653 Chenery Street
in San Francisco's Glen Park neighborhood

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Tuesday to Sunday
noon to six


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Hardly Strictly + Litquake

If you’re ready to trail back to the neighborhood Sunday afternoon, Oct. 6th, by 4:30 or so — after three or four days of Golden Gate Park crowds for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass — we’ll extend the spirit of the affair here at Bird & Beckett.  And a week later, Litquake begins — and will include two big Bird & Beckett events.  Read on!

Laurel-Thomsen-2013-by-Michelle-MagdalenaSunday, October 6th, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm, our “which way west?” series presents Laurel Thomsen, violinist, violist and singer-songwriter, who’s enthralled us before on the bookshop’s stage with her gorgeous flights through old-time Americana, Celtic tunes and originals.   In her recent collaborations she’s been reported to be quite the Blues and Grappeli-esque fiddler as well! A Monterey, California native, Laurel trained classically, but in her early twenties found a home playing in bands, doing studio work, backing singer-songwriters, and as the New York Times reported, being one of those cutting edge teachers moving their private studios online via Skype. At Bird & Beckett, Laurel will entertain with all original songwriting, honed over four months touring Canada and the western US this summer in promotion of two new CDs. Visit www.laurelthomsen.com.  “This concert in our home drew a standing ovation and demand for encores. Everyone left with big smiles!” ~Margo and Tyler Baker, house concert hosts — “I can’t stop crying, your music is so beautiful.” ~Elizabeth, a fan — “Any grounded, sound-minded person would have a perm-grin throughout your show.” ~Berri, a fan


Then, the annual Litquake shakes up the city for nine days of readings and performances– and Bird & Beckett will present two major events on the Litquake roster.  The first is across town at the Vogue Theatre on Sacramento (at Presidio) on Sunday, October 13th, while the second will be back in the bookshop on Thursday, October 17th –  both events start at 7:00 pm.  Details follow:

Sunday, October 13th, 7:00 pm at the Vogue Theatre:
Bird & Beckett, in association with Litquake, presents
“Mohin’s Horses: South Asian Oral Literature, Poetry & Music.” 

We’ve put together an exciting program of poetry, theatre, music and film for the opening weekend of Litquake that will feature:

— Playwright Ranjon Ghosal performing a 30-minute segment of his full-length one-man play based on ranjon ghoshalRabindranath Tagore’s crucial speech titled “The Crisis of Civilisation”, which Tagore delivered just months before his death at age 83.  The play takes a look at Tagore’s life work and these pivotal thoughts expressed eloquently at the very end, in 1941, as the world teetered on the brink of chaos and collapse.  Ranjon Ghosal is traveling from his home in Bangalore in the South Indian state of Karnataka for this event and for a performance of the complete play in the East Bay later the same week.

— Sri Lankan Poetry in Tamil and in English Translation.  In anticipation of a forthcoming anthology from Penguin India, we’ll read poems in Tamil and in English translation rendered by local Tamil scholar Rebecca Whittington.  Editor Kannan M. will be arriving in the Bay Area a few days after our event to present the material at UC Berkeley and other universities around the country before returning to his home in Pondicherry, where he’s a researcher in contemporary Tamil culture.

— Two music documentaries:  “Endless Journey: The Story of Baul Singer Subal Das” and “Mohiner Ghoraghuli Remembers Gautam Chattopadhyay”. 

Baul singer Subal Da

Baul singer Subal Da

The Baul tradition dates back to the 15th century in the east Indian region we now think of as Bengal and Bangladesh.  Bauls are nonmaterialistic wandering mystics, with an oral tradition of storytelling and song that is vast in its cosmology and syncretic in its sources.  One immediately thinks of the Rastafarians of Jamaica when encountering these individuals, though their direct tradition reaches back much farther, or is at least more easily traced.  Tagore in his work was influenced by the Bauls, though he took some their concepts in a much more Western-oriented direction.  Ladly Mukherjee’s 25 minute film “The Endless Journey” is a profile of of one such Baul singer, Subal Das. 

Gautam Chadttopadhyay

Gautam Chadttopadhyay

Bishu Chatterjee’s 11 minute film, “Mohiner Ghoraguli Remembers Gautam Chattopadhyay” looks at a musician, songwriter and filmmaker who is now a legendary forefather of much that has happened in Bengali indie rock music in the past couple of decades.  Gautam, with his brothers Pradip and Bishu and their cousin Ranjon Ghosal, were the core of the band Mohiner Ghoraguli (“Mohin’s Horses,” so named from a poem by mid-20th century East Bengali writer Jibonananda Das) — and it was Gautam who was the charismatic and visionary center of the band.  He’s thought of now as a sort of Dylan of his time and era, and did significant work in film and theatre as well as music.

— Live Performance by Bengal & Beyond.  Bassist and composer/songwriter Bishu Chatterjee leads this band, which features renowned Bengal and Beyond-2Carnatic saxophone player Prasant Radhakrishnan as well as drummer Bryan Bowman and vocalist Sharmila Guha.  At once highlighting and merging American jazz, South Indian classical music and the Bengali folk-rock tradition that sprang from the work of Mohiner Ghoraguli in 1970s Kolkata, this band plays an intriguing and rich blend of music that transcends any expectations you might have.  Undoubtedly, Ranjon Ghosal will be enticed to join with his cousin Bishu and Bishu’s colleagues on stage for this performance.

And one more Litquake event to preview here!

Poet Kim Shuck

Poet Kim Shuck

Thursday, October 17th at the bookshop on Chenery Street in Glen Park, 7 pm: 

Bird & Beckett in association with Litquake presents “Cherokee Voices” –  Poets Kim Shuck and Indira Allegra joined by folksinger Ed Dang for a program of poetry and music, followed by an open mic hosted by Jerry Ferraz.  Kim Shuck is a poet, weaver, educator, doer of piles of laundry, planter of seeds, traveler and child wrangler. She was born in her mother’s hometown of San Francisco, one hill away from where she now lives. She is a career artist in textiles and words. Her first book, Smuggling Cherokee, won the first book award from the Native Writer’s Circle of the Americas. Her new book, Rabbit Stories is being described as a ‘treasure’ and ‘like being given a basket of magic’.

indira-allegraIndira Allegra is a poet and interdisciplinary artist whose work explores forms of queer intimacy, text, trauma and racial identity through performance, video works and handwoven textiles. Her preferred material is the fragment in the form of a dissident word
relationship, weft thread or jump cut between visual associations.

Folksinger Ed Dang will complete the program of featured readers/performers.  Ed is a biologist, a lover of stringed instruments and a complex protein. He draws aural inspiration from the like of Mississippi John Hurt, Kris Kristofferson and Leo Kottke.

Peripatetic bard Jerry Ferraz, a San Francisco original, hosts our “Third Thursdays” series, and referees the open mic!


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The Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project

Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.

The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
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The Independent Musicians Alliance

Gigging musicians! You have nothing to lose but your lack of a collective voice to achieve fair wages for your work!
The IMA can be a conduit for you, if you join in to make it work.


Read more here - Andy Gilbert's Feb 25 article about the IMA from KQED's site

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