Berkeley Arts Festival Calendar



Grooving Afro-Brazilian-Caribbean music.

Jun 25, 4:45pm to 7:45pm, Cheese Board Pizza 1512 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA

Brian Moran Trio

Jun 25, 7pm to 9pm, Caffe Chiave, 2500 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley


With mass shootings continually on the rise, the call for gun control at a fever pitch, and the House recently passing what could be the biggest change to federal gun laws in decades, The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment is the kind of brief and brilliant analysis for which syndicated talk show host and New York Times bestselling author Thom Hartmann is justly renowned.

Offering an in-depth, historically informed view, Hartmann examines how guns have played important roles throughout American history, from early European settlement to the Revolutionary War and Manifest Destiny, through the use of Slave Patrols in the Deep South (which became the "well-regulated militias" so debated in 1787), to the recent school massacres. He explores the brutal role of guns, including in the enforcement of slavery and the racist post-Civil War social order, and documents how inequality in America and the number of people killed in mass shootings have grown together over the last fifty years.

He shows how the NRA and conservative Supreme Court justices used specious logic to invent a virtually unlimited individual right to own guns, which has enabled the ever-growing number of mass shootings in the United States.

Hartmann identifies common-sense and powerful solutions that would break the power of the gun lobby and restore the understanding of the Second Amendment that the Framers of the Constitution intended, such as:
* getting money out of politics to get the National Rifle Association out of lobbying
* passing laws that would treat gun ownership like car ownership (title, license, insurance)
* addressing the social despair and economic inequality that drive violent crime and mass shootings

A timely examination of the real history of guns in America, The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment shows what we can do to limit both their lethal impact and the power of the gun lobby.

-- Thom Hartmann is a progressive national and internationally syndicated talk show host. Talkers magazine named him America's most important progressive host and has named his show one of the top ten talk radio shows in the country every year for over a decade. A four-time recipient of the Project Censored Award, Hartmann is also a New York Times bestselling author of twenty-four books, translated into multiple languages.

Jun 25, 7pm to 8pm, First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley

Greg Blake and Crying Uncle

You'll hear it in his voice immediately: the original strain of Appalachian mountain music that lies at the heart of all great modern bluegrass and country. Greg Blake grew up in the mountains of southwest West Virginia, and when he sings, you can hear a voice that connects to the great old generations of mountain singers, invested with a rich twang and rumbling drawl, and the kind of eerily powerful high tenor cry that first inspired the high, lonesome sound.

He's twice been nominated for the SPBGMA's Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year and is a five-time winner of the SPBGMA's Guitarist of the Year, not to mention the Kansas State Flat-picking championship. After moving to Conifer, Colorado, Greg joined all-star progressive bluegrass band Jeff Scroggins & Colorado as the lead vocalist. With both Jeff and his son Tristan breaking new ground instrumentally on the banjo and mandolin, Greg stepped up to the plate as a guitarist, and crafted the band's sound around his signature high tenor vocals. They've recorded two albums and have a third about to be released.

Supporting Greg for this show will be Nico Humby on vocals and acoustic bass from Edmonton, Alberta; Miles Zurawell on vocals, banjo and dobro; and Chris Luquette (of Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen) on vocals and mandolin.

And opening the show, a special treat! Crying Uncle, featuring John Gooding, Miles & Teo Quale, are superstars of the youngest Berkeley Bluegrass generation.

Tickets are $20. Children under 12 are free. Advance tickets are available at the link below, or you may purchase your tickets at the door the night of the show. Doors open one half hour before show time. We accept cash only at the door (ATMs are nearby).

The Back Room is an all-ages, BYOB (for those 21+) space, dedicated to (mostly) acoustic music of all kinds. You are welcome to bring your own adult beverage with no additional corkage fee. If you need more information or have any questions, please call us: #510-654-3808. Thank you for your support!

Jun 25, 8pm to 10pm, The Back Room Music, 1984 Bonita Ave, Berkeley

Crys Matthews, Heather Mae, JJ Jones, Joe Stevens

Crys Matthews is nothing if not ambitious. In August 2017, she simultaneously released both a new full-length album, The Imagineers and an EP, Battle Hymn For An Army Of Lovers. These collections showcase two sides of Matthews' dynamic songwriting; The Imagineers is a selection of thoughtful songs about love and life while Battle Hymn For An Army Of Lovers tackles social justice themes. Songs from both projects have already won her recognition and awards. She was one of ten finalists (from a pool of 5,000) in this year's NewSong Music Competition and, after performing at Lincoln Center on November 30th, she was named grand-prize winner. Matthews also won the People Music Network's Social Justice Songs contest at the 2017 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance.

A southeastern North Carolina native who now calls Herndon, Virginia home, Matthews blends Americana, folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass and funk into a bold, complex performance steeped in traditional melodies and punctuated by honest, original lyrics. Having been compared to everyone from Toshi Reagon to Tracy Chapman to Ruthie Foster, Matthews' eclectic infusion of genres has won her honorable mentions at the 2017, 2013 and 2014 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest and extensive radio play from Woman of Substance radio to WTJU-Charlottesville and WMRA-Harrisonburg to KBOO-Portland.

Heather Mae writes music for the light seekers and the good-troublemakers. Delivered via explosive vocals over high energy rhythm-heavy piano, her performances are an empowering, on-fire, musical experience that bursts in the chest of every audience member, moved to their core by her passion and message of self-love and social justice. Her 2016 debut album, I AM ENOUGH, reached #58 on iTunes Pop Album charts without the help of a record label and was an announcement to the world: Mae is the next generation of social justice music. Dubbed "the new queer Adele" by L-Mag, Heather Mae is using her music to shed light on issues not often heard in pop music, such as body positivity, racial justice, and LGBTQ rights.

September 2019 she is adding another title to her resume: mental health advocate. Mae has taken her personal struggle with Bipolar Disorder 2 and Depression and turned it into a record, entitled GLIMMER. With this new record and live show, Mae is a magnetic light force and every audience member is transformed with her anthemic message of hope.

JJ Jones is an internationally touring, Berklee-trained drummer and educator. She has performed with folk-pop darlings Girlyman, Canadian roots band Po'Girl (Birds of Chicago), alt-pop sensation Heather Mae, comedian Margaret Cho, and Egyptian revolutionary Ramy Essam, among many, many others. One of JJ's studio projects, a kids' music record under the name Django Jones, won a Parents' Choice Gold award, one of the most prestigious honors in children's music, and a song JJ co-wrote with Margaret Cho was featured in her Showtime concert movie "psyCHO". JJ is an instructor at girls and ladies rock camps across the U.S., is the Tech and Gear editor of Tom Tom Magazine, and is the founder of, the only drum education company in the world exclusively for women.

California-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joe Stevens is a third-generation professional musician in a long line of restless westward moving souls. He caught the songwriting bug at 15 and has been at it ever since. After starting out as a self-taught guitar player and songwriter, he received a Bachelor of Music from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA, and has been traveling with his music across the US and abroad.

Between 2006 and 2012 Joe's first band Coyote Grace released five well-loved albums and toured with the Indigo Girls, Melissa Ferrick, and Girlyman; sharing stages with Chris Pureka, Greensky Bluegrass, Reverend Payton's Big Damn Band, and legends such as Cris Williamson and Lowen and Navarro. They quickly gained a strong cult following in the Folk/Americana world, taught workshops at many colleges and universities around the country, and drove many a mile touring with their contemporaries and heroes.

Katie Kuffel is a tongue-in-cheek, Seattle-based musician smashing the piano in a manner that's not quite blues, not quite folk, and not quite like anything you've heard before. With songwriting that is both innovative and thoughtful, she explores community, feminism, and her personal experiences as an advocate against sexism and violence, with a contemporary sound that supports turbulent, poetic lyrics.

Jun 25, 8pm to 11pm, Freight & Salvage