Express Launches Club X

Not all newspapers are dying. Plus a local medical marijuana proponent takes his cause to hip-hop.

The East Bay Express will celebrate the official launch of our new all-ages venue in Oakland, Club X, on Saturday, April 17. Confirmed to play the show are iconic punk rockers the Zeros, plus local legends the Mutants, and No Alternative.

The new venture, which is located downstairs from the Express office at 630 3rd Street in Oakland, was announced in December as part of our commitment to bolstering the local arts community. Club X represents a unique partnership with the nonprofit Oakland Metro Operahouse, a 6,000-square-foot, 500-seat black-box theater equipped with a full theatrical lighting system, state-of-the-art sound reinforcement, and full bar.

“This will give us a chance to showcase local (and traveling) talent in an all-ages environment here in the Jack London Square district,” said Marie Ortega, who books bands for Express events and festivals. “We plan on bringing the best of all genres to Club X, something that the East Bay all-ages crowd has deserved more of for a long time. It will be no-holds barred — everything from metal, punk, and indie rock to rockabilly, reggae, swing, and techno/electronica.”

Tickets for the club’s grand opening cost $18 and can be purchased in advance at For Club X booking information, call 510-879-3717.

Local Medical Marijuana Proponent Releases Hip-Hop CD

Ken Estes, a guy who has been simultaneously celebrated and criticized for his local medical marijuana dispensaries, is raising awareness about his cause through a new hip-hop CD called Medical Marijuana Music (aka GDP Medicine Man, aka Medicine Man – Medical Marijuana Music — it’s not entirely clear). The album, released by Grandaddy Purp Music (under the artist name Medicine Man), tells the story of Estes’ travails and run-ins with the DEA, as told by Bay Area rapper DJ Ignite, as well as herald the various medicinal aspects of herb (“Medical Patient,” “Purps in a Blunt,” and “Bundles of Purps”). So far, the project has the support of prominent local rappers like E-40, who appears on the CD, as well as celebrities like Dave Navarro. The video for the first single, “Leave Ken Alone,” has garnered more than 4 million hits on since being uploaded in mid-February. Other guests include Mike Marshall (of the Luniz‘ “I Got 5 On It” fame) and Blaxicans. (GDP stands for Grand Daddy Purple, a “highly sought after strain of marijuana” that Estes apparently introduced.)

Estes owns a medical marijuana collective in Richmond that was raided by the DEA last year. It was the third time in four years that the fifty-year-old quadriplegic says his businesses have been raided. Despite the raids, Estes says he has never been charged with a crime. “It was frustrating,” he said during a recent visit to the Express. “I was poor, losing my homes to foreclosure.” Estes says DEA agents would follow him around, but then called him last year and said, “I’m done with you.” He decided to make a CD in order to raise awareness about medical marijuana’s benefits and educate people about patient rights. He recruited DJ Ignite, also a medical marijuana patient, to tell his story.

For his part, Ignite said he believes in the benefits of medical marijuana after he suffered from ruptured intestines. “I’ve been an artist for twenty years and I’ve never gotten an opportunity to tell a story like this,” he said. This CD is “taking the old marijuana game and making it medical.”

The duo will be releasing the album to major distribution on March 16. They’ve handed out 1,000 copies so far through Estes’ Richmond collective, and are now making the CD free. A release party will be held at SXSW, hosted by Dave Navarro and featuring Fishbone.

Three-Dot Roundup

“Americana noir” singer/multi-instrumentalist Mark Growden will release his ninth album, Saint Judas, on Mar. 16, through Porto Franco Records. The SF-based musician will celebrate the release with a four-day concert series at Porto Franco Art Parlor (953 Valencia St., SF), Thursday, Mar. 11, through Sunday, Mar. 14. Shows at 8:30 p.m., plus a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. $20; $5 off for students with ID. … Sistas in the Pit will headline Copwatch‘s twentieth anniversary party on Thursday, Mar. 11, at Ashkenaz (1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley). The event will also double as a celebration for International Women’s Day and a memorial for Oscar Grant, who was killed by a BART police officer on January 1, 2009. 7:30 p.m., $10-20 sliding scale. … Profound Lore releases Ludicra‘s The Tenant on Mar. 16. Record release show happens on May 8 at Cafe du Nord. … and I the Mighty releases We Speak on Mar. 16, and plays on Mar. 12 at Ashland Hall (16490 Kent Ave., San Lorenzo). 6 p.m., $7, $10.


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