No Borders 

Snake Trio slithers into town

SAT 3/6

Lovers of Latin sounds have an opportunity Saturday night to experience an innovative blend of jazz and the traditional music of Venezuela's coast, plains, mountains, and rainforest, cooked up by the Snake Trio ( Caracas-born Jackeline Rago -- a multi-instrumentalist virtuoso of the cuatro, Venezuela's four-stringed national instrument, and its cousin, the bandola -- is joined by Donna Viscuso on flute and alto sax and Saul Sierra on bass to imaginatively transform contemporary jazz styles with the Venezuelan folk rhythms of joropo, pasaje, calypso, gaita, and golpe de tambor. The trio's compositions navigate Amazonian, Caribbean, West and Central African, Moorish, and Spanish influences to take what Rago describes as a "musical journey without frontiers." Rago, a composer, arranger, and educator who also specializes in the mandolin and Afro-Venezuelan percussion instruments, is currently musical director of the Venezuelan Music Project. She founded the only traditional Venezuelan music workshop in California when she was a CAC artist in residence from 1989 to 2001, and continues to record and promote the country's music and culture.

New Haven, Connecticut native Viscuso's compositions and arrangements include film scores and children's educational CD-ROMs. She has performed with Rago's Venezuelan Music Project; the groups Wild Mango, Blazing Redheads, and Altazor; and the singers Adriana Moreno of Brazil and Lichi Fuentes of Chile. For the past three years, she has also participated in the San Francisco Symphony's Adventures in Music program, performing for more than 150 elementary school audiences. Saul Sierra of Mexico City, an award-winning graduate of Boston's Berklee College of Music, has slapped his bass with such local talents as John Santos, Jesus Diaz, Orestes Vilató, Mark Levine, and Michael Spiro.

As recipients of the 2003-2005 California Arts Council Touring Grant, the Snake Trio has been performing in a range of venues and presenting workshops in schools throughout the state. You can hear them in concert on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool, 2087 Addison St. in Berkeley. Tickets: 510-845-5373 or -- Pat Katzmann


Marine Core

Lit Happens

Central America isn't Disneyland, as Zach Thomas discovered during five years there as an aid worker. He discusses Weaving Common Hope: A Future for Guatemalan Children at Orinda Books (Thu., 4 p.m.). ... College-boy-turned-Marine-turned-Gulf-War-vet Anthony Swofford (below) reads from his powerful memoir, Jarhead, at A Great Good Place for Books in Montclair (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... Snack and scan at the Albany Public Library, where Adelle Foley and KPFA's resident poet Jack Foley headline an open mic, with refreshments (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... Calling her four undergraduate years at Cal, which ended in 1965, a "personal liberation," lifelong activist Jo Freeman reads from her new memoir At Berkeley in the Sixties right near where it all began: at Cody's Southside (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). ... Got God? For lesbian and gay Christians yearning for a spirituality that doesn't compromise their sexuality and vice versa, the Rev. Michal Anne Pepper of Berkeley's University Christian Church wrote Reconciling Journey: A Devotional Workbook. She's at Boadecia's (Fri., 7:30 p.m.). ... After the Armistice, les temps were ripe in France for female artists such as Colette and Djuna Barnes to flourish, as explored in The Modern Woman Revisited: Paris Between the Wars. Art historians Whitney Chadwick and Tirza True Latimer present a slide show at Diesel based on the book (Sun., 7:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

FRI 3/5

Shipfitter's Blues

Thousands of African Americans from the South came to the East Bay during WWII to work in the Kaiser shipyards, and they brought their music with them. That Kaiser-blues connection is celebrated at a Black History Month event this Friday (6-9 p.m.) at the Oakland Museum of California -- An Evening of Shipyard Blues -- in conjunction with the exhibition "Henry J. Kaiser: Think Big." Hosted by former Express writer Lee Hildebrand, the after-work music party features singers Jimmy McCracklin (right) and Brenda Boykin, guitarist Danny Caron, a few surprise guests, and a screening of the Marlon Riggs and Peter Webster documentary Long Train Running. Info: -- Kelly Vance

SAT 3/6

Safe at Any Speed

It's a long, rule-ridden road from the paper route to five o'clock traffic. For the second year running, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition offers its much-needed Street Skills for Bicyclists class, for those looking to give up the gas and share the right of way. The free course comprises a lecture and discussion at the Rockridge Library (5366 College Ave., Oakland) followed by an optional on-bike practice session, and takes place this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as March 10 and April 1 (6-10 p.m.). A helmet and operable bike are required, as are minimum bicycle-handling skills (riding at least twenty miles per week for several weeks before the class is recommended). Preregistration required. 510-433-RIDE. -- Stefanie Kalem


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