Documenting the Oakland cultural renaissance


“Xtigone” Reimagines Sophocles as Urban Ritual-Myth

In Nambi Kelley’s “Xtigone,” the ancient Greek city-state of Thebes is replaced by Chicago’s south side – an urban killing field marked by gang rivalry and drive-by-shootings. The protagonist, Tigs, wages a one-woman crusade to expose the truth, challenging patriarchy and political corruption, even at the expense of her own well-being. Kelley’s urban myth recasts Sophocles’ classic morality play about pride into a blood-soaked examination of gun violence and inner-city PTSD. The characters still make lengthy soliloquies, but they speak in contemporary vernacular. There is a hip-hop soundtrack (composed by Tommy Shepherd aka Soulati), references to social media, and several musical numbers. The Greek chorus now chants about police brutality and HIV. It’s an amazing show.

RyanNicole as Tigs

Ryan Nicole Austin as Tigs

The play was originally scheduled to debut in 2012, but was postponed until this year. The current African American Shakespeare Company production, thus, marks the official world premiere of “Xtigone” – a different production is scheduled for Chicago later this year—a play with a message, whose already-relevant subject matter has gained only more currency with the emergence of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Drew Watkins and AeJay Mitchell play rival gang leaders

Drew Watkins and AeJay Mitchell play rival gang leaders

A strong cast from top to bottom anchors the production, with the younger actors more than holding their own with veteran stage performers.  As Tigs, Oakland’s Ryan Nicole Austin is a revelation. Her role is one requiring inner strength, conviction, and compassion, qualities she evokes seemingly effortlessly. It’s not easy to portray a woman who is emotionally vulnerable, and physically and mentally strong at the same time. Austin thankfully lets Kelley’s prose come to her, without overreaching. A gifted poet, rapper, and singer, she brings a feminist hip-hop swagger to the part, which is exactly what’s called for.

Naima Shalhoub and RyanNicole

Naima Shalhoub and Ryan Nicole Austin

In one scene, Tigs is chastised for her activist ambitions by her sister Izzy (played by Tavia Percia) — a woman who has accepted subservience along with fake hair. Defiantly, Tigs announces, “we stand on the shoulders of Herstory. I am the amazons of Dahomey, the queen called Nefertiti,  Coretta, Obama’s mama, and if I stand still, Mama Till.”

Naima Shalhoub as Tea Flake

Naima Shalhoub as Tea Flake

Another Oaklander, Naima Shalhoub, practically steals every scene she’s in as Tea Flake, a character who functions much like a griot, singing the praises of patriarchal leader Marcellus Da Man, as well as offering a running narrative commentary as events unfold. Shalhoub’s character often has something serious to sing about, but there are also comedic elements which make her somewhat of a jester in Marcellus’ court.

Michael Wayne Turner and RyanNicole

Michael Wayne Turner and Ryan Nicole Austin

The third youthful standout is Michael Wayne Turner, who plays Tigs’ boyfriend, Beau. This guy can straight-up act, and his dynamic rendering of the character doesn’t lack for energy at all. Also good is AeJay Mitchell as Tigs’ murdered brother E-Mem, whose ghost hangs around watching –and sometimes commenting on—the proceedings after his unfortunate death in the play’s opening scene.

Jasmine Strange and Dwight Dean Mahabir

Jasmine Strange and Dwight Dean Mahabir

As Marcellus, Dwight Dean Mahabir has gravitas. His is a pivotal role, and he tiptoes the fine line between the arrogant bluster of political ambition and the more humanistic concerns of a father. His character isn’t completely sympathetic, but the audience is left with an understanding of why he’s made the choices he has. Yet another Oaklander, Jasmine Strange, plays his wife, Fay, who has devoted her life to his career, even at the expense of her own soul. Strange is also a gifted singer, and the scene where she and Shalhoub alternate verses resonates with vibrancy.

Awele Makeba plays Old Blind Woman

Awele Makeba plays the Old Blind Woman

A crucial part is that of the “Old Blind Woman/Spirit,” played by Awele Makeba. As the Old Blind Woman, Makeba replaces Sophocles’ seer Tiresias, and functions as the conscience of the play.  She sets in motion the cathartic transformation which first tests and then redeems Marcellus, ultimately causing him to rethink his actions. Yet Marcellus’ redemption can’t prevent further tragedy from happening.

As the "spirit," Awele Makeba grounds "Xtigone" in ritual

As the Spirit, Awele Makeba grounds “Xtigone” in ritual

As the Spirit, Makeba grounds the play in ritual, connecting the spiritual world to the physical one, using African dance moves in place of speech throughout most of her scenes. Towards the end, she does speak a few times, signifying a breach of the wall separating the two worlds, implying the transcendent process the characters have undergone.

The "Greek chorus" raps, sings, and offers social commentary

The “Greek chorus” raps, sings, and offers social commentary

The production is anything but static, with fluid choreography and several scenes where characters enter the stage from the audience.  There is constant motion, reflecting a chaotic state of being. The Greek chorus—symbolizing the community—dances, raps, sings, and witnesses a failed attempt at a gang truce, followed by bodies piling up, as Marcellus strives to give the appearance of normality and order, by word of law.

Tavia Percia and Ryan Nicole Austin

Tavia Percia and Ryan Nicole Austin

The lighting and stage design are kept simple for the most part, yet the sparseness is surprisingly effective: in an early scene, Tea Leaf sings against a backdrop of projected pictures of child soldiers from different countries holding rifles. Simple props like a chair, a handgun, and basketball sneakers are amplified for maximum symbolic effect.

Jasmine Strange and Dwight Dean Mahabir

Jasmine Strange and Dwight Dean Mahabir

As a theater production, “Xtigone”—directed by veteran Rhodessa Jones—is very much in the tradition of the Black Arts Movement, from which Jones has drawn inspiration throughout her career. Not only does “Xtigone” recast Sophocles in a contemporary light, but it does so through an African American lens – addressing the issue of youth violence, but also of societal responsibility.

Ryan Nicole Austin and Awele Makeba

Ryan Nicole Austin and Awele Makeba

The play is also in the tradition of Yoruba ritual-myth – it evokes the blood/iron rituals of the orisha Ogun, whom playwright/author Wole Soyinka has called “the first actor” –and emphasizes spirituality over sensationalism, making its point through repetition of a few well-honed memes.

Tweets detail the tragedy of gun violence in "Xtigone"

Tweets detail the tragedy of gun violence in “Xtigone”

Tigs references Mamie Till—whose insistence on an open casket funeral for her murdered son Emmett catalyzed the Civil Rights Movement—on more than one occasion, and the couplet of “unearth the truth/thank the ancestors” voiced by E-Mem in the opening scene becomes a theme which underscores the entire play. By the end of the show, E-Mem himself has transitioned from gangbanger to “ancestral brother.”

Awele Makeba, Dwight Dean Mahabir, and AeJay Mitchell

Awele Makeba, Dwight Dean Mahabir, and AeJay Mitchell

“Xtigone” functions on two levels: on one hand, it revisits a classic Greek tragedy from a black feminist perspective. In that respect, it posits that a “change of heart” is possible for misguided male leaders like Marcellus – a stand-in for authoritarian politicians who have failed to address the roots causes of gun violence. But it also has a deeper purpose: to restore ritual into lives which have become devalued. It does this by offering glimpses into what Soyinka defined as the three stages of human existence—the world of the ancestors, the world of the living, and the world of the unborn—while setting its scenes in Soyinka’s fourth stage, the cthonic domain of Ogun.

AeJay Mitchell and Drew Watkins

AeJay Mitchell and Drew Watkins

This is a place where conflict and chaos recur without resolution, where love is overcome by hate, which only blood sacrifice can quell. That sacrifice is offered symbolically and metaphorically onstage, so that we, the audience, can be the change which needs to happen. By the end of the almost two-hour performance, it becomes clear that “Xtigone” has succeded in creating the ritual space. Now it’s up to us to do the rest.

“Xtigone” runs until March 8th at the AAACC’s Buriel Clay Theatre, 762 Fulton, SF. >> Buy Tickets.


12 More Days of Black History Month! Fall in Love with Black Beauty

So far, 2015’s Black History Month has been an amazing whirlwind of cultural goodness, especially here in the Bay Area — proving the point that Black Art Matters. Here at Oakulture, we thought you might appreciate a handy-dandy guide to the remaining BHM events this month, which include some incredible visual art representations, art workshops, kid-friendly events, musical appreciation nights, tributes to Black Power and Civil Rights martyrs, global reggae, movement-inspired jazz, spoken word, discussions of black love, reflections on Africa, dance exhibitions and classes, second-line parades, drum lessons, food/wine, and much more!!!


Black Artists on Art Legacy Exhibit celebrates the 46th anniversary of Black Artists on Art Volume 1 and commences a series of activities that will surround the new books in their development phases, Through 3/28, Free Admission, Oakstop, 1721 Broadway, Oakland.

"Heirloom" art by Bryan Keith Thomas

“Heirloom” art by Bryan Keith Thomas

Joyce Gordon Gallery presents “Heirloom” by Bryan Keith Thomas. “Heirloom” is the celebration of the Black experience through its historic symbols; cotton, roses and the African and African American image. Through 2/28. Free Admission. Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 Fourteenth St, Oakland.

Jeff Blankfort’s ‘Fight the Power!’ photography exhibition. ‘FIGHT THE POWER‘: Exploring similarities in the lived and photographed expressions of Black American and Palestinian resistance movements against ethnic persecution. Through 2/28. Free admission. African American Arts & Culture Complex (AAACC), 762 Fulton Street, SF.

Ryan Nicole Austin stars in "Xtigone"

Ryan Nicole Austin stars in “Xtigone”

African-American Shakespeare Company presents Xtigone with Ryan NicoleEmerging Chicago playwright Nambi E. Kelley’s contemporary urban adaptation of Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone is an impassioned response to the recent untimely deaths of children in her native city as a result of gang violence, which has risen sharply in the past several years. Through 3/8, $15-34, Buriel Clay Theatre, African-American Art & Culture Complex, 762 Fulton Street, SF.

Motown on Mondays (MOM). This popular weekly dance party plays one thing: music from Motown, the groundbreaking Detroit label which gave us Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder. Of course, that also includes cover versions and rare gems. With resident DJ Platurn and special guest DJs. Monday evenings, 9pm-2am, Free admission, Legionnaire Saloon, 2272 Telegraph Ave, Oakland.

"Palestine Solidarity," by Deadeyes

“Palestine Solidarity,” by Deadeyes

“Mindful Visions”Seven black male visual artists offering positivity as a way from ambiguous obstacles during life’s stage. Featuring Deadeyes, Jarvis Corner, Jimi Evins, Raymond L. Haywood, Raymond Holbert, Bryan Keith Thomas, and TheArthur Wright. CD release party 2/17 for Sound Oasis: Composer Darryl Pulley, Keys Dave Moltzen, Bass Gearon Crockett. Suggested Donation $5/adult. Through 3/3, Public Viewing Hours Mon-Fri 12:30-4:30. Contact (510) 208-5651 or receptionist@prescottjoseph.org. Prescott-Joseph Center for Community Advancement, 920 Peralta St, Oakland.

Oakland is Hellzapoppin #4 Lindy Hop Intensive with legendary Norma Miller and other special guests. Ms. Miller is again inspired to share with the black community the rich legacy of dances from the Harlem Renaissance through dance workshops, films and history talks. All levels welcome. Feb 15-25, Eastside Arts Alliance, 2277 International Blvd, Oakland. Buy Tickets.

The Arts Council of San Leandro presents “The Mind’s Eye” a group photography exhibit by Oakland Renaissance Photographers Collective. The show features the work of Kamau Amen-Ra, Edward Miller, Tasin Sabir, Tumani Onbiyi, Jim Dennis, Malaika H. Kambon and Asual Kwahuumba and is a continuation of a series of exhibits that document the life experience of people from Africa to the Americas and beyond. Free Admission. A reception with the artists will be held on Feb 22nd 12-3pm, San Leandro Main Library Auditorium, 300 Estudillo Avenue, San Leandro. Exhibit extends thru Mar 31st. Contact Missy Brooks (510) 567-2621.



MJ's Brass Boppers

MJ’s Brass Boppers

Feb 17th
MARDI GRAS DAY PARADE will start at 5:30 pm at Awaken Cafe (1429 Broadway) and proceed towards The New Parish (579 18th St) including the following groups: East Bay Brass Band, MJ’s Brass Boppers, BatalaBlue Bone Express, Dimensions Dance TheaterSambaFunk! Carnaval Explosion, and more. Family-friendly event.

Fat Tuesday with Katdelic, MJ’s Brass Boppers, East Bay Brass Band & DJ ManCub. 9pm, $10-15. New Parish, 579 18th St, Oakland.

Feb 19th
Afia Walking Tree
 & Drum Mobile Kick-off FunDRUM Raising Party provide the snacks, drinks, irie ambiance, and great experience. You bring your phone, laptop or ipad and come network, sing, and dance! The DRUM MOBILE will provide self-sufficiency skills for people (including peoples of African descent with limited resources) to feed themselves through learning hands-on permaculture practices and bringing the experience of music (drum, dance, songs of the African Diaspora) to children who would otherwise not have access. Free Admission, 5-9pm, Urban Drum Ranch, 320 Oakland Ave., Oakland.

The Nile Projectmore than a dozen instrumentalists and vocalists from Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Uganda have collaborated to use the power of music to raise awareness of the cultural and environmental challenges along the world’s longest river. The result is a new sound of a shared Nile identity, resulting in the album Aswan, and a world tour which comes to Berkeley in time for BHM. $18-$36, 7:30pm, Zellerbach Hall (UC Berkeley campus).

The Nile Project After-Party: Balkan & Beyond Presents: A Benefit for the Nile Project. Join the Nile Project in a post-Zellerbach homecoming night of celebration with East African music and DJ Zeljko. Proceeds will benefit the Nile Project’s university programs in Africa. Bissap Baobob Oakland, 381 15th St.



Sonido Baylando y Kulcha Latino present ALIKA & NUEVA ALIANZA with Andrés DJ-Stepwise, Deuce Eclipse, DJ EL Kool Kyle, Orlando Torriente, Ras Rican, Erick Santero y mas, Pre-sale $10, 8pm-2am, Berkeley Underground, 2284 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley.

Mau-Mau Tech: The Making of a Black University at Oakland’s Merritt College. On March 15, 1971, Black students took over the administration building at Oakland’s Merritt College to protest the relocation of the campus from the city’s flatlands to the hills. This presentation by journalist and scholar Rasheed Shabazz will cover Oakland history and education politics in the 1950s and 1960s, leading up to the relocation of Merritt College, but will primarily focus on the vision for what might have been called, “Huey P. Newton College.” Free admission, 8pm, Quilombo, 2313 San Pablo Ave.

Feb 20th
“Speeches of A Dream: Black History Month Celebration”: A Night of Poetry, Art, and Music celebrating Black History Month. Open Mic welcomed, Free Admission, RSVP Required. 6-8pm, Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts1428 Alice St, Oakland.

50th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, 1-10pm, Lighthouse Mosque, 620 42nd St., Oakland

Brass Magic,  Zakiya Harris, the Jurassic: Zakiya Harris’ future soul is not to be missed! $7-$10, 8pm, Awaken Cafe, 1429 Broadway, Oakland.

Zakiya Harris

Zakiya Harris

February 21-22nd 
The Art of Living Black (TAOLB) Open Studios 2015 is the Bay Area’s longest running annual African American exhibition of its kind showcasing a wide range of visual media. Artists include Tai BelizeAjuan ManceKaren Oyekanmi, Atiba Sylvia Thomas, Howard Mackey, Valerie Brown Troutt, Lyn Rockwell, and AJ. 11am-5pm, Mills College Student Union, 5000 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland.

February 21-22nd
The 11th Annual Black Choreographers Festival:
Here & Now celebrates the legacy of African & African American dance, art and culture with performances, master classes and special events. Weekend 1 features Byb Chanel Bibene, Antoine Hunter in collaboration with Ellen Sebastian Chang, Brontez Purnell (Sat only), Carmen Roman, Phylicia Stroud, Nafi Watson, Kharyshi Wiginton & Jene Levine-Snipes (Sun only), Jamie Wright (Sun only) 7:30pm. Tix $10-20. Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF.



Feb 21st
Learn to Jook with Ladia Yates
. She is a youtube sensation, has danced with Missy Elliott and was most recently featured in Janelle Monae’s music video “Tightrope.” Currently she is dancing with Usher. 12-1:30pm, $15 Advance TixMargaret Jenkins Dance Lab, 301 8th St, San Francisco.

Turf Inc. dancers at Art & Soul Festival

Turf Inc. dancers at Art & Soul Festival

Feb 21st
TURFinc 14 x The LAB present TURFIN AGAINST THE WORLD Part II All Styles Dance Battle. A 2 on 2 All Style Tournament hosted by Phat Boi & Johnny 5. Special Performances by Oakland Boogaloo Conservatory (OBC) BRYCE – OGMIKE -DOC with special guests YAK Films. All Ages, Family Friendly, Cover $15. 1-8pm, THE LAB, 2948 16th Street, SF. 

Amir Sulaiman

Amir Sulaiman 

Feb 22nd
Amir Sulaiman I & I Poetry Workshop Spend a day with Amir Sulaiman, Visiting Harvard Fellow, Def Poet, author & performer explores how identity and perception impact the creative process. This workshop is not just for writers and artists, but for everyone interested in exploring the spirituality of creativity. Advance Tix. 10am-4pm, Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California,1433 Madison Street, Oakland.

Honoring El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), 1-4pm, Oakland Islamic Community Center, 7901 Oakport St., Ste. 4400, Oakland.

Feb 25th 
Opening Night of sfnoir Wine & Food Festival: Shrimp, Grits & Greens. Celebrate Black cuisine, culture, and contributions to the arts. The region’s best in Black Cuisine showcases time-honored dishes with fresh adaptations from within the Diaspora. $30-50. 7-10pm, Impact Hub Oakland, 2323 Broadway.

Afro-vegan chef Bryant Terry

Afro-vegan chef Bryant Terry

Feb 26th 
In Defense of Food: A Spoken Word Affair. Hosted by Bryant Terry – Chef, Educator, Author and Food Justice Activist. The spoken word artists this evening all speak about food in very different ways: its power to create and help define culture, how certain life experiences are shaped around the act of coming together to break bread, or the injustices found in people’s access to healthy and nutritious foods. Advance Tix $15. 7-10pm, Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St, SF.

Feb 27th
MoAD After Dark in Conversation presents Collaborating Across the Aisles: Continuing the Civil Rights Movement with #BlackLivesMatter featuring keynote speaker Dr. Clarence Jones, Dr. King’s speechwriter, advisor & attorney. Panel and discussion with Dr. Joe Marshall, Dr. Mary J. Wardell-Ghirarduzzi, Ms. Neva Walker, and Mr. Jarvis Givens. 6-9pm, Tix $10-75Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St, SF.

Feb 27-28th
Yemanja Festival 2015
celebrates the spirit of Yemanja, the African deity that honors the essential, beautiful and sometimes dangerous nature of water. Inspired by the original Yemanja Festival celebrated in Bahia, Brazil the Yemanja Arts Festival brings together celebrated artists and dancers as interpreters of art forms from the African diaspora (Brazil, the Caribbean, and the United States) that pay homage to Yemanja through their respective folkloric and spiritual traditions. Featuring Conceisao Damasceno, Kimberly Miguel Mullen, Tania Santiago, Danda da Hora, Ramon Ramos Alayo, Renni Flores, Wagner Santos, Mestre Beicola, Curumins & Borboletas Dance Group. 8pm. Saturday after-party 10pm. Tix $10-22Casa De Cultura, 1901 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley. 

YGB Gold

YGB Gold

Feb 28th
Black Voices in Love: Africa ft. Marc Bamuthi Jospeh, Antique, YGB Gold, Dayo Milon and Keba Konte. Panel discussion featuring slides from recent journeys to Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, and Ethiopia, African dance and drumming, and Ethiopian coffee ceremony. 6pm. Tix $12Malonga Casquelord Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St, Oakland.

Concha Buika On her latest and most diverse album, La Noche Más Larga, the Spanish-bred singer of African descent continues to break down the walls that surround flamenco, the root source of everything she does, but a tradition that can’t contain her ever-evolving vision. 8pm. $35-100, 8pm, Nourse Theatre, CIIS, 275 Hayes St, SF.

Black History Month Celebration with Terrence Brewer. The American improvised musical art form called jazz doesn’t exist without the roots of the African-American experience and, particularly, without gospel music. Terrence Brewer will explore gospel compositions through the eyes of a modern jazz improviser and share his own stories of growing up playing in the church and how he was inspired by sacred music and the large role gospel music played in his development. Featuring Terrence Brewer on guitar, Kevin Wong on piano and organ, Dan Parenti on acoustic and electric bass and Deszon Claiborne on drums. Tix $15California Jazz Conservatory,
2087 Addison St, Berkeley.

Feb 28-Mar 1st
The 11th Annual Black Choreographers Festival: Here & Now  celebrating the legacy of African & African American dance, art and culture with performances, master classes and special events. Weekend 2 features Christal BrownGregory Dawson, Mauya Kerr, Robert Moses, Reginald Ray Savage, and Raissa Simpson. 7:30pm. Post-performance Q & A  on Mar 1. Cake & Chat following every BCF performance. Tix $10-20. Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF.



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This Week in Oakulture: Alta California & Sonido Baylando Sound System, Xtigone World Premiere, Kahil El’Zabar & The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Con Brio & The Seshen, Kyle Abraham in Conversation with Alicia Garza (Feb 11-17)

Alta California & Sonido Baylando Sound System


Sonido Baylando is a new weekly Latin-themed music night at Berkeley Underground, the new night club venue Oakulture reviewed a little while back. Hosted by Baylando Records‘ DJs El Kool Kyle, Ras Rican and Erick Santero, event goers will be treated to all-vinyl music sets throughout the evening. Tonight’s installment of Sonido Baylando features live musical guest Alta California. The all-star Oakland band calls their take on Latin music “Rumba Esquina” — a mix of Afro-Cuban, Rumba, Flamenco, Salsa, Samba and soul. The 11-piece ensemble, fronted by vocalists Piero Amadeo Infante and Orlando Torriente,  includes dancers Melissa Cruz and Anya De Marie, who compliment the infectious rhythms with graceful, emotive interperative movements. Come as early as 7 p.m. for salsa lessons with Nicholas Van Eyck (complimentary with admission). The full music program kicks off at 8 p.m., with Alta California taking the stage at 9:30 p.m.

Alta California & Sonido Baylando Sound System, 2/11, 8 p.m., $8 Advance, 21 and over, Berkeley Underground, 2284 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. » Buy Tickets.

Xtigone (World Premiere)


From an artivist perspective, art is used a tool to communicate ideas and inspire action around issues of social justice. Today’s contemporary artivists are empowering communities and building movements through music, film, dance and theater. Nambi E. Kelley, an emerging playwright from Chicago, was inspired by the murders associated with gang violence in her hometown to revisit Sophocles’ “Antigone,” renaming it “Xtigone.”  In Kelley’s contemporary urban adaptation of the classic Greek tragedy, music plays a big part of telling the story of violence in our communities. The Bay Area’s Tommy Shepherd is the play’s musical composer, and the cast includes Oakland’s RyanNicole. Directed by Rhodessa Jones, and presented by the African American Shakespeare Company, “Xtigone” opens this Valentine’s Day at AAACC’s Buriel Clay Theatre in San Francisco, with weekend shows on Saturdays and Sundays through March 8th.

“Xtigone” (World Premiere), Sat-Sun 2/14-3/08, 8 p.m. (Sat), 3 p.m. (Sun), $15-$34, Ages 9 and over, Buriel Clay Theatre at the African-American Art & Culture Complex, 762 Fulton Street, San Francisco. » Buy Tickets.

Kahil El’Zabar & The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble


This St. Valentine’s night,  Oakland’s EastSide Cultural Center will host a celebration for the 50th anniversary of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Founded and based in Chicago, AACM is one of the oldest collectives of Black musicians indentified with the influential Black Arts Movement. The musical program will feature Kahil El’Zabar and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, featuring percussionist and composer El’Zabar, with Ernest Dawkins on saxophone, Corey Wilkes on trumpet, and special guest conguero John Santos.

Kahil El’Zabar & The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, 2/14, 8 p.m., $20 ($30 for Couples), All Ages, EastSide Cultural Center, 2277 International Blvd., Oakland. » Buy Tickets.

Con Brio Kiss the Sun EP Release with The Seshen


SF’s super-sexy soul-funk outfit Con Brio has just released their latest EP, Kiss the Sun, and they want you to celebrate with them at The Independent on Valentine’s Day evening! Having built quite a buzz around town, including playing the recent Sly and the Family Stone Tribute at the Fox, the Ziek McCarter-fronted band seems poised for big things. Opening for them are another buzzworthy local outfit, East Bay electro-soul The Seshen, whose wonderfully trip-hoppy live show is worth getting to the venue early for.

Con Brio with The Seshen, 2/14, Doors 8:30 p.m., Show 9 p.m., $15-$18, 21 and over, The Independent, 628 Divisadero St., San Francisco. » Buy Tickets.

The Movement of Movement: Kyle Abraham in Conversation with Alicia Garza


Alicia Garza, Oakland-based co-founder of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, joins dancer and choreographer Kyle Abraham for a conversation about “The Movement of Movement.” With such a powerful title, we have high hopes for the discussion, which revolves around interconnectivity between artistic and social justice movements – a topic Oakulture recently explored in Why Black Art Matters. The talk will be presented at Impact Hub Oakland and is hosted by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (where “ABRAHAM.IN.MOTION: PAVEMENT” will have its Bay Area Premiere from February 19-20).

“The Movement of Movement: Kyle Abraham in Conversation with Alicia Garza,” 2/16, 7 p.m., Free with RSVP to rgutierrez@ybca.org, All Ages, Impact Hub Oakland, 2323 Broadway, Oakland. » Facebook Event Page.

This Week in Oakulture is curated by Zsa-Zsa Rensch.  Connect with Zsa-Zsa on Twitter at @zsazsa.

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