Cy and Rachael's Picks: Nashville Soul, Timeless Jazz, San Jose's First Friday and More

7 min
Joe Light 'Dawn,' part of the show 'Revelations: Art From the African American South' (Photo: Courtesy of the de Young Museum)

KQED’s Cy Musiker and Rachael Myrow share their picks for great events around the Bay Area this week.

First things first: thanks to Suzie Racho and Gabe Meline for filling in these past few weeks while my wife and I were on the road in Eastern California and Southern Utah. Meanwhile, our arts and entertainment cup runneth over with the opening of Revelations: Art from the African American South at the de Young Museum. The show features 62 new acquisitions by mostly self-taught artists born in the segregation era of Jim Crow. Also, Justin Townes Earle is in San Francisco with a kick-ass new album called Kids in the Street, ranging from country pedal-steel to New Orleans funk. He's at Slim's June 2 -- details here. I'll be there. Now the rest of the show.

June 2 and 8: Chicago's Jamila Woods puts a political spin on R&B -- she's a poet, teacher, singer-songwriter, and black feminist who's worked with Chance the Rapper. She delivers even the toughest lines with a smile, but the lyrics are very edgy. (“They want us in kitchen; Kill our sons with lynchings.”) Woods, who grew up singing in the Chicago Children's Choir, uses schoolyard chants to deliver some of her most potent songs. Woods plays the intimate Bing Concert Hall Studio June 2 on the Stanford Campus. Details here. And then Woods opens for Corinne Bailey Rae at the Fillmore in San Francisco on June 8. Details here.

Mom and child reading at last years Bay Area Book Festival
A mother and child reading at last years Bay Area Book Festival. (Photo: Courtesy Bay Area Book Festival)

June 3–4: The Bay Area Book Festival is back in Berkeley with an all-star lineup of Bay Area and national writers, focused on a common theme -- literature and activism. Author Roxanne Gay talks about her new memoir on food and self-image; Micah White explains how he co-created Occupy Wall Street; Quilt maker and pioneer LGBT activist Cleve Jones talks about his memoir; and Ayelet Waldman joins her husband Michael Chabon for a panel on their new collection of essays on Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Bonuses include writing and performing workshops for teens, and programs for little kids -- and their parents. As Rachael noted, reading is such a solitary experience, it's great to be in a crowd of people who love books. Details here.

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June 2–11: Jimmy Heath is a 90-year-old bebopper who sounds as good as ever. Jimmy and his brother, drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath -- who is a mere 82 -- are two of the best reasons to make it up to Sonoma County for the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, opening tonight. A lot of jazz festivals feature smooth jazz these days, but not at the long-running festival in Healdsburg -- evidenced by this year's tribute to the late Bay Area jazz master Bobby Hutcherson, who died last year. Renee Rosnes leads that event, with the great Steve Nelson standing in for Hutcherson on vibes. Bay Area percussion god John Santos and his band are also there, with spoken-word poet Rico Pabón, plus the terrific New Orleans piano legend Henry Butler, who cast a spell at SFJAZZ a few months ago. Oh -- and some of the shows are free. Details for the Healdsburg Jazz Festival are here.

First Friday in San Jose
First Friday in San Jose. (Photo: Cy Musiker/KQED)

June 2 and 3: I’ve been to a few South First Fridays in San Jose, and they turn what's often a dead downtown into a party along on South First Street, with food, art and music. Rachael also notes that it's a good time to hit three galleries with special programs. This Friday, the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles (celebrating its 40th anniversary) has a show of quilts about the environment and racism, including one with a Trayvon Martin yellow hoodie. MACLA features music by the collective Sonido Clash, and the ICA shows off new work by Shawn HimbaCronan, a rebuilt 1963 Ford Falcon Deluxe Club Wagon transformed into a street-legal, mobile sculpture. Plus, it's the 10th annual Subzero Festival, so local bands play the evenings of June 2 and 3. Details on South First Fridays are here.

June 3: Charlie Worsham is a young Nashville singer and songwriter with a new album called The Beginning of Things, which is a mild joke on himself, because it’s his second album. (The first didn’t sell so well.) Worsham writes terrific pop hooks and smart lyrics that poke fun at country music conventions, and his music just feels good. Also Brandy Clark, who I love, opens for Worsham. We've talked before about her and her funny, feminist songs; they make a great pair. Details for their show at the Social Hall in San Francisco are here.

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