So Call Him 

Listen to a little something


Tradition and the future kick up their heels together at this year's nineteenth annual Jewish Music Festival. With headliners including hip-hop DJ Socalled (Josh Dolgin), brilliant Klezmermaniac clarinetist David Krakauer, and the legendary Ronnie Gilbert of Weavers fame, the weeklong Bay Area celebration promises something for everyone. Socalled is a trip. Just turned 27, his first disc Hiphop Khasene hit No. 8 on the European world-music charts last summer. A recent Krakow gig drew thousands to the city's old Jewish quarter, while Paris audiences went nuts when he and Krakauer performed together. Some traditionalists predictably shake their heads upon encountering Socalled's surreal mix of early-20th-century Jewish recordings, hip-hop English, and postmodern Yiddishisms (with a reference to heterosexual norms revealing that he's gay), but most laugh and dance with glee. With Socalled joining Krakauer for Saturday's opening-night Klezmer Madness at Berkeley's Wheeler Auditorium (preceded by Socalled's Wednesday Teen Concert at Lafayette's Temple Isaiah), and also performing at Thursday's Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center Kinetic Klezmer Jam, he seemed the right person to ask what klezmer (literally "vessel of song") is all about: "At its heart it's Jewish dance music, be it for weddings, parties, or festivals," he says. "Klezmer music has one million different strands. Wherever Jews were hanging out, they were absorbing the music of the people around them and making it funky for Jews and non-Jews alike. I'm part of this tradition, listening to the secular music around me, making it Jewish and funky for everybody."

While Socalled is dedicated to preserving the rich Jewish music tradition that had "kind of disappeared" until klezmer revivalists such as Krakauer, the Watts family, and Michael Alpert came on the scene, he's sick of musical ghettos: "I want people just to like good music. When you hear another music, if you're open to it, it can speak to you, even if it's not of your culture. Music is the message."

For information on the entire Jewish Music Festival, which includes Ronnie Gilbert's Sunday afternoon "Radical Life with Songs" at the Berkeley Richmond JCC; Jewish music scholars Zemtsovsky and Alpert discussing and demonstrating Jewish folk music at Tuesday night's "Back to the Sources"; learning and playing klezmer at Thursday night's Kinetic Klezmer Jam; and the Saturday, March 27 closing Philly Klezmer Swing Dance Party at Berkeley Crowden Music Center, call 925-866-9599 or check out -- Jason Bellecci Serinus

FRI 3/19


Randy rock theater

They're a little bit punk rock, and a little bit carnie-core -- they're the Lemon Lime Lights, and they've got a new CD, If I Ever Get Back ... Songs of the Eastbanian Diaspora. They'll bring their bawdy concoction of vocals, cello, flute, clarinet, saxophone, glockenspiel, accordion, drums, and electric bass to the Starry Plough (3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) this Friday to celebrate, with the more traditionally rawkin' -- but equally vaudevillian -- Gun and Doll Show. 9:30 p.m. start time, $6 cover. 510-841-2082. -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 3/19

Sir Shred-a-lot

There's a right way and a wrong way to say "Yngwie Malmsteen." It doesn't matter if a snarl looks stupid on you -- it's required to properly draw out the syllables "Ing-vay Malm-steeeen." Besides, tonight's show at Cadillac Ranch in Concord ("conkerd," yo) is listed as being presented by Tommy T's Comedy House, so the laughs are on them. You can even laugh at the shredding Swede himself, who picked up a guitar when inspired by Jimi Hendrix but made it his own unique bitch upon discovering classical music. He's a Monty Python fanatic, so he'll be cool about it. Malmsteen brings his Rising Force to 1655 Willow Pass Rd. tonight, with Ovall opening. Start time 9:30 p.m., 21-and-up, $30. 925-686-6809. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 3/20

Invasion of the Rat Rods

Hot rods, street rods, resto rods, rat rods. Confused? A street rod is a pre-1949 car that has been modified by its owner. A resto rod is one that has been kept more or less stock in appearance. A rat rod has been radically modified. You can find all of the above varieties of hot rod -- plus trucks, motorcycles, low-rider bikes, and models -- at the Tennyson High Music Boosters Car & Model Show this Saturday at Tennyson High School, 27035 Whitman St., Hayward. Trophies will be awarded -- bring your rod. 510-427-5318. -- Kelly Vance


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