Friday, August 18, 2017

La Peña Cultural Center Trying to Raise Much-Needed Funds Before the End of the Month

by Azucena Rasilla
Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 4:49 PM

Last year's Chilean Independence Day party - PHOTO COURTESY LA PEÑA
  • Photo courtesy La Peña
  • Last year's Chilean Independence Day party

For more than forty years, La Peña Cultural Center has been a pillar of the community in Berkeley. The nonprofit has been a crucial gathering place for artists of color and activists fighting for social justice. Today, La Peña is rallying the community to help it raise $20,000 by the end of the month.

Natalia Neira and Bianca Torres, co-directors of La Peña, explained that the financial crisis of 2008 forced many Bay Area nonprofits to severely cut their budgets. Once the economy recovered, some nonprofits still weren't able to restore them, forcing staff members to cut down on administrative and operational costs. Some funders chose to give grants to other up-and-coming nonprofits, Neira and Torres explained, while others decided to give grants once per fiscal year instead of multiple times per year, as they had done in the past.

La Peña’s annual budget is approximately $400,000. While, thankfully, the nonprofit isn't at risk of closing its doors, it does need to raise $20,000 by the end of the month in order to finish this fiscal year without debt.

Since September of last year, La Peña has put together 243 events and more than 1,000 classes serving the Bay Area community.

The nonprofit offsets the cost of maintaining the space, not by tickets sales, but through donations and grants. La Peña will start receiving a new grant from Leveraging A Network for Equity (LANE) in September. The money will be given over a period of four years and will be used for repairs, upgrades, recovery and change capital to help improve La Peña’s business model to make it profitable .

Neira and Torres say this new grant will have an enormous impact on La Peña in the coming fiscal years, but as of right now, they have to complete their current fundraiser; otherwise, they will have to tap into their emergency fund.

There are several ways in which the community can help: Attend an event and give an extra donation at the door, make a contribution online, or attend their upcoming "Friends of La Peña Concert" on Saturday, August 26 at 8 p.m. (There's no charge, but donations are accepted.) Lagunitas Brewery will be selling brews, and a portion of the sales will go toward La Peña's fundraising goal.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Art + Soul Returns To Oakland This Weekend

by Ruth Gebreyesus and Azucena Rasilla
Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 10:33 AM

  • Photo courtesy of Art + Soul

Art + Soul Oakland, the music and art festival that's an intrinsic part of summers in the Town, returns this weekend. Now in its 17th year, Art + Soul is continuing its tradition of honoring local musicians, artists and businesses. With the accelerated rise in festivals and an ever-changing landscape in downtown Oakland,  a homegrown one that comes back year after year at an accessible price point and a commitment to highlight local talent stands out as special. Beyond the stage and art vending booths, this year's Art + Soul is also featuring brews from Oakland United Brewing and Temescal Brewing.

On stage, Saturday's lineup features hometown hero Goapele whose latest project, Dreamseeker, is an evolution of the singer's neo-soul and jazz sound. "Stay", a nostalgic love ballad featuring BJ the Chicago Kid, stands out in its trap leaning beat that serve the singers' soulful voices flawlessly. Those of us who missed her weekend residency at Yoshi's back in May can celebrate one of Oakland's finest on Saturday.

Also on the lineup for Saturday is East Oakland singer and rapper Adrian Marcel who the Express profiled this June on his path from record label restrictions to an independent hustle that's found him success and freedom. Marcel's performance at Art + Soul will be his first in his hometown since his last album, GMFU was released this spring. The project, which features production from Raphael Saadiq, travels comfortably from rap to R&B and back through 16 tracks.

Taking the stage on Sunday is certified soul queen Angie Stone. Stone was last at Art + Soul in 2007 drawing the festival's largest crowds ever. Besides seven solo studio albums under her belt, Stone has also acted in stage productions, TV shows and films. Her set at Art + Soul will surely include her hits as well as classic covers infused with her soulful touch.

Oakland-Panamanian duo, Los Rakas have been hard at work. They recently dropped the remix of Y.L.S featuring Baby Gas, Young Chop, D.A.GO & Chapp. The duo also teamed up with the Regulars Only crew for a house party a few months ago, and in September, they will have their own “Rakas Boat Dance Party.” If you still have not seen Los Rakas live, their performance at the festival is your chance. As Oaklanders, it’s quite an honor that they will get to perform on the main stage. – Azucena Rasilla

“Original music that's bringing the boogie to ya booty,” that’s how this group of nine musicians define what Midtown Social is all about. Their eclectic combination of sounds is infections, and sure to put you to dance. The Art + Soul Oakland festival is the perfect stage for the band to showcase their music. Being local musicians they understand the struggles faced by the creative community, but soaring rents, and vapid gentrification will not prevent Midtown Social from continuing their quest to produce and perform. Don’t miss their set at the Oakland Jams stage on Sunday August 20. - AR

Free for children 12 and under, $7 for 65+ and youth 13-17, $12 for adults, August 19-20. For full lineups and more information, visit

Monday, August 14, 2017

Outside Lands Day Three: A Misty Closeout

by Ruth Gebreyesus
Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 4:05 PM

Young the Giant - PHOTO BY AMIR CLARK
  • Photo by Amir Clark
  • Young the Giant

By many accounts, the last day of Outside Lands' 10th iteration at Golden Gate Park was the least crowded and the most misty of the three day festival. That left those of us attending room to roam around the expansive grounds of Golden Gate Park and catch some amazing live performances and warm and delicious treats at the festival.

To close out the 10th anniversary celebrations were headliners Lorde and The Who alongside a stacked lineup that included ScHoolboy Q, Solange, Oakland's own Kamaiyah, and Young the Giant among others.
  • Photo by Amir Clark
  • Lorde

Lorde took the stage in the afternoon just as the fog rolled in to stay for the evening. In a floor length black lace dress paired with white sneakers, the 20-year old New Zealander songstress  moved with an unlabored joy through new songs off her latest album, Melodrama, and old hits like the once ubiquitous "Royals". Not too far removed from teenage years herself, her songs channel the specific anxieties and joys of youth and the crowd, made up of all ages, was captivated.

On the other side of the park, ScHoolboy Q warned his audience that this was a rap show despite who came before him on the stage and who will follow him. Unprecedented, at least for this concert goer, was a "choose your own adventure" karaoke game he played with the crowd asking which artist they'd like to hear him cover. The choice was between his TDE brother, Kendrick Lamar, and ASAP (Rocky presumably). The crowd went with Kendrick but Q gave them a taste of both with the loudest reactions coming to his covers of Lamar's "Humble" and "m.A.A.d. City".
  • Photo by Amir Clark
Despite the normal machinations of Outside Lands, Sunday was an odd day to be present en masse at a festival. After minimally policed white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday turned deadly on Saturday, there was an incongruence to wandering around "Wine Lands" and waiting for sets to start. And try as one might to distance what happened in Charlottesville, similar rallies have occurred in Berkeley and the nation's current administration gave lukewarm condemnations of these events.

Solange closed out the night with one of the best sets of the festival. - PHOTO BY AMIR CLARK
  • Photo by Amir Clark
  • Solange closed out the night with one of the best sets of the festival.

And though it's unfair to expect artists to soothe the political anxieties of living in America, Solange's latest album, A Seat at the Table, released in September of 2016, did just that. During her set at Outside Lands — which was synchronized to perfection in movement and aesthetic with her six piece band and two back-up singers — she addressed the crowd a couple times, alluding to a much needed temporary escape. "Stay up." she said later on, specifically addressing folks of color, Black, LGBTQ and Muslim folks.

  • Photo by Amir Clark
She went on to share that one way she eases her pain during these times is by dancing and so she went into "Losing You" from her EP True — one of the most danceable break-up records. Besides the remarks that she made, Solange's music directly speaks on the joys, the weariness, and the madness that being Black in America bring. Hearing her emphatically sing "You've got a right to be mad", against the backdrop of a vehement dismissal of fears about the recently rejuvenated racist, transphobic, and Islamophobic movements across America, was the only imaginable way to close out the night.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Outside Lands Day Two: A Tribe Called Quest Was a No Show

Cage The Elephant, Vance Joy, and Kaytranada were among the best of Day Two

by Azucena Rasilla
Sun, Aug 13, 2017 at 9:14 AM

Robert Trujillo of Metallica - PHOTO BY BRIAN BRENEMAN
  • Photo by Brian Breneman
  • Robert Trujillo of Metallica

Day two of Outside Lands proved to be disappointing for fans of A Tribe Called Quest, who ended up being a no show at their rescheduled 7 p.m. time slot.

Fans were aggravated to get the news, less than thirty minutes before the set-time. Outside Lands sent out an alert via the official festival app, as well as their Twitter feed. Some fans however, were still not aware of the news until Los Angeles-based DJ Claude VonStroke showed up to fill the time slot at the Twin Peaks stage.

On the other hand, day two of the festival was an extremely satisfactory day for the masses who showed up to see Metallica.

There were several remarkable moments throughout the day, Cage The Elephant, who were filling in for Queens of The Stone stage at Lands End (the main stage) mesmerized crowd.

Frontman Matthew Shultz, paraded around the stage shirtless, and with an impressive stage presence. The band’s eclectic sound dominated. Equally impressive was how in tune the band members were with one another, as they had little prep time to get ready for this performance at Outside Lands.

Over at the Sutro stage, two performances blew festival-goers away: Vance Joy and The Avett Brothers.

Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy played back-to-back sold out shows at the Fox Theater in Oakland just last year, and based on the amount of people who congregated at Sutro Stage to catch his performance, he might just have to come back and play the Bay soon. Joy made his Outside Lands debut back in 2014 when he played the much smaller Pan Handle stage.

The Avett Brothers also played at the Sutro stage, and one of the most memorable moments of their set was their tribute to the late Chris Cornell with their rendition of “Black Hole Sun.”

Kirk Hammett of Metallica - PHOTO BY BRIAN BRENEMAN
  • Photo by Brian Breneman
  • Kirk Hammett of Metallica

The night, of course, belonged to Metallica, who despite the chilly weather (colder than Friday night) kept everyone warm not only with a magnificent setlist, but also a pyrotechnic display of fireworks and spitting fire from both sides of the stage.

Metallica could have easily played a three-hour show if it wasn’t for the strict curfew at Golden Gate Park. The band blazed through their massive music catalog where classics like “Enter Sandman” and “Master of Puppets” were part of the night’s selection.

The Bay Area natives were sure to cement their name as rock legends, thirty-six years and counting.

Day three of Outside Lands Tenth Anniversary wraps tomorrow with quite an eclectic line-up including, Oakland’s own Kamaiyah, Bleachers, K-Flay, Solange, the much anticipated return of Lorde who will be playing tracks from her new album, and of course, headliners The Who.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Outside Lands Day One Marred By Scheduling Changes

by Janelle Bitker
Sat, Aug 12, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Yukimi Nagano during Little Dragon's main stage set. - BRIAN BRENEMAN
  • Brian Breneman
  • Yukimi Nagano during Little Dragon's main stage set.

We’ve come to expect a lot from Outside Lands, with the past two years presenting huge names as well as seamless execution. On Friday, the 10th edition got off to a slightly shaky start.

Due to travel delays, A Tribe Called Quest’s set was rescheduled for Saturday night — a huge blow to single-day ticket holders, many of whom probably came specifically for the legendary hip-hop act.

The first sign of trouble struck at 2:55 p.m. at the Gastro Magic stage, when A Tribe Called Quest’s Jacobi White wasn’t immediately present for his show with San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino. San Francisco’s Jazz Mafia successfully stalled with a fun, funky set, which then saw Cosentino awkwardly starting his cooking demo without his partner. Finally, an hour after his scheduled appearance, White arrived following a flight delay from Denver, Colorado. Unfortunately, they all had to vacate the stage mere minutes later. Shortly thereafter, Tribe’s rescheduled set was announced.

RAC fills in with an extra set on Friday. - BRIAN BRENEMAN
  • Brian Breneman
  • RAC fills in with an extra set on Friday.

That, in turn, left the main stage in a bit of a kerfuffle. RAC suddenly appeared to fill in some lag time, while Little Dragon went on more than an hour later than planned.

The confusion set the stage perfectly for Fleet Foxes, though, who suddenly had the attention of tens of thousands of festival-goers who might have hit up Tribe instead. It was a triumphant return for Fleet Foxes, who have been on hiatus the past six years. Frontman Robin Pecknold broke out in constant, toothy grins, as if he couldn’t believe he was back in action or that people still cared. Needless to say, they cared. With as many as 10 musicians on stage at once, the band skillfully delivered their catchy four-part harmonies from their debut as well as more experimental, cinematic work from their new album Crack Up.

Gorillaz delivered a multi-media spectacular. - BRIAN BRENEMAN
  • Brian Breneman
  • Gorillaz delivered a multi-media spectacular.

Headliner Gorillaz closed out the show with a monster of a multi-media production. Best of all, the two-hour set showcased lots of guests. Kali Uchis, the Colombian singer who also performed earlier in the afternoon — her second-ever show in San Francisco — was brought on for “She’s My Collar.” Pusha T joined for “Let Me Out.” Both songs come from Gorillaz’s new record Humanz, which dropped in March. But perhaps most memorable was Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon, gliding around in her silver space dress and sounding pitch-perfect, per usual.

Happy fans, despite the schedule shuffle. - BRIAN BRENEMAN
  • Brian Breneman
  • Happy fans, despite the schedule shuffle.

Outside Lands continues Saturday with Metallica, Cage the Elephant, and, now, A Tribe Called Quest. Three-day and single day passes are sold out. For the full schedule, visit

Azucena Rasilla contributed to reporting.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Family, Friends Launch GoFundMe Page to Release Albums by Slain Oakland Musician Dave Deporis

by Nick Miller
Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 1:54 PM

  • Photo Courtesy of "In Memory of Dave Deporis" on Facebook
  • Oakland musician Dave Deporis.

In the past 48 hours, a flood of stories and tributes have appeared honoring Dave Deporis, the Oakland musician who was killed Wednesday during a robbery turned tragic in outside of a Temescal neighborhood coffeehouse.

Now, friends and family want to publish Deporis' unreleased music, and have launched a GoFundMe page to help pay for the project.

Ian Petrich, a local writer who described himself as a "kindred spirit" and close friend of Deporis, 40, said that the musician played the folk scene in New York in the early 2000s and recorded several albums during that period.

“Dave has a long history of performing music," he explained. “But was too much of a perfectionist ... to ever release them.”

Petrich says the family possesses three albums worth of songs, in addition to new material that he just recorded in New York. Donations from the GoFundMe will finance the production of CDs and vinyl, and distribution of this music.

“I don’t want Dave’s legacy to be just the victim of another violent demise," his friend said. “He was just a really sweet, genuine man.”

Deporis was killed on Wednesday after pursuing thieves who stole his laptop outside of a Temescal coffee shop. The robbers fled to a getaway vehicle, and the musician followed, even reaching into the car to try to get back his computer. Deporis somehow became stuck in the car, which the assailants veered and crashed into other parked vehicles, smashing the musician. Police are investigating the incident as a homicide.

There will be a public memorial memorial for Deporis on Saturday, September 9, at Sol Gate Studios in West Oakland. Learn more on the "In Memory of Dave Deporis" Facebook page.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

REVIEW: Green Day Homecoming Show at the Oakland Coliseum

Fans flocked to see the band, their biggest show in Oakland

by Azucena Rasilla
Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 11:10 AM

  • All photos by Adrian Jusue

Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, and Mike Dirnt have gigged stadiums and arenas across the world. They've headlined countless of music festivals. And with every tour, there’s been a mandatory Bay Area stop. However, the show this past weekend was different. It was the Coliseum. And it was a homecoming: More than 25,000 hardcore Green Day fans of all ages converged on the legendary venue to witness the Berkeley Punk Kids.

Armstrong said it best during an Instagram live chat a few hours prior to the show, when he reminisced of trips as a kid to go see the Green and Gold play at the stadium: “I used to take BART from El Cerrito to Oakland, playing at the Coliseum is a dream come true.”

The love for Oakland and West Contra Costa was felt throughout their two-and-half hour set. Dirnt is from El Sobrante, Armstrong is a product of WCC, and the band have close ties with the Athletics. There's Green Day fireworks night, band members often throw out the first pitch, and the team will give away collector edition tees and hats. At their pop-up shop set at 1-2-3-4 Go Records! recently, the most coveted item was a satin green and gold jacket. This highly sought-after item was also sold at the Coliseum the night of the show, and tons of fans shelled out the $125 price tag. Here’s to hoping that Green Day makes it a permanent item for their online merch store.

Some fans stood in long lines to get merchandise, but others chose to arrive early for a coveted spot in general admission. At shows, lucky fans are invited up on stage during “Longview," or to play guitar and earn a free ax. Plus, there's still stage-diving at Green Day shows (bless your souls, young wildlings brave enough to do such a feat.)

The band's between-song banter was rooted in the bay, as well. “The Oakland Coliseum, home of the A’s and the Las Vegas Raiders. Don’t worry, when they leave, we are gonna burn this motherfucker down,” Armstrong joked at one point, the audience cheering in agreement.

Green Day also got political, and from the start, which was not a surprise. If there were any Trump supporters at the show, however, they surely felt uncomfortable, and I'd be shocked if they chose to stay. “No Racism! No Sexism! No Homophobia, and No Donald Trump!” Armstrong yelled at one point.

The impressive set list of twenty-six songs included hits such as “Welcome to Paradise,” Basket Case,” and “She” (off 1994’s Dookie), and also “2000 Light Years Away” from 1991’s Kerplunk, in addition to newer material like “Still Breathing” and “Revolution Radio.”

The band performed two encores, which featured “American Idiot,” and the impressive eleven-plus minute long track, "Jesus of Suburbia,” with lyrics inspired by Armstrong’s upbringing in Rodeo. The final encore songs were “21 Guns,” and “Good Riddance.”

Green Day's political yet poetic homecoming show ended in the most fitting way, with lengthy display of fireworks, which put the Athletics’ firework games to shame.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ozomatli at The New Parish this Friday

by Azucena Rasilla
Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 4:37 PM

  • Photo courtesy of Ozomatli's Facebook

Ozomatli is coming back to the bay and kicking off the group's Non-Stop Mexico to Jamaica West Coast tour at The New Parish.

The band loves the Bay Area, and especially The New Parish in Oakland, where it played back-to-back sold-out shows in 2012, 2014, and last year. This time, Ozo is only playing one show at The New Parish, however, but Friday’s gig will be all about their new release, Ozo-fied Volume 1: A Century of Mexican Classics.

The record is a collection of classic Latin songs, an homage to the group's roots and the music that defined their youth. Each song has been given a reggae-dancehall vibe, a twist to the classics that only Ozo can pull-off on stage.

Get your lungs ready to belt out your best rendition of “Tragos Amargos” the classic norteña by Mexican composer Ramon Ayala, 1940s "Bésame Mucho" (Kiss Me a Lot) by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velázquez, or how about "Sabor a Mí" (Taste of Me), the 1950s-classic made famous by Mexican trio Los Panchos. Also, the rendition of Selena's "Como La Flor" is quite something. (I got to hear it live at last year’s BottleRock.)

Friday July 14, 8pm, $30 General Admission, $125 VIP, 18+, The New Parish, 1743 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland,

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ship Show Day Two: Wu Tang On An Aircraft Carrier, And No DMX

by Azucena Rasilla
Tue, May 30, 2017 at 5:27 PM


As Alameda recovers from the Ship Show Festival, we look back at the highs and lows of night two:

Rapper DMX was a no show, even though his set time was listed as early as Sunday morning. Back in April, DMX canceled a string of shows and voluntarily checked himself into rehab. Another scheduled performer who also was a no-show, Kelis, hours earlier she had been active on social media, posting on Instagram.

No explanation was given as to why neither DMX nor Kelis showed up, although only a handful of people seemed upset. The night was all about Wu-Tang — but another performer stole part of Wu-Tang’s shine.

Lupe Fiasco, who was partaking in Ramadan, absolutely killed it . "If my performance feels underwhelming, please forgive me, as I'm fasting," he told the crowd. The politically conscious rapper is currently promoting his sixth studio album, DROGAS light.

An honorary mention goes to Wyclef, who played earlier in the day, spitting fast rhymes, putting the sound engineer on blast for not having his microphone "right," and climbing the side of the stage to get a better view of the crowd.

Like Saturday’s sets, there was a long wait before Wu-Tang appeared, and the weather was a lot colder. There also seemed to be fewer people in attendance.

But it didn’t matter; it was Wu-Tang Clan, a hip-hop institution. It has been 24 years since the release of 36 Chambers, and while the New York rappers might be well into their forties, their chemistry still prevails. All living members were part of this epic performance — Raekwon, GZA, RZA, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and Cappadonna.

Ship Show Festival has some kinks to figure out if it plans to return for a second installment next year. It was certainly an innovative idea, holding a festival on the deck of an aircraft carrier, and if the promoters are able to better the experience for the festival goers — add more food and drink vendors, and work out the sound issue with residents — it would surely become a coveted ticket.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Ship Show Served Up Hip-Hop On A Former Navy Aircraft Carrier, Complete With First-Time Festival Hiccups

by Azucena Rasilla
Sun, May 28, 2017 at 12:45 PM

The first edition of any music festival is bound to have glitches and mishaps. And so, while attendees appeared aggravated by long entrance lines at yesterday's Ship Show festival on Alameda's naval base, all was forgotten once inside — sort of.

Folks took to social media to vent frustrations about the lines, and the fact that they were told Keak da Sneak, a Bay Area Legend, would not be performing, only he did take the stage in the early afternoon.

As YG made it onto the stage, hundreds of people were still outside, trying to make their way on to the USS Hornet tarmac. Almost an hour went by between Jeremih and YG’s set, though, and while this could’ve been the perfect opportunity for people to take advantage of the vendors, there was a shortage of food and drinks.

The most confusing moment of the night came during YG’s set. The crowd was at its liveliest as the Compton rapper performed “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” from 2011’s Just Re'd Up; plus “Left, Right,” “I Just Wanna Party,” and “BPT” from 2014’s My Krazy Life. But the one song the crowd was most eager to hear, “Fuck Donald Trump,” didn’t happen: YG's set was abruptly cut short, no explanation given, just sound and lights out. YG and his camp were not happy, and left the stage visibly upset.

Wiz Khalifa headlined the first of this two-day festival, and, as is typical with his shows, smoke clouds filled the USS Hornet. Many questioned if smoking weed would be tolerated, considering the location, but security did not care. Even as Wiz performed, he addressed the crowd, “Who’s got the best weed in here tonight?” (His set also was cut short, to less than 45 minutes, concluding at exactly 10pm.)

If you have tickets for day two, allow yourself plenty of time to get to there, as you will have to go through the three different check-in areas. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes; you walk up a set of narrow stairs. And, most importantly, dress warm: The temperature dropped to the low 50s, and the breeze made it extra chilly. Layers are your best friend.

Day two has an even better line-up: Wyclef, Lupe Fiasco, DMX, and Wu-Tang Clan.

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