New Breed 

The CMAs are suddenly hip

SUN 5/25

For almost a quarter-century, the Bay Area Music Awards, or Bammies, were something of an institution, honoring the cream of the crop of local artistic talent (or at least what was selling and getting airplay), and becoming an important benchmark for industry success. But when the Bammies became the more-generic-sounding California Music Awards in 1998, they started a downhill slide. Trying to widen their scope to include acts from all over California (read: Los Angeles), the ex-Bammies squandered much of the local prestige they had built up since their inception in 1977. It didn't help, either, when BAM magazine, which had sponsored the event, folded its tent about three years ago. In retrospect, changing the name may have been a bad idea -- not quite as bad as the Raiders' exodus from Oakland, Frisco's Fajitagate, or BART not running past midnight, but pretty bad nonetheless. Two years ago, the CMA's venue changed from the San Francisco Civic Auditorium to Oakland's Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium, not that anyone noticed.

Still, the scrappy CMAs have refused to roll over and play dead. This year, they make a play for a return to respectability -- and, presumably, public interest -- by shifting the venue once again, this time to Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. Scheduling the festivities outdoors in beautiful downtown Oaktown, and making the event free, should at least guarantee a sizable audience for this year's festivities, which take place Sunday, beginning at noon.

It's a hopeful sign that this year's nominees include not only usual suspects such as Counting Crows, Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, and Joe Satriani, but less exposed artists including Awol One & Daddy Kev, Ledisi, Goapele, Scott Amendola, D-Styles, Rocket from the Crypt, and the Coup. While veterans like Larry Graham, Ronnie Stewart, Lenny Williams, Sugar Pie De Santo, Jimmy McCracklin, and Lady Bo will be honored, the awards show certainly seems to be getting "younger" -- or at least making an effort to reach out to music fans under 35. The Donnas lead all artists with three nominations, and the prestigious "Spirit of Rock" award -- their version of a Lifetime Achievement Oscar -- will be handed to punk-popsters Green Day. Scheduled performers include Jenna Mammina, Chuck Prophet, Jon B., Goapele, Michelle Williams, Jennifer Turner, Audiovent, Luce, Amendola, and Ledisi. Slap-bass innovator Graham is slated for the closing set, which will end, in true Bammie tradition, with a star-studded jam session. -- Eric K. Arnold

SAT 5/24

Testament

Metal memorializing

Maxx Kearns, bassist for Pleasanton alt-metal outfit OfourD, passed away April 5 after a two-year fight with synovial cell sarcoma. To honor him, some of the brightest lights in the Bay Area metal community perform at the Maxx Kearns Memorial Show, from 5 p.m. at the Pine Street Bar and Grill (875 Rincon Ave., Livermore). On the bill are OfourD, Starch, Fellatia, Broadside, Something Must Die, Ones and Zeros, Element Unknown, Eightfold Path, and 3rd Rail. All proceeds to the Sarcoma Foundation of America. 925-606-8266 or www.ofourd.com -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 5/23

Gabba Gabbaret

How do we love thee, Barbez? Let us count the ways. With the passion put to use in our old griefs, we love thy covers of the Residents, Kurt Weill, Black Sabbath, and Russian folk songs. We love thee for thy theremin, electronics, guitar, drums, and dancer. And to the level of every day's most quiet need, we love thee for thy correct use of "comprising" in thy press kit. Oh, blessed New York-hatched post-cabaret, punk-chamber ensemble. We shall love thee better after thy show at 21Grand with Red Pocket (featuring Charming Hostess' Jewlia Eisenberg) and Trilectic, which begins at 9 p.m. 21 Grand is located at 449B 23rd St., Oakland. Call 510-44-7263 or visit www.21grand.org. Cover is $5-$10 on a sliding scale. -- Stefanie Kalem

5/17-6/21

Pinpricks of Light

One of photography's oldest techniques -- the craft of pinhole photography using a light-proof box with a tiny aperture -- meets high-tech imaging in Kris Timken 's show at Traywick Gallery. Instead of breath-mint tins and cigar boxes, she now shoots her landscape-based "surreal worlds" with a "light-tight" medium-format camera allowing her to use color film, printed digitally -- thus achieving the trademark depth of field of pinhole exposures, but with more control. 1316 10th St., Berkeley. www.traywick.com -- Kelly Vance

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