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Around Berkeley

Some of the films airing at this year’s Superfest Disability Film Festival. Credit: Superfest

🎷 Oakland baritone and alto saxophonist Patrick Cress has led a lot of interesting bands over the past three decades, but Mercury Falls might be the most alluring, with a brooding, trancey, cinematic sound that makes ideal use of Roger Riedlbauer’s surf-vibe guitar, Tim Bulkley’s crisp drum work, Michael Bello’s insinuating bass, and Michelle Amador’s world-weary but welcoming vocals. Friday, Oct. 20, 7-10 p.m. Jupiter. FREE

🇨🇺 Bidding an early farewell to 2023, Conjunto Karabali plays a final show of the year at La Peña’s monthly Baila party with its blazing cast of Afro-Cuban music masters led by conguero Karl Perazzo and Michael Spiro on bata drums. Friday, Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m.-midnight. La Peña. $25-$30

🎶 Five Ten is an East Bay world-jazz quintet with a bright, alluring sound featuring steel pan master Jeff Narell, Rio-born percussionist Marquinho Brasil, bassist Dennis Smith, drummer Billy Johnson and keyboardist Steve Carter. Friday, Oct. 20, 8-9:30 p.m. California Jazz Conservatory. $25

🏊 Cal Triathlon is holding its 2023 Bearathalon, which begins at Barkley Beach and ends at the Berkeley Marina. Races include a Draft-Legal Sprint (intended for triathletes with experience riding in packs), Classic Sprint/Classic Sprint Relay (the most beginner-friendly and popular events), and a Mixed Team Relay. Saturday, Oct. 21. Registration: $80-$200

💀 Celebrate and honor loved ones who have died at Kala Art Institute’s Day of the Dead (Día De Muertos) community art workshop, led by teaching artist Natalie Palms. You’ll get to create an hojalata (tin art) embossed picture frame, small zine, or crêpe cempasúchil to celebrate the memories of your ancestors, family, friends, or even pets. Saturday, Oct. 21, 11 a.m.-2p.m. FREE ($10 suggested donation) 

♿ The Superfest Disability Film Festival, the longest-running festival of its kind, returns this week for its 37th year. All 15 short films being shown are available online and were selected by a jury consisting of disabled SF State students, filmographers, disability rights advocates, scholars, community organizers and creatives. Select in-person screenings will take place at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley on Saturday and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco Sunday. Saturday, Oct. 21. See the festival’s website for details. $0-50 (Sliding scale) 

🎶 Flutist and pianist Ruben Hurtado y su Descarga turn Fourth Street into a Cuban dance party as part of the business district’s ongoing outdoor music series. Saturday, Oct. 21, 1-3pm, Delaware and Fourth streets, FREE

🚆 BART will close out its Fall 2023 book club with a train read-in on Saturday, Oct. 21. The event will include trivia, raffles, and small-group discussion of Oakland author Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s On the Rooftop, a novel about a mother whose dream of stardom collides with her three daughters’ own ambitions. Hop onto the Richmond-Daly City train at North Berkeley BART (1:25 p.m.) or Downtown Berkeley (1:27 p.m.).

💀 Celebrate the Day of the Dead, or Día de Los Muertos, at an all-ages city event featuring an altar and art exhibition, mariachi performances, arts and crafts, food, and free haircuts, raffles, massages and bike repairs. Saturday, Oct. 21, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Berkeley High School. FREE 

🎨 Berkeley Art Center’s new exhibit, Naming Our Time, explores the idea that when marginalized communities experience suffering and chaos, the search for personal comfort and belonging becomes more complicated. The organizers describe it as a “blending of image, labor, gathering, and storytelling.” Opening reception: Saturday, Oct. 21, 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Exhibit on view through January 20, 2024.  FREE

👃 Mandy Aftel, the creator of the one-of-a-kind Aftel Archive of Curious Scents in North Berkeley, will lead a “multisensory experience” at the UC Botanical Garden’s Redwood Grove Amphitheater to celebrate her incoming book, The Museum of Scent, which comes out on Oct. 31. Sunday, Oct. 22, 10 a.m. $15-20 (Admission to the garden is included with a ticket.)

🎃 The city’s Harvest Festival includes a seed swap, food trucks and several food contests, with categories for Best Cookies, Best Cucumber Pickle, Best Gluten-Free Baked Good, Best Salsa, and more (submissions must have a main ingredient that could feasibly be grown in Berkeley). Kids will get to ride a zipline, jump on giant inflatables, make scarecrows, decorate pumpkins, pet animals, play carnival games and more. As part of the city’s Ride Electric booth, anyone 18-plus will also be able to test ride an e-bike or e-scooter. Saturday, Oct. 21, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Cedar Rose Park. FREE

🧤 The Berkeley Path Wanderers Association, a volunteer group that helps maintain Berkeley’s many footpaths, is holding a Weekend Work Party to clear out weeds growing on the steps. Some gloves and tools are available, but you’re free to bring your own. Bring water! Sunday, Oct. 22, 10 a.m. (RSVP to receive location information.) 

🎻 Led by Dirty Cello frontwomen Rebecca Roundman and conducted by Jason Eckl, Renegade Orchestra unleashes a bevy of top Bay Area orchestral musicians on a repertoire encompassing Hendrix, Metallica, a bit of ragtime and Gypsy jazz. Sunday, Oct. 22, 1 p.m. Freight & Salvage. $24-$28

✏️ Kala Art Institute is also hosting a community figure drawing session, in which artists of all levels are invited to practice figure drawing with a live model. Drawing boards, standing easels and limited basic art supplies will be available. Monday, Oct. 23, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. $20-$35 (RSVP)

🎶 Led by Nikolay Kolev on gudulka, a traditional Balkan bowed string instrument, Bulgarika brings together five maestros who’ve been steeped in traditional Bulgarian music and rhythms since childhood. Tuesday, Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m. Ashkenaz. $20

📖 A monthly event hosted and curated by Sharon Coleman and Mk Chavez held the last Wednesday of the month, Lyrics & Dirges is a reading series featuring a mix of prominent, emerging and beginning writers intended to showcase the Bay Area’s diverse literary community with various forms of writing. Wednesday, Oct. 25, 7 p.m. Pegasus Books Shattuck. FREE

🎸 Celebrating the Oct. 10 release of her fifth album, Bittersweet, Juliana Finch is a North Carolina singer/songwriter and guitarist with a gift for distilling the vicissitudes of love and relationships with cool precision. Wednesday, Oct. 25, 8 p.m. The Back Room. $15-$18

🇺🇲 Berkeley Rep’s POTUS is a comedic, feminist satire about an incompetent president and the team of women responsible for keeping him out of trouble. Read our review. Through October 22. $34-$134

Beyond Berkeley

Kid sits on someone's shoulders during a festival at OMCA
A scene from a past Día de los Muertos event at OMCA. Credit: Christine Cueto

💚 Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency, or BOSS, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a fundraising event . The Berkeley nonprofit aims to help homeless, poor, and disabled people achieve health and self-sufficiency, and fight against the root causes of poverty and homelessness. Read our story. Thursday, Oct. 26, 5:30 p.m. 252 2nd St, Oakland. $230-plus

🎨 Eastside Arts Alliance, in partnership with ProArts Gallery & Commons, has a new exhibit by San Francisco-based Portuguese American artist Rigo 23 and collaborators called Intergalactic Blvd: an Oakland Portal. The exhibit uses sculpture, embroidery, drawings, paintings, and spoken word to re-imagine International Boulevard (called East 14th prior to 1996) as “Intergalactic Boulevard, a location for an autonomous portal for intercommunal connection.” Thursday to Saturday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., through Dec. 7, Eastside Arts Alliance, 2285 International Blvd, Oakland.

💀 This weekend, the Oakland Museum is hosting its annual Día de los Muertos event, starting with a procession to open the festivities. There will be altars throughout the museum’s gardens created by community members, family activities, music, and local artisans selling items to be used for ofrendas at home. People can also bring their own picnic to enjoy at the gardens. Access to the museum’s galleries is included with the ticket. Sunday, Oct. 22, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 1000 Oak St., Oakland. $10 (free for 12 and under)

If there’s an event you’d like us to consider for this roundup, email us at If there’s an event that you’d like to promote on our calendar, you can use the self-submission form on our events page.

The Oaklandside’s Arts and Community reporter Azucena Rasilla contributed reporting to this story.

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Iris Kwok covers the environment for Berkeleyside through a partnership with Report for America. A former music journalist, her work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, San Francisco Examiner...

Freelancer Andrew Gilbert writes a weekly music column for Berkeleyside. Andy, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, covers a wide range of musical cultures, from Brazil and Mali to India and Ireland....