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Best of the East Bay: Culture

Concerts, plays, free movies, and the best of the East Bay’s arts scene.


Summer Arts Calendar

Put these dates in your planner for a summer filled with entertainment and culture.

5 Seconds of Summer / Tom Van Schleven/Courtesy of livenation.com

1. Concord Pavilion

Reader Pick: Concert Venue

The legendary concert venue at the foot of Mount Diablo enjoyed a recent renovation, making shows at the Pavilion all the more pleasant. This summer’s lineup is packed with classic rock and the singer from the Oscar winning film Frozen. theconcordpavilion.com.

July 7 - Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson
July 9 - Van Halen
July 21 - 5 Seconds of Summer
August 4 - Fall Out Boy and Wiz Khalifa
August 7 - Idina Menzel
August 14 - Nicki Minaj


Jay Yamada/Courtesy of California Shakespeare Theater

2. California Shakespeare Theater

Reader Pick: Theater Troupe

You won’t find a more spectacular venue for live theater than Cal Shakes’ Bruns Amphitheater in the Orinda hills. Bring a blanket, and order some food and wine at the Sharon Simpson Center, a gift from one of the East Bay’s star philanthropists. calshakes.org.

July 8 - Life Is a Dream
August 12 - The Mystery of Irma Vep


Peter Crooks

3. Orinda Theatre

Reader Pick: Movie Theater

This historic movie palace in downtown Orinda packs its main auditorium and two smaller theaters with blockbusters and art house films. You can also see a free classic movie on the big screen on the second Thursday of each month. lamorindatheatres.com.

Free movies
July 9 - Close Encounters of the Third Kind
August 13 - The Bridge on the River Kwai






Martin Taylor / Simon Murphy/Courtesy of Jazz at the Lesher

4. Lesher Center for the Arts

Reader Pick: Performing Arts Venue

Celebrating 25 years in Walnut Creek this fall, the Lesher Center for the Arts has been a game changer for performing arts in the East Bay. Don't miss this summer’s Jazz at the Lesher series. lesherartscenter.org, lesherjazz.org.

July 18 - Chevron Family Theatre Festival
August 1 - Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
August 8 - Dick Hyman Quintet
August 22 - Cyrus Chestnut
August 29 - Martin Taylor and Bucky Pizzarelli


Join the Club

Discuss a range of reads with other lit lovers.

Reader Pick: Book Club

Towne Center Books, Pleasanton’s literary mainstay on Main Street, organizes a ton of fun monthly book club gatherings, covering classic literature on fourth Mondays, mysteries on third Tuesdays, general interest on second Wednesdays, and sci-fi on third Thursdays. They also host specialized groups such as the Mindfulness Book Club. 555 Main St., Pleasanton, (925) 846-8826, townecenterbooks.com.


Courtesy of Diablo Ballet

Happy Anniversary

Cheers to these reader picks’ milestones.

21 Years

Diablo Ballet

Reader Pick: Dance Troupe

Diablo Ballet turned 21 this season, and has moved into a new home: Del Valle Theatre in Walnut Creek, which is part of the Lesher Center for the Arts’ organization. With its intimate seating, large stage, and abundant parking, the new location has both dancers and patrons spinning pirouettes of joy. (925) 943-1775, diabloballet.org.


30 Years

Museum of the San Ramon Valley

Reader Pick: Historical Exhibit

Danville’s charming museum, housed in a restored train depot, celebrates its 30th anniversary this month. The fun kicks off with a new exhibit that examines local history through artifacts, photographs, and quilts, including one dedicated to the story of Danville resident Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and the “Miracle on the Hudson.” 205 Railroad Ave., Danville, (925) 837-3750, museumsrv.org.


50 Years


Reader Pick: Music Ensemble

Celebrating a half-century of musical excellence this year, WomenSing, an Orinda-based chorus, has traveled the world and performed with numerous outstanding Bay Area arts organizations. Don't miss WomenSing’s holiday concerts in beautiful Bay Area locations, such as the chapel at Saint Mary’s College. (925) 798-4875, womensing.org.

MIchael Chabon: our literary superstar. /by  Jennifer Chaney


The Scoop

Michael Chabon moonlights as a pop lyricist.

Reader Pick: Local Author

Picked as Diablo readers’ favorite local author, Berkeley's Michael Chabon has been dabbling in music of late, writing lyrics for DJ Mark Ronson’s recent smash album, Uptown Special.

Chabon packed the song “Summer Breaking” with East Bay references, including a nod to famous West Oakland structures as “metal horses, a thousand feet high.” In lyric

Mark Ronson: hot DJ, super Chabon fan. /by Andy Ford/NME/Time Inc. (UK)

annotations on the website Genius, Chabon explains it’s “a reference to the enormous steel Panamax container cranes that are a familiar landmark of the city of Oakland. In reality, they are only about 250 feet tall, but that’s still pretty high.”


Go to genius.com/vanzorn to read Chabon’s notes about his Uptown Special lyrics, and michaelchabon.com for more information about the Pulitzer Prize–winning author.



Reader Picks

Adult Art Classes
Debbie Wardrope
(925) 918-2708, dwardrope.com.

Adult Music Classes
Harps Etc.
1601 N. Main St., Ste. 106, Walnut Creek, (925) 937-4277, harpsetc.com.

Art Gallery
Studio Seven Arts
400 Main St., Pleasanton, (925) 846-4322, studiosevenarts.com.

East Bay Museum
Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak St., Oakland, (510) 318-8400, museumca.org.

Indie Art Gallery
Lafayette Art Gallery
3420-A Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 284-2788, lafayettegallery.net.

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