Arts & Events

Around & About Music: Berkeley Chamber Concerts Presents the Ives String Quartet Playing Haydn, Henry Cowell & Smetana; Grand Finale This Year's Westbrae Free Concerts—& Received! 'Long Old Road,' Smooth Toad's Latest CD

By Ken Bullock
Friday October 05, 2012 - 08:00:00 AM

—Berkeley Chamber Concerts presents the Ives String Quartet—Susan Freier, violin; Steven Harrison, cello; Jodi Levitz, viola; & Bettina Mussumeli, violin—playing Haydn's Quartet in F Major, opus 50, no. 5 "The Dream;" Henry Cowell's Quartet no. 4 "United Quartet" & Smetana's Quartet no. 1 "From My Life," 8 p. m. Tuesday, October 9, in the Ballroom of the Berkeley City Club, appropriately for Bay Area composer Cowell in particular, a 1929 Julia Morgan-designed "castle." A complimentary reception with wine & cheese will follow, giving listeners a chance to meet & speak with the musicians. (The Ives Quartet is committed to performing European classic pieces together with those by less-played American composers.) $25; high school students free; students past high school, $12.50. 525-5211; 

—Two unusual shows at Piedmont Piano this weekend: Saturday at 8, Bulgarian guitarist-composer Hristo Vitchev (his latest album, 'Heartmony') with sensational Brazilian pianist-Latin Grammy nominee Weber Iago (formerly a Bay Area resident) & vibraphonist-Downbeat awardwinner Christian Tamburr; at 2 on Sunday, longtime Bay Area favorite (& Nicasio, Marin County resident) stride pianist Mike Lipskin, with Gypsy guitarist Paul Mehring & Mike's vocal sidekick, the charming Dinah Lee. $15, either show. Piedmont Piano, 1728 san Pablo Avenue @ 18th Street, Oakland ("Uptown"). 547-8188; 

—The Grand Finale of this year's Westbrae Free Concerts this Saturday late morning-early afternoon, produced by Mary Prophet, will feature; Middle Eastern oud player Claude Palmer, 10-10:20; Alan Lipton (Acid Folk, Progressive Rock) 10:25-10:40; Sauce Piquante Duo (Cajun-Creole), 10:45-11; Andrew Page (lyric-driven originals); Backyard Tarzans (Blues, Rock, Operetta), 11:25-11:40; Rebecca Prophet (Jazz, Broadway, Pop), 11:45-12; Betsy Rose & Occupella (Progressive Folk), 12:05-12:20; Rich Kalman (Jazz, Blues, Broadway, Pop), 12:25-12:40; Michael DeWall (Jazz, Calypso, Bossa Nova), 12:45-1 ... All in the Garden at the Bagel shop/Toot Sweet, 1281 Gilman @ Curtis, by the BART elevated tracks. 

—Smooth Toad, Berkeley's Dynamic Trio—Blake Street Hawkeyes co-founder Bob Ernst on harmonica & vocals, fiddler-guitarist-harmonica player extraordinaire Hal Hughes & poet G. P. Skratz on vocals & guitar (with a little help from "Toad Emeritus" Andy Dinsmore)—have just issued their latest CD, 'Long Old Road.' On a quick listen, it's something delightful, completely sui generis ... All three Toads write numbers—Hal Hughes' "Magpie Yodel," for one; Bob Ernst's "Pope of the Bay" (Emperor Norton) for another (or his special "Lorca's Lullabye")—& a couple unusual poetic ventures by Skratz, supported by Hughes as composer or arranger: "Kaspar Is Dead," his translation of Dadaist Hans Arp's poem about a favorite sprite, for Jerry Garcia, & "Pound's Brindisi," a piece by the great modern master poet, music'd by Robert Hughes, arranged by Hal ... Lend it your ears—you'll get them back with interest! (A fuller review will follow.) or!