Wanda’s Picks for Jan. 16

by Wanda Sabir

martin-luther-king-jr-young-color, Wanda’s Picks for Jan. 16, Culture Currents Listen to Wanda’s Picks Radio Show,  where this week on Wednesday morning I speak at 6-7:30 to David Hardiman (prerecorded); 8-8:25: Marcus Shelby and Ms. Faye Carol; 8:30-8:55: Clifford Brown Jr.; 9:00-9:25: Kev Choice and Miko Marks; 9:30-9:55 Hodari Davis and Mike Turner, a Youth Speaks poet about Bringing the Noise for Martin Luther King Jr.

The two shows scheduled Friday, Jan. 16, have the theme: “Martin King to Barack Obama, from ‘I Have a Dream’ to ‘Yes, We Can.'”

Footloose presents 9th Annual Women on the Way

Veronica Combs is one of the women featured in this annual solo performance series, Women on the Way, which continues through the first weekend in February in two San Francisco locations, Shotwell Studios and the Garage. Veronica, billed as “Video Vixen,” says she’s excited about the premiere of her first one-woman show in the WOW Festival Jan. 18, 22 and 24 at Shotwell Studios. Sunday, Jan. 18 is a low ticket night, at this printing.

In “Sweet Deliverance,” Vixen Noir traces the evolution of her sexuality from horny little toddler to inimitable Sex Goddess. Funny, edgy and raucous, Vixen gets down and dirty with her grandmother, Sweet, as she sets out to prove that her smutty ways were passed down through her matriarchal bloodline. Vixen says, “Honey, I came out of my mother’s womb sexually aroused!” Sweet Deliverance employs a fierce mix of storytelling, poetry, monologues, songs, burlesque and dance, punctuated by video excerpts that culminate in an explosive climax destined to make you look at your own sexuality in a whole different light!

As sexy as it is touching, “Sweet Deliverance” is a mostly autobiographical account of Vixen Noir, an African American queer dyke lesbian’s rise to sexual stardom in her own right. And how did she get there? To find the answers, Vixen spent two weeks with her 86-year-old grandmother, Sweet, in 2006 and videotaped their candid and wide-ranging conversations. Vixen’s mission was to get her grandmother to talk about her past sexual experiences as a way to identify clues to her own sexuality. These conversations became the inspiration for “Sweet Deliverance.”

Each night, comedy, theater, dance and music artists share the bill. A benefit performance and party will be happening at Shotwell Studios on Saturday, Jan. 17, from 8 p.m. until midnight with a stellar lineup of comedy, music, dance and burlesque performances.

The Garage is at 975 Howard St. between Fifth and Sixth streets in San Francisco’s South of Market district. This thriving Black Box Theater is the place to go for dance and multi-media. Shared bill programs will run 12 evenings over three weekends, Thursdays through Sundays, Jan. 15 through Feb. 1. It’s handicapped accessible.

Shotwell Studios is Footloose’s own theater at 3252-A 19th St., where the second floor is not handicapped accessible, between South Van Ness and Folsom in San Francisco’s Mission district. Festival programs at Shotwell Studios run Sunday, Jan. 18; plus Thursdays-Sundays, Jan. 22 through Feb. 1. All shows begin at 8 p.m.; for reservations, call (415) 289-2000. Visit www.ftloose.org

The Saturday, Jan. 17, benefit calls for a $25 donation, which includes a free ticket to another festival show at either venue. Tickets for the show are $20 in cash or checks only at the door, or $15 for seniors and students. There is a $15 discount price for advance purchase with a credit card at www.brownpapertickets.com/browse.html?keywords=footloose+women+way or call 1-800-838-3006. For benefit tickets, go to http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/49360; for Shotwell tickets, http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/49370 and for Garage tickets, http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/49364.

Martin King Poetry Reading Benefit for Rebecca’s Books

Bay Area Poets honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and a new era with President-elect Barack Obama at Rebecca’s Books, 3268 Adeline St. at Alcatraz in Berkeley, Monday, Jan. 19, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Featured poets include Kim Shuck, Claire Ortalda, Floyd Salad, Teasha Gable, Ayodele Nzinga, Mary Rudge, Adam David Miller, Karla Brundage, Raymond Nat Turner and more …

All donations go to support Rebecca’s Books, so dig deep and give generously. If you can’t attend, you can still make a love offering at this independent book store run by a Black woman.

Martin King event at the Oakland Museum

Martin Luther King Jr. Community Day at the Oakland Museum is Sunday, Jan. 18, 12-4 p.m. The event is free after museum admission cost. Dr. Paul Von Blum will speak about the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Paul Robeson.

The similarities between the lives of Dr. King and political activist, athlete, singer-actor Paul Robeson are highlighted in a talk by Dr. Von Blum, senior lecturer in African American Studies at UCLA. The program includes performances by hip-hop spoken-word artist Ise Lyfe, baritone Autris Paige and Jetaun Maxwell from the Dance Theater of the Gospel. Families can make their own front pages from African American papers of the King and Robeson eras.

Visit http://www.museumca.org for information on this event and on special Black History Month events. Don’t forget the free community screening of “Tulia, Texas” on Jan. 21, 6 p.m., at the OM.

Ajuana Black & Blackout!

ajuana-black-011609-by-wanda1, Wanda’s Picks for Jan. 16, Culture Currents Performing tonight, Friday, Jan. 16, 9 p.m., at Soft Notes Restaurant & Lounge is everyone’s favorite, Ajuana Black. There is no cover. Soft Notes is located at 355 19th St., between Franklin and Webster, in Oakland. For information, call (510) 444-7587. There are two sets, the second featuring music from Ajuana’s CD, “A Soulful Journey,” as well as those classic soul tunes everyone loves to sing along with. Visit http://www.ajuanablack.com/.

Boyz II Men performing live

In commemoration of Motown’s 50th anniversary, Boyz II Men present this special tribute which was to be broadcast on PBS, but they have pulled out. Either way, the event will be one to remember, so fans certainly don’t want to miss it. Pre-sale tickets are available at www.ticketweb.com.

The ensemble, which received two Grammy nominations for the Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance, will grace the Bay with their smooth sounds on Sunday, Jan. 18, 8 p.m., at the Mezzanine, 444 Jessie St., in San Francisco. This is a 21 and over venue. Doors open at 8 with Wallpaper and Beat Electric DJs BT Magnum and Kelley B.

Discuss Oscar Grant and Gaza at EastSide Cultural Center

oscar-grant1, Wanda’s Picks for Jan. 16, Culture Currents EastSide Cultural Center will host a Community Forum on Events in Gaza on Monday, Jan. 26, 6:30-8:30 p.m. ESCC is located at 2277 International Blvd., in Oakland. In 20 days over 1,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza. In 2008, 11 people of color were killed by Oakland Police forces, Oscar Grant their latest victim. Learn and discuss the connections between state-sponsored violence in Palestine and Oakland, and why self-determination is critical in both places.

Food will be served at 6 p.m., and the program starts at 6:30 p.m. The event is free, it’s co-sponsored by EastSide Arts Alliance and the Gaza Action Committee and features speakers from the Arab Resource & Organizing Center, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Communities Against Police Execution and Plan for a Safer Oakland.

Project Inform at ESCC

On Wednesday, Jan. 28, 7-9 p.m., learn about HIV treatments and advocacy from Project Inform at the EastSide Cultural Center, 2277 International Blvd in Oakland. Discuss with experts the differing opinions and recommendations on when to start HIV treatment, the latest research on HIV treatment and the request to President Obama to implement a National AIDS Strategy. The meeting will be in English with informal help to translate Spanish Q&A. Light food provided. This event is also free.

Final Fridays Films of Resistance & Solidarity at ESCC

Friday, Jan. 30, 7 to 9 p.m., EastSide Arts Alliance and Eclipse Rising presents “Haruko” by Kazuyuki Nozaya. The screening is free. Haruko is a high spirited 87-year-old Zainichi Korean (Korean living in Japan) from Tokyo. This documentary, shot by her son, including footage from up to 40 years ago, depicts the hardships and sacrifices this single mother endured in order to raise her eight children.

Eclipse Rising is a U.S.-based Zainichi Korean group founded in the winter of 2008 by seven Zainichi Korean women who came together in the Bay Area to recognize and celebrate the rich and unique history of Koreans in Japan, promote Zainichi community development, peace and reunification and work for social justice for all minorities in Japan. Eclipse Rising kicks off its quarterly film festival with the screening of “Haruko” as a part of EastSide’s Final Fridays Films series.

Free Family Nights Last Wednesdays at ESCC

All families with young children are invited for movies, storytelling and food on the last Wednesday of every month from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Again, the event is free and is for children from infants to eight years old. This month, on Wednesday, Jan. 28, the event is sponsored by Oakland Ready to Learn. Visit www.eastsidearts.org for a complete list of programs.

Coming to La Peña, Ashkenaz and Yoshi’s

There are some great shows at La Peña Cultural Center this month and next. Visit www.lapena.org. Bobi Cespedes has a gig at La Peña on Jan. 30. The Yoruba priestess and wonderful artist is debuting a new CD. John Santos has a concert next Friday, Jan. 23, and Nadra Foster has a benefit Thursday, Jan. 22, also at La Pena.

Ashkenaz is also a great venue for live music. West African Highlife Band is performing there this month, on Jan. 31.

The Ramsey Lewis Trio is at Yoshi’s in San Francisco this weekend, Jan. 15-18, and next week, Jan. 21, in Oakland, Khalil Shaheed’s Oaktown Jazz Workshop has a benefit at 8 p.m. until and features quite a few Bay Area stars like Miko Marks, Kev Choice, Ms. Faye Carol, Mo’ Rockin’ Project and Redwood Brass. Visit www.yoshis.com.

Benefit for Nadra Foster

nadra-foster-at-courthouse-082508-by-zeltzer1, Wanda’s Picks for Jan. 16, Culture Currents Enjoy an evening of song, story and performance at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley on Thursday, Jan. 22, 7-9:30 p.m. Admission is sliding scale – $20 recommended. This benefit for Nadra Foster features vibraphonist Yancy Taylor, former San Francisco poet laureate devorah major, PEN award-winning author Dr. Cecil Brown, the WelfareQUEENS, satirist Khalil Bendib, music by Hairdoo and a keynote by civil rights attorney Osha Neumann.

Nadra Foster is the KPFA programmer who was brutally arrested Aug. 20 after management called the police to kick her out for xeroxing some worksheets for her young daughters and using the phone to call for a ride home. A volunteer at KPFA for over a decade and a graduate of KPFA’s apprenticeship program, Foster, a young African-American mother of two children, suffered injuries and is facing misdemeanor charges in Alameda County Court. She has secured a lawyer but needs assistance to cover legal costs and pay medical bills.

The KPFA Unpaid Staff Organization (UPSO) is the main sponsor of this event. UPSO is a trailblazing community organizing effort to provide the benefits of collective bargaining to programmers who volunteer their time and skills for a majority of KPFA’s broadcasts. They are committed to promoting a peaceful and productive workplace to continue offering diverse cutting-edge, community-based programming.

Learn more about supporting Nadra Foster and the work of the KPFA UPSO at Media Justice: KPFA. The benefit is co-sponsored by the First Voice Media Action Program (the KPFA apprenticeship program), Media Alliance, the San Francisco Bay View newspaper and Critical Resistance.

David Hardiman’s 19-Piece Big Band Concert and Benefit

Coming to Yoshi’s San Francisco venue for two shows, Monday, Jan. 19, 8 and 10 p.m., is David Hardiman’s 19-Piece Big Band. Listen to my interview with Mr. Hardiman today on Wanda’s Picks Radio at 6-7 a.m. It’s archived. The benefit is going to feature a who’s who of Bay Area living musical legends. I am certainly planning to be in the house!

‘Speeches of a Dream’

The Malonga Casquelord Center for the Arts and the City of Oakland host “Speeches of a Dream: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” celebrating his legacy through music, spoken word and dance. This is a family friendly event and open to the public. Featured are Destiny, Sound Sculptress Pantheon, Dance a Vision and more, Monday, Jan. 19, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Malonga Center, 1428 Alice St., Oakland.

‘The Rise and Death of a Great Leader’

Celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as the African American Museum and Library at Oakland presents extraordinary films directly from its archives. AAMLO is located at 659 14th St. in Oakland. The program, Monday, Jan. 19, from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., is free and open to all. RSVP at (510) 637-0200 or email aamlo@oaklandlibrary.org.

‘In the Name of Love’

Monday, Jan. 19, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., the East Bay Meditation Center presents “In the Name of Love: A Community Celebration for the People of Color Sangha.” This event will be hosted by Spring Washam and other teachers and activists in the community. Join EBMC for a day of sharing, community and remembrance of one of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders of our time.

Dr. King laid his life on the line for our freedom and we can honor him through celebration. On this day the community is invited to share their own unique gifts of song, poem or movement with the entire community. There will also be a session of mindful drumming, so bring a drum, guitar or percussion instrument. This event is for self-identified people of color. All are asked to bring a delicious dish to share with the community.

Pot luck lunch, music, meditation, story telling and group sharing are all on the schedule: 11:30 meditation and go around, 12:30 potluck lunch, 1:30 community share and 3:30 closing meditation and ritual. Registration is required. Send an email with your full name and “Name of Love” in the subject line to admin@eastbaymeditation.org or call (510) 268-0696. The EBMC is located at 2147 Broadway, Oakland.

Mahatma Gandhi said: “I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feeling; my wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together for unity and love.”

Boycott Israeli Goods

Boycotting Israeli goods is the least we can do to stop the occupation, siege and slaughter in Palestine. You’ll find the list at http://www.boycottisraeligoods.org/modules11748.php.

Morehouse College Alumni and Mo’ Better Foods host community service events

castlemont-high-school-garden, Wanda’s Picks for Jan. 16, Culture Currents On Monday, Americans will celebrate the 80th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a graduate of Morehouse College, class of 1948. President-elect Barack Obama has declared Dr. King’s birthday a National Service Day, a time when volunteers from his campaign and others can participate in service programs in their community. The website www.USAservice.org is being used to register programs to enable local residents to get involved.

The Mo’ Better Food Program, founded by David Roach, also a Morehouse graduate, is one of many organizations hosting an event here in the Bay Area. Monday morning, they will be cleaning up and rebuilding the Castlemont Garden, 8601 MacArthur Blvd. in East Oakland, from 7 to 9:30 a.m. After the Mo’Better Food event, they will be joining the tree planting efforts of Urban Releaf. See http://www.mobetterfood.com/ and http://www.urbanreleaf.org/.

Urban Releaf will be planting flowering trees at 9:30 a.m. alongside the BART tracks on Dr. Martin Luther King, 5319 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, to beautify the neighborhood and bring in the new year with a sense of peace and community.

On Tuesday, many Bay Area residents will be in Washington, D.C., to witness the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Says Mo’ Better Food founder David Roach: “This is going to be a monumental event; however, when Bay Area residents return to their respective communities, we hope you bring some of that great energy back into your neighborhood. Those of us who are not going to Washington, D.C., will be getting the ground ready and eager for your return! Also, when you return, get ready for the 10th Annual Black College Expo.”

Roach encourages fellow alumni to donate some of their time speaking to young folks about Morehouse College. Email Roach at droach@morehousemen.com. He looks forward to seeing everyone at the Step Contest on Saturday, Jan. 24, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Oakland Army Base.

Update: Ajuana Black at Soft Notes Take 2

ajuana-black-011609-by-wanda-2, Wanda’s Picks for Jan. 16, Culture Currents I found the club’s atmosphere pleasant Friday evening when I arrived at about 10 p.m. after a show in San Francisco. I was there to hear Ajuana Black and her band. The first set was almost over and when I arrived and was greeted by the hostess, who answered my questions about parking and what to expect that evening, and I was not disappointed as I ate greens and red beans and rice, sipping a club soda. I was kind of lonely, but Ajuana gave me a hug when she danced her way to the back of the venue and greeted her fans.

The patrons spoke to me, and during the second set I was even invited to dance. This made my evening when I looked up and it was 12:30 and time to leave. The second set was my favorite because Ajuana sang a few tunes from her outstanding CD, “Ajuana Black: A Soulful Journey.” I was like a kid at a rock concert – Ajuana, the star – as I sang along to the tunes I knew so well like “Keep Walking,” “Day by Day,” “Finally,” which became a meditation for me, and “Real Love.”

Ajuana Black and her band, Blackout, were outstanding performers and both her original tunes from her latest CD and the stroll down memory lane, a stroll which had me singing along, was delightful.

I don’t know what it’s like at Soft Notes when Ajuana’s not there, but for a place situated on an otherwise quiet downtown Oakland street – I mean really quiet – this is a nice venue to remember when the night is young and one isn’t ready to retire. There were two big screen TVs over the bar and no one pressured me to buy anything, unlike clubs I’ve visited where waiters hover like vultures and then tell me repeatedly about their two-drink minimum. I wanted to spend money there because my patronage means perhaps they will be around that much longer.

Again, I’d certainly recommend the spot, especially when Ajuana Black is there on a Friday night. Get on her mailing list: www.ajuanablack.com.

Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at wsab1@aol.com. Visit her website and blog at www.wandaspicks.com for an expanded version of Wanda’s Picks, her photos and her radio show.