Local, Live... and Safe!
What'll we see in EC?
Cows, Casinos, and Citizens’ Committees!
El Cerrito’s under-the-radar reputation belies a rough and lawless history. From Ranchero to cattle path, from “City of Sins” to “the City of Homes,” home of “Big Bill” Pechart and the origin of child care centers, this scrappy, little part of the Bay holds hidden delights, as illuminated by performers who call this area home.
Saturdays and Sundays
May 15 – 30 only
Start times available between 2 and 3:45
The show runs approximately 2 hours and is family-friendly.
Thank you for coming!
Audience Members Say…
“One couldn’t know what to expect, and in that way each artist and each location became a unique performance experience all to their own.
Getting to know the diversity of the local artists ‘hiding amongst us’ and the diversity of their talent and interests made it like a treasure hunt.”
“My dad and I had a wonderful adventure… The ‘podcast’ system worked great. Beautifully told. Surprising. Had no idea about the history and was very surprised and liked the historical local gossip. It also brought up great conversations with my dad about what he knew about bootlegging and other stories that spurred conversation.”
“The final musicians were astonishingly great, the beloved home very moving; the poetry, the Indigenous songs, the Colombian music, the dance among the red poppies… so much. And I learned so much from (the) narration too. This is such important work, going to the very source of art.”
“I had the most powerful, memorable time participating in this today, and came away so inspired about our city’s history and incredible artists!
A must-see for local fans of innovative cultural experiences—and there’s so much here I’ll be thinking about for a long time.”
“Erin Merritt did it again with Neighborhood Stories: produced and directed a full, multi performance love letter of a show to a city I knew so little about and now I feel like I’ve always known it—El Cerrito. She killed me right of the bat when she greeted us, the occupants of three cars allowed per time slot, with her summary of what it meant to live through the past pandemic 14 months of profound losses and isolation, and how we are all still connected through the sights we see, the air we breathe, the sounds we hear… Her introduction was so healing and moving, I wish I had recorded it to keep finding new comfort in it for later. I wish I had taken more pictures of the seven gorgeous, talented performers who kept surprising at different hidden spots all over town. I was too immersed in the liveliness of it all, the unZoomness, the lack of screens.
Erin produced something so brave, original, beautiful, and intangible, as the performance arts themselves are; they are there for the moment you open all your pores to, and then the moment is gone, but when it’s done right, you are transformed through it forever.”
Cascada de Flores
Featuring Arwen Lawrence’s ravishing voice and guitarist Jorge Liceaga’s supple accompaniment, Cascada de Flores brings a personal perspective to the Latin American songbook, adapting tradition into musical storytelling.
May 15, 16 & 29 only.
Jake is a performing artist with backgrounds in spoken word and Polynesian dance. He was raised in Kensington (and taught at Hilltop for several years) and currently is attending school at San Francisco State.
May 15/16 only.
Akaina (they/them) is a Bay Area theater artist who is passionate about reconstructing historically significant narratives through a gender expansive lens and generating new works that center queer voices and perspectives.
Anne Yumi Kobori
Anne Yumi Kobori is a Japanese-American playwright with a passion for intersectional theatre and a nostalgia complex for the Jazz Age.
Her “The Disappearance of Betty La Rose”
was commissioned by NS and written for Akaina Ghosh.
specialize in traditional Colombian dance music featuring the button accordion, including cumbia, vallenato, m
The Plonsey Scheme
Alicia Mary Retes
Alicia M. Retes, an engaging performer, weaves original songs into interactive and intriguing Native stories that uplift listeners of all ages. Shape-Shifters and Mischief-Makers of all sorts are eager to emerge for delightful magical moments.
—Lauren Snell, Mill Valley Library and Jessica Ryan, San Anselmo Library
El Cerrito Fun FAQs & Easter Eggs
Like much of the East Bay, what we now call El Cerrito is the unceded ancestral homeland of the Huichun Ohlone (Lisjan) people, now organized under the Muwekma Tribe. Learn more at the Muwekma website or pay land tax to help the Lisjan communities regain their land. As the Muwekma say, “Akkoy Mak-Warep, Manne Mak Hiswe! Welcome to our land where we are born!”
Get lots of cool info—geographical, architectural, fascinating, and scandalous, even a quiz—at the El Cerrito Historical Society website.
Who says the old days were dull? Starting near the end of WWI, San Pablo in El Cerrito was a major hub for gambling.
El Cerrito Plaza used to be a notorious track for dog racing that also sometimes added ostrich races. See for yourself.
Music has always flourished here, and Down Home Music Store/Arhoolie Records has been a source for roots music since 1976.
Thank you to all our helpful El Cerrito Neighbors!
Aimee Lind (Getty Research Institute), Jesse “Chuy” Varela (KCSM) and Robert Weaver (Old West Gun Room) for research information;
Corey Mason (keCg/One World Radio) and Contra Costa Civic Theatre for help getting the word out;
Down Home Music/Arhoolie Records for saying yes to the improv;
and everyone at the El Cerrito Historical Society, especially David Weinstein, whose kind words early in the process help us know we were on the right track.