Not In Their Names 

Lo-fi-lonesome at Van Kleef's

WED 5/5

Of tonight's bill at Van Kleef's, only one lo-fi-lonesome singer-songwriter has the gumption to play under his given name. That haunted troubadour may have had the good fortune to grow up with a gunslinger's moniker, but the Bay Area's own Jeffrey Luck Lucas holds degrees in cello and composition, so he needs all the badass trappings he can get. Burd Early and the Strugglers, visiting 1621 Telegraph Ave., Oakland as part of their Serpentine Fools tour, choose to obscure their not-so-romantic noms quotidiens, creating myths that are not just engaging, but they have a good weight, and you can sway (and drink) to it. Burd Early (aka NYC dweller James Angelos) has a voice that bears a strong resemblance to Will Oldham's, but his subject matter is more introspective, and there's a slow-burning, sensual approach to his electronically enhanced prairie songs. The Strugglers, the honky-tonkin' vehicle of Chapel Hill's Randy Bickford, have a more straightforward, "Wild Horses" character. $5, 10 p.m., 510-763-7711. -- Stefanie Kalem


Lit Happens

Upfront about eros, observantly Muslim feminist poet and professor Mohja Kahf has read for the UN. Now she reads from her first book E-mails from Scheherazad in the All-Purpose Room of UC Berkeley's Unit 3 residence hall (2400 Durant Ave.). (Wed., 3 p.m.). ... Revisiting the snake-haired monster as a rape survivor, playwright Carol Lashof reads her play Medusa's Tale along with Saint Mary's MFA alumni Lorien McKenna, Beth Hyjek, Nicole Schlosser, and Kristina Goodnight at the Moraga college's Soda Activity Center (Thurs., 7:30 p.m.). ... See them now before they get so famous you'll have to buy tickets. Student winners of UC Berkeley's annual poetry prizes, along with talented undergrads nominated by Cal's creative-writing faculty, star at today's edition of the Lunch Poems Series in the Morrison Library (Thurs., 12:10 p.m.). ... Having trained corporate minions all over the Pacific Rim, SF State grad and cross-cultural communications specialist Yuko Morimoto-Yoshida talks about her new book Culture Shock! Tokyo at Your Door at Easy Going. Ask her if a cup of joe really costs seven bucks in the Ginza (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... Meditation during staff meetings, satori in a strip mall: Harvard and USC film school grad-turned-yoga teacher Arthur Jeon reads at Diesel from City Dharma, his new book for urban warriors who want a ceasefire (Thurs., 7:30 p.m.). ... It's hard enough for native speakers to find rhymes for "orange." Honor those who don't take contractions for granted at the Berkeley Public Library's Eleventh Annual Poetry Reading of Original Works by English Language Learners in the Reading Room of the Central Branch (Fri., 7 p.m.). ... Adopted siblings hit the road together seeking answers in Joanna Trollope's new novel Brother and Sister. Ask her who begat whom at Orinda Books (Tues., 4 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

SAT 5/8

Oaktown Skinny

The wide world of percussion opens up this Saturday at Oakland's Alice Arts Center (1428 Alice St., 1-7 p.m.), as the second annual Oakland Day of Percussion slaps the skins and spreads the news that you, too, can learn to play like the pros. For a general admission price of $10 adults, $7 students, participants are free to attend a wide range of workshops and performances featuring the likes of Latin jazz ace Pete Escovedo, studio percussionist Ed Roscetti, the world-famous Gamelan Sekar Jaya and its Balinese music, drummer E.W. Wainwright, handbell player Michèle Sharik, and teacher Andrew Griffin. For more details: 415-296-0454. -- Kelly Vance

SUN 5/9

Say Uncle

The mysterious Uncle C.J. keeps his identity hidden under a fedora, but he nonetheless intends to keep you happy. Uncle C.J.'s Gospel Brunch , Sunday at the Oakland Box (1928 Telegraph Ave.) from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., features live gospel music and belt-popping Southern and Creole fare from Made with Love Complete Catering and Everett & Jones BBQ. Tickets: $25 adults, $18 kids twelve and younger. Info: -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 5/8

APArt of Us

In Oakland, the many faces of Asia

Tongan villages reverberate from sunrise to sunset with the beat of wooden mallets on cloth, or ngatu, made from the bark of the mulberry tree. You could say it's a heartbeat, since it stops in daytime only to observe a death. The term "Asian America" has expanded over the decades with the inclusion of Pacific Islander communities like the Tongans. Their traditional cultures are only some of the attractions at the free Asian Pacific American Heritage Festival, held over two Saturdays at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center in Oakland Chinatown. You can see a demonstration of Tongan tapa clothmaking alongside performances of Polynesian dance by the Cook Island Maori. Listen to Mandy Cheung's guzheng (Chinese zither) performances, and learn the art of food carving by Chef Jimmy Zhang and calligraphy by Ming Chan. Here's a chance for kids to learn dance, as well as drawing and painting, and to weave their own New Zealand-style bracelets. Be pan-Asian for a day or two: Eat Laotian or Cambodian food while observing the activities of a New Zealand aboriginal village or a traditional Chinese house. Watch sushi being made by Chef Eddie Chan, as a preview to his upcoming classes. One exhibit viewable now through July is the result of excavations at Yema-po, a work camp occupied by the Chinese laborers who constructed Lake Chabot Dam in the 1870s, thus bringing fresh water to Oakland. Artifacts include Manchu-dynasty coins, opium paraphernalia, bottles, ceramics, and bones from the animals that comprised the workers' diet.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Festival: A Celebration of Traditional APA Arts and Culture, Saturday 12 noon-4 p.m. and May 15, 4 p.m., at Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 9th St., Suite 290, Oakland. Info: 510-637-0460 or -- Frako Loden


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