Friday, April 29, 2016

This Weekend's Top Five Events

April 29, 30 & May 1

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 10:39 AM

Thanks to Queen Bey, this week has been blessed. Finish it off right.

via GIPHY

Here's how:
Prince.
  • Prince.
A Celebration of Prince
Dearly beloved / We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life, preaches Prince in the sermon-like intro of “Let’s Go Crazy.” In retrospect, much of Prince’s music was hauntingly prophetic, with lyrics about mortality dazzlingly cloaked as celebratory pop. The iconic musician’s untimely death at the age of 57 shocked fans across the world last week. Prince played by his own rules. In addition to being a musical genius, he defied gender norms and proudly displayed his love for the Black community. He was a generous humanitarian that donated to a variety of social justice and environmental causes. He used pop to spur social change, and his work touched several generations. There are many ways to grieve, but one is to celebrate his life at Mezzanine on April 30, with DJ Apollo and D Sharp spinning Prince jams all night. The party is free, but there will be opportunities to donate to three causes Prince supported: The Elton John AIDS Foundation, Sheila E’s Elevate Hope Foundation, and Music for Minors: Music Education for Bay Area Youth.— Nastia Voynovskaya
Sat., April 30, 9 p.m. Free. MezzanineSF.com


COURTESY ROYAL NONESUCH
  • Courtesy Royal NoneSuch
Yellow No. 5, Bruh: A Solo exhibition by Eli Thorne
Oakland artist Eli Thorne’s 2014 Mills College MFA thesis installation looked like a parody of an Olympian gymnastics gym. Bars crisscrossed each other to form a tower mounting a net filled with yellow tennis balls. Heavy, concrete balls hung from thick blue ropes attached to a wall with a metal bar. And royal blue flags dangled from the ceiling. The installation pinpointed an amusing aesthetic that registered immediately as athletic, yet didn’t actually mimic any existing athletic gear. Now, for a solo show at Royal NoneSuch Gallery (4231 Telegraph Ave.) entitled Yellow No. 5, Bruh, Thorne is going in on normative notions of masculinity with the same style of parody and a similar focus on sports culture. For the show, Thorne will be entirely transforming the space into a hyperbolic metaphor for male-ness made up of materials associated with home gyms, jocks, caffeine and male entitlement. Yellow No. 5, Bruh opens on Friday, April 29, with a reception from 7–10 p.m.— Sarah Burke
April 29-May 28. free. RoyalNoneSuchGallery.com


Mary Roach. - JEN SISKA.
  • Jen Siska.
  • Mary Roach.
Independent Bookstore Day
On Saturday, April 30, Independent Bookstore Day will once again be taking over local bookshops. To celebrate, bookstores will be hosting a grab-bag of literary festivities. Diesel Bookstore (5433 College Ave.) will release Record Store Day-style, limited-edition products. Among the rare literary goods will be X is For…, a new record featuring Carolyn Pennypacker-Riggs made as an accompaniment to local author Kate Schatz’s best-selling children’s book Rad American Women A-Z. Meanwhile, Schatz will appear in person at Books Inc. Alameda (1344 Park St.) to promote the record. And at Books Inc. Berkeley (1491 Shattuck Ave.), there will be a photo booth, with costumes for dressing up as your favorite literary character (think Harry Potter robes). Pegasus Books Downtown (2349 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) will take part as well, offering an ask-me-anything session with author Mary Roach, who is currently working on a new book, titled Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War.— Sarah Burke
Sat., April 30. Free. IndieBookStoreDay.com


Sol Seeker Farm.
  • Sol Seeker Farm.
Local Connection Pop-Up
As much as the Bay Area is rightly celebrated for its vibrant farm-to-table food culture, life as a farmer in Northern California is difficult — all the more so, if you’re a young, small-scale farmer just starting out in the profession who has yet to establish a prominent presence at the most prestigious farmers’ markets or the trendiest restaurants. The Local Connection Pop-Up is designed to help bridge that gap. Held at Swan’s Market (510 9th St., Oakland) on May 1, the $40 prix-fixe, buffet-style dinner will use meat and produce supplied by four farms run by young, new-to-the-profession farmers — Hikari Farm in Watsonville, Sol Seeker Farm in Tres Pinos, and Jellicles Farm and Baia Nicchia in Sunol. The farmers will be on hand to answer questions, and, in keeping with the theme, the chefs cooking the meal will be a team of young, up-and-coming sous chefs and line cooks from prominent East Bay restaurants such as Ramen Shop and AS B-Dama. Tickets are available via Eventbrite.com. — Luke Tsai
Sun., May 1, 5-8 p.m. $40

To Kill A Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird For more than sixty years, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has compelled audiences with its astute portrayal of racism and injustice in Depression-era Alabama. In 1970, ten years after the novel was published, playwright Christopher Sergel began working on a stage adaptation that took him twenty years to complete. Sergel’s adaptation is now headed to Berkeley Playhouse, with previews beginning April 28 at the Julia Morgan Theater (2640 College Ave., Berkeley). The play is the first-ever non-musical produced by Berkeley Playhouse, which has focused exclusively on musical productions in the nine years since its founding, and will be directed by Berkeley Playhouse’s producing artistic director, Darren A.C. Carollo. Two sets of young actors ranging in age from nine to fourteen will take on the roles of protagonist Scout Finch, her brother Jem, and their friend Dill Harris, while Steve Rhyne will play Scout and Jem’s father Atticus, a lawyer much-beloved by audiences whom Lee modeled after her own father.— Sarah Elizabeth Adler
Through May 22. $17-$60. BerkeleyPlayhouse.org

If your pockets are feelin' light and you're still yearning for more suggestions, we've got a ton, and these ones are all FREE! We're Hungry: Got any East Bay news, events, video, or miscellany we should know about? Feed us at Sarah.Burke@EastBayExpress.com.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Kenneth Rainin Foundation to Give Grants of Up to $200,000 to Local Artists

The foundation will fund up to four temporary public art installations in Oakland or San Francisco.

by Sarah Burke
Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 5:51 PM

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced earlier this week that it will be funding up to four temporary public art projects in Oakland or San Francisco with grants between $50,000 and $200,000 per project. A recent press release said that the foundation is specifically looking for place-based projects that "engage communities, showcase artistic experimentation, and energize public spaces."  

The new public art program is called Open Spaces, and aims to showcase the work of both emerging and established artists in a range of disciplines. That makes this a rare opportunity for artists to think on a massive scale — and budget — even if they don't specialize in public art.

The foundation is accepting Letters of Inquiry with brief project proposals between May 16 and June 30. Then, a small group of finalists from that pool will be given $5,000 to further develop their projects and submit a detailed proposal in mid-September. Up to four of those full proposals will receive funding.

To apply, artists must have a nonprofit partner (or vice versa) to help spearhead the project. The nonprofits (or organization with a 501c3 fiscal sponsor) must be based in the Bay Area, but the artist doesn't necessarily have to be local as long as the organization is playing a strong role. Proposed sites must be located in either Oakland or San Francisco, and high-density urban areas that are easily accessible via public transportation will be prioritized.

Medium-wise, the foundation says its open to technology-based works, light-based artworks, video and film projections, sound sculpture, socially engaged art practice, conceptual works, performance-based visual arts projects, as well as more traditional visual arts work. See more details about the application process here. 

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Flags as Art and Identity at Oakland International High School

With help from artist Cristina Victor, immigrant students will produce a series of flags to be displayed along Telegraph Avenue.

by Sarah Elizabeth Adler
Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 4:10 PM

Cristina Victor leading a flag-making workshop at SOMArts Cultural Center. - COURTESY OF CRISTINA VICTOR
  • Courtesy of Cristina Victor
  • Cristina Victor leading a flag-making workshop at SOMArts Cultural Center.

For Cuban-American artist Cristina Victor flags serve more than a practical purpose — they are also works of art. Victor's next project, "My Story is My Flag," is a collaborative effort commissioned by Interface Gallery that Victor will undertake along with a cohort of students from Oakland International High School. Together, Victor and the students will produce a series of twelve flags that will be displayed along Telegraph Avenue for four weeks beginning on June 14.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

This Weekend's Top Five Events

April 22, 23 & 24

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 3:27 PM

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You could stay in all weekend and watch Purple Rain, or listen to any one — or all — of Prince's brilliants records. But it's more likely that he would have wanted you to get out and dance this weekend. Here are some ways to do that, and more, below. 

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Created 2 Create
Those lucky enough to be off work on Friday should stop by Created 2 Create, an interdisciplinary artist mixer organized by local up-and-coming photographer, filmmaker, and event producer Mecca Media at Omiroo Gallery in downtown Oakland from 2 to 7 p.m. Mecca conceived of the event as a way for young artists and creatives of different disciplines to meet one another and hash out ideas. Created 2 Create will be a laid-back day party with a DJ set by Low Keno, who’s half of the DJ duo $ex $hop, which specializes in down-tempo, sexy R&B and forward-thinking beats. There will be additional surprise musical guests and a poetry reading featuring Brother Gipson, Hurricaannee, and Love Millie, plus art installations and local craft vendors posted up all day.— Nastia Voynovskaya
Fri., April 22, 2-7 p.m. Free.


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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Berner Presents Hippie Hill Went Up in a Glorious Blaze

The San Francisco rapper put on an epic 4/20 extravaganza featuring Juicy J, Cypress Hill, Kool John, and others.

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 6:48 PM

Kool John and special guests from HBK Gang entertained the blunted crowd with an energized performance. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • Kool John and special guests from HBK Gang entertained the blunted crowd with an energized performance.

Streaming revenue doesn’t turn much of a profit for most musicians, and music sales are on the decline. So in recent years, many enterprising rappers have expanded into other ventures to make a living, particularly in the realm of mind-altering substances. After all, hip-hop is the music of turn ups, kick backs, and solo contemplation — situations in which substances can come in handy for those who indulge.

E-40 has his wine company, Earl Stevens Selections, among various other alcohol brands; Nef the Pharaoh is lending his name to pre-rolled joints called Pharaohs. Berner is the proprietor of Cookies — a clothing brand with a stoner-centric ethos and nebulous ties to the San Francisco cannabis club and weed strain of the same name — and Hemp2o, a hemp seed-infused take on Vitamin Water.

Between Cookies and his music, Berner has built a veritable cannabis-centric lifestyle brand empire — a Hempire, if you will, which is also the title of his latest album. And with California’s cannabis culture becoming increasingly mainstream — with an adult-use legalization initiative that will likely end up on the November ballot — Berner’s entertainment ventures are gaining an ever-expanding audience. 
BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson

Berner Presents Hippie Hill, a 4/20 concert that was actually more like a mini music festival, was Berner’s latest endeavor at the intersection of hip-hop and weed. When I arrived at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium at 5 p.m. for the show, though the afternoon sun wasn’t close to setting yet, the venue was dark inside and already filled with dense clouds of smoke.

Though it was 4/20, the concert surprisingly started on time, with HBK Gang's Kool John opening the show. The “Blue Hunnids” rapper had an inopportune time slot, but he and his special guests, such as Ezale and Dave Steezy, energized the crowd, charismatically bouncing across the stage in tie-dye and happy face-emblazoned Shmoplife gear. Kool John and P-Lo delivered a spirited rendition of their party anthem “Bitch I Look Good,” with the crowd happily chanting along.

The audience wasn’t ready to get hyphy that early, but the HBK guys delivered an admirably energetic show. As he had been tweeting about all week, Kool John puffed on one of those burrito-sized joints — no exaggeration — the first of many unconventional smoking apparatuses displayed throughout the concert. (Later on, Berner and B-Real of Cypress Hill would take the stage smoking a forearm-length joint fashioned in the shape of a sword.)

Though the crowd was diverse in terms of age and ethnicity, the emphasis on weed and streetwear brought out a strong contingent of twenty and thirtysomething-year-old sneakerhead dudes. Unfortunately, the lack of female artists in the lineup attracted a similarly male-dominated crowd, and there were few women in the audience who weren’t with their boyfriends — which is a shame, because women like weed and rap, too. More gender-diverse booking would have helped mitigate that issue, and, as a woman, it was slightly awkward to listen to Kool John’s songs about girls twerking while surrounded by mostly men. Refreshingly, though, there were few-to-no visible yuppies — a rarity for a San Francisco concert in 2016. 

BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
Dizzy Wright, a young Las Vegas rapper with conscious rhymes and Nineties-influenced, boom-bap production, took the stage after Kool John and delivered an excellent set with a live drummer and DJ who scratched vinyl. With mixtape titles like The Gold Age, it’s clear that Dizzy Wright adulates hip-hop’s old school. He demonstrated his commitment to the craft with his acrobatic, speedy spitting.

Despite his disarming and charismatic stage presence, Dizzy Wright’s efforts failed to inspire the blunted crowd to move. People were bobbing their heads and having a good time, but were too stoned to be bothered to dance, especially because it was still early. “Y’all look high,” he observed at one point. The immobilized audience giggled in response. “I don’t wanna take you out of your comfort zone.” 
Chronixx delivered a charismatic reggae set. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • Chronixx delivered a charismatic reggae set.

Next, Chronixx took the stage, delivering a smooth set of groovy roots reggae. Stoned, my friends and I — and hundreds of other people who got the munchies mid-show — decided to grab some food. After finding out there were no ins-and-outs at the venue, we made our way to the concession stand, where we waited for over an hour for junk food in a crowd of other hungry and confused pot heads.

People milled around aimlessly or stared off sleepily into space. It felt like the passage in Homer’s Odyssey when Odysseus travels to the island of narcolepsy-inducing lotus flowers and is in danger of getting too tired and never leaving again. Outside, it was still daylight, but it felt like we were in a smoke-filled vacuum where the laws of time and space didn’t apply.
Juicy J performed recent hits as well as some older Three 6 Mafia tracks. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • Juicy J performed recent hits as well as some older Three 6 Mafia tracks.

After the tedious quest for snacks, we finally made it back to the concert. Three 6 Mafia legend Juicy J was ready to perform. With hits like “Bands a Make Her Dance” and “Get Higher,” Juicy J continued his career into the 2010s writing songs that blatantly celebrate drug use — not weed, which is totally tame in today’s day and age, but lean, molly, Xanax, and the like. But in contrast to his druggy persona (which undoubtedly helps him capitalize on his college-aged fan base), Juicy J was completely lucid and delivered an impeccable performance that showcased his skills on the mic. At this point, the crowd was more turnt up — though still very stoned — and people rapped along gleefully.

While Juicy J, who’s in his forties, comes off as creepy at times with lyrics that reference having sex with women two decades his junior, the most gratifying parts of his set were when he performed some of Three 6 Mafia’s early hits. The dark sound of Three 6 Mafia and other Nineties and 2000s Memphis horrorcore was a precursor to the ominous, high hat-driven trap production popular today. Seeing him play older songs like 2005’s “Stay Fly” reminded the audience of his far-reaching influence.

Berner's music and lifestyle brand, Cookies, has garnered a large audience as cannabis culture becomes increasingly mainstream. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • Berner's music and lifestyle brand, Cookies, has garnered a large audience as cannabis culture becomes increasingly mainstream.

Berner took the stage flexing his status as a weed mogul and self-made artist. “I was born and raised in San Francisco,” he said as smoke clouds billowed up from the crowd. “I didn’t think I would ever sell out this venue.” Berner’s contemplative, lyrical hip-hop — with plenty of gorgeous jazz and soul samples sprinkled throughout — resonated with the mellow audience. Throughout his set, he celebrated cannabis culture, taunted the police (“They see the smoke leaking out of the venue.”) to approving cheers, and touted his Mexican roots. 

B-Real of Cypress Hill joined Berner on stage, seguing his set into that of Cypress Hill via a seamless transition. At this point, the concert had been going on for nearly six hours. Smoke visibly floated throughout the cavernous concert hall. Audience members were beginning to doze off in the seated area of the venue — not because Cypress Hill didn’t put on an entertaining show, which they did, but because of the sheer lack of oxygen. 
B-Real of Cypress Hill joined Berner on stage with a joint fashioned in the shape of a sword. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • B-Real of Cypress Hill joined Berner on stage with a joint fashioned in the shape of a sword.

Berner mentioned during his set that Berner Presents Hippie Hill was going to become an annual thing. An outdoor, daytime festival would have probably made for a better setting for this type of event — something I hope he’ll consider next year.

Regardless, though, the concert was a success — a testament to the more progressive cultural shifts in regards to cannabis, as well as a sort of coronation for Berner as the king of his Hempire. 

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Friday, April 15, 2016

This Weekend's Top Six Events

April 15, 16 & 17

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Apr 15, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Surely our San Francisco International Film Fest guide as you all booked for next weekend, but what are you going to do in the meantime? We've got you covered: 

DJ Neto 187.
  • DJ Neto 187.
Going Outrageously Dumb
Remember clubs with discriminatory dress codes such as “no baggy clothing?” Well, times are finally changing. For the latest party that blogger-promoter Cami Ramos is throwing at Omiroo, the 15th Street art gallery at the epicenter of the Second Saturdays art walk, guests will be strongly encouraged to don their size XXL white T-shirts (the kind you’d get from the liquor store). That’s because the theme of the party is Going Outrageously Dumb — a time warp into the mid-2000s, celebrating hyphy culture. And the best-dressed person will get free drinks all night, so dust off that case of Hyphy Juice energy drinks and don’t forget your Mac Dre tall tee. DJs Sad Andy, Neto 187, and Solstice will be behind the decks, and to whet your palette, they’ll be dropping hyphy-era mixes on SoundCloud all week.— Nastia Voynovskaya
Fri., April 15, 7-11 p.m. Free.



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Friday, April 8, 2016

First Listen: Beejus and Oops Release "Trouble" and Share Details on Upcoming Projects

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 10:39 AM

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Beejus and Oops are a creative dream team if there ever was one. Though the two West Oakland natives aren't blood related, they consider each other cousins and have been making music together since they were teenagers.  

Often rapping in tandem, Beejus counterbalances Oops' rapid-fire delivery with his gravelly flow, with Oops handling the majority of the duo's production. On Beejus' latest album, BeeSmoove2, Oops' soulful, jazzy beats underscore Beejus' contemplative lyrics about confronting insecurities and, as he put it, making friends with all my dark places. 

See more:
Beejus' Free Spirit Music

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This Weekend's Top Five Events

April 8, 9 & 10

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 6:29 AM

That feeling when you look up from your desk and realize it's already the weekend. 
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Haven't made plans? Have no fear. We're here to help: 

Foster Body.
  • Foster Body.
Foster Body, Little Sister, and Blank Square
Notaflof Collective Community Salon & Artspace is a new venue, community center, and hair salon whose name stands for “no one turned away for lack of funds.” Like the acronym suggests, the new space has an unconventional, somewhat anti-capitalist business model that enables it to provide services on a donation basis. So far, Notaflof has held many events that promote radical inclusivity — such as its recent clothing swap and donation-based manicure day, both of which were specifically for queer and trans people. The venue also offers affordable tailoring and haircuts, and throws shows on a regular basis. Its next event on April 9 features Utah punk band Foster Body, whose punchy guitar riffs and campy, call-and-response vocals evoke Talking Heads and Devo. Little Sister, a garage pop trio from Union City, and San Francisco noise outfit Blank Square join Foster Body on the lineup.— Nastia Voynovskaya
Sat., April 9, 7 p.m. $5–$10. Facebook.com/Notaflof



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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Los Rakas to Perform at the White House

by Sydney Johnson
Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 6:00 PM

BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
Los Rakas have come far since members Raka Rich (Ricardo Gilliam) and Raka Dun (Abdull Domínguez) began releasing their earliest mixtapes back in the mid-2000s. Now, the Oakland-based Panamanian hip-hop duo is going even further–literally–by bringing their "PanaBay" sound to the White House to perform in the first ever Brioxy White House Summit for Innovators of Color

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