Berkeley Arts Festival Calendar


Storytime on Solano: Imagination Flannel Boards

Boards Bring your little ones to Pegasus on Solano for a fun, interactive, and educational morning. Imagination Flannel Boards will be on hand to share stories and songs that spark your children's imagination. They will engage with the storyteller through singing, repetition, and movement. They will cheer when the ducklings find their mother and laugh when the Old Lady swallows a cow! Every 4th of the month at Pegasus Books Solano.

May 23, 10:30am to 11:30am, Pegasus Books Solano 1855 Solano Ave, Berkeley

Kenan Obrien

May 23, 4:45pm to 7:45pm, The Cheeseboard Pizza, 1512 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley

Stitch 'n Bitch

May 23, 6pm to 9pm, Caffè on San Pablo, 2500 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley


Award-winning author Blanche McCrary Boyd shares her much-anticipated new novel, Tomb of the Unknown Racist. Blanche McCrary Boyd's first novel in twenty years continues the story of her protagonist Ellen Burns. When Tomb of the Unknown Racist is a family drama set against political and racial struggle, it is a tour de force end to a trilogy by a stunning writer whose work has offered a resonant survey of politics and activism across the American experience.

May 23, 7pm to 8pm, Books Inc. 1491 Shattuck Ave Berkeley

Geoffrey G. O'Brien, Jane Gregory, and Wendy Trevino

Wendy Trevino was born & raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. She is a Grant Writer in San Francisco, where she shares an apartment with her boyfriend, friend & 2 senior cats. She has published chapbooks with Perfect Lovers Press, Commune Editions & Krupskaya Books. Her chapbook #YourHarveyWeinstein was published by Spoilsport Editions - an online press she started with the writer Oki Sogumi - in 2017. Cruel Fiction (Commune Editions, Fall 2018) is her first full-length book of poetry. Wendy is not an experimental writer.

Jane Gregory is from Tucson and lives in Oakland. She is the author of My Enemies (Song Cave, 2013) and Yeah No (Song Cave, 2018), and co-co-editor of Nion Editions, a chapbook press.

Geoffrey G. O'Brien's next book, Experience in Groups, will be out from Wave Books in April 2018. He is the author most recently of People (Wave, 2013) and the coauthor (with John Ashbery and Timothy Donnelly) of Three Poets (Minus A Press, 2012). O'Brien is an Associate Professor in the English Department at UC Berkeley and also teaches for the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison.

May 23, 7pm to 9pm, Moe's Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley

Jazz in the Neighborhood Presents... Pascal Le Boeuf's Ritual Being featuring Friction Quartet

Jazz in the Neighborhood Presents... Pascal Le Boeuf's Ritual Being featuring Friction Quartet Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Pascal Le Boeuf returns to the Bay Area nine-piece jazz/classical hybrid ensemble for a special performance of his large scale work "Ritual Being."

The work explores the differential manifestation of human behavior at micro (individual) and macro (en masse) scales, and how these "rituals" can be propitious or disastrous. "Ritual Being" asks what happens when we project our individual behaviors and routines onto the whole of our species? Do our rituals become productive, harmful, or unsustainable when applied to human beings en masse?

This special performance of "Ritual Being" presented by Jazz in the Neighborhood with funding from Local Musicians 6 will feature San Francisco's Friction String Quartet.

Band Members and Instrumentation:
Friction String Quartet: violinists Otis Harriel and Kevin Rogers, violist Taija Warbelow, and cellist Doug Machi;
Pascal Le Boeuf Quintet: Remy Le Boeuf, alto saxophone; Greg Johnson, tenor saxophone; Pascal Le Boeuf, piano/composer, Giulio Xavier Cetto, bass; and Malachi Whitson, drums.

May 23, 7:30pm to 9:30pm, Rendon Hall/Fiddler Annex @ California Jazz Conservatory 2040 Addison Street, Berkeley

Space Hoodie

Making their Jup debut, the East Bay's own Space Hoodie are a quartet of accomplished players, playing an eclectic mix of covers and originals in the rock, funk, jazz vein.

May 23, 8pm to 11pm, Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley

The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years are a punk band & they are a band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania & they came to life in 2005 & they write songs & those songs are sometimes about people they love & those songs are sometimes about people you might have loved & those songs are sometimes about a city that could be the city you live in or a neighborhood that feels like it could be your neighborhood & they put those songs on albums & they put those songs on The Upsides in 2010 & they put those songs on Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing in 2011 & on The Greatest Generation in 2013 & on No Closer to Heaven in 2015 & those albums were loved by critics & even more loved by fans & their shows are awash with a genuine emotional energy that only they can pull out of a room & The Wonder Years are a band made up of old friends & they play rock & roll music & they play it like they mean it & they have played it in a lot of places & in front of a lot of people & they have played it in dive bars & arenas & outside with the whole sky bowing & they have played it on five continents & they have played it in thirty countries & they are still counting & Sister Cities is their new album & it is an album about how all of our distance might not be so wide after all & it was written with the world on fire & all of the songs sound like they are trying to build you a bridge from somewhere bad to somewhere better & The Wonder Years are a band & they are also bridge builders.

Tigers Jaw
Making yourself vulnerable isn't easy but it often makes for lasting art and that is certainly true of Tigers Jaw's fifth full-length, spin. The album marks a new chapter for the Scranton, Pennsylvania-based indie rock band for many reasons: Not only is it the first collection of songs that was completely written and recorded solely by Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins, but it was also the first time they had a full month in the studio without having to worry about outside responsibilities. Furthermore it's the inaugural release on Atlantic Records' new imprint Black Cement, a label spearheaded by the band's longtime collaborator Will Yip who returned to the production helm for spin.

All of these factors converged to create an album that sounds more fully formed than anything Tigers Jaw have done in the past and simultaneously establishes them as a band whose appeal truly transcends genres. While Walsh initially encouraged Collins to start singing lead vocals and songwriting with 2014's Charmer, the duo's collective output on spin is a collaboration in the truest sense of a creative partnership. "In a lot of ways this record is a return to the way the band started in the sense that it was coming from two people working very closely together and I think that resulted in something that was really cohesive," Walsh explains. "The whole experience felt really organic even if the recording process was different than anything we had done in the past together."

Tiny Moving Parts
"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." That well-known quote, often attributed to Dr Seuss, could also be the mantra that Tiny Moving Parts live by. It's certainly a philosophy that the trio - who hail from the incredibly small town of Benson, Minnesota and were formed in 2008 by brothers Matt and Billy Chevalier (bass and drums, respectively) and their cousin Dylan (vocals/guitar) - applied while making their fourth full-length record, Swell. For while it's an album that's full of absence - lost love, lost friends, lost time - it looks for the positives. Instead of dwelling on those empty spaces, Swell instead recalls what was once in their place.
"The album is about trying to be the best person you can be," explains vocalist/guitarist Dylan Mattheisen, "and being as happy as you can in the world we live in. That's been kind of the overall theme of our band - just trying to find the positive in shitty situations and keeping your head up."

To that extent, Swell is the next natural step in the Tiny Moving Parts catalogue. But if 2016's Celebrate was almost unadulterated in that positive outlook, Swell finds the band - completed by Mattheisen's cousins, drummer Billy Chevalier and bassist Matt Chevalier - a little bit darker, a little bit sadder. Its songs still manage to conquer and overcome those emotions, but there's no denying that some of the situations described within them are pretty bleak.

"I wrote the majority of the songs on this record thinking about what past versions of myself
would've needed or been listening to at different points in my life," explains Worriers' Lauren
Denitizio of Survival Pop, their sophomore album. "I think we're all probably having a tough time
right now and I hope that the songs on the record can be intentionally uplifting and cathartic.
The record is called Survival Pop because I see it as songs for self-preservation."
From enduring years of health issues that led to open heart surgery at the age of 25, to growing
up queer, to losing friends to suicide and substance abuse, Lauren is no stranger to life's
hurdles. But make no mistake, while these experiences influenced the creation of Survival Pop,
the record avoids self-pity and offers instead a triumphant rallying cry, a celebration of
overcoming, and an empowering journey to self-actualization. "Simply finding a way of surviving
in the face of illness and loss, misogyny, homophobia and the patriarchy is still a threat to those
things - it's a forward, aggressive action," they explain.
Survival Pop was recorded in Fenton, Michigan with Marc Jacob Hudson, who worked with
Worriers on their debut full-length, Imaginary Life, alongside Laura Jane Grace. Lauren met
Marc through Laura and the two felt an immediate musical kinship. While on previous records
Lauren had been the sole member to stay throughout the process with other musicians leaving
after recording their parts, for Survival Pop Lauren worked and lived for over two weeks
alongside Lou Hanman (guitar), Mikey Erg (drums), Nick Psillas (bass) and John McLean
(guitar). The result is a record that is Worriers' mostly tightly crafted yet, never straying from
their punk roots while expanding their sound to something infinitely accessible and poppy,
carried throughout by the strength of Lauren's vocal melodies.

May 23, 8pm to 9pm, The UC Theatre Taube Family Music Hall, 2036 University Avenue, near Downtown Berkeley BART, Berkeley, CA, 94704

Stu Allen and Mars Hotel

A tradition started back in the 20th century, Ashkenaz's Grateful Dead Night is always evolving, reaching new heights since Stu Allen & Mars Hotel launched a weekly residency in late 2011. Led by acclaimed guitarist-singer Allen (of Phil Lesh & Friends, Melvin Seals & JGB, Ghosts of Electricity), a revolving cast of incredibly talented musicians inhabits Mars Hotel, drawing from the Grateful Dead's vast catalog to delight Deadheads and dancers of all generations. A Mars Hotel show is always an energetic evening of good vibes, good music, and good community.

When it became apparent that Jerry Garcia had played his final show in 1995, Stu Allen began working to keep Garcia's music, sound, and spirit alive in the concert setting. He regularly works with Phil Lesh and has also played sets with Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzmann. Allen is perhaps most known for fronting Melvin Seals' tribute to the Jerry Garcia Band from 2004 to 2011. He received more national acclaim in 2010 when he toured with Dark Star Orchestra. Allen shares the Grateful Dead's commitment to making each performance a unique event, from preparation to execution. He will perform multiple shows before playing the same song twice, and even then, that song will not be realized in quite the same way.

Mars Hotel takes this idea a step further by presenting a new band at each performance. Drawing from the rich music scene of the Bay Area, Allen has assembled a broad and ever-rotating group of musicians that makes each concert a once-only experience. As far as Grateful Dead tribute bands go, this is a concept that has never been done before.

May 23, 8pm to 11:59pm, Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center, 1317 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley

Peter Bradley Adams

Peter Bradley Adams

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Peter Bradley Adams was one half of the duo, Eastmountainsouth and has since released six solo records.

No Depression calls him, "consistently eloquent," and the Wall Street Journal says he's, "one of the 21st Century writers whose songs are worth exploring."

There's a confidence, a completeness in the song cycle that listeners have gleaned throughout Adams' illustrious career, but A Face Like Mine, his sixth solo effort, brings it all into sharp focus. As Adams sees it, "On the long plod of finding my voice as a singer and a writer, the singing has slowly developed from the sound of a scared guy to someone who believes what he's saying and the writing, I hope, has become less rigid - both in the lyrics and the phrasing."

Less rigid, indeed. Adams' brand of Americana nestles his often delicate, always heartfelt voice in the warm embrace of gentle guitar, tasteful dobro, subtle banjo, supportive bass, and unhurried percussion. The result is a sonic scape that, in turn, wraps itself around the listener like a soft blanket on a cold day. With A Face Like Mine, Adams further refines the simple musical sophistication that has become his trademark.

Misty Boyce

Misty Boyce's forthcoming third LP, Get Lost, is a dark, slow-burning, yet subtly hopeful indie-pop record. It finds the Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist wrestling valiantly with tragedy and loss, death, drugs and religion, isolation, depression and the emptiness of fame.

A sought-after keyboardist, Boyce performed with Sara Bareilles in support of her Grammy-nominated album, The Blessed Unrest, and opened sold-out shows for Bareilles across New Zealand, Japan and Singapore. Boyce has also backed Sting and Ingrid Michaelson and, most recently, toured with BÃ~RNS, sharing bills with Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers, and performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

But in the midst of all this globetrotting success, and her burgeoning career as a solo artist, Boyce was sent reeling by the loss of two family members-first, her step-brother to an opiate overdose and, just a year later, her step-father to suicide. Struggling to cope with their deaths, the songs she'd been working on began to shift focus. Soon, she was taking a shot into the void, trying desperately, through music, to find some sense of meaning and connection in the pain.

May 23, 8pm to 9pm, Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA, 94704

Andy Frasco & The U.N., The Afrofunk Experience

Andy Frasco & The U.N.

Averaging 250 shows per year, 10 countries, at least 10,000 hours playing music, countless satisfied fans, and about 1 million beers kicked, the past decade has been nothing short of an odyssey for Andy Frasco & The U.N.
In 2016, this wild musical journey culminated with a three-hour headlining set in front of 15,000 people at Jazz & Blues Festival in Bamberg, Germany. The evening marked a handful of firsts. It would be the first time the band performed its entire catalog during one show, and it would be recorded for their first-ever live CD/DVD-2017's Songs from the Road: Live in Bamberg. In many ways, Andy had been working towards this evening since he quit his record label job at 19, bought a van with his remaining Bar Mitzvah money, hit the road, and never looked back...
"I always wanted to do a live album," he exclaims. "I didn't want to play some cliché venue though. When I started booking shows for the band in Europe, Bamberg was actually the first place that threw us a bone. We decided to take over this town, throw a block party, showcase everything we've done, and see if anyone shows up. All of a sudden, the whole town is there. In this last decade, I've played every dive bar you can imagine. It was like we finally manifested all of the dreams I've had for my entire life."
Songs from the Road captures the magic inherent in an Andy Frasco show. Throughout the set, the chemistry between the musicians and sonic unpredictability power every second. Among many standouts, the group slowed down "Main Squeeze" from 2014's Half A Man into a sultry and seductive "Soul Version" highlighted by Andy's bluesy delivery, hulking keys, and a virtuoso saxophone solo.
"That was the first song I ever wrote as a kid," he recalls. "It started as a slow ballad, but we sped it up over the years for festivals. We went back to the original incarnation here."

The Afrofunk Experience is an ambrosial mix of musical interpretations influenced by the African diaspora, created in a collective and organic manner. With Sila Mutungi they comprised the award-winning group Sila and the Afrofunk Experience until 2010, providing songs and grooves that earned them the title "The Bay Area's Dance Kings", as well as the NAACP Image Award's Outstanding World Music Album for "Black President" and the SF Weekly Music Award's Best International Act.

Guitarist/Singer David James (Spearhead, The Coup, Beth Custer) brings his sinewy style to counter the funk-metal stylings of lead guitarist Ken House (H.P. Riot). The precise funk-rock drumming of Paul Oliphant (Afrolicious, Will Magid Trio) with Wendell Rand's (Afrolicious, Tracorum, Youssoupha Sidibe) muscular dance grooves keep the band tight, while saxophonist David Boyce (Broun Fellinis, The Supplicants) and trombonist Alan Williams (Manicato, Katdelic) wail, their horns producing a sound that encompasses outward-bound jazz, classic reggae, afrobeat and R&B. Percussionist B. Lee thickens and adds flavor to the mix, and on top of all this, recent addition Sandy House adds her sultry voice and powerful stage presence.

May 23, 8:30pm to 9:30pm, Cornerstone, 2367 Shattuck Ave (Enter On Durant), Berkeley