What do sex workers and budding teen activists have in common? They’re the latest beneficiaries of Sheila Nicholls’ Chicks in Arms project. Since 1998, the British-born neo-folkie has been throwing ladycentric benefit concerts in her adopted hometown of Los Angeles, with proceeds going to such disparate causes as the Zapatistas and the medical marijuana campaign. Now, with her recent purchase of a school bus on eBay, Nicholls was inspired to take the shows on the road.
The proceeds from each tour stop will go to different groups, and each will showcase local talent as well as those riding on the bus. The one at the Chapman Warehouse (2846 Chapman, Oakland) is for Underground Railroad, which encourages young people of color to work for social change by creating and promoting art and culture, and St. James Infirmary, which aims to improve access to health care among SF sex workers, and develop a standardized health-care system for sex workers internationally.
Upon moving from NYC to LA in ’99, Nicholls started a label, Essex Girl (they’re kinda like the Jersey girls of England), which she describes as “a co-op that nurtures community, not hierarchy … a union that promotes cooperation and communication and not competition.” Helping that vision along, surely, is her contract with Hollywood Records. Hollywood and Essex Girl have co-released two full-lengths by Nicholls, the latter produced by powerhouse Glen Ballard.
The other acts performing represent every stratum of the underground and some tributaries of the mainstream as well. Portland’s Kid Quiz plays dark, dreamy stuff cut with samples and other electronic textures; Emily Wells sports a jazzy coo à la Rickie Lee Jones; LA-based Rachel Kahn is a slam poet, and frequent festival star and fellow Angeleno Nadine Zahr’s powerful troubadour croon is made freaky by her eclectic backing band. There’s also Denver singer/songwriter Marca Cassidy, Marin County fire dancer and poet Audette Sophia, and chamber-punk superstars Bonfire Madigan representing the East Bay.
The show starts at 8 p.m. and admission costs $10 on a sliding scale. 510-366-2462. — Stefanie Kalem
Earth Day — it’s any day you want it to be. The official date of the worldwide environmental festival (the organizers’ advice: “If you want to do one thing for Earth Day, register to vote”) was April 22, but local events on different dates have been sprouting like dandelions all over the East Bay. Not be left out, Emeryville is throwing its own Earth Day Concert & Street Fair this Saturday, noon to 4 p.m., rain or shine, at Temescal Creek Park, corner of 47th Street and Adeline Avenue (off San Pablo). Festivities include live music, a Kid Zone, interactive games, the Oakland Zoo Mobile, food booths, clowns, and more. For more info, phone 510-596-3782. — Kelly Vance
You can always count on Berkeley’s 924 Gilman Street to give up the indie-rock goods. Friday night’s show offers a chance to get your New Wave/art-punk spaz on with straight-outta-San Diego headliners Holy Molar (featuring members of the Locust, Antioch Arrow, Swing Kids, and Virgin Mega Whore) and Brooklyn’s Ex-Models, plus a troika of LA bands (Scare Tactic, Cold Shoulder, and City to City). Saturday boasts the frenetic, mathematical Bay Area trio Replicator and SF experimental punks Xiu Xiu (whose national tour was canceled just a month ago due to a massive equipment theft), plus El Guapo (DC), Paper Chase (Texas), and our very own Yellow Press. Both shows start at 8 p.m., cost $5, and are all-ages. — Stefanie Kalem
Fact or Fusion
Drummer Kevin Carnes (aka Professor Boris Karnaz), bassist Kirk “the Redeemer” Peterson, and saxophonist/MC David Boyce (aka Black Edgar Kenyatta) comprise the Bay Area jazz and hip-hop fusion trio Broun Fellinis. As free with their music as with their concepts of reality, they’ve been using funk, dub, and many other colors to accentuate their sound for more than a decade, attempting to transport the listener to their mystical homeland of Boohaabia. Catch the express train on the back patio of Berkeley’s own interplanetary station, Jupiter (2181 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley), starting at 8 p.m. Friday, free of charge. Call 510-843-7625 for more info.– Stefanie Kalem