Rihanaa Plays the Arena

Also, Island City Waterways, Elephants, and Hills



Photo courtesy of the performer

Kids best know Rihanna from the Dreamworks animated movie Home, where she voiced a teenage girl who thwarts an alien invasion of clueless octopoid aliens while being continuously upstaged by the comedy antics of an adorable roly-poly calico cat named Pig. It’s probably the only time that Rihanna, famous for her flamboyant costumes, surreal music videos, and raw commanding voice, has ever been upstaged.

The 28-year-old songstress is known for constantly reinventing her image to stay in the public eye, taking a page from her idol Madonna, and it’s no wonder. It was her ostentatious style that first attracted notice when the teenage Rihanna and her high school band auditioned for record producers in 2003. It was soon apparent that she had the sound as well as the look: Her first two studio albums quickly reached the top 10 on the the Billboard 200 Chart, and today she is an international music sensation with eight Grammy awards and more than 50 million albums sold.

Her early music drew deeply from her Caribbean roots as a Barbados native, but her later albums also incorporated American hip-hop and European electronica music, like the ’80s pop/rhythm-and-blues fusion earworm “Umbrella.” But she’s still not as funny as that cat.

Rihanna performs live with special guest Travi$ Scott at the Oracle Arena. May 7, 7:30 p.m. $30-$151. Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland. www.Coliseum.com.




Maritime Crossroads

Island City Waterways brings an interactive art show to Alameda.

Today it’s called “The Island City,” but Alameda wasn’t always an island. It started out as a peninsula, divided from Oakland by low-lying marsh but technically still connected to the mainland. It was only in 1902, when a channel was dug through the natural estuary to accommodate shipping traffic, that Alameda came to stand apart and eventually grow into one of the largest, busiest shipyards in the country. In May, Rhythmix Cultural Works celebrates this pivotal moment in city history with Island City Waterways, an interactive, multipart, public performance art show. Take a journey along the water’s edge—stopping at sites between the Fruitvale and the Park Street bridges to experience art installations, dance performances, music, and stories bringing to life the history of Alameda’s past as the crossroads of Pacific maritime traffic. Among other events, actor Ed Holmes will spin yarns of the city’s early immigrant dockworkers, and muralist Mark Wagner will sketch a large sidewalk drawing about the tidal canals. May 20-May 22, 10:30 a.m.-noon, 12:30-2 p.m., 2:30-4 p.m. Free. Arrive 30 minutes early to park and register. Participation will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave., Alameda. www.Rhythmix.org.



Celebrating Elephants

The Oakland Zoo puts pachyderms front and center.

They carried Hannibal across the Alps, inspired the story of Dumbo, and sparked the elephant joke: For centuries, people have marveled at elephants. Not just because of their size, but mostly because they seem so much like us with their close-knit families and their gentle intelligence. The Oakland Zoo praises the precious pachyderms with the perfect party when it holds its 20th Annual Celebrating Elephants Gala. Light refreshments will be provided, and guests can participate in a silent auction and raffle to win prizes donated by local restaurants, breweries, shops, and artists. Cynthia Moss, world-renowned elephant expert and the founder and director of Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya, will speak about the fate of these gentle giants and what’s being done to save them. Proceeds will benefit the Amboseli Trust. May 21. 6-9 p.m. $40-$100. Zimmer Auditorium, Oakland Zoo, 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland. www.OaklandZoo.org.

On May 28, the whole family can appreciate elephants with extra elephant-sized activities scattered throughout the zoo on Celebrating Elephants Day. Kids can handle elephant bones, try to lift an 11-pound tooth, or compare their shoe-size to an elephant’s footprint. All elephanted out after that? Circus Finelli, an animal-free circus show, will take to the stage at the children’s zoo with comedy, acrobatics, juggling, dance, and live music. May 28. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Elephant barn tours at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Circus Finelli performs noon-2 p.m. Free with zoo admission; elephant barn tours are $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 16 years old. Oakland Zoo, 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland. www.OaklandZoo.org.



A Natural State

The hills are alive in El Cerrito.

El Cerrito’s Hillside Natural Area is more than 100 acres of untouched oak forests and open scrubland, a haven for birds, a museum for trees, and a home for opossums, foxes, and squirrels, not to mention a mecca for hikers. The Trail Trekkers aim to keep it that way, and the Third Annual Hillside Festival is the perfect way to appreciate this outdoor gem and help preserve it for future generations of outdoorsmen.

This daylong festival includes a tree hike, a bird expedition with a guide from the local Audubon Society, an interpretive hike discussing the history of the wilderness area from the early 1900s to the present day, giveaways, and geo-caching. Berkeley author and historian Richard Schwartz will talk about the legacy of El Cerrito’s Indian tribes, both before the arrival of Spanish explorers and later during the years of Mexican rule.

Kids can play Hillside bingo, hunting down fence lizards and manzanita trees to capture in photographs and win prizes. May 15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free but donations welcome. All funds help improve and maintain the Hillside Natural Area. Hillside Natural Area, Schmidt Lane, near EC Recycling Center, El Cerrito. www.ECTrailTrekkers.org.

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