Old Time done young

THU 7/14

A year ago the rollicking Jug Free America moved to the East Bay, settled in, and brought the level of old-time music up a few notches. The young sextet, who met as students at Ohio's Oberlin College and bonded through their love of '20s and '30s jug band music, play with a love of the roots, mixing in a bit of classic reggae with string band versions of Bob Marley tunes, alongside gems by Cannon's Jug Stompers and the Memphis Jug Band. But Jug Free America's concert Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at Berkeley's all-ages Ashkenaz dance hall (1317 San Pablo Ave.) will be the band's last regular Bay Area appearance before some members move on to other pursuits and cities. Too bad, because one thing the group brings to its gigs is that sense of joyful abandonment that encourages dancing. Its members all sing and play multiple instruments, so the ensemble's sound shifts with the tunes, many driven by the jug blowing of Nansamba Ssensalo, who doubles on fiddle and bass. Harry Bolles also blows jug and harmonica and plays slide guitar. The group is rounded out by Eli Smith (on banjo and kazoo), Lech Wierzynski (mostly guitar), Michael Coleman (washboard and drum), and Jacob Groopman (stringed instruments). Tickets $9 at the door. 510-525-5054 or Ashkenaz.com -- Larry Kelp

7/15, 7/22

Caddy Lack

Tee off for guffaws

Who knew that golf in Pleasanton could have such tragic consequences? Or that tragic consequences could be so infernally silly? Irritation leads to murder at Doodelly Downs Country Club when the new golf pro, Juan Arnold Tom Ben Harvey Ricardo Jack Tiger Tyme, crosses powerful club member George Pappinoppolopola, who lusts for his own country club. Swept up in the intrigue are such characters as Marian Haste, Dimanda Tenshunn, and one Bill O'Faire, a writer of trashy detective novels. It could only take place at the Pleasanton Hotel, where the Gibson House Mystery House Performers are putting on one of their uproarious dinner-theater farces. Diners and audience members are invited, nay encouraged, to help solve the mystery while supping on their gourmet viands, and prizes will be awarded to successful sleuths. Par 4 for Murder plays this Friday and next at 855 Main St. GibsonHouse.com or 925-846-8106. -- Kelly Vance

SUN 7/17

Macchu Movements

Peru is typically identified with the Incan empire that inhabited the high-altitude Andes, but there are actually eight distinct regions within the country, all of which have contributed native dances to the region's tradition. Those dances have been collected and updated into a modern context by Luis Valverde, the founder of the Peruvian Dance Company. PDC's latest production is Perudance, which comes to Berkeley's La Peña (3105 Shattuck Ave.) Sunday at 7 p.m. $15 solid. www.lapena.org -- Eric K. Arnold


Nouvelle Wagner

Die Meistersinger does Berkeley

In its original version, Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg runs almost five hours long, the Romantic tale of a much-anticipated song competition. Berkeley Opera's fully staged production is a three-hour edit, but the stormy blasts of its famous theme will shiver the timbers of Julia Morgan Theatre regardless. Bass-baritone Clayton Brainerd has the plum role of the democratic-minded singer Hans Sachs, with tenor Benjamin Bongers and soprano Jillian Khuner as the Franconian knight Walther and female love interest Eva respectively. Four performances beginning Saturday (7:30 p.m.) at 2640 College Ave., Berkeley. BerkeleyOpera.org -- Kelly Vance


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