July 5: The indie band Big Thief apparently tours with one of the band members' dogs (see the video above), which would be unbearably twee if they weren't also playing such smart songs about love and loss, all written by vocalist Adrianne Lenker. I'm a sucker for this from their new album and song “Masterpiece,” with features lyrics like, “This place smells like piss and beer, can you get me out,” reminding me of a lot of sadly wasted evenings. They rock and then they slow down just as nicely for ballads like "Velvet Ring," featuring just Lenker and her acoustic guitar. Details on their Cheap Thrill of a show at the Rickshaw Stop here.
July 1 - Aug. 14: John Leguizamo apparently likes Berkeley Rep as a place to work the kinks out of his one-man shows about growing up in Queens and becoming a movie actor (Chef, Ice Age, American Ultra). He workshopped his 2011 Broadway hit Ghetto Klown at the Rep, and developed his new show, Latin History for Morons, (a co-production with the Public Theater) in the Rep's Ground Floor program. Berkeley Rep Artistic Director Tony Taccone directed both. In Latin History..., he’s a dad trying to teach his young son the truth about Latino history, after seeing what a bad job the schools are doing. Expect a few scenes that need some polishing, and others that will have you laughing hysterically. Details here.
July 7 & 9: The Merola Opera Program is where great young singers go to polish their craft for an art form that somehow survives in this age of short attention span music. Merola’s new class of 23 singers (with help from their colleagues studying to be music coaches and stage directors) will be performing excerpts from Serse by Handel, The Rake’s Progress by Stravinsky, Arabella, by Strauss, and Dialogues of the Carmelites by Poulenc and more next week in the Schwabacher Summer Concert. Details are here.
July 1: We can't resist a shoutout to the final performance of Janáček's Jenufa with the brilliant Karita Mattila (see the scene above). This is one of the finest productions of this or any season.
July 2: And the opera is free (CHEAP THRILL) in the simulcast on the big screen at AT&T Park of the company's Eurotrashy (in a good way) and well sung Carmen on Saturday. You do need to register. Details are here.
July 3 & 4: The first rule of the Fourth of July is don't blow off your fingers. The second rule is find a comfortable spot to lie back, and "ooh" and "aah" as you watch the fireworks. Below are a few suggestions for celebrating America's birthday:
July 3: Get a jump on Independence Day with the Oakland Symphony's Sunday concert with Michael Morgan conducting at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond. It's another CHEAP THRILL -- tickets are free, details here.
July 4: Or spend a free (CHEAP THRILL) afternoon and evening at the Berkeley Marina, where Tito y Su Son de Cuba, The Rusty String Express, the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West and others entertain the adults, while the kids enjoy magicians, balloon twisters and free dragon boat rides. Plus, yes, fireworks. Details here
July 4: Or head to Mountain View on Monday for a July Fourth “spectacular” at Shoreline Amphitheater with the San Francisco Symphony doing "A Night At The Movies," with music from Inside Out, Star Wars, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, and of course, fireworks (noticing a theme here?). Details here.
July 4: And North Bay residents can head to the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park, where vocalist Steve Tyrell and the Santa Rosa Symphony play American songbook favorites with fireworks on the lawn to finish. Details here.
July 5: Mistah F.A.B., the unofficial mayor of North Oakland, is on a roll with a concert on Tuesday and a new album, Son of a Pimp Part 2, this one featuring his mom on the cover. His dad was on Son of a Pimp Part 1, "So my mother and my father will be immortalized in portraits and be forever young," he told me earlier this week. The album is loaded with guest appearances (including Kendrick Lamar on "Survive"), and there's a few high energy hyphy numbers, but Mistah F.A.B. told me he wanted the album to be about serious personal and social issues, because it’s too easy to do rhymes about material success. "Talk about your dark spots, and show people that there is light in that darkness, you just have to channel it. And that’s what I’ve been able to do with my music, channel light in the middle of my darkness," he said during our interview (listen to it at the top of the page). Details of the concert at the Regency Ballroom in tribute to the late Mac Dre are here.