This Week’s Day-by-Day Picks

WED 12

By all accounts, the injuries US military personnel are suffering in Iraq are more disturbing than in previous wars, partly because of advances in medical technology; in earlier conflicts, GIs with many of the same wounds would have died. It’s also arguably due to the ferocity of the attacks. Photographer Nina Berman has been taking pictures of wounded Iraq veterans after they’ve returned home, portraying the residual cost of the war in starkly human terms. When Berman’s traveling exhibition, Purple Hearts, visits downtown Oakland this week in the lobby of the Gladstone Building (the former Pro Arts space) at 461 9th St., viewers can see a small part of the price of that war for themselves. But hurry — the free show stays up only until Saturday. It’s presented by AlterNet.orgKelly Vance

THU 13

If you saw one of Jean Hearst’s botanical tableaux while out for a walk in the woods, you’d think you had suddenly fallen down the rabbit hole into a strange new world — a place where cutaway cross-sections of fruit stand at attention on a smooth yellow and green plain dotted with bare tree trunks that cast ominous shadows. Spooky? A little. Elemental? Maybe. Yet that’s the name of a new art show opening tonight at Berkeley’s ACCI Gallery (1652 Shattuck Ave., 510-843-2527), whose subtitle, “Nature and Culture Collide,” explains it better. Hearst and five other artists have work in the exhibition, which opens at 6 p.m., with a reception featuring live musical guests DJ and Brook. The show runs through November 4. Go to ACCIGallery.comKelly Vance

FRI 14

No, it’s not a typo. Very Be Careful named itself that on purpose, and while the band may seem syntax-challenged, it’s anything but musically deficient. Influenced by the traditional Colombian style called vallenato, it also has gravitated toward the seemingly disparate planes of indie rock and hip-hop, which for some reason, isn’t incongruous with accordion-saturated South American folk music. In addition to sharing stages with the late Joe Strummer and Ozomatli, the Los Angeles-based band has had some well-received shows in both New York and its hometown in support for their new album ÑACAS, and you can expect the same for its gig at Albany’s Ivy Room tonight at 10 p.m. Chow Nasty opens. $7; IvyRoom.comEric K. Arnold

SAT 15

When it comes to congueros, the legendary Francisco Aguabella stands ten fingers above the rest. Despite wrinkled, veiny hands that resemble weathered oak trees, the Cuban drummer maintains a deceptively supple touch on the skins, and his range extends from traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms, to Latin-tinged jazz, to the occasional pop tune. In his long international career (which began in the ’50s), Aguabella has performed with the likes of Tito Puente, Lalo Shifrin, Frank Sinatra, Carlos Santana, and Paul Simon, and is the subject of an upcoming documentary, Aguabella. The conguero comes to town tonight for two folkloric — and possibly historic — shows at Berkeley’s La Peña (3105 Shattuck Ave.), along with Michael Spiro, Jesus Diaz, Jose Francisco Barroso, Fito Reynoso, John Santos, and others. $20; — Eric K. Arnold

SUN 16

Newsflash: The New Brutalists are now the New Yipes. Yes, spoken-word fans, the three-year-old New Brutalist poetry series evidently decided to become less confrontational, or more zany, or maybe they just decided that “Yipes” said it all. Regardless, at this evening’s edition of the series — newly rededicated to connecting performance artists, filmmakers, painters, and literary types — poets Nada Gordon and Rodney Koeneke will not only read from their work but will also lead a discussion of Bollywood movies. Who could have predicted the pervasive reach of Mumbai pop culture? New Yipes takes place the third Sunday of the month at the peripatetic 21 Grand, now at 416 25th St. at Broadway in downtown Oakland’s Boho Zone. Info: 21Grand.orgKelly Vance

MON 17

How do you celebrate after you’ve just triumphed over a fearsome demon king? Well, to symbolize the defeat of the dark forces and the restoration of balance to the universe, you have a festival of lights — otherwise known as Diwali. As important to Hindus as Christmas is to Christians, Diwali originated in North India as a tribute to King Rama of Ayodhya’s defeat of Ravana, the evil ruler of Lanka, before spreading to other regions. It’s traditionally symbolized by the lighting of oil lamps or candles, as well as by sweets, dried fruits, and gifts. The Golden Gate Branch of the Oakland Public Library (5606 San Pablo Ave.) has hosted annual Diwali celebrations for seven years; this year, the event features a special performance by Purnima Jha and her students, performing the Kathak, or storytelling, style of traditional Hindu dance tonight at 6:30. Info: OaklandLibrary.orgEric K. Arnold

TUE 18

One hopes that the recent mainstream spotlight on reggaetón, the Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Panamanian hybrid sound, will shed some candlepower on Plena Libre, who, up to now, have been one of Puerto Rico’s best-kept secrets. The thrice-Grammy-nominated band, led by bassist Gary Nuñez, has reintroduced plena — a traditional, folkloric musical genre a century old — to the Puerto Rican and Caribbean radio charts, and its most recent album, Evolución, freely blends plena with bomba, samba, descarga, and elements of Latin jazz. The band doesn’t quite go the reggaetón route on Evolución — keeping its sound contemporary, yet rooted in tradition, for the most part — although the album does include a hot club remix of “Tumbao.” Expect to get nourished by meaty 6/8 rhythms with plenty of batas, timbales, panderos, and cuatros, as well as a pulsating horn section tonight and tomorrow, when they hit Yoshi’s (510 Embarcadero West, Oakland) for some tropical heatwave-inducing shows. As an added bonus, the dancefloor will be open, to the delight of all salseros. $10-$18; — Eric K. Arnold

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