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It’s Third Saturday in Oakland, and a new set of live music at Lounge 3411. Bands from all over the Bay bring local talent together for a show you won’t hear on Clear Channel radio. Since its launch in January, the “Bands of the Bay” series has attracted music fans to Lounge 3411, a nearly new bar on the border of the Dimond and Laurel neighborhoods. Even our bridge-weary neighbors who prefer to stay in San Francisco make the trip to Lounge 3411.

Host Dan Eagan scouts the talent for this monthly showcase, and says his inspiration comes from his travels as a musician. He came through Texas in 2007, where he played his guitar at various clubs. He writes:

What moved me to create “Bands of the Bay” was Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas. Music legends Stevie Ray Vaughan and George Strait were discovered here. Another legendary musician, Kent Finlay, hosts a Wednesday night gathering of songwriters, who would try out their original material hoping to hit the big time in Austin or Nashville. That Cheatham Street’s friendly, encouraging, and open creative discourse was something foreign to me. It felt very welcoming as a musician new to town.

In Texas, the musician is an occupation held in high esteem. This is a place where even the bus driver or police officer is working on a new song. Here in the Bay Area, I hope to encourage the same reverence for new music and spread that same encouragement Finlay gave to me.

After years of playing music in Oregon, Colorado, Texas and Wisconsin, I started hosting songwriter showcases in San Francisco and moved the showcase to Lounge 3411 when I returned to my native Oakland. We host full bands instead of acoustic songwriters and with less of an open mic format.

Tonight, Pennsylvania transplants Chris Morelli and Bob Pierce join forces with keyboardist Sarah Matthews to create a soulful sound with the Sarah Matthews band. Tyler Gordon of Falmouth, Massachusetts and his band Red Penny One emulates Ireland’s U2 and Jeremy Goodfeather plays a roots/blues with some western twang. Oakland’s own Caldecott delivers an alternative rock feel. Special guest Dylan Champagne opens the night with a songwriter set reminiscent of the late Elliot Smith.

The details:

Saturday, May 15
9 p.m.
Lounge 3411
3411 MacArthur Blvd.
$3

In case you haven’t noticed, a new venue has opened its doors in the Dimond district. Lounge 3411 is a new bar and live music hot spot with a new take on Bay tunes. It has a warm ambiance (think pomegranate-colored walls and plush love seats) and a neighborhood feel. Tonight they showcase their monthly “Bands of the Bay” series, which culls together a diverse sampling.

On the play list for tonight is a band named Fancy Dan. Its lead singer has a country swing  (think Cash meets Chris Isaak) and a rockabilly feel. Born in Michigan to a preacher and teacher, Fancy Dan moved out to the Bay to find an audience for his songs and found a thriving music community at San Francisco’s Hotel Utah.

His latest group dynamic—Michael Loebs on guitar, Mark Underwood on bass and Joe Gusich on drums—recorded the band’s second album in December. Rather than travel to Nashville, Tennessee, the site of Fancy Dan’s debut effort, they cut their recent tracks in the neighborhood, at Tiny Telephone.

(band photo)
In the studio with Fancy Dan, Michael Loebs, Mark Underwood and Joe Gusich (courtesy of FancyDanBand.com)

“We’re excited about the new album since its a lot different from the first one,” Fancy Dan says. “The sound of the band is evolving and we’re kind of getting away from the country and rockabilly style a bit. There’s still that American music influence for sure, but we’re doing some things that are a little out of our comfort zone.”

Their new tunes are a little less Hank Williams and a little more Ben E. King.

“For this new album I was very interested in blues, soul and R&B and couldn’t stop listening to people like Solomon Burke and Ben E. King when I was writing songs,” he adds. And as always, Fancy Dan mixes current and older sounds to set the tone. The result takes the self-described “humdinger folksinger, country stroller rock-and-roller” to a new level of soul. Like serving up a barbecue steak with a side of fried okra.

In other words: a Bay Area blend.

Get a taste of the Bay tonight, as Fancy Dan joins three other bands to pack Lounge3411. Singer and guitarist Dan (not the Fancy one) Eagan hosts the series.

The details:

Slow shopping isn’t just organic, it’s good for you.

It’s a lot better than heading to the mall, anyway. Holiday highway traffic and box store crowds are hard on your health. Take a look at Black Friday, with its long tradition of Cabbage Patch Kid stampedes and Tickle Me Elmo crazes. This year shoppers didn’t hit stores in their usual rabid fashion, though. Black Friday sales rose only 0.5 percent higher in 2009, even as Americans spent $10.66 billion the day after Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday brought up online purchases by 14% from 2008, indicating people stayed indoors after turkey day, pointing-and-clicking.

Let Oakland suggest a more festive alternative. Whether you wore black or plaid last Friday, this week bring out the green; find holiday gifts made and sold in Oakland. You’ll get out, stretch your legs (earning you an egg nogg) and see the streets decked out in holiday decor. Crisp air and sparkling lights beckon more brightly than the glow of a computer screen.

In a time of year when instances of road ragers and QVC sales increase, shopping locally will lead you to the perfect gift in little time. And it will help keep your neighbors in business. Here are some spots to check out…

December 5–6:

Holidayland Reception
Blank Space and Compound galleries continue their Paul Bunyan-themed artist sale, featuring the artwork of over 100 local artists, designers and craftspeople. In case you missed the sale launch last week, stop by for Oakland Art Murmur this Friday and take your picture with Paul’s ox Babe; your $5 mug shot goes to support Oakland high schools. Also in store for First Friday are tamales by Tina Tamale of La Borinquena. Sip on Mexican Hot Chocolate, munch on a green bean tamale and peruse the fine art for sale. Emily Sevier creates ornaments to wear on site.
Reception: Fri., Dec. 4, 6 p.m.–10 p.m., Sale through Dec. 20, Blankspace Gallery, 6608 San Pablo Ave., 510-547-6608, blankspacegallery.org.

CCA Holiday Fair
Students and alumni of the California College of the Arts, will turn the campus into an arts bazaar Saturday morning. Have your pick of original paintings, jewelry, textiles, paper media and more. As you browse, enjoy complimentary jazz and treats.
Sat., Dec. 5, 11 a.m.–2:40 p.m., California College of the Arts 5212 Broadway, glee@cca.edu, cca.edu.

Piedmont Avenue Tree Lighting Ceremony & Holiday Stroll
Merchants along one of the city’s oldest business districts show some holiday flair for the shopping season. L’Amyx sells its quality teas (and accoutrements) at a 10–25 percent discount, and feature musician Michael Grandi plays jazz guitar and Cascada de Flores some Cuban folk tunes from 6 p.m.–10 p.m. The tree lighting ceremony (one of three scheduled in Oakland this week) begins the festivities, near the clock tower towering over the Mexican-American diner, J’s Hamburger & Such.
Sat., Dec. 5, 5 p.m. to closing, 41st St. and Piedmont Avenue, piedmontavenuemerchants.org.

Annual Pottery and Craft Sale
Studio One Art Center offers the best of both worlds during the giving season: gifts and a good cause. Purchase any art piece and all the proceeds go to fund Oakland’s youth programming.
Sun., Dec. 6, 12 p.m.–4 p.m., 365 45th St., 510-597-5027, oaklandnet.com/parks.

Fourth Annual Holiday Reception & ArtWalk
Back in the days when corporate plants dominated the landscape, the factory workers used to jangle their pay in-pocket, earning the neighborhood the name “Jingletown.” These days the arts drive the industry here instead of Ford Motor Company, and the products are more climate-friendly. Don’t miss photographer Jan Watten‘s portraits, Sarah Swell‘s metal-wrought jewelry or the Institute of Mosaic Art, whose gorgeous tile murals tag the warehouses on Chapman Street. Download an ArtWalk map here.
Reception: Fri., Dec. 4, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.; Gallery 4:20, 420 Peterson St.; ArtWalk: Dec. 5–6, 12–13, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., when you’ve reached the intersection of Peterson and Ford streets, you’re in the epicenter of ArtWalk, jingletown.org.

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December 12–13:

Holiday Buy Night
Pro-local Oakland Unwrapped and Oakland Grown are just two of the merchant organizations sponsoring this “Mall-ternative” to box store shopping. Products at this evening fair have more variety than a box of See’s candy, with everything from candles to kayaks for sale. Linden Street Brewery keeps customers warm with the launch of its Bleeding Heart Lager, a name that characterizes the most die-hard of Oaklanders.
Dec. 10–11, 5 p.m.–10 p.m., Jack London Market, 55 Harrison St., oaklandunwrapped.org.

Holiday Gifty Art Sale
The Crucible, largely responsible for the upsurge in the Oakland’s art scene, hosts more than 70 Bay Area artisans for this annual gift fair. Each booth standing on their 56,000 square foot space holds new surprises without the high retail prices. Also, sale-goers see demonstrations of what makes the Crucible tick year-round; glass blowing, metal casting and blacksmithing demonstrations wow crowds (11 a.m.–3 p.m.), between live performances and Santa’s appearance (1 p.m.).
Dec. 12–13, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., 1260 7th St., thecrucible.org.

Winter Arts Fair
Join Mercury 20 gallery to select artfully rendered pottery, mixed media, tote bags, jewelry and more. One of the several artists to participate is Chela Fielding, who brings her mixed media to the sale. One of her installation pieces, the charming and stark “Memory Drawers,” was pictured in a book called “Memory Boxes” by Anna Corbin. The hidden objects give the work a nostalgic feel, like a well-loved advent calendar. No chocolate Santa Clauses here, though. Cheer and refreshments however will be served.
11 a.m.–5 p.m., 25 Grand Ave., 510-701-4620, mercurytwenty.com.

Second Annual Temescal Holiday Skate & Stroll
The outdoor ice skating rink takes center stage at this neighborhood fair, with sales proceeds benefiting Good Cents for Oakland and the Emerson School. Once you’ve reprised “The Nutcracker” on ice, peek into the charming stores in the Temescal. All weekend long, hear carolers and dunk candy canes in hot chocolate. On Sunday, artist Mark Brest van Kempen unveils his city-sponsored art series—“Views of the Greenbelt”—sculptures that reflect the flora and fauna of the Rockridge-Temescal neighborhoods.
Dec. 12–13, 12:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m., Telegraph Avenue and 49th Street, temescaldistrict.org.

Local Love
Manifesto Bicycles is just one of the retailers spicing up 40th Street for holiday consumption. On Saturday it fetes 40th Street with the Local Love collective, a band of block merchants, including the Rowan Morrison Gallery, 1-2-3-4 Go! Records and the city’s premier mag shop: Issues.
Dec. 12, 6 p.m.–9 p.m., 40th Street and Broadway, 510-595-1155, wearemanifesto.com.

Fourth Annual Holiday Reception & ArtWalk
Back in the days when corporate plants dominated the landscape, the factory workers used to jangle their pay in-pocket, earning the neighborhood the name “Jingletown.” These days the arts drive the industry here instead of Ford Motor Company, and the products are more climate-friendly. Don’t miss photographer Jan Watten‘s portraits, Sarah Swell‘s metal-wrought jewelry or the Institute of Mosaic Art, whose gorgeous tile murals tag the warehouses on Chapman Street. Download an ArtWalk map here.
ArtWalk: Dec. 5–6, 12–13, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., when you’ve reached the intersection of Peterson and Ford streets, you’re in the epicenter of ArtWalk, jingletown.org.

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Out-of-town & Ongoing:

Renegade Craft Fair
Oaklandish represents The O in SF with its line of pop-historical wear. This homegrown outfit makes the best threads for those tapped into Oakland’s cultural underbelly. And Oaklandish is just one of hundreds more Bay Area vendors setting up shop at Fort Mason, which hosted the wildly successful Slow Food Festival two summers ago. Renegade’s combination of small businesses and big markets provide ample tasting of the region’s indie art.
Dec. 19–20, 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Fort Mason Center, Herbst Pavilion, San Francisco renegadecraft.com.

Berkeley Holiday Artisans Open Studios
This recurring gallery crawl has an Oakland Art Murmur feel, and this winter it comes in holiday dressing. A self-guided tour leads you through every type studio shop and material imaginable, from leather to glass to semi-precious stones.
Dec. 5–6, 12–13, 19–20, Berkeley, 510-845-2612, berkeleyartisans.com.

Holiday Warehouse Sale
Fair trade goods are in abundance at this warehouse sale. It’s hosted by the World of Good, an organization and think-tank that works to improve living conditions for women living on less than $2 a day. World of Good helps millions of women and adolescent girls in the developing world. You can help by purchasing a gift at the sale; items are as little as $5 and discounts as great at 90%.
Dec. 5–6, 9 a.m.–6 p.m., 6315 Doyle St., Emeryville, worldofgood.org.

Oakland Artisan Marketplace
For those who miss this year’s slow shopping events, swing by this marketplace year-round. Each weekend Oakland artisans open up their folding tables and display their wares. More often than not, you’ll find Paula Chan among the vendors; her line includes handcrafted jewelry and frame-worthy cards and she’s always working on something new.
Fri., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at Frank Ogawa Plaza; Sat., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. at Jack London Square; Sun., 10 a.m.–5 p.m. at Jack London Square, oaklandculturalarts.org.

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