by Wanda Sabir
The 20th Annual African American Celebration through Poetry is Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010, at the West Oakland Branch Library, 1801 Adeline St. in Oakland, (510) 238-7352. If you are interested in being a featured artist, call the library and ask for Veronica Lee to get a letter which will go out late December or early January. The event is 1-4 p.m. It is free and open to the public. The rehearsal is the last Saturday in January, 10-12 noon, same location. The theme this year is the African Diaspora, and we are dedicating it to all the poets who have graced the stage over these 20 years, such as the late Kamau Seitu. (Read Wanda’s tribute to Kamau, “Kamau Seitu is playing music with the celestial orchestra.”)
Holiday Kwanzaa and Christmas Gift Show
This year’s Holiday Kwanzaa and Christmas Gift Show is Dec. 12-13. Doors will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on both days at the Oakland Marriott Convention Center. New this year is a networking series of workshops with the Kwanzaa Gift Show entry fee of $5, Saturday, Dec. 12: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Business Marketing; 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. How to Finance Your Business; 12 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Social Media and Your Business (FaceBook, Twitter, Linked-In). Seating is limited so early arrival is suggested. For more information, call (510) 534-1594.
Fifth Principle of Kwanzaa: Nia (Purpose) ‘Cultivating Our Youth’
Celebrate the Fifth Principle of Kwanzaa: Nia (Purpose) in a program called “Cultivating Our Youth” at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton at Webster, San Francisco, on Wednesday, Dec. 30. This is our fourth year of collaboration with the Village Project in celebration of the African American holiday honoring our ancestry, our heritage and our culture. This event hones the spiritual, social and cultural purpose and responsibility that each of us as African descendents bears to our community and posterity.
In African and American celebrations, Kwanzaa places an emphasis on children as the key to the survival and development of the community. In both the biological and cultural sense, the importance of these traditional festivals are to bond the generations, celebrate the collective hard work to nourish and provide for the community, and to educate our children about their traditional greatness and the role they play in creating a bright future for humanity.
The event begins at 6 p.m. with a FREE reception and follows with the Kwanzaa gathering at 7 p.m. An event not to be missed! For more information, call (415) 922-2049.
Kwanzaa in Concord
Black Families Association of Contra Costa County’s Family, Community and Culture Kwanzaa 2009 will be celebrated Tuesday, Dec. 29, 6-9 p.m., at Concord Senior Center, 2727 Parkside Circle, Concord, (925) 229-2710. Discover the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa and how they apply to oneself and one’s family’s everyday lives. All ages and ethnic groups are welcome. The evening’s program will include entertainment and refreshments. Come and learn more about what Kwanzaa is all about. Visit http://www.bfacc.org/.
CAAM Kwanzaa Fest 2009
Join the California African American Museum in celebrating the 41st anniversary of the Spirit of Kwanzaa, which has become a popular addition to the cultural celebrations of the holiday season. The event takes place Sunday, Dec. 6, and will include a candle lighting ceremony and an expanded CAAM marketplace, where there is something for everyone. The California African American Museum is located at 600 State Drive, Exposition Park, Los Angeles, and opens at 11 a.m. The program begins at 1 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (213) 744-7432 or visit www.caamuseum.org.
California Lutheran University’s Annual Kwanzaa
CLU’s Kwanzaa celebration will feature food, a ceremony and several performances from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. Students will perform a Kwanzaa ceremony and NAACP Saturday School students will make presentations. The celebration will also include authentic African and African-American food, gospel music, dancers and vendors selling arts and crafts.
The public is invited to attend the free event to learn about this holiday. Millions of African Americans observe Kwanzaa from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 each year. It is a special time when families and friends unite to strengthen and encourage one another. The celebration will be held in Lundring Events Center in the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center near the corner of Olsen Road and Campus Drive in Thousand Oaks. The NAACP Saturday School, the Afro-Centric Committee of Ventura County, and CLU’s Black Student Union and Multicultural and International Programs office are sponsoring the event. For more information, call Multicultural Programs at (805) 493-3323.
Bay Area Discovery Museum’s Kwanzaa Celebration
Celebrate Kwanzaa throughout the Museum on Dec. 26, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with art projects inspired by the African continent and a Kwanzaa altar in the museum’s Entry Pavilion. Renowned jazz drummer E.W. Wainwright and his ensemble, the African Roots of Jazz, take us on a musical journey that traces African-American musical forms, such as jazz, gospel and spirituals, from their earliest beginnings in African cultures to today. The program features instrumental music, songs, theater and audience participation. Free museum admission and performances at Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito, (415) 339-3900, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commemorative Film Festival for Comrade Fred Hampton Sr. on the 40th Anniversary of his Killing
Deputy Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party Fred Hampton was killed by Chicago police and the FBI on Dec. 4, 1969, 40 years ago. Commemorate the history and inspiration and the lasting impact of our revolutionary leaders, Friday, Dec. 4, 2009, at Freedom Archives, 522 Valencia St., San Francisco, near 16th Street, one block from BART, 7 – 9:30 p.m.
There will be a showing of films on Fred Hampton, revolutionary and servant of the people: how his enemies murdered him 40 years ago today and lessons for today. He said: “You can kill a revolutionary, but you cannot kill the revolution!” The event is sponsored by Collision Course Media, It’s About Time BPP, Freedom Archives, ILPS-Bay Area Grassroots Organizing Committee, Committee to Free the SF 8, Haiti Action Committee, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, BAYAN-USA (NorCal).
Reality Tour East Oakland
I needed international calling cards for Africa – United States to Africa – and so instead of moving my daughter’s car, which was blocking mine, I decided to walk. It was a lovely day in the neighborhood: sunny skies and I’d missed getting out Friday and Saturday so here was my opportunity.
I grabbed my camera, since post-Rodney King one has to be prepared, and as a writer and artist each moment has cinematic potential, I think as I start off down two major industrial thoroughfares in East Oakland, Seminary Avenue and San Leandro Street, and return via International Boulevard, although the only country represented there is Mexico – and maybe Korea or China and perhaps a few colonizing missionary opportunists in the persons of the Black church, the Black beauty salon and the Black barber.
No commerce is happening, unless you are from across some southern border.
It was quiet – just trucks and a few cars passing – businesses closed except for an alarm system/window tinting business. Also there were the men hoping for a quick job and quicker money hanging on the corners I passed.
I purchased my cards and then started back home by another route. The taco truck was serving breakfast and the few grocers I passed had customers but, for the usually busy street, it was unusually quiet.
A woman asked me if I was a tourist and she told me she thought about walking up International with a video camera to document the speeding cars, the absence of stop signs, not to mention lights for long stretches where pedestrians were at risk and were often hit. When our paths crossed, I noticed an elderly woman sitting on the ground waiting for a bus. There was no bench, and at the bus stop just feet from that one around the corner, there was no bench there either.
My new tour guide told me there were no benches on International. I don’t know if that is true, as I haven’t surveyed the entire street, but I do know that where I was standing and where I’d just walked, there were none, which meant if you were tired or old and couldn’t stand to wait for a bus, you have to sit on the sidewalk – the curb a bit too dangerous.
I passed a utility pole and noticed cellophane and dried leaves secured with masking tape and stopped – I thought about devorah major’s project in San Francisco noting the street altars and walked back to see if this indeed was what this was. Several steps further there was a sign announcing a missing person and then I saw the mural for the slain artist: “Dream.”
I decided to stay on that side of the street for a minute and, as I was crossing the next intersection, I looked in a passing car at the person driving – an old white man – and his passenger, a much younger Black woman with turquoise hair. She was cute and maybe a prostitute, another industry this part of Oakland is known for.
Jetting across to the other side where there was more shade, I saw a billboard stating some statistic about the risk children are at regarding Internet solicitation and I thought to myself, how incongruent – the billboard needed to warn residents of the sexual predators on the streets driving cars, riding bicycles, robbing our communities of our girls.
Quaker Oats-Gatorade-Tropicana has a large factory on International also, with more property down the block. And then across from their property was this really huge open space which would, I thought, be a great place to grow food. There are a lot of hungry people in East Oakland. The old furniture factory/utility plant now houses a barber school and a church. It was a homeless shelter for long term residents, but the front door was fenced in, with a homeless person sitting outside, so I don’t think that part of the facility is open any longer.
Back home, my door didn’t want to open – weather has it sticking. I guess this was my reality tour. I should take a slide presentation with me to Senegal – Africans have such unrealistic ideas about the other. Perhaps my reality tour will make some dissatisfied person see the beauty under his or her feet.
The boarded up windows at Rainbow Recreation Center were a surprise. I thought the organization was prized by the community, which means one protects it. I remember when TaSin was in high school and the Santiago de Cuba Sister City project met there when Oakland and Santiago de Cuba were both turning 100 years old. Jane Jackson was alive then and on the Advisory Board.
Holiday Fairs and Celebrations
If one has to spend money then let it be with those who share revolutionary and progression minds and attitudes like EastSide Cultural Center, which is having its Annual Holiday Art Sale and Open House, Friday, Dec. 11, 4-8 p.m. There will be local artists, great food, special happy hour drinks, political posters and books, live DJ. Later folks can go over to the Intertribal Friendship House for their Roots of Resistance event. For more information on the ESCC event, call (510) 533-6629 or visit www.eastsideartsalliance.org and www.ifhurbanrez.org.
The 39th Annual KPFA Crafts and Music Fair, the largest weekend holiday craft fair of its kind in Northern California, is Dec. 12 and 13 at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco. Visit http://www.kpfa.org/craftsfair/.
The Black Rep in Berkeley, 3201 Adeline St., is closing the year with its Paul Mooney New Year’s Eve Celebration and Benefit for the Black Rep’s summer youth programming. Visit http://www.Blackrepertorygroup.com/.
The Joint Annual Holiday Party with Elected Officials is hosted by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Sen. Loni Hancock, Assemblymember Sandre Swanson, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, Mayor Ron Dellums and Get Screened Oakland, AC Transit Director Joel Young, Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen, on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 5-8 p.m., at the Uptown Body and Fender, 401 26th St., Oakland. This free event is the perfect networking opportunity.
Friday, Dec. 4, 6-9 p.m., at the Rotunda Building at Oakland City Hall is the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the NAACP. Joshua Redman performs. Also this month is the annual African American Shakespeare production of Cinderella, Dec. 10-27, at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton St., in San Francisco. Visit http://www.african-americanshakes.org/.
Also this season is the Lorraine Hansberry production of Black Nativity, Dec. 16-27, at Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St. at Mason, Union Square, San Francisco. Visit http://www.lhtsf.org/whatsnew.htm. The AK Press Holiday Sale is Friday, Dec. 4, 4-10 p.m., at the AK Press Warehouse, 674-A 23rd St., Oakland, (510) 208-1700. Visit http://www.akpress.org.
Wanda’s Picks Radio on the road
I have been really enjoying my radio show this year; it has been a way to stay on top of the wonderful events happening throughout the greater Bay Area and even internationally. Tune in over the next month, when we will be broadcasting from Senegal, Mali and The Gambia.
The CURB Coalition presents “Release? A Conversation with Michael Bien, Lead Counsel in the Coleman v. Schwarzenegger case,” which ordered the state to create a California Prison Population Reduction Plan. Come get your questions about if, when and how the plans will be implemented. The event is Thursday, Dec. 3, 6-8 p.m., Third Floor Conference Room at 1904 Franklin in Oakland, one block from 19th Street BART. Childcare and snacks will be provided. Please RSVP for childcare, (510) 444-0484.
Book Talk: ‘Race, Whiteness and Education’
University Books Press and Routledge invite you to join Zeus Leonardo for a discussion of his new book, “Race, Whiteness and Education,” in conversation with Patricia Baquedano-Lopez, Thursday, Dec. 10, 5:30-7 p.m., at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way between Telegraph and Dana, Berkeley. Visit www.universitypressbooks.com.
In the colorblind era of post-civil rights America, race is often wrongly thought to be irrelevant or, at best, a problem of racist individuals rather than a systemic condition to be confronted. “Race, Whiteness and Education” interrupts this dangerous assumption by reaffirming a critical appreciation of the central role that race and racism still play in schools and society. Author Zeus Leonardo’s conceptual engagement of race and whiteness asks questions about its origins, its maintenance and envisages its future.
This book does not simply rehearse exhausted ideas on the relationship among race, class and education, but instead offers new ways of understanding how multiple social relations interact with one another and of their impact in thinking about a more genuine sense of multiculturalism. By asking fundamental questions about whiteness in schools and society, “Race, Whiteness and Education” goes to the heart of race relations and the common sense understandings that sustain it, thus painting a clearer picture of the changing face of racism.
Zeus Leonardo is associate professor of Social and Cultural Studies in Education at the Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley. Patricia Baquedano-Lopez is associate professor in the Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley.
Melba Moorewww.therrazzroom.com/MelbaMooreBio09.html. The Rrazz Room is located at 222 Mason St., San Francisco, (415) 394-1189.
Melba Moore’s enduring beauty and strong, four-octave voice have assured her a rewarding career in theater, television and film. She began her career in the ground-breaking musical “Hair,” where she originated the role of Dionne. During her 18 months in the show, she eventually replaced Dianne Keaton, becoming the first Black actress to replace a white actress as a lead role on Broadway. Her credits include “The Melba Moore-Clifton Davis Show,” the mini-series “Ellis Island,” R&B and pop hits “This Is It,” “You Stepped Into My Life” and her Grammy nominated signature song, “Lean On Me.” Her 1990 recording of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was instrumental in having the song entered into the Congressional Record as the official African American National Anthem.
Directly on the heels of “Hair,” Moore played Lutiebelle Gussiemae Jenkins – the innocent Southern domestic who falls in love with a fast-talking preacher – in the long-running musical “Purlie.” Her show-stopping performance in “Purlie” won Melba the Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress In a Musical, again, making her the first Black actress to do so. In 1996, Melba took over the role of Fantine in the Broadway musical “Les Miserables.” She was the first Black actress to step into the leading role in that milestone Broadway musical.
Ms. Moore is deeply spiritual, seeking daily wisdom from the Bible. She is an ardent advocate for the rights of children, resulting in her Melba Moore Foundation for Abused and Neglected Children. This multifaceted artist and philanthropist is always reaching deeper, pressing harder, ever challenging herself, keeping her audience on the edge of their seats, knowing that whatever happens next will be at least as exciting as what happened before. Moore will perform her classic songs as well as selections from her latest CD, “The Gift of Love.” “With every show I do, I want some part of the proceeds to go to something worthwhile. I think each of us has a calling … and if each of us does our little part, our life is worthwhile. I want my life to be worth something,” she says.
Hip hop meets vaudeville in ‘Stateless’
Dan Wolf and Tommy Sheppard are friends and as such like hanging with each other, swapping stories, going on journeys, in this case to Germany, Louisiana and back to the Bay. Along the way, Wolf investigates his vaudeville family history and finds similarities between hip hop and vaudeville. The songs are great, as is the dance, Tommy’s beat boxing and Keith Pinto’s dancing. It’s a great journey with lots of audience participation. If folks liked “The Angry Black White Boy,” another Wolf with Felonious crew support, then “Stateless” isn’t to be missed. Different premise, but uncanny similarities regarding the origins of hip hop. I don’t think Wolf can help it; “Stateless” is also a lesson in hip hop culture – what it is and what it is not.
Black folks in America aren’t the only ones who are stateless or at least this was the case before 1948 when the state of Israel was formed. Post-Katrina, not only are Black people stateless, we can’t even pinpoint our individual or collective histories, a detail Tommy explores like an open wound. The play, “Stateless,” with music by One Ring Zero and Gebrueder Wolf, directed by Ellen Sebastian Chang, is 70 minutes without intermission. It closes Dec. 6 at the Jewish Theatre, formerly The Traveling Jewish Theatre, San Francisco, 470 Florida St. For tickets, call (415) 292-1233 or visit www.tjt-sf.org. Shows are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m.
4 Passions Art Show and Sale
In the 4 Passions Art Show and Sale, Jimi Evins, Woody Johnson, Ronnie Prosser and James Reid share their passion for art making. It’s Friday, Dec. 4, at 5:00 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5, 12 noon to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 6, 12 noon to 5:00 p.m., at 750 A 14th St., Oakland.
Poetry Diversified’s First Fridays on Dec. 4 features Congo Square 2 and other special guests, 8:00-10:30 p.m. with open mic sign-up at 7:30 p.m. at La Estrellita Cafe and Bar, 446 East 12th St., at Fifth Avenue, Oakland. It’s hosted by Tres Santos – Mark G., Muteado y Chokwadi. All are welcome – poets, musicians, storytellers, actors, singers, dancers, comedians, speakers, politicians etc. No cover, drink specials, hip hop after party.
‘An Evening of Playback Theatre’
The Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble presents “An Evening of Playback Theatre” on Saturday, Dec. 5, 8 p.m., at Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Armand Volkas, the director, is joined by Allison Kenny, Christine Kalb, Gina McKuen, John Kadyk, Ruth Jovel, Mary Saudargas, Merry Ross, Rae Ann Goldber, Roni Alperin, Vicki Dello Joio, Scott Skinner. Visit http://www.aeofberkeley.org/planyourvisit.html. General admission is $15, seniors and students with ID $12. Cash or check only at the door. For more information, call (510) 595-5500, ext. 25, email email@example.com or visit http://www.livingartscenter.org.
Telegraph Avenue Holiday Fair
The 26th annual Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair is scheduled for six days this year: Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 12, 13, 19 and 20, and Wednesday and Thursday, Dec.23 and 24. The Street Fair is located on Telegraph Avenue between Bancroft and Dwight Way in Berkeley. More than 200 street artists, merchants, community groups, musicians and entertainers fill four blocks of Telegraph Avenue. Hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
The street fair offers unique and unusual handcrafts by some of Northern California’s finest artists. It is an opportunity to buy fine art originals and gift items. Local restaurants and community organizations add to the festive spirit of Telegraph Avenue. Holiday shoppers to the Telegraph business district will be treated to an abundance of cheer, great music, fine food and high quality crafts. Festive lights and a friendly multicultural shopping atmosphere complete the experience. Once again, the cultural heart and soul of Berkeley is alive and well and ready to celebrate!
‘Breema, the Art of Being Present’
Enjoy an evening with Jonathan Staggers’ “Breema: Bring Body and Mind Together,” Wednesday, Dec. 2, 7-8:30 p.m. In a mini-workshop we will do Self-Breema and Breema and there will be the opportunity to exchange our experiences. So you may ask, how does being present have anything to do with the state of affairs mentioned from the news headlines? Anger, occupation, unrest on UC campuses, the state’s jobless rate at 12.5 percent, a 16-year-old is shot and killed when answering the doorbell, spy cases, health reform – these are just a few topics circulating in our immediate environment.
Breema has three components: body movement and body-work with a series of sequences and exercises, using gentle leans and stretches, rhythmic and non-rhythmic movements, tapping and holds. These help to de-crystallize the body and to de-condition the mind and feelings. A deep receptivity and authentic well-being is activated which can support the raising of one’s level of consciousness. The third component is dialogue: being able to formulate the experience of giving and receiving Breema. In a non-judgmental environment, the inquiry focus is with the one giving Breema, not on how well it was done or how the recipient liked the treatment or not.
Breema’s direction is to bring the body and mind together, thus creating an atmosphere where the feelings join in. Then there is a taste of harmony within ourselves. When my body, mind and feelings are working together in harmony, I am present. This is such a key element because for me and in reference to the news headlines, it is easy to be pulled off center, almost like a kite being blown in different directions depending on the air current. To have a practice that supports coming back to center and to being present is huge.
This free community event, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 7 to 8:30 p.m., is hosted by the Attitudinal Healing Connection, Inc., 3278 West St., Oakland, (510) 652-5530, www.ahc-oakland.org.
Eddie Gale Now Band and Troublemakers Union at Velma’s
Enjoy evening jazz for the sophisticated ear with the Eddie Gale Now Band, featuring Sandy Poindexter (violin), Valerie Mih (piano), Rasheed Wedlow (saxophone), Andre Custodio (drums), Andrew Currier (bass) and Eddie Gale (trumpet), Thursday, Dec. 3, at 7 and 8 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. at Velma’s Home of the Sunday Blues and Jazz Club, 2246 Jerrold Ave., San Francisco. For information, call (415) 824-7646. Soul food and full bar available. Look for parking on Napoleon and Jerrold streets. General admission $15, students $10, seniors $5. Visit www.eddiegale.com.
Aguas Da Bahia and Tania Santiago and Ramon Ramos Alayo, two amazing companies, collaborate this weekend in “Bound Together,” Friday, Dec. 4, 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5, 8 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 6, 7 p.m., at Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St. at Mission, San Francisco. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door. Visit www.brownpapertickets.com. For information, call (415) 273-4633 and visit www.alayodance.org, www.dancemission.com, www.aguasdabahia.com, www.cubacaribe.org.
In “Sagrada/Profana Bahia,” Tania Santiago draws on her Afro-Brazilian traditions as she weaves together and connects the sacred and the profane in these two pieces, “Terra de Todos os Santos” (“The Land of All Saints”) and “Terra de Felicidade” (“Land of Happiness”). On one side of the coin, we celebrate, while simultaneously, on the flip side, we express our faith, respect and devotion. The sacred is present in everything we do.
Ramón Ramos Alayo weaves his Afro-Cuban Folkloric and modern threads into “A Piece of White Cloth.” He tells a tale of a person searching and struggling for plain white cloth. The journey is visceral, physical and sacred, drawing on the living, ancestor and spirit worlds. The white cloth is saturated in meaning and power and serves as the salvation and healing.
“Bound Together” reflects the deep friendship Ramon and Tania have developed over the years and the mutual respect they share for their professional accomplishments in Cuba and Brazil and in their adopted home of San Francisco.
Zaccho Youth Company Open House
It’s Open House hosted by the Youth Company at the Zaccho Studio, 1777 Yosemite Ave., Studio 330, San Francisco, Saturday, Dec. 5, 1 p.m., donation $10.
World AIDS Day: Look Up!
According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.2 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2007 some 2.5 million people became newly infected with the virus. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35.
A vast majority of people with HIV and AIDS live in lower- and middle-income countries. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world. The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Oakland Bay Area Chapter, addresses these dismal statistics by launching its sixth annual “Sistahs Getting Real About HIV/AIDS” billboard campaign and associated press conference. Everyone is invited.
The press conference and FREE HIV testing, is Tuesday, Dec. 1, 4-8 p.m., at Beebe Memorial Cathedral, 3900 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, to educate African American women and girls across multiple sectors about the impact of HIV/AIDS in the African American community and to stimulate concrete and effective action to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among Black women in America. It’s all FREE and open to the public. FREE OraQuick Rapid HIV Testing will be administered by the California Prevention and Education Project (CAL-PEP) – no needles, results in 20 minutes.
West Coast Leaning Festival
Youth Speaks’ Living Word Project and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) are pleased to present a three-day festival celebrating West Coast dance, theater and music at YBCA’s Forum on Dec 3-5. Curated by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Left Coast Leaning positions the West Coast, long recognized as the progressive edge of the country, as the emerging center of a changing world.
Each evening features a different line-up of urban-based movement, storytelling and music, showcasing performances and collaborations by some of the West Coast’s most influential artists, including Amara Tabor-Smith of Urban Bush Women and inkBoat’s Sherwood Chen, Amy Seiwert of Smuin Ballet, vocalist and playwright Lauren Whitehead and musicians ranging from Berkeley’s Ambrose Akinmusire to Portland’s Holcombe Waller. Price is $20 regular admission; $15 for YBCA members, students, teachers, seniors; $10 for ages 24 and under, student rush; $35 for a three-day pass. Enjoy same-day gallery admission with all YBCA presented performances. Tickets: (415) 978-2787 or www.ybca.org.
‘Ella: The American Dream’ World Premierehttp://animoto.com/play/yk2l25noA2CEcESfry0Lpw.
Performances are at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31, New Years Eve; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Jan. 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16; 2 p.m. Sundays, Jan. 3, 10 and 17; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13. The Cinnabar Theater is located at 3333 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma. For information, call (707) 763-8920. Order tickets by telephone 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or purchase at the door. Visit www.cinnabartheater.org.
Musical Night in Africa
This annual event is Saturday, Dec. 5. Doors open at 8:30 and the show starts at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkanez Music and Dance Center, 1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, (510) 525-5054. Baba Ken Okulolo will be on Wanda’s Picks Radio, Friday, Dec. 4, 9:30 a.m. Visit http://www.wandaspicks.asmnetwork.org or call the listener line, (347) 237-4610. You can also go to the website and listen to archived shows.
I have been listening to Baba Ken’s “Okulolo: We Are All From Africa,” a wonderful project which captures the wonderful holiday spirit of the Musical Night in Africa, a decade-old, much-anticipated Ashkenaz tradition, featuring past favorites and new elements. Produced each year by Nigeria’s Babá Ken Okulolo, it is a musical tour of West Africa, from teeming cities to remote villages that hold on to ancestral traditions. Music ranges from folk songs to the hottest African dance rhythms. The theme of the 10th Night in Africa is “We Are All Africans,” which is also the title of Okulolo’s new CD. The night is a thank-you, as Okulolo puts it, “to our community and to our common ancestors for their unseen everyday blessings and guidance.”
The festivities begin at 9 p.m. sharp with Okulolo leading a traditional African welcoming libation ceremony. The sweet traditional folk music of the Nigerian Brothers kicks off the show. At 10 p.m., Okulolo’s latest project, Afrobeat ConneXion, takes the stage, followed by the hypnotic dance rhythms of the West African Highlife Band. Kotoja concludes the celebration with nonstop electric dance music.
The Bay Area’s leader in the World Beat and Afrobeat scene, Kotoja is directed by Okulolo, one of the pioneers in West Africa’s modern music. He came to America as the bass player in Nigerian band King Sunny Ade’s African Beats, settled in the East Bay, and soon thereafter launched Kotoja. It features band members from West Africa and America playing a bubbling brew of African highlife, juju, jazz and world dance rhythms with driving guitars, riffing horns and persuasive percussion. Kotoja was the inspiration for New York clothier Dan Storper to create Putumayo Records, the popular world music label. Visit www.kotoja.com.
More recently, Okulolo created the improvisational Afrobeat ConneXion from studio jams with musicians who demonstrate a restless, driving attitude in exploring African music. Afrobeat ConneXion also features Nigeria’s Soji Odukogbe, who was for five years the lead guitarist for Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the late pioneer of Afrobeat. The band plays hard-hitting Afrofunk grooves with a jazz sensibility. See www.facebook.com/agx.
Also at Ashkanez: Sister I-Live; Queen Makedah, Saturday, Dec. 12. Doors open at 9 p.m.; the show is at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and for students and $13 on the day of the show. Visit http://www.ashkenaz.com/html/list.php?offset=#2769.
Body Music Festival
Crosspulse presents the Second International Body Music Festival Dec. 1-6 in Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco. There is a lecture and demonstration Wednesday, Dec. 2, $10 general admission, at 8 p.m. at La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Moderator Keith Terry, festival director, will feature Kenny Muhammad, De Rompe y Raja with Braulio Barrera, Las Flamencas, Özgü Bulut and Timuçin Gürer.
The concert at 8 p.m. at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, 401 Van Ness at McAllister features Step Afrika!, Kenny Muhammad, Manuia Polynesian Revue, Las Flamencas, Arabic Ensemble, LeeLa Petronio and Keith Terry. Visit www.crosspulse.org and listen to an interview with Keith Terry about the festival, Nov. 25, on http://www.wandaspicks.asmnetwork.org.
‘Cotton Patch Gospel’
“Cotton Patch Gospel,” a bluegrass, progressive holiday musical based on translations of the New Testament into colloquial Southern language by Dr. Clarence Jordan, a Baptist minister, with music and lyrics by Harry Chapin, book by Tom Key and Russel Treyz, is directed by Marilyn Langbehn with musical direction by Rona Siddiqqui and stars Edward Hightower with Katie Kimball, Erika Richardson and Rona Siddiqui. Performances are Nov. 20-Dec. 19, Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. at the Next Stage, 1620 Gough at Bush in San Francisco. Visit http://www.custommade.org/pages/directions.php.
“Cotton Patch Gospel” premiered at the Lamb’s Theater in New York City on Oct. 21, 1981. Written by Tom Key and Russell Treyz, with music and lyrics by Harry Chapin, “Cotton Patch Gospel” adapted Clarence Jordan’s “Cotton Patch” versions of the gospels of Matthew and John for the stage. Though less widely known than the other gospel musicals of its era, “Godspell” and “Jesus Christ, Superstar,” “Cotton Patch Gospel” is an underappreciated gem of musical theater.
Between 1968 and 1973, Dr. Clarence Jordan, a Southern Baptist minister, published four books where he translated the New Testament into colloquial Southern language. These “Cotton Patch” versions were brought to the attention of Tom Key, an Atlanta actor and playwright, when he was contemplating a play that would transplant the story of Jesus into the mid-20th century American South. In “Cotton Patch,” Jesus Davidson was born in the town of Gainesville, Georgia, and was laid in an apple crate. He was baptized in the Chattahoochee River, he preached to a crowd of thousands on Stone Mountain, and he met his end in Atlanta. In between, he encounters followers, cynics, and an institutionalized, conservative church that rejects his simple message of love and human compassion.
With Jordan’s versions as his source material, Tom Key, together with Russell Treyz, wrote the book for the stage play. The music for the production was written and composed by the legendary Harry Chapin, in what would eventually prove to be his final musical work. In all, Chapin produced 26 songs for the show, many of them in a bluegrass style befitting the play’s setting. Chapin finished his contribution in June 1981, and was unexpectedly killed in an automobile accident on July 16, 1981.
Custom Made produced Chapin’s song-cycle “Lies and Legends” earlier this decade and is thrilled to be showcasing again one of the greatest artists of the late 20th century, who left us far too early.
Rebecca’s Books Benefit
We have to support businesses that support us, and Rebecca’s Books has allowed the Words Upon the Waters Crew and Maafa San Francisco Bay Area to host fundraisers there. This benefit extravaganza is a who’s who of Bay Area poets. Besides helping this wonderful woman stay in business, it’s going to be an outstanding show, Saturday, Dec. 12, at Rebecca’s Books, specializing in ethnic poetry, 3268 Adeline St., wheelchair accessible, a half block north of Alcatraz and two short blocks south of Ashby BART, Berkeley, (510) 852-4768, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., $3-$20 sliding scale. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Visit www.avotcja.com for the line-up.
‘Does the Secret Mind Whisper?’ a Celebration of Bob Kaufman
Gone but not forgotten, Bob Kaufman is not only a leading figure in the literary and cultural revolution known today as the Beat Generation, he is also a pioneering poet of the Black Consciousness Movement and one of the most celebrated African-American poets of his generation throughout the French speaking world.
Bringing together the talents from the world of dance, poetry and music, the African-American Center, in association with Justin Desmangles, presents “Does the Secret Mind Whisper? A Celebration of Bob Kaufman, Poet.” This year’s program will include musician Roscoe Mitchell, founder of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Joining the celebration is novelist, jazz critic, screenwriter and poet laureate emeritus of California, Al Young, reading from Kaufman’s works as well as his own. This afternoon’s program will also proudly welcome to the stage one of the world’s most exciting performers of poetry, Mario Ellis Hill, reading new interpretations of Kaufman originals as well as his own hip-hop-inspired jazz poetics.
Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.wandaspicks.com for an expanded version of Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays at 6-7 a.m. and Fridays at 8-10 a.m. and archived on the Afrikan Sistahs’ Media Network.