This week's day-by-day picks


It takes all kinds to make a good open mic night and, thankfully, McGrath’s Open Mic (MOM for short) has hosted all kinds. Bluegrass duos, vocal trios, theremin players, freeform poetesses, and bluesmen have all graced the stage at McGrath’s Irish Pub (1539 Lincoln Ave., Alameda), and tonight’s lineup should prove no less eclectic. On the bill so far are vocal coach and jazz stylist Ann Channin, family-oriented folkie Timm, Denny & the Dynamite Dipsticks, Derrick Mo, Patrick Twomy, and whoever else calls host Earl Oliver at 510-481-0618 to sign up. It could be you — just keep in mind that, while MOM invites jugglers, comedians, clowns, magicians and, of course, all manner of acoustic musicians to play, they aren’t set up for electric bands. — Stefanie Kalem


One drummer, one guitarist, and a scroungy deconstruction of the blues. No, this ain’t no brother-sister act — this is Pittsburgh, PA’s Modey Lemon. Named for some rotting fruit that garnished the band’s first gig (outside a darkened fruit stand, see), the duo of Phil Boyd and Paul Quattrone let their shit fly off the rails farther than those Detroit Peppermint Twins, producing howls and riffs so guttural and beats so wild and brutal that they sound more like a testosterone-fueled Gossip than anything else. The Reduction Method headlines the band’s Stork Club (2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland) appearance, and Killer’s Kiss and the Mirrors open. Cover is $5 and the music starts at around 9:30 p.m. Call 510-444-6174 for further details. — Stefanie Kalem


Starbucks long ago figured out how to use recorded music to create a certain ambiance. Now some of its coffeehouses are going one step further, by booking live entertainment. Take a quick aural trip to Dakar, Senegal with singer-songwriter-guitarist Henri-Pierre Koubaka, who provides music to sip coffee to this evening starting at 7 p.m. Koubaka, who has hosted the “Kumpo Beat” radio show on KPFA-FM, was reportedly once a DJ in his homeland — he knows his West African folk music. His informal gig is part of a series at the downtown Berkeley Starbucks (2128 Shattuck Ave., 510-486-1840) featuring local musicians. Sunday afternoon (2 p.m.), it’s singer-songwriter Bob Daley. — Kelly Vance


What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding? Nothing, dude. Nor the April 5 Peace and Justice Coalition. As the war drags on in Iraq, more than eighty neighborhood and political organizations in the East Bay are coming together to voice their disapproval. Today’s demonstration consists of two marches: one beginning at 10:30 a.m. at Oakland’s Mosswood Park, the other starting at 10 a.m. at Sproul Plaza on the UCB campus, both of them ending up at Frank Ogawa Plaza at 14th and Broadway in downtown Oakland for an interfaith prayer service and rally, 1:30 p.m. Rep. Barbara Lee is among the dignitaries taking part. The message is “books not bombs, healthcare not warfare, rights not racism.” For more info: 510-654-6966. — Kelly Vance


Laney College professor of music Lucy Kinchen has a passion for the musical style known as the Negro Spiritual, and refers to the traditional African-American hymns as “one of America’s original and most beautiful art forms.” Her Lucy Kinchen Chorale reflects her passion. It’s a culturally diverse group of singers dedicated to lifting up its audience with spirituals and other forms of choral music. And we could use some uplift. Today’s special Chorale concert of Kinchen’s arrangements, titled Good News, happens at 5 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. A donation of $20 is asked. Call 510-433-9606 for details. — Kelly Vance


Celebrate the spring equinox with the Peltier Action Coalition at a Prayer Circle in honor of “Protectors of, and Warriors for Mother Earth.” Cosponsored by seven other political action organizations, ranging from Berkeley Liberation Radio to the Plight of the Redwoods Campaign, this hour-long ceremony and potluck aims to bring awareness to PAC’s struggle for a presidential pardon for Leonard Peltier. A prominent member of the American Indian Movement, Peltier has been incarcerated for 27 years, accused of the murder of two FBI agents during a shootout on the Jumping Bull Ranch. His trial process has been fraught with charges of impropriety, perjury, and falsification of documents. Bring food and drink to share, and blankets and warm clothes to donate to the homeless. The event takes place between noon and 1 p.m. at the Oakland Federal Building (12th and Clay). Call 510-496-6011 for more information. — Stefanie Kalem


Note to would-be revolutionaries: Once upon a time in America, left-wing political firebrands who were seen as becoming too popular were killed by the police in their beds. That was the case with The Murder of Fred Hampton. Mike Gray and Howard Alk’s urgent, shoestring documentary shows Chicago Black Panther leader Hampton’s mesmerizing speechifying, then details his 1969 death at the hands of a posse of cops who raided his apartment at dawn. The sight of Hampton’s blood-drenched mattress will stay with you. Unfortunately, so will the arrogance on the face of state’s attorney Edward Hanrahan, who led the death squad. Hanrahan is now mostly forgotten; Hampton, thanks in part to this film, will never be. Gray appears in person to introduce his 1971 film tonight (7 p.m.) at the Pacific Film Archive. It’s preceded by Black Panther, a 1968 short doc featuring Huey Newton. They’re part of the PFA’s Black Panther film series. www.bampfa.berkeley.eduKelly Vance

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