What do the Fleshies, the Funky Nixons, the Fat Chance Belly Dance Troupe, the Willy Bologna Circus Show and the Chirgilchin Tuvan Throat Singers all have in common?
They’re part of the fascinating cast of performers who’ll be sharing the stage Sunday afternoon (April 25) to celebrate People’s Park and its 35 years as a Berkeley institution.
Drawn together by the People’s Park Council, the 35th Anniversary Fair runs from noon to 6 p.m., featuring People’s Movement workshops, an art museum, meals from Food Not Bombs, and a block-long stretch of Haste Street next to the park reincarnated as a roller skate park.
Also featured are Bike Rodeo, wandering clowns, and the traditional May Pole winding.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” promised Arthur Fonseca, who has been busily painting the Free Speech stage in anticipation of Sunday’s festivities. A volunteer at the park for over a decade, Fonseca promises a good time to visitors of all ages at Sunday’s free festival.
“Every year we reclaim the park at the anniversary. This is how we keep the park,” said Debbie Moore, co-director of Berkeley’s X-plicit Players and one of the organizers of Sunday’s events. “For me, this is a wonderful time, and it’s a good time for people who love the park to come out and reaffirm their connection.”
The All Nations Singers, a drum and vocal troupe of Native Americans, will offer the first hour’s entertainment from noon to 1 p.m.
The next 40 minutes feature the Funky Nixons, often called “the house band of People’s Park,” offering some of their outrageous fare. Considering the titles of two cuts on their latest CD (“Smoke a Joint With Jesus” and “Barbara Bush’s Dog”) they’ll be sure to both outrage and delight.
After a 10-minute poetry reading, three unusual acts from the cold deserts of the former Soviet Union as well as an instrumentalist playing the oldest instrument of the Australian Outback will appear.
The Chirgilchin Tuvan Throat Singers troupe offers the hauntingly earthy throat singing stylings of the ancient and little known land of Tuva. As national champions of the art, they’re been touring the world, drawing wide popular and critical acclaim. Sarymai, a Buddhist monk from Siberia who often travels with the troupe, plays the traditional folk music of the Altai culture and imitates the sounds of nature, animals and birds.
The Aussie instrument is the didjeridu, an Australia aboriginal instrument played by Stephen Kent in a variety of musical genres.
For the next hour, after 2 p.m., park participants will break up into a series of free workshops.
For children, there will be a playground, music lessons, a chance to learn the didjeridu with Steven Kent, face-painting, puppeteers, balloon-twisters, an old-fashioned May Pole and skateboard lessons—with a block of Haste Street turned into an improvised skateboard park.
Both young and old can delight in “Dr. Techno’s Traveling Minstrel and Music Show” as it revives a bit of classic vaudeville with Bruce Cartier (Dr. Techno) juggling and balancing while he plays an assortment of musical instruments. He also offers some dramatic magic, including a balancing act done over a sword box.
The Willy Bologna Circus show features a puppet show, stilt-walking, a magic routine and other delights by Willie the Clown, otherwise known as Glenn Allen.
No People’s Park celebration would be complete without an array of activists, and Sunday’s workshops include some of Berkeley’s most familiar names.
Michael Delacour—who hosted the first meeting that led to the park’s creation—will lead a session on park history, and singer/activist Carol Denney will discuss the UC Berkeley lawsuit that stifled her rights to openly challenge the school in its efforts to develop the park.
Peace and Justice Commissioner Elliott Cohen will be busy talking about and collecting signatures for his proposed Berkeley tree protection ordinance, and Harold Adler will exhibit and discuss Free Speech photography.
Other workshops feature Dave Beauvais on civil liberties, Robin Few on prostitute’s rights, Gena Sasso on disabled rights, Yoko Barringer on the California Public Interest Research Group, and Kirian on the Barrington Collective. Michael Diehl will discuss saving the safety net in an era of tax slashing, while Glenda Rubin will talk about park/community relations.
Debbie Moore will host a session on body reading and Terri Compost will lead a plant walk.
The action returns to the stage at 3:25 with the critically acclaimed Beth Custer Ensemble, featuring Custer, backed by her band, presenting an array of song and clarinet stylings from jazz to hoe down.
Next up—from 4:50 to 4:25—is the widely traveled and much-imitated Fat Chance Belly Dance Troupe of San Francisco, treating the audience to a demonstration of sensuous undulations.
Big Brutha Soul, aka Hip-Hop artist Chopmaster-J, will offer up some of his trademark “Herb ‘N Hippie Soul,” with an eccentric collection of characters of his own creation.
From 5:05 to 5:20, Julia Vinograd, a poet who was there at the creation of the park in 1969, will lead a young people’s poetry session.
Then, with the closing act, comes the day’s rowdiest performers, The Fleshies, one of the few remaining hard core Punk bands. The band often lives up to their name, with their epidermal exposure increasing as their performances progress.
Moore urged all who attend to bring clothing to give away. While that’s a noble gesture, discarding clothes shouldn’t be hard for the X-plicit Players leader, since her troupe is famous for performing in the altogether.