Berkeley Arts Festival Calendar




Jun 5, 11:45am to 2:45pm, Cheese Board Pizza 1512 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA

Kenan Obrien

Soulful Rock-- Bay Area style. Starring AhSa Ti-Nu Ford.

Jun 5, 4:45pm to 7:45pm, Cheese Board Pizza 1512 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA

Balkan Dance

Doors at 6:30 pm / Balkan dance lesson at 7:00 pm / Dance at 8:00 pm

Tickets are $7

This monthly event is a revival of '70s-style Berkeley folkdancing with some international request dancing to recorded music, capturing the spirit that David Nadel was inspired by when he opened Ashkenaz in 1973 with Balkan folkdancing. One does not need a live band to experience the communal pleasure of dancing together, and the dance lessons help newcomers join in the experience.

Jun 5, 7pm to 10pm, Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center, 1317 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley

Jim Grantham Quartet

Jim Grantham, saxophone stylist, bandleader and composer, plays tenor, soprano saxes and flute. Jim's music springs from the tradition of melodic lyricism-Lester Young, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter. He has performed with many fine musicians including Bobby McFerrin, George Cables, Eddie Moore, Mark Isham, Ed Kelly, Gaylord Birch, Frank Tusa, Calvin Keys. He has recorded with Jessica Williams and Eddie Henderson. He is also a well-known jazz educator, and has authored a popular, in-depth text on jazz improvisation.

Jun 5, 7pm to 9pm, Caffè Chiave, 2500 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley

Jazz in the Neighborhood: The Afro-Cuban Tribe

The Afro-Cuban Tribe Pianist Edgar Pantoja presents Afro-Cuban jazz and world music from his first album Vivencias. Pantoja's original compositions fuse the diverse music of Cuba-its folklore, rumba, son, and timba-with the international rhythms of samba, Moroccan Gnawa, jazz and funk.

He is joined by the accomplished musicians David Lechuga-Espadas on guitar, Ernesto Mazar Kindelán on acoustic and electric bass, Colin Douglas on drums, and Carlitos Medrano on percussion. These masters of Cuban music inspire and captivate with a fresh melodic and rhythmic experience during the evening's performance.

Born in Santiago de Cuba, Edgar Pantoja has spent over 20 years performing modern and traditional Cuban music on the world's most important stages. He has toured and collaborated with influential musicians including Rubén Blades, John Benítez, David Murray, Angelique Kidjo, Descemer Bueno, and Pedrito Martinez. He most recently formed part of the Grammy-nominated Pedrito Martinez Group as pianist/keyboardist and arranger.

As part of its mission to improve the economics of jazz performance in the Bay Area, Jazz in the Neighborhood pays each musician a guarantee of $150.

Band Members and Instrumentation
Edgar Pantoja, piano
David Lechuga-Espadas, guitar
Ernesto Mazar Kindelán, acoustic and electric bass
Colin Douglas, drums
Carlitos Medrano, percussion

Jun 5, 7:30pm to 9:30pm, Rendon Hall/Fiddler Annex @ California Jazz Conservatory 2040 Addison Street, Berkeley


open mic storytelling competition

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:30 pm
$15 ADV / $15 DOOR (plus fees)

Tickets go on sale at 12:30 PM Pacific on Wednesday May 29th.
Prepare a five-minute story about the power of combinations. Complex reactions, sparks, explosions...magical solutions. Dynamic rapport and explosive interactions. Opposites that attract or pheromones that fizzle. Lessons in the lab of life. Transformation. Safety goggles ON. Cu There.

Jun 5, 7:30pm to 9:30pm, Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA, 94704

Trance Mission

Formed by world-renowned didgeridoo pioneer and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Kent and award-winning clarinetist and composer Beth Custer, the San Francisco-based "4th World" band Trance Mission makes genre-bending music perhaps best described as a new form of contemporary global jazz, with driving intricate rhythms & gorgeous soaring melodies - worldly and otherworldly soundscapes that invite audiences into a unique universe of groove and new possibility in music.

With a classic catalogue of four globally acclaimed CDs and an upcoming NEW release dropping in summer 2019, Trance Mission, now a trio with virtuoso drummer/electronic artist Peter Valsamis, is reentering the musical stratosphere with energy and vitality.

Beth Custer (bass clarinet, alto clarinet Bb clarinet) is an Emmy award-winning composer and performer writing for film, TV, theatre and dance productions. Both as a solo artist and bandleader she has recorded many acclaimed original works and is renowned for her exquisite & diverse clarinet playing across the entire clarinet family. She has toured internationally with Trance Mission, Club Foot Orchestra, Clarinet Thing, Eighty Mile Beach, and The Beth Custer Ensemble.

Stephen Kent (didgeridoo, cello-sintir, percussion) has received international acclaim as a driving force in bringing the Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo into contemporary music. A multi-instrumentalist & composer, he is well established in the global music scene, collaborating with an extraordinary range of luminary musicians including Airto Moreira (Brazil), Omar Sosa (Cuba), Zakir Hussain (India), Habib Koite (Mali), Leonard Eto (Japan), Chirgilchin (Tuva), Steve Roach/R. Carlos Nakai (USA). His catalog of releases includes 7 solo albums and many more with group projects including Trance Mission and Baraka Moon. Stephen also hosts Music of the World and Off the Beaten Path on Pacifica Radio's KPFA (94.1FM)

Peter Valsamis (drum set, dumbek, electronics) is based in Los Angeles. His extraordinary approach to drumming synthesizes a variety of musical styles into his own unique sound. He has performed with Cecil Taylor, Emeline Michel, Martine St. Clair, Mitsou, Don Preston, Walter Aziz, Steve Lacy, Trance Mission and many others. An accomplished composer and sound designer he has worked on titles such as Transformers, Star Trek, Battleship, The Price is Right, Jeopardy, and Wheel of Fortune. Peter received his M.F.A. in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College.

What critics say about Trance Mission:

"This dynamic trio gives urban tribalism a whole new soundtrack!" - San Jose Mercury News

"The digital aura remarkably marries the indigenous instrumentation with a rare naturalness, resonating with the full flame of world-derived trance power." - Sam Prestianni

"A unique Aboriginal, African and European fusion. Their rhythmic, trance-inducing music for didgeridoo, drums and electronics makes a perfect soundtrack." - j. poet

"This is such deep, exploratory, soulful music...unlike anything I've ever heard...its progressive, jazzy, tribal, traditional, jamming, driving, trance rhythms...I hear something new every time I put this CD on." - Dirty Linen

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Children under 12 are free. Advance tickets are available at the link below, or you may purchase your tickets at the door the night of the show. Doors open one half hour before show time. We accept cash only at the door (ATMs are nearby).

The Back Room is an all-ages, BYOB (for those 21+) space, dedicated to (mostly) acoustic music of all kinds. You are welcome to bring your own adult beverage with no additional corkage fee. If you need more information or have any questions, please call us: #510-654-3808. Thank you for your support!

Jun 5, 8pm to 10pm, The Back Room Music, 1984 Bonita Ave, Berkeley