Groovin’ in the Glenview

MONTCLARION: January 20, 2011

The Glenview’s got it going on. Most of you know it’s a hot dining destination, but this Park Boulevard neighborhood is fast becoming a draw for the Bay Area’s top singer/songwriters.

In a funky little upstairs performance venue, guitarist Caren Armstrong is hosting a monthly songwriters showcase called Celebrating Songwriters that’s rockin’ the floor boards. The other night she brought in two amazing musicians — Tony Marcus and David Maloney — and the three of them packed the house. The best moment for me was when Caren sang “Ode to Billy Joe” and Marcus sawed and plucked the fiddle while Maloney tapped a beat on his guitar. That was some of the best acoustic country I’ve ever heard — outside of Nashville. Check it out at

You may know that I’m no stranger to the live music scene. I’ve played a few gigs of my own over the years, including stints with the Purple Finks (my first all-girl band in junior high); the Jack Down Cats (we were huge at the Ekalaka, Mt., High School prom) and Minnesota Road Gang (Known for our breakout performance at the Lutefisk festival).

Although my flute has been sitting silent these days, I did dust it off the other night to join Oakland drummer Brad Blemker and his band for a gig at the Pig and Whistle in San Francisco. I’d forgotten what a trip it is to play before a whiskey-swilling,

beer-spilling bar full of bikers. And those were just my friends. Now I know why musicians keep playing till their arthritic fingers can’t wrap around their guitar necks. They’d rather be rockin’ on stage than in their chairs.

BIG SCREEN: A bucolic burb through the tunnel is hosting the state’s fastest growing film festival from Jan. 28 through Feb. 3. The 13th annual California Independent Film Festival is screening more than 80 independent films at the magnificent Art Deco Rheem Theater. Actors Lou Diamond Phillips and Shirley Jones will be honored with awards on Sunday during one of the many events that’s open to the public. For more information see

E-MAIL BAG: Mothers with toddlers who walk outside the crosswalk on busy Moraga Avenue are risking their lives, writes reader Marv Tripp. He says he’ll sometimes hear horns blaring and tires skidding near the Firehouse tennis courts (where he’s been playing for many years) and says the city needs to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the busy Montclair thoroughfare.

“I checked with the recreation office and was told there were over 20 activities during the week for children 5 and under,” he writes, saying there’s a real danger of someone being hurt.

AROUND TOWN: One thing you can count on Oakland to put energy into is new ways to boost parking revenue. City officials never met a meter they didn’t like. Expect new revenue boxes along Mountain Boulevard (in the 2150 block) and Moraga Avenue (6100 block) in the coming days.

CARROT CAPER: You’ve heard of the bully stealing the lunch money? Well, reader Stacey Sklar had her actual lunch stolen the other day in a hills parking lot. Her silver lunch pail was sitting on the seat of her car when she went into her health club, and when she returned it was gone. Someone had broken her window to get that box, probably thinking there was money or jewelry inside. I would have paid to see the reaction when they found hummus and veggies instead.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-273-9418, by e-mail at or on the web at


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