Boot up your Google calendars, East Bay. Here's what you're doing this weekend.
Jazz Mafia Stevie Wonder Celebration
On September 27, 2009, Stevie Wonder — yes, the real Stevie Wonder, of Talking Book and Music of My Mind, and that bizarre album about the secret lives of plants — showed up at Coda jazz club in San Francisco to jam with Jazz Mafia. It was, bandleader Adam Theis would write in a blog post the next day, "the best night of my life." And even from a crappy video posted on the Jazz Mafia web site, the enthusiasm is contagious — especially when Wonder launches into a dazzling rendition of "Can't Help It," the song he wrote for Michael Jackson. In the two years since, Theis and company have tried over and over again to rekindle that experience. They'll do it again at The New Parish (579 18th St., Oakland), on Friday, May 13, with a ten-piece band in honor of Wonder's birthday. The man himself isn't scheduled to appear this time, but, well — you never know. 9 p.m., $15, $20. TheNewParish.com.— Rachel Swan
When choreographers with different styles get together, the result can be as entertaining as it is intriguing. That's the impetus behind GONZO!, shared by Oakland's much-admired Savage Jazz Dance Company and Napoles Ballet, a young San Francisco contemporary ballet company founded by Cuban choreographer Luis Napoles. Both he and Reginald Ray-Savage are ambitious, prolific, and constantly seeking new directions in dance. For this show, the two choreographers put together a smorgasbord of premieres and repertory pieces with something for everyone to discover: Napoles's Lecuona, set in 1930s Cuba; abstract Retazos; narrative Fausto; and Savage works danced to Max Roach, John Coltrane, Alarm Will Sound, and Stravinsky. All that and more is on the bill when GONZO! comes to Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts (1428 Alice St., Oakland) Thursday through Saturday, May 12-14. 8 p.m., $5-$25. 1-800-838-3006 or NapolesBallet.org.— Claudia Bauer
Jazz on Fourth
If the main currency in the Bay Area jazz scene is hope, then the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble is the best safe deposit box. Launched in the mid-1970s by the late Phil Hardymon, it’s become a veritable institution, producing such stars as Benny Green, Peter Apfelbaum, Michael Aaberg, Dave Ellis, Joshua Redman, Charlie Hunter, and Ambrose Akinmusire. The latest iteration includes such stars as flautist Elena Pinderhughes — younger sister of Samora Pinderhughes, who now attends Julliard — as well as bassist Erik Shiboski, vibraphonist Grant Milliken, pianist Nick Lamb, and drummer Lev Facher, among others. They’ll perform at this year’s Jazz on 4th Street Festival, designed to benefit music programs at Berkeley High School. Also on the bill: Mal Sharpe’s Big Money in Jazz, Delta Wires, and Pellejo Seco. At 4th Street Shopping District (Hearst Ave. & 4th St., Berkeley), Sunday, May 15, noon- 5 p.m. Free. — Rachel Swan
Bike-In Movie Night
Why watch a movie at the local megaplex when you could watch one outside, under the stars, with an ice-cold pilsner in your hand, and for a good cause? Scoot on over to Trumer Brauerei (1404 Fourth St., Berkeley) on Friday, May 13, for a bike-in movie night featuring brewery tours, free popcorn, Trumer tastings, a raffle, and screenings of the appropriately thematic bike-culture short Scrapertown and feature-length doc With My Own Two Wheels, plus The Solution, which recently won the Express’ 24-Hour Film Festival. All proceeds got to the East Bay Bike Coalition. 7:30 p.m., $5. Bring a chair, blankets and warm layers, and an FM radio. Trumer-International.com. — Ellen Cushing
Metal fans across the spectrum will have plenty to choose from over the next couple weeks, whether their tastes lean toward Brazilian death metal (Sepultura at the Regency, May 11), blitzed-out psych rock (Sleepy Sun at Slim's, May 13), or straight-up black metal (Inquisition, Necrite, and Vastum at Elbo Room, May 18). But our money's on Saviours, the Oakland band that channels the late-Seventies/early-Eighties New Wave of British Heavy Metal vibe, sprinkled with a bit of early thrash influence. Drummer Scott Batiste, who writes the songs, has a voracious appetite for music and listens to obscure stuff, so his compositions are far more interesting than that of most throwback bands. Saviours will be on home turf at Eli's Mile High Club (3629 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland) on Sunday, May 15, one of two shows in a week-long West Coast tour with Midnight, Lightning Swords of Death, and Archons (the same lineup plays the following night at the Elbo Room). The band says it'll debut new material and start recording shortly thereafter. Expect debauchery. 6 p.m., ticket price TBA. ElisMileHigh.com.— Kathleen Richards
Catch a Movie: Our critic recommends the coming-of-age dramedy/ Joseph Gordon-Levitt vehicle Hesher, opening this weekend in the East Bay.
Eat Up: Here are some modifiers employed in this week's food review, of East Oakland Laotian joint Green Papaya Deli: pungent, bright, tongue-tingling, rich, lush, yummy, crackly-skinned and fat-ribboned (!), delectable, hearty, taste bud-awakening, flavor-abundant. Seriously, if you're not already halfway out the door and on your way by now, there's something wrong with you.
Get Buzzed: In this week's installment of our booze column, we check out Blast — endorsed by Snoop Dogg, produced by Colt 45, loathed by politicians and advocates of safe drinking everywhere. Conclusion: "It smells like bubblegum, looks like a cartoon, and tastes like a melted Otter Pop....It is god-awful." Um, if that doesn't quite sound like your thing, we've also got a super-handy guide to outdoor drinking as part of this week's Summer Guide.
Waste Some Time: WTF JAMES LIPTON IS 84, and other jaw-dropping truth bombs aplenty in Buzzfeed's list of 25 celebrities who are older than you think.
Feed Us: Got any East Bay news, events, video, or miscellany we should know about? Holler at us at Ellen.Cushing@EastBayExpress.com.