock in to an airtight groove.
  • Etienne McGuiga
From there, the electric energy never let up, even in quiet moments. One of the singers, P-Funk alum Kendra Foster, performed a surprising ballet before “Really Love,” and the room hung on every move. Bassist Pino Palladino's droning, pulsing beat amplified the moment's drama. 

D’Angelo himself was as dynamic as his supporting cast. He bounced around the stage, playing guitar, sitting at the keys, and smoothly gliding and commanding the crowd as a soul MC.

By running through almost all of The Black Messiah, some radio classics fell by the wayside. “Lady” and the DJ-Premier produced “Devil’s Pie” got nixed, but early single “Brown Sugar” made an appearance late in the set to satiate the old-school heads.

As an ode to chron, the jam was a party-oriented counterpoint to his more politically charged material. Although “1000 Deaths” wasn’t played, the song’s spirit was felt all night. “We do this for Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant and countless others,” said D’Angelo.

While he dished out references to the past pool of funk greats—he quoted Sly Stone’s “Gangsta funk! Gangsta boogie” line and briefly covered Curtis Mayfield’s “Freddie’s Dead”—he closed out the show as only he could: “Untitled (How Does it Feel),” with the accompanying sex symbol visuals, put him on an extended vision quest that led to this comeback album. Playing it on Sunday showed how far the journey has taken him, and that it’s been a fulfilling trip.

D’Angelo conjured up aspects of funk’s past, but made it clear that he’s the modern maestro of the game. 
  • Allan Wakefield

Monday, June 8, 2015

Bay Bridge Steel Available to Artists For Free

A new project headed by the Oakland Museum of California will administer salvaged steel from the Bay Bridge to use in projects, free of charge.

by Sophie Ho
Mon, Jun 8, 2015 at 4:42 PM

The old Bay Bridge. - ALLAN FERGUSON
  • Allan Ferguson
  • The old Bay Bridge.
Artists and members of the creative community can now apply for salvaged steel from the Bay Bridge to use in public art projects as part of a new program headed by the Oakland Museum of California.

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Oakland's New Creative Neighborhoods Coalition Announces First Meeting

It will be held at Betti Ono Gallery on June 10.

by Sarah Burke
Mon, Jun 8, 2015 at 4:25 PM

Last week, we published a feature called Where are Oakland's Black Artists?, which partially reported on the threat of displacement that Oakland's galleries and cultural centers are currently facing. As rents continue to rise in Oakland, more and more centers of creativity are unsure how long they will be able to remain in the city or stay open at all. The story highlighted Betti Ono, a gallery in Downtown Oakland that focuses on amplifying the voices of marginalized people and supporting the work that they create. Betti Ono director Anyka Barber is quoted in the piece, saying, "Displacement via gentrification, displacement via city laws, ordinances, or policies, or whatever's happening economically in this city, is all a threat to arts and culture institutions that are particularly focused on serving an audience that's not held up by the status quo." Barber and many others involved in the local art community feel that proactive, conscious, and collaborative efforts must be made to ensure that artists and arts organizations aren't pushed out of their neighborhoods and that supporting them remains a priority for the city. 

Courtesy of the Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition.
  • Courtesy of the Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

This Weekend's Top Five Events

June 5, 6 & 7

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Jun 5, 2015 at 6:50 AM

If you're not too busy preparing for the next Warriors win on Sunday night, here are some other fun events happening this weekend to keep you busy in the meantime. 

Jonathon Richman.
  • Jonathon Richman.
Jonathan Richman
Anyone familiar with Jonathan Richman’s periodic artist-in-residence gigs at the Make-Out Room knows that his charisma is unmatched. The arch of an eyebrow or the brush of one finger upon two nylon strings on his strapless acoustic guitar will make believers out of hardened gig-goers. It’s nice when he sings, too, perhaps in lilting Portuguese or Spanish, about his fraught relationship with works of art, the merriment of a lesbian bar, the beauty of the natural world, or even the plight of Mumia Abu Jamal. Another thing about Jonathan Richman is that he’s lovely. Also, he clearly dislikes noisy air conditioners. Fans of his Make-out Room residencies know that he has that contraption shut the hell off. No telling whether he’ll insist likewise at Bottom of the Hill on Friday or Saturday, but if so, there’s a big window behind the stage that might let in a nice, cool breeze.— Sam Lefebvre
Fri., June 5, 8:30 p.m. and Sat., June 6, 8:30 p.m. $15.

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