Bring On the Big Drums The rumble of distant drums has signaled anything from a war cry to Shinto religious ritual throughout Japan's history; tonight it heralds the U.S.-Japan Taiko Festival, a high point of the Cherry Blossom Festival, now in its second week. Taiko (literally "big drum") has become a popular attraction at local parades and festivals; its booming heartbeat sound carries well in crowds, and the sweaty theatrics of modern taiko drumming -- the quick position-switching and big flourishes -- are tightly woven into the intricate percussive patterns. This concert matches up local groups like San Francisco, Sacramento, and Sonoma County Taiko Dojos with Japan's Sakae Furusato Taiko and Awa Hachiman Taiko. The show begins at 7 p.m. at the AMC Kabuki Theater, Post & Fillmore, S.F. Admission is $15-20; call 563-2313. The Cherry Blossom Festival wraps up with the Grand Parade, which begins at 1 p.m. Sunday at Civic Center and travels up Polk to Fillmore; call 563-2313 for more information.
Sunday in the Park With Randy That would be Randy Porter, leading the public in a concert of instruments made from recyclables at the Berkeley Festival of the Arts Open Day Celebration. For the next month, the festival will uphold Berkeley's reputation for enthused nuttiness -- a highlight should be the Berkeley Mock City Council, an audience-participation event featuring nine political satirists (Diane Amos and Ed Holmes among them) directed by George Coates May 4 and 9 at the City Council Chambers. Opening day won't be any different, beginning with the invocation of the muse up through the South Berkeley Senior Tap Dancers, Miguel Frasconi's Glass Instrument Ensemble, Shakespeare in 15 Minutes, and the bicycle ballet -- look for the art cars lining the periphery. Local restaurants will sell boxed lunches at the celebration, which begins at noon at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Allston & MLK, Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 665-9496 for a full schedule of events. Don't expect to find omnipresent hippie clown Wavy Gravy at opening day, though: He'll be serving as master of ceremonies at the People's Park 30th Anniversary Celebration. Food Not Bombs will cook and serve lunch, and with the exception of puppet shows and a skate ramp, entertainment runs heavily toward the musical, with the Caribbean Allstars, All Nations Drum, and hip-hop group Jalopy. The Ohlone Dancers will also perform at the fair, which begins at 11 a.m. at People's Park, Telegraph & Haste, Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 869-3538.
Whatever Floats Your Boat Maritime lore is dotted with disabled seamen (Long John Silver unfortunately comes to mind), but the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors hopes to get more people on the books, or at least out in the water. The daylong concert "Rock the Boat," which precedes the April 30 release of Robert Houston's documentary by the same name (about an HIV-positive yachting crew), benefits BAADS, a volunteer group that gives people with disabilities opportunities to enjoy recreational sailing. Budderball ("Jesus Got High") and 008 headline the show with sets of jazz-laced funk. Country-swing band the Wags; singer/songwriters Jessie Turner and Ed Haynes; and CNB, a Sunset-based outfit mixing reggae with surf, join in. "Rock the Boat" begins at 2 p.m. at Cafe Cocomo, 650 Indiana (at Mariposa), S.F. Admission is $5-10; call 281-0212. The concert is a perfect after-party for Opening Day on the Bay, the decorated boat parade marking the official opening of the 1999 boating season. This is the first time in 80 years that the parade has been opened to non-Yacht Club members -- the tension should be visible beginning at noon along the Embarcadero, from Crissy Field to Pier 39, S.F. Admission is free; call 823-6633.
The Language of Love Divina Commedia, the bilingual theater company that produces plays in English and French, looks to the East with its theatrical adaptation of the Alain Resnais film Hiroshima Mon Amour. Using the original script by Marguerite Duras as a starting point, Ann-Liese Juge adds Japanese butoh performed by Kinji Hiyashi to tell the story of a complicated love affair between a French actress and a Japanese architect in postwar Japan. The company performs the work (in English tonight, in French Tuesday) as part of a preview of its '99-2000 season; an excerpt from Jean Genet's The Maids is also included. The show begins at 8 p.m. at Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Florida), S.F. Admission is $8.50-12; call 621-7987.
!Madre de Dios! Dammit the Wonder Dog, the Circus Redickuless mascot, may be dismayed to learn that he is not the only one of his kind: Chichufo the Wonder Dog, a Chihuahua with attitude, headlines the variety show "AHijo de Sabado Gigante: Un Martes Chingón!" or, for the Spanish-impaired, "Son of a Giant Saturday: A Bitchin' Tuesday!" Chichufo will lead the Chihuahua Couture Posse, a fashion parade of sartorially minded pups and their owners, and that's just one small, quaking part of what promises to be an unusually festive evening. San Jose's E Crew provides break dancers, and Las Cucas, a women's punk-mariachi band featuring performance artist Nao Bustamante, takes noisy liberties with romantic boleros and country-western rancheras. Raffle winners bring home the coveted Chorizo Shoes and the Chi Chi Chingona (Fierce Breast) pinata. The show, a fund-raiser for Galeria de la Raza, begins at 7 p.m. at the York Theater, 2789 24th St. (at York), S.F. Admission is $5-10; call 826-8009.