Best Bets: ‘Ain’t Too Proud,’ Desi Comedy Festival, guitar masters, and more

Chavalos Danzas por Nicaragua is slated to perform at Fiesta Alameda Saturday at Alameda Point. (Courtesy Chavalos Danzas por Nicaragua)

Freebie of the week: Alameda Point is known for being the former home of the Naval Air Station Alameda, amazing Bay and San Francisco views, and teeming birdlife. It’s also home to a fledgling arts scene.

Spearheaded by the West End Arts Project, the community has plans for a 500-seat Performing Arts Center and has launched the Radium Runway Project, with the goal of a year-round arts events and performances. Some festivals already are taking place at the Performing Arts Center site, including the annual Blues, Brews and BBQ, as well as Fiesta Alameda, which returns this weekend for the second year.

Besides being in a place of eye-popping beauty, the celebration of Latin art, music, dance and culture features Latin foods and plentiful drinks, with offerings from Building 43 Winery and Del Cielo Brewery. Rhythmix Cultural Works provides arts and crafts projects for kids and adults.

The full slate of live music and dance performers includes percussionist Mio Flores and his Salsazz Allstars, Costa de Oro Ballet Folklorico, the Brazilian band Namorados da Lua, Central American dance group Chavalos Danzas por Nicaragua, and salsa outfit Julio Bravo y su Orquesta Salsabor. DJ Rockin’ Raul Castro will also be spinning tunes throughout the festival.

The event runs from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Alameda Point Taxiway, 2151 Ferry Point. Admission is free. More information is at

From left, Harrell Holmes Jr., Jalen Harris, Elijah Ahmad Lewis, E. Clayton Cornelious and Michael Andreaus star in “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” (Emilio Madrid/ Broadway San Jose)

Tempted by the Temptations: It was a little more than six years ago that prize-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau, known for her Detroit-based works, debuted the rollicking musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The show was part of a long Bay Area tradition of launching musicals bound for Broadway, including “Wicked,” “American Idiot” (the Green Day musical) and “Legally Blonde.” While some so-called “jukebox musicals” throw together a string of related songs with a threadbare story line, “Ain’t Too Proud” stays faithful to the songs and storyline of The Temptations.

And it should. The group remains one of the most influential R&B bands in pop music history, with 42 Top 10 hits (14 of which hit No. 1) and an exhilarating show featuring dance moves that other groups have been copying for years. Though the band’s storyline might not be unique — boys form band, band makes it big, personality clashes and drug issues ensue — it remains compelling and dovetails with the arrival of the civil rights era. Mostly, it’s all about the songs (“Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Cloud Nine,” Ball of Confusion,” “My Girl” and on and on) and those killer dance moves. The musical, now on its first national tour, stops for a short run this week about 45 miles south of where it all started, at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.

Presented by Broadway San Jose, “Ain’t Too Proud” is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $39-$104 (subject to change). Go to

Bay Area comedian Samson Koletkar is founder and organizer of Desi Comedy Tour, as well as one of its performers. (Courtesy Samson Koletkar)

Laughing matters: South Asia’s deep economic and cultural impact on the Bay Area has enriched life here in many ways. Perhaps one of the lesser-known ways is the Desi Comedy Festival. Billed as the largest South Asian comedy show in America, the touring event born in the Bay Area is back this weekend for the ninth year with stops in Santa Clara and San Francisco.

The typically deep and impressive lineup includes Los Angeles standup comedian Abhay Nadkarni; Indian/Haitian comedian Aurora Singh; Bay Area comedian Imran G, a former rocket scientist; Bay Area comedian Kavita Singh, whose act has been billed a “vagina monologue”; former Upright Citizens Brigade member Omid Singh; Bay Area comedian and founder of the Cougar Comedy Collective Priya Guyadeen; Sunnyvale comedian Priya Puram, a finalist in the Alameda Comedy Club’s New Faces competition; Raj Suresh, whose new special “Break the Leg” is available on Apple TV+, YouTube and other streaming platforms; Rubi Nicholas, a veteran of network and cable appearances; and Samson Koletkar, founder and organizer of Desi Comedy and the long-running Oakland Comedy series and self-described “world’s only Indian/Jewish standup comedian.”

Performances are at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Santa Clara Convention Center and 7 p.m. Sunday at Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco’s North Beach. Tickets are $40; go to

This artwork by Fernando Escartiz was inspired by “The Great Gate of Kiev” movement, the finale of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” It will be on display in the Davies Hall lobby during this weekend’s San Francisco Symphony concerts. (San Francisco Symphony via Bay City News)

Celebrating contemporary music: Some 100 organizations and more than 140 composers are involved in the California Festival, a statewide music initiative running Nov. 3- 19 to showcase “the most compelling and forward-looking voices in performances of works written in the past five years.”

Of course, the San Francisco Symphony is participating, beginning with this weekend’s performances featuring the U.S. premiere of a commissioned work by French-American composer Betsy Jolas, rather simply but elegantly titled “Latest.”

The program, led by guest conductor Ludovic Morlot, has other delicious elements: Ravel’s orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” written in testimonial to his late artist friend Viktor Hartmann, and enhanced for these performances by the addition new artworks commissioned from Bay Area artists Liz Hernández and Fernando Escartiz in response to each of Mussorgsky’s musical “pictures.” And the incredibly gifted German-American violinist Augustin Hadelich will be on hand with his interpretation of Dvorak’s thoroughly romantic concerto for his instrument.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday in Davies Hall. Tickets, $25-$75, are available at and (415) 864-6000. 

L-R, Guitarists Richard Savino, Marc Teicholz, David Tanenbaum and Sérgio Assad will be featured in a recital called “Maestros of 50 Oak Street,” which is the address of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where they are all on the faculty. (Photo courtesy Bill Young)

Teachers strum their stuff: Richard Savino, Marc Teicholz, David Tanenbaum and Sérgio Assad, gifted guitarists all and each also a professor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, join forces Saturday night for a “Maestros of 50 Oak Street” display of virtuosity in St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. One by one, they will play as individuals and then surprises will follow.

Composers whose works they will dip into include Domenico Pellegrini, Manuel Ferrer, Thomas Adés, Joaquín Turina, Manuel de Falla, Francis Poulenc, Luis Bonfá, Jacob Bittencourt, Roland Dyens and Sérgio and Clarice Assad. Opening the concert will be a performance by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Guitar Youth Orchestra, whose members, we must presume, have benefited from the expertise of the four professors.

Concert time is 7:30 p.m. at 1111 O’Farrell St., San Francisco. Find tickets, $60, at or call (415) 242-4500. 

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