Berkeley Art House Hosted a David Rovics – Eric Drooker Concert for Tristan Anderson
Click here to see “Justice for Tristan“ on Facebook for Updates. There is a rally scheduled for Thursday, March 13 at Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland from 4-7 pm: 4 pm Free Feast!; 5 pm Speakers; 6 pm 5th Anniversary March in Solidarity with Tristan Anderson & Palestine! Oscar Grant Plaza is a a 160,000-square-foot (15,000 m2) public space formerly known as Frank H. Ogawa Plaza and it was the home of Occupy Oakland. It is located where San Pablo Avenue converges with Broadway and 14th Street. Justice4Tristan@gmail.com
Berkeley’s Art House, formally known as “Art House Gallery & Cultural Center” is an institutional gem of an asset for Berkeley. It was founded by Harold Adler, who is well-known for his photography. Although the Art House Gallery seems to be situated in a very commercial area at 2905 Shattuck Ave, the city has lately required that the sound system be cut off at 8 pm. So the concerts of yesteryear with full bands amplified are no longer held in the evening. Singers just have to project as loud as they can in the room that seems capable of seating 30-50 people by my guess. Audiences there tend to be quiet and attentive during the performances anyway. Upcoming shows listed at the Art House Gallery website show Poetry Unbounded #10 set for Sunday March 2 from 5-8 pm with Joan Gelfand, David Shadduck, and Todd Temkin. Ron Thompson is scheduled for a concert on Saturday, March 15 at 8 pm. You can follow or subscribe at http://berkeleyarthouse.wordpress.com
The event held yesterday, Sunday, Feb 23, was a benefit for activist Tristan Anderson that featured David Rovics and Eric Drooker, who also happen to be old friends from New York. Tristan delivered a short slide show about his Central American travels that predated his injury in Palestine by an Israeli soldier firing a tear gas grenade into his skull. It is easy to overlook that Tristan was a long-time rights activist before he became more widely known as a result of his injuries in Palestine. He is partially paralyzed now. He sat in a wheel-chair in his hoodie. Nonetheless, his recovery was described as “miraculous considering the extent of his injuries”, according to his stalwart friend Ayre. A law suit is proceeding, and it was mentioned that, so far, they have been unsuccessful in discovering which Israeli troop fired the shot at Tristan’s head. It happened after a demonstration was well finished and was therefore considered quite intentional, stated Ayre. There is an ongoing civil case against the State of Israel and they need funds to push that forward.
David Rovics gave a stellar performance of original topical songs. He is the closest artist to a Broadside Balladeer like Phil Ochs that I can think of today in that he is incredibly prolific on a broad swath of controversial subjects and not afraid to take them on. The songs he performed at Art House included a couple of songs shouted out to him by his little daughter Leila who is traveling with him on this California road trip. She wanted to hear the song about the famous Greek protest dog, “Riot Dog”. There’s an article in David’s “Songwriter’s Blog” titled “Travels With Leila” that shows the fatherly role that David enjoys. In “Prism”, the name of a surveillance program of the NSA, he says, “I looked into a prism and what did I see? I saw a police state looking back at me.”
Eric Drooker combined singing, banjo playing and occasionally harmonica, to accompaniment of a highly captivating slide show of scenes from his own art, which reminded me of the old wood prints. He is known for getting his art on the New Yorker magazine while also contributing art to various causes, such as Occupy Oakland and the cover of David Rovic’s latest CD. Find out more about the amazingly multi-talented Eric Drooker and see the prints that has to sell right here: http://www.drooker.com
Paul Larudee, a veteran of the Gaza Flotilla attempts to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip, and many other actions with the Palestinian Solidarity Movement, spoke briefly about the continuing human rights violations and terrible conditions in Palestine under occupation. You can read his blog here: http://www.palestinefreedom.org/speakers/paul-larudee
“Spies Are Reading My Blog” comes from his real life experience in trying to play a gig in New Zealand and being prevented from entering. Someone obviously does not like what he is singing about. “Everything Can Change” was a fitting last song. David may sing about some depressing troubles, but he is not singing for any reason other than to inspire people to participate in meaningful social change aimed at peace through justice. You can follow David Rovics by subscribing to his mailing list at his web site. http://davidrovics.com
Harold Adler told me about his travels in Nicaragua in 2005 when I asked him about the photo display on the inside side wall of Art House. He found it very depressing, but inspiring to see how people struggle in the most adverse conditions.
There was also a conversation that I had with some Oakland activists that will motivate me to post a short blog next about something they called the Oakland wiki on “Domain Awareness Center”. Very disturbing indeed! The post about the new Homeland Security funded corporate outsourced surveillance program coming to Oakland is now posted here in BERKELEY CALLING.