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Hi there! We’re introducing our brand new arts and culture newsletter, The Scene.

Since you’re a loyal Berkeleyside subscriber, we wanted to send you a preview. Every Thursday from here on out, we'll send out this newsletter rounding up the best of local events.

This is a one-time preview send, which means you must subscribe or you won't receive this newsletter again.

Remember, you can update your email preferences at any time. We hope you enjoy The Scene!

Around Berkeley

Pedro José Pastrana. Courtesy: The Back Room

➤ A master of the ukulele-like Puerto Rican cuatro, Pedro José Pastrana is a San Francisco-based Puerto Rican roots musician who is teaming up with powerhouse vocalist Christelle Durandy, whose verdant Caribbean repertoire encompasses Cuban popular music, Guadeloupe’s Gwo Ka, salsa and Latin jazz.
Saturday, May 13 | 8 p.m. | The Back Room | $20

Fifty-nine Berkeley artists — including jeweler Susan Brooks, painter and printmaker Juliet Mevi and glass sculptor Fuff Tabachnikoff — will be opening their work spaces to the public this month as part of East Bay Open Studios.
Saturday-Sunday, May 13-14 and 20-21 | FREE (ticket required for Friday kick-off event)

➤ Oakland-born Justin Jones — who made headlines last month when he was ousted from the Republican-controlled Tennessee House along with another young Black Democratic lawmaker for leading a gun control protest — will be speaking on the Cal campus this weekend about activism, gun violence, race and democracy. 
Friday, May 12 | 7-8 p.m. | Hertz Hall | FREE (tickets required)

➤ Honor mom by wearing your fanciest sunhat and daintily toasting with a non-alcoholic beverage at a Mother’s Day “hats and high tea” hosted by the city and featuring live music and activities for kids. 
Saturday, May 13 | 2-5 p.m. | Berkeley Rose Garden | FREE

➤ The Friends of the Berkeley Public Library’s annual book sale returns to the Central Library on Kittredge Street after a three-year hiatus.
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 | 10 a.m-4 p.m. | Central Library | FREE 

➤ Kairos Music Academy presents a Ukrainian-centric production of Fiddler on the Roof.
May 13, 14, 20 | Hillside Club | $15-$20

➤ Vocalist Sarah Gronquist serves as the architect for a Burt Bacharach sing-along celebrating the late composer’s birthday (and his partnership with lyricist Hal David). 
Friday, May 12 | 7:30-9 p.m. | The Monkey House | $10-$14 (RSVP required)

➤ The Berkeley Potters Guild is holding its annual “seconds” sale this month — offering not-quite-perfect ceramics for a reduced price along with new kiln-fired works.
Saturdays and Sundays | 11 a.m.-5 p.m. | 731 Jones St.

Meet Andrew and Iris

Andrew Gilbert and Iris Kwok. Credit: Ximena Natera and Kelly Sullivan

Reporters Andrew Gilbert and Iris Kwok will be your guides to The Scene in and around Berkeley. 

Andy, a West Berkeley resident for 15 years, has been writing about jazz, international music and more for Berkeleyside since almost the beginning. His first byline appears in our archives in August 2011, and he recently published his 500th — yes, 500th! — story. Among his favorite recent pieces: a profile of metal instrument builder Pete Engelhart, a glimpse at 1950s Berkeley through the eyes of nonagenarian vocal legend Barbara Dane, and a visit with Malian n’goni master Mamdou Sidibe, who grows gourds to build n’goni in a Berkeley community garden.

Iris, who primarily covers the environment for Berkeleyside through a partnership with Report for America, is also a talented cellist, and she’s explored Berkeley’s arts and culture communities in stories on Kala Art Institute’s printmaking festival, the Indigenous Peoples Day Powwow and the canceling of the Berkeley Kite Festival. In her spare time, you can find her petting street cats. 

Beyond Berkeley

Montclair Village storefronts. Credit: Pete Rosos

➤ A 24-member contemporary vocal ensemble founded and directed by Cava Menzies, Oakland-based CO-LLAB Choir Cava presents a soul-steeped program of new works with special guests such as soul star Martin Luther McCoy and piano master Kev Choice. 
Saturday, May 13 | 1:30-3 p.m. | Yerba Buena Gardens, S.F. | FREE 

➤ The Montclair Village Restaurant Walk features more than 20 local restaurants and businesses offering sample bites and drinks (including craft beers, artisan wines, and mocktails) to patrons who purchase a “passport” to visit the participating businesses.
Tuesday, May 16 | 5 - 8 p.m. | Montclair Village, Oakland | $20-$150 

➤ Featuring more than half a dozen acts, including Smoke, Yukmouth, D-Lo, Lil Kayla, Grand Nationxl, and Jane Handcock, Urban Peace Movement’s Town Up Tuesday is a free live musical event hosted by educator Leon (DNas) Sykes and Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Mystic supporting the campaign to end youth incarceration.
Tuesday, May 16 | 4-8 p.m. | Edoff Memorial Bandstand, Lake Merritt, Oakland | (FREE, tickets required)

His illustration is a 'love letter' to Berkeley

Richy Sánchez Ayala, who created the illustration for The Scene, and a few of his mock-ups. Photo: Ellie Householder

A few months ago we asked artist Richy Sánchez Ayala to design a “flashy, bold and engaging” banner to adorn the top of The Scene. 

“I knew I wanted something bright,” said Sánchez Ayala, who lived in North Berkeley from 2017 to 2019 while he was working part-time at the now-closed Expressions Gallery on Ashby Avenue. “That’s how I remember Berkeley: lots of sunshine, lots of colors, lots of green.”

Working with the Berkeleyside team, his illustration depicts a stylized view of the city from above, packed with details to evoke our vibrant arts and culture scene. Look closely, and you’ll even notice a few kites flying high at César Chávez Park. 

“It’s a mixture between realism and illustration, and that process was very organic, very collaborative,” he said. “This illustration first and foremost is a love letter … to Berkeley.”

See you next week

Have an event you'd like to see included here? We do our best to stay on top of what's happening in our community, but we love a tip. Reply to this email or send us a note at and we'll consider your event for inclusion in an upcoming newsletter.

Are you a business or individual who would like to pay to feature your event here? Reach out to learn more about sponsored placements on our website and in our newsletters.

Illustration: Richy Sánchez Ayala.

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