El Cerrito: Memories, artifacts and more at Portola Junior High celebration Sept. 26

portola 1953

The buildings of Portola Junior High School in El Cerrito are gone, but the memories of the generations of West County students who attended there live on and will be celebrated at a gala event from 7 to 10 p.m. Sept. 26 at the El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane.
Tickets are still available for the Portola Junior High School History Celebration, which will feature dancing to live music by The Sundowners, a band of Portola alumni, no-host food and drink and a silent auction of artifacts from the school similar to those pictured here.
Tickets are $20 general, or $10 for past and present WCCUSD teachers, available by clicking here.
For more details contact Marnie Fricke Mufti at 510-410-5028 or marniemufti@gmail.com; or Donna Houser at 510-508-6830 houserini@sbcglobal.net.

portola fogerty 8th grade
Can you spot future music great John Fogerty in his Portola class picture from eighth grade in 1958-59? (Answer below).

portola growing up

portola polly posture


portola flier

(Answer: John Fogerty is in the front row behind the “6”.)


Richmond’s Salesian High raising funds for Middletown High School students in Valley Fire

Salesian College Preparatory in Richmond is raising funds for its counterparts at Middletown High School in the aftermath of the Valley Fire and is asking for community support. Salesian made the following announcement Thursday on the school’s Facebook page:

Salesian College Preparatory sends its thoughts and prayers to our long-time friends and sports rivals at Middletown High School who were affected by the Valley Fire. In order to show our support, the Salesian community members are organizing a fundraising drive for Middletown High. We are accepting cash or check donations and will be sending 100% of our collections to Middletown High School. We will be accepting donations throughout the end of day tomorrow and once again during the week of Triduum. Let’s join together to help our friends at Middletown High School.
For more information on how to give, contact us at (510)234-4433. Thank you for considering to help our friends in need.


El Cerrito: Free performances continue Sept. 12 and 19 at Down Home Music

pete madsen
Blues Guitarist Pete Madsen

More free in-store concerts are coming up at Down Home Music, 10341 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito.

Blues guitarist Pete Madsen performs
at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12.

If you’re a pre-war acoustic old-time blues kinda gal, come out to Down Home Music THIS SATURDAY to hear local guitar maestro Pete Madsen take us on a journey through early blues traditions as we celebrate the lives of Gus Cannon (b. 9/12/1883), Texas Alexander (b. 9/12/1900), and Frank Stokes (d. 9/12/1955). A professional guitarist and educator for over twenty years, Pete has authored three books of guitar instruction for Hal Leonard, and written numerous lessons and reviews for Acoustic Guitar, Play Guitar and Frets magazines. Pete’s solo act (which is what you’ll hear Saturday) is rooted mainly in acoustic blues, ragtime, and slide guitar, but he can also be heard at times playing with the whacky Bungee Jumping Cows — a group of musicians and educators who play science-themed Rock and Roll.

Bay Area country music group Crying Time will put on a show at Down Home at 2 p.m. Sept. 19.


Point Richmond presenting string band and slide guitar at free show Friday

Slide guitar artist Dennis Johnson.

Here is the lineup for the next show in the Point Richmond Music concert series from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m. Sept. 11 on the outdoor stage at Park Place and Washington Avenue:

Friday, September 11th
The Rusty String Express (Bluegrass) www.facebook.com/therustystringexpress
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
The Rusty String Express (RSE) celebrates string band traditions of the past while stretching into the unknown, creating original music with unique and familiar flavors. The RSE is an exciting mash up of acoustic excitement, bubbling creativity, and excellent musicianship, with Aaron Balano on dobro, Alison Bailey Streich on violin, Greg Dunn on bass and Morgan Cochneuer on guitar. These four magnetic musicians are masterful wielders of their instruments, and their music ranges from sensitive and soulful interpretations to wild and unexpected music you’ve never heard before.

Dennis Johnson & the Mississippi Ramblers (Slide Guitar) www.dennisjohnsonslide.com
6:45 pm – 7:45 pm
Slide guitarist Dennis Johnson is one of the elite slide guitar players performing today. Drawing comparisons to Robert Johnson and Roy Rogers, Dennis Johnson masterfully elevates the art of slide guitar across many genres of music including Blues, New Orleans, Rock, and Swing. Dennis Johnson and his band, The Mississippi Ramblers, deliver stirring live performances that move audiences and get people dancing!

This year’s series concludes with this concert on Sept. 25:

Soji & The Afrobeats (Nigerian) www.sojisoundz.com
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Nigeria’s legendary guitar master and singer Soji Odukogbe was the lead guitarist for the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s groundbreaking Afrobeat band. Odukogbe draws on an extensive background in Nigerian Afrobeat, highlife, and spiritual music, bringing a unique sensibility to his highlife guitar interpretations. His Afrobeat Band features guitars, drums, and horns. He and the band set the dance floor afire with a churning, polyrhythmic style that he simply calls “authentic original Afrobeat like Fela’s type of music, the traditional Afrobeat that nobody does” in a world of endless Afro-fusions.

Sol (Latin) www.solrocks.com
6:45 pm – 7:45 pm
SOL’s infectious Latin beat warms the souls of all audiences and gets people dancing to the rhythms of Salsa and Funk and Soul. Led by the versatile vocalist Myrna Farias, SOL covers popular songs from Santana to Celia Cruz and Tito Puente to Tower of Power. The high energy band is driven by a hard rocking rhythm section, Latin percussionists, and four horn players. Based in San Francisco, The SOL musicians bring a diverse blend of influences from Latin, Rock and Jazz to create their own unique mix of Latin music for the 21st century.


Richmond Rosies saluted by their counterparts in Michigan

congrats richmond rosies

Richmond is home to the national tribute to the World War II home front and on Aug. 15 the city set a new world record for a Guinness Book world record for the most women dressed as Rosie the Riveter gathered in one place at one time since the war.
That has earned a salute from the women who previously held the record, accomplished last year at the famed Willow Run Michigan plant that built bombers during the war.
They also issued what amounts to a challenge and could become an annual event.

Sincerest congratulations to the ladies of Richmond, CA on beating our Guinness World Record for the Most Rosie the Riveters. The contribution of Wendy the Welder and other women shipyard workers was essential to victory in WWII, as was the contribution of homefront workers across the nation in every imaginable job. Thank you, Richmond, for joining us in honoring “Rosie” and her sisters. Of course, we hope to bring the record back to Michigan soon, but for now it is in good hands in California!


El Cerrito Democratic Club hosting talk on cannabis reform on Aug. 25

The El Cerrito Democratic Club will host a talk by Sean Donahoe on “Cannabis Policy Reform in California” at its meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 25 at 545 Ashbury Ave. in El Cerrito.

Donahoe is a cannabis policy reform advocate and owner of Operative Campaigns LLC.

Donahoe is an Oakland resident who co-founded the California Cannabis Industry Association in early 2013 after years of political consulting. He “is regularly in the Capitol or traveling around the state, speaking with activists and electeds while organizing this industry with an activist mindset. In addition to his work with CCIA, he helped write the United Food and Commercial Workers national organizing plan for the cannabis industry, served on the executive board of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, created several political action committees, and advised several local ballot measure committees last year. He currently serves on the City of Oakland’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission and has a monthly political article in Culture magazine.”

The meeting is open to the public.
The meeting starts with a 6 p.m. social time, followed by club announcements before the talk by Donahoe at 6:30 p.m.


Richmond restaurant Salute holding event Sunday to launch new charity fund

A public gala will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23 at Salute e Vita Ristorante, 1900 Esplanade Dr. in the Marina Bay area in Richmond to kick off a new charity being created by restaurant owner Menbere “Menbe” Aklilu.

Aklilu has already received recognition for holding free annual Thanksgiving feasts for veterans and others in need at the waterfront restaurant and the launch party on Sunday will benefit the new Menbe’s Way Fund.

Entertainment will be by Oakland-based jazz quintet the Clifton Street Regulars and several wineries will offer tastings, according to an announcement.

“Donations to support this year’s Thanksgiving meals are optional but greatly appreciated, and there will be a small silent auction at the event.”

Akilu has provided more than 3,000 free, Thanksgiving meals over the past four years and hosts free etiquette courses on manners and life skills for young people at the restaurant.
“She also donates to the Richmond Rescue Shelter, sponsors girls who attend Northern Lights School, and contributes to Delta Academy, which educates underprivileged boys and girls,” notes the event announcement.

The Menbe’s Way Fund will be managed by the nonprofit Richmond Community Foundation and will support current efforts in the community as well as new programs.

“Aklilu has suffered unspeakable hardships in her life, including witnessing the murder of her mother in Ethiopia, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and giving birth to her son in a homeless shelter.

“Today this remarkable woman is an inspirational community leader in the East Bay. Earlier this year, she was honored with the prestigious Jefferson Award for her outstanding achievements in public service.

“The Menbe’s Way Fund launch party is one of several events being held this year to raise funds for Thanksgiving meals and other programs. For more information, please call (510) 215-0803.”


Richmond: Entertainment, activities, classroom supplies at RPAL Back to School Carnival

rpal carnival

The Richmond Police Activities League (RPAL) and Richmond Police Explorer Post are hosting a Back to School Carnival and Festival today through Sunday (Aug. 21-23) at 25th Street and Barrett Avenue.
Today is opening day from 5 to 11 p.m., with games, face painting, food and vendors along with carnival rides from Helm and Sons Amusements.
The carnival rides will be offered all three days, with a 10-ride ticket book available for $20.
The carnival continues From noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, with a giveaway of backpacks and school supplies and a chance to meet community leaders.
“We plan to encourage youth to go back to school with a positive mental attitude and better prepared for school. PG&E and the Hotel Mac, along with other supporters, will sponsor the backpack give away, including school supplies and other important information and safety tips to help our youth succeed in school and feel safe,” write event organizers.
The event concludes with Family Day from noon to 11 p.m. Sunday, with a picture booth, games, more giveaways and other attractions.
For more details contact Richmond PAL at 510-621-1221.