Friday, December 2, 2011

Weekender: Top Events in the East Bay Over the Next Three Days

Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Here's what you're doing this weekend:

Bay Area Girls Rock Camp Trivia Night
When Sari Flowers was a kid, her dad's record room was something of a legend among her friends. That's how Flowers, a board member for the nonprofit Bay Area Girls Rock Camp and a longtime musician, said she developed her own vast appreciation for the medium. It's also how she came to know the answers to obscure music-trivia prompts such as: "Name the first song ever referred to in print as rock 'n' roll." (The answer: "Caldonia," a 1945 jump blues song by Louis Jordan — though it was the Erskine Hawkins version released later that same year that garnered the designation.) So when Flowers and other camp organizers were brainstorming strategies to drum up money and volunteers for their music program, they found such questions to be the answer — that is, they designed a monthly, all-ages music-trivia night where music buff of every ilk can converge in teams of three to six to test their knowledge of song lyrics, album covers, and other musical riddles for a chance to win vinyl and other prizes — and show a little love for the all-girls music camp and after-school program via donations collected at the door. It's meant to be an all-ages community event (though the venue, Actual Cafe — 6334 San Pablo Ave., Oakland — also serves beer and wine), and the inaugural one is tonight Friday, December 2, hosted by Sistas in the Pit bassist Kofy Brown. Come with a team or form one on the spot. 8 p.m., donations accepted. 510-267-1808 or BayAreaGirlsRockCamp.org. — Cassie Harwood

Myra Melford, Scott Amendola, Ben Goldberg, John Shifflet
A powerhouse quartet by all measures, Melford/Amendola/Goldberg/Shifflet includes four jazz musicians who, despite being leaders in their own right, are all known for their humility. Myra Melford's Be Bread sextet plays original compositions that defy all formal constraints; instead, Melford encourages her fellow musicians to improvise for long stretches while she sits quietly at the piano. Ben Goldberg, a clarinetist, leads many experimental combos, including the massive Brainchild, which specializes in spontaneous music — meaning he walks up to individual band members and whispers instructions in their ears. Scott Amendola is one of the best jazz drummers around, but he also plays in a lot of noise and "improv" acts that privilege sound over melody. John Shifflet has played bass in several of Amendola's bands, so he's well accustomed to an ever-shifting rhythm section. Though they've all played together in many permutations, these musicians have never appeared as a quartet. If you fancy a leaderless movement, look no further. At Freight & Salvage (2020 Addison St., Berkeley) on Sunday, Dec. 4. 8 p.m., $20.50-$22.50. FreightandSalvage.org. — Rachel Swan

Muriel Maffre in The Soldiers Tale
The Soldier's Tale
Muriel Maffre's idea of casting a puppet as the male lead in her version of C.F. Ramuz and Igor Stravinsky's 1918 ballet The Soldier's Tale was, by all measures, a huge risk. But it worked beautifully. A lot of that owes to Maffre and co-director Tom Ross' decision to consolidate the soldier-puppet's voice and narrator roles, both played by L. Peter Callender in this production. A brilliant Shakespearian actor with a rich baritone, Callender lends emotional depth and resonance to what would otherwise be a mere cipher. Maffre, who was a prima ballerina at San Francisco Ballet before venturing into theater, plays both the puppeteer and love interest — an ailing princess with an evocative solo dance number. Joan Mankin is cripplingly funny and unnerving as the devil who lures our hero into a Faustian bargain. Ear Play chamber quartet handles the score, supplying a forceful, tense soundscape to undergird Callender's luxuriant vocals. The format is true World War 1, but the parable — which deals with avarice and the perils of class ascent — could easily apply to present-day society. Through December 18 at AuroraTheatre (2081 Addison St., Berkeley). $10-$55. 510-843-4822 or AuroraTheatre.org. — R.S.

Snow Day in the Gourmet Ghetto
Snow rarely falls in the East Bay, and consequently the area's schoolchildren miss out on the class-canceling snow days so coveted by kids in colder regions. That's why the organizers at Another Bullwinkel Show are declaring an official snow day throughout the Gourmet Ghetto on Sunday, Dec. 4, during which the Andronico's parking lot (1550 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) will be filled with real snow for kids of all ages to romp through. That's in addition to holiday crafts for construction and sale, a visit from the Snow Queen, and hot cider and cookies. Check the website for additional Snow Day events. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., free. AnotherBullwinkelShow.com. — C.H.

A Martin Scorsese children’s movie, with all that implies. The famed director doesn’t have much of a feel for the lead character, an orphaned teenage boy who lives in the walls of a 1930s-era Paris train station, maintaining the station’s clocks. Scorsese’s main concern is young Hugo’s (Asa Butterfield) relation to Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley), a grumpy shopkeeper who just might be the great early-film fantasy creator Georges Méliès, living out his life in obscurity. So Hugo isn’t very much for kids — it’s intended for cinema fanatics like Scorsese, and he provides plenty of fuel for the cult with generous clips from Méliès’ short masterpieces, plus his own gorgeously rendered 3D impressions of a film-lover’s Paris. Chloë Grace Moretz costars as Hugo’s juvie love interest, with nice character bits by the mostly British cast: Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, and Sacha Baron Cohen as the comically menacing station inspector. Screenplay by John Logan adapted from the novel by Brian Selznick. — Kelly Vance

Open House and Red Book Sale
Shopping by color is the new black: Small Press Distribution holds a year-end sale at its warehouse (1341 Seventh St., Berkeley) on Sunday, Dec. 4, with 20- to 40-percent discounts, the biggest price cuts applying to select books with red covers. There will also be poetry readings by Jai Arun Ravine, Donna de la Perrière, Judith Goldman, Pamela Lu, and Marvin K. White. And snacks! Did we mention the snacks? 1-4 p.m., free. 510-524-1668 or SPDBooks.org. — Stefanie Kalem


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