Happy Friday, East Bay. Plan the next 72 hours of your life with help from our critics.
Kenny Burrell 80th Birthday Celebration
The legends of jazz may be aging, but they're still producing some phenomenal music. Take Kenny Burrell, the Detroit-born guitarist who will celebrate his eightieth birthday this week at Yoshi's, with an all-star band. And, in this case, the term "all-star" is completely warranted. Trombonist Steve Turre, pianist Billy Childs, saxophonists Tivon Pennicott and Steve Wilson, and trumpeter Bobby Rodriguez will round out the proceedings, along with the Intergrand Orchestra, whose members will join Burrell for the late show on Sunday. Of course, the guitarist will be front and center at this elaborate celebration, regaling audiences with his nimble solos and dense, bedrock grooves. His résumé in jazz goes on for days, and includes collaborations with everyone from Wynton Kelly to Jimmy Smith and John Coltrane. He's one of the last masters you can still hear live, so don't pass up the opportunity. At Oakland Yoshi's (510 Embarcadero, Oakland) Thursday through Sunday, July 28-31. $20-$30. Yoshis.com. — Rachel Swan
The latest coinage from JoPro's forest of neologisms conjoins brambles and blurs; it's a good title for Katy Stone's relief sculptures and Allison Gildersleeve's paintings, which combine nature with abstraction. Stone, known for her witty floral collages and installations of folded paper and painted Duralar drafting film (seven of which are included here), is showing new laser-cut metal reliefs, generally painted in bright oil enamels, which suggest natural forms and textures like bark and foliage as well as stylized flames and clouds (or Lichtenstein's Pop stylings of AbEx brushstrokes). Gildersleeve paints her native Northeast's clapboard houses, stone walls, forests, and thickets using flat patches of heavy paint in the Fairfield Porter manner, but more ambiguously; her spatially flattened abstract landscapes are shaped by memory and process. Bramblur runs through August 18 at Johansson Projects (2300 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). 510-444-9140 or JohanssonProjects.com. — DeWitt Cheng
Dr. Hattie Carwell: Solar Cooking
In playa-related news — it's not just for Burning Man anymore. On Saturday, July 30, Dr. Hattie Carwell explains and demonstrates three forms of solar cooking: solar concentrator, CooKit, and solar basket. The Ph.D presents Solar Cooking: 3 Easy Methods at the Lakeview Branch of the Oakland Library (550 El Embarcadero); meet on the brick path on the sunny, lakefront side of the library. 2 p.m., free. 510-238-7344 or LakeviewFriends.org. — Stefanie Kalem
Berkeley Kite Festival
Go fly a kite. No, seriously. At the Berkeley Kite Festival, opportunities abound: Take a free kite-flying lesson, learn to fly a dual-line or quad-line aerobatic kite, or try out the latest in advanced kite designs. True pros can pre-register to compete in the West Coast Kite Championships. Spectators won’t be let down, either — witness the world’s largest octopus kite, a team kite ballet, 20,000 square feet of giant creature kites from New Zealand, the high-flying exploits of Japan’s Sode Cho Kite Team (including a rokkaku kite battle), and more — all at Cesar Chavez Park (11 Spinnaker Way, Berkeley) on Saturday and Sunday, July 30-31. You can even make your own kite. After all that, there’s only one thing left to do. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., free. HighlineKites.com or 510-235-5483 — Nate Seltenrich
2012 — The Musical
This year’s offering from the Bay Area’s favorite left-of-left theater company, San Francisco Mime Troupe, is surprisingly well-acted and engaging — even if its primary interest, as always, is to promote collectivized labor. Written by Michael Gene Sullivan (who plays about six roles) and directed by Wilman Bonet, it’s a play-within-a-play that allows the Mime Troupe to satirize itself. And the actors do so with alacrity. Of course there are the usual villains — banksters, wanksters, perverted senators, corporate arts boosters with “eco-friendly” slogans, and a masked president Obama — but a lot of the humor is directed at a struggling political theater group called Theater BAM! All the actors play several different parts and manage to make quick costume changes. The Mime Troupe’s house band undergirds every scene with jazz and sound effects, many of them provided by multi-instrumentalist Michael Bello. Through Sept. 25 at various Bay Area locations. Free. SFMT.org — Rachel Swan
Catch a Movie: Our film critic names The Tree, opening this weekend at the Landmark Shattuck, "one of the best films of 2011, a rare family story that justifies every ounce of its warmth and sincerity" (!!!). Also: lead actress Charlotte Gainsbourg is basically the cutest person alive.
Eat Up: Barbecue!!!
Get Buzzed: In this week's Last Call, learn all about Berkeley's Eight Arms Cellars, which makes delicious, eco-friendly, not-crazy-expensive wines. Bonus info cut from the article: prettiest bottles ever.
Waste Some Time: The gays be gettin' married in New York! Here are sixty photos of them
inflicting their godless agenda on the unsuspecting public and generally leading to the downfall of the American family unit getting married just like everyone else. Awww.
Feed Us: Got any East Bay news, events, video, or miscellany we should know about? Holler at us at Ellen.Cushing@EastBayExpress.com.