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Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival, Broadway at the Nourse return

EARLY BIRD BLUES. Never too early to plan ahead for the Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival, especially when there are some ticket savings in store along with the great acts. This 17th annual event takes place at Hayward City Hall Plaza on July 9 and 10 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and is presented by the City of Hayward and the West Coast Blues Society. Those who follow this space will recall the good work of the WCBS’ “The Music They Played on 7th Street Oakland Music Walk of Fame” which is located right in front of the West Oakland BART station. The bronze plaques offer a “who’s who” of Oakland musicians and those that supported the blues. Two more phases of this terrific project are in store and spearheaded by the enthusiastic blues champion and WCBS Executive Director Ronnie Stewart.

This year’s Blues Festival line-up includes Sonny B. Blues, Blues Harmonica Explosion, Leo and the Knockouts, Marquise Knox, Bill “Howl N Madd” Perry, Guitar Mac, Carl Weathersby, Stars of Glory, and more on Saturday. Sunday’s headliners include Bobby Rush, Marcus Cartwright, Lazer Lloyd, Lucky Lloyd, Russell City Memorial Blues Band, Sonny Rhodes, Bobby Warren, West Coast Caravan of All Stars, and more to be announced. Tickets are $30 in advance and can be purchased at or call 510-472-8800 for more details. Tickets at the gate will be $35. Visit to learn more about the good work of the WCBS.

ENTERTAINING NOTES. Two-time Tony winner of “Anything Goes,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” and TV Land’s “Younger” Sutton Foster appears March 13 at 3 p.m. with pianist Michael Rafter in the Broadway at the Nourse series at the Nourse Theatre in San Francisco. The show was rescheduled from January. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. The concert series benefits Project Open Hand. For tickets call 415-392-4400 or visit ... Attention all aspiring Bay Area high school singers who perform pop, jazz, Broadway, or music from “The Great American Songbook.”! The Bay Area Cabaret’s Bay Area Teen Idol competition auditions are March 13 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street in San Francisco. Held every other year in the beautiful Fairmont Hotel Venetian Room, the May 15 event is an opportunity to showcase young performers who exemplify cabaret’s standards. All finalists have an opportunity to perform for industry judges including Michael Orland, American Idol musical director, Alex Newman, casting director for Glee, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and more. Pre-registration for audition appointment time is required at Good luck!

WHAT’S COOKING AT FRANCESCO’S. Since 1968, Francesco’s Restaurant at Hegenberger Road and Pardee in Oakland, has been a fixture in the community. A family-owned operation founded by Dewey Bargiacchi, Francesco’s traditional Italian fare has been a restaurant staple, and a colorful meeting place with a loyal staff complemented with loads of fun memorabilia. For the past few months rumors has been circulating that the restaurant would be closing its doors. This week, owner, third-generation Bargiacchi (Dewey’s daughter), Theresa Erwin confirmed that the restaurant will close at the end of the month. She’s currently in the process of planning some customer giveaways as souvenirs which I’ll report back, along with some wonderful history, in my next column. For now, time is of the essence to head down to Francesco’s and enjoy your favorite dish and reminisce with this Oakland institution. Make your lunch or reservation today by calling 510-569-0653. For a peak at the menu and historical photos, visit

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