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Life After Death The Berkeley nightclub Ashkenaz (1317 San Pablo Ave.) is reopening as a community center. The club closed last December following the murder of owner David Nadel by an angry patron. Nadel's brother Ron became executor of the estate and established Ashkenaz as a new California nonprofit, now called Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center. The nonprofit's board plans to continue with David Nadel's work, maintaining the space as a cultural center for all forms of folk and world dance music, and giving the community a place to hold benefits in support of social and political causes. The reopening is set for June 21 -- the first in a series of benefits scheduled on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer. The proceeds will go to raising money for operations and the purchase of the building, in hopes of maintaining a full schedule of programming by the fall. The Grand Reopening starts at 8:30 p.m. with live performances by Aquarela Dance Group, African Rhythm Messengers, and Tropical Vibrations. (R.A.)

Love for Sale, the Remake Back in 1966, you couldn't beg yourself a drink at Bill Graham's Fillmore Auditorium. Hippies preferred pot and psychedelics to beer and alcohol, and Graham -- a notorious miser -- sold them watery soda with measured scoops of ice to combat cottonmouth. Now, the hippies are (mostly) gone and alcohol flows like Hetch Hetchy at the Fillmore. No one is complaining -- especially not Fillmore owners Bill Graham Presents (BGP). In fact, if a new three-year Miller Genuine Draft sponsorship contract is any indication, BGP is feeling downright sudsy. BGP Vice President Steve Welkom says Miller moved into the Fillmore two weeks ago. "They are a sponsor, but it's more of a marketing and promotions relationship," says Welkom. "There will not be a large Miller presence, only some subtle things." So far, there's a Miller welcome mat at the Fillmore's front door, a framed Miller poster disguised among the rock ephemera on the walls, and "identification at the bars," but no signs near the stage or on the outside of the building. The Fillmore sponsorship is consistent with Miller's stepped-up campaign to target young adults through rock 'n' roll. Kari McGrath, a Miller spokeswoman in Milwaukee, says the beer giant already sponsors venues like the Cabaret Metro in Chicago and the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Miller also shells out for huge concert tours like the Page-Plant warhorse reunion, as well as local S.F. acts like Tommy Castro and Undercover S.K.A. "Ten or 20 years ago this [Fillmore sponsorship] might have been a headline," says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the concert business trade magazine Pollstar. But these days, he says, the only conflicts over sponsorship occur when products collide -- a tour sponsored by Pepsi plays in a stadium that sells nothing but Coke. "Everybody's come to realize that it's just something you deal with," says Bongiovanni. Cheers. (J.S.)

Altered Vista If you have been wondering about that odd "Vegas Preacher" mural that cropped up at Sixth Street and Harrison earlier this year, wonder no more. Vegas Preacher is a band headed by Glen Sievert, an artist better known for his large sculptures on and around Contra Costa County's Mount Diablo that he carves out of dead trees with a chain saw. Like Sievert, Vegas Preacher is a band that is "aware of the tremendous American Indian spiritual energy in sites around the Bay Area." The ideal placement for the mural art, which depicts "a spirit-like being beckoning with raised arms in a desert setting" (also the cover art for the band's first CD), came to Sievert in a clear vision. He saw "the spirit-being looking out towards the direction of Mount Diablo, from somewhere near the Bay Bridge approach." Strangely, guitarist Erik Sorenson was able to locate the perfect place only two days later. Sievert says that their good fortune is much "more than a coincidence." Through the use of "advanced astrology," Sievert was able to calculate the perfect day on which to finish and dedicate the mural: March 26, when both Venus and the Sun were "trined" with Pluto. Hale-Bopp loomed on the horizon; and a lunar eclipse happened just three days before. A day like that only occurs once in a century. The folks at Heaven's Gate agreed, taking their lives on the same day that Vegas Preacher unveiled their great work. Coincidence? Maybe. Sievert, who now practices his music on the site of the Cypress Structure collapse, in direct line with the Mount Diablo and Vegas Preacher wall, says that people have dreamt of the mural, of seeing through the spirit's eyes, looking into oncoming traffic. (S.T.)


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