Zongo Junction is one of two bands playing in the East Bay on Friday that feature alumni of the Berkeley High jazz program. Photo courtesy of Zongo Junction
Zongo Junction is one of two bands playing in the East Bay on Friday that feature alumni of the Berkeley High jazz program. Photo courtesy of Zongo Junction

BHS JAZZ ALUMNI IN THE BAY AREA Alumni of Berkeley High’s renowned jazz program are returning to their native East Bay to ring in the new year at a couple different venues. Brooklyn-based Zongo Junction, an energetic Afrobeat ensemble founded by BHS grad Charles Ferguson, will play at Leo’s (5447 Telegraph in North Oakland) on Friday, Jan. 2. The $20 show is 18+ and starts at  9 p.m. Here in Berkeley on the same night, the Chase Jackson Quintet will play at the California Jazz Conservatory (formerly the Jazzschool) at 2087 Addison St. The eponymous vibraphone player, who now lives in LA, is an alum of the BHS jazz program, and is bringing to the stage with him several other young Bay Area musicians. The $12 acoustic jazz show starts at 8 p.m.

Unique Derique

FOOL LA LA Unique Derique can trace his clowning roots back to Berkeley, where he trained as a teenager. Since then, he’s brought his physical comedy to five continents and to television, but he’s spent this holiday season on stage here in the Bay Area. Unique Derique’s family-friendly circus show Fool La La closes this weekend at the Marsh Berkeley (2120 Allston Way). Catch him Friday – Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets for the hour-long show are $12-35 on a sliding scale, and $50 or $100 for reserved seats. Stick around after the show for a introduction to juggling. While he’s not clowning, Unique Derique (or Lance McGee) is a drama therapist and school counselor.

Lisa Ferraro and Erika Luckett
Lisa Ferraro and Erika Luckett

NEW YEAR’S EVOLUTION Freight and Salvage has gathered three local female musical duos with spiritual and political bents, and will give each of them the stage on Sunday, Jan. 4 for the New Year’s Evolution Concert. There’s Eve Decker and Lisa Zeiler of feminist folk group Rebecca Riots, Jennifer Berezan with Chris Webster, and Lisa Ferraro and Erika Luckett. The goal is to provide the audience with uplifting and inspirational music on this first weekend of the new year. The show starts at 7 p.m. at 2020 Addison St. Tickets are $20 in advance or $24 at the door.

Betsy Blakeslee

INSTANT CHORUS Inspired by all the wonderful musicians performing this weekend? Stop singing in the shower, and take a turn at the mic. Betty Blakeslee’s Instant Chorus provides those over age 8 with the monthly opportunity to croon together for a couple hours. Singing and body percussion parts range from easy to difficult, and no audition is required. The next one is Saturday, Jan. 3 from 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. at Freight & Salvage (2020 Addison St.). Registration costs $20. When she’s not turning a group of strangers into an a cappella sensation, Blakeslee directs World Harmony Chorus in Oakland.


ART AT THE BOTANICAL GARDEN UC Berkeley is on break, but some of the university’s fantastic resources are available to the public year-round. If you have relatives in town from snowy climates, take them to the UC Botanical Garden, which boasts many plants that flourish in the winter. And if it’s cold here too, the greenhouses still have much to offer. Those mourning the temporary closure of the Berkeley Art Museum will enjoy Following in the Bartrams’ Footsteps, an art exhibit featuring depictions of native plants discovered by John and William Bartram as they traveled in the 1700s. This is the only West Coast showing, and it’s up through Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The garden is located at 200 Centennial Drive.

Check out Berkeleyside’s event calendar for many more events, and make sure to post your own community happenings.

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Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. Natalie was a Berkeleyside staff reporter from early 2017 to May 2020. She had previously contributed to the site since 2012,...