King Selecta 

Dancehall at Down Low

SUN 5/1

Until recently, if you wanted to get your fix of reggae dancehall music, you had to go to Jamaica, Miami, or at least cross the bridge to SF. That's all changed in the last three years, however. It's now possible to soak up some sweet vibes, get your easy skankin' on, do the electric boogie, signal de plane, or just chill out and feel irie in the East Bay. Along with Wednesday night's ongoing "Lion Rock" at the Oasis in Oakland, Sunday night's King of Kings at the Shattuck Down Low has become the place to be to hear dancehall, roots, dub, and even a bit of reggaeton and bhangra. In addition, KoK, promoted by selecta Smokey, aka Smoke1, has been successful in presenting vibrant live performances by iconic Jamaican artists and fan favorites like Yami Bolo, Junior Reid, Culture, Mr. Vegas, and Everton Blender, something that rarely (if ever) happened in the East Bay before KoK came on the scene. It may be just a coincidence, but in that same time frame, dancehall has surged in popularity around these parts. Maybe five years ago, everyone wanted to be a hip-hop or electronica DJ, but many of those folks have traded in their twelve-inch remixes and extended disco versions for 45-rpm dubplates and sound clash "specials." As a result, the talent pool of local selectas is swelling to tsunami-like proportions, which is good news for dancehall aficionados, i.e. sound bwoys and sound gals.

On that note, Sunday's KoK third-anniversary celebration promises to be one of the most off-the-ringer sound system events ever to take place in B-town, seen? No fewer than fourteen selectas are on the bill, including Smokey, Jah Warrior Shelter (Jah Yzer, I-Vier, and Irie Dole), Sake-1, Daddy Rolo, Mr. E, Papa Joe, DJ De', Jenicyde, I-Lexis, DJ Jaques, DJ Uni-T, and DJ Jube. Special guests (to be announced) will also be present, so stock up on I-shen (incense), lighters, and whistles now, and don't forget to practice your bashment boogie routines. 2284 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-1159. – Eric K. Arnold



Three-ring drama at DVC

Have you heard the one about the extry-large young man running away to find a family among those most unlikely of folks, the freaks of the circus world? Yeah, we have, too -- but as long as there's a big top, chicks on trapezes, and cool oversize shoes, drama will be found therein. Diablo Valley College Drama presents Circus Home, a family-friendly play by Rossmoor resident Joanna Halpert Kraus, weekends at the Arena Theatre, 321 Golf Club Rd., Pleasant Hill. Tickets $10-$13., 925-687-4445. – Stefanie Kalem

SAT 4/30

Therapy Direct

Were you one of those bullies who got your jollies from repeating back everything your smaller classmates or siblings said? If so, your chance for penance exists in the form of the Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble. Firm believers in the unifying importance of personal experience, the Oakland-based troupe's actors and musicians collect stories from audience members and instantly make the tales over into works of theater. Be a part of it this Sunday at the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley; at $12-$18, it's the cheapest sliding-scale psychotherapy you're likely to find. 8 p.m., reservations recommended but not required. 510-655-5186, ex. 25. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 5/1

The Tao of Drama

The lasting theatrical legacy of playwright Eugene O'Neill and his rural Danville residence, Tao House, blossoms Sunday with a staged reading performance of three plays -- including Before Breakfast, a 1916 drama by O'Neill -- in the Old Barn at Tao House, directed by artist in residence Michael O'Neill (no relation). Sunday's show is presented by the O'Neill Foundation and the National Park Service as part of the Playwrights' Theatre series. For more info, phone 925-820-1818. -- Kelly Vance


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