Music and history come together at events coming up in the area.

The musical heritage coming out of Richmond during and after World War II will be the topic of a free program at 2 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park Visitor Center, 1414 Harbour Way South in Richmond.

"Richmond Blues, Gospel & Soul: 1940s-1970s" with veteran Bay Area music journalist Lee Hildebrand is the first in a series of monthly talks at the center.

The blues and gospel music scene in Richmond grew out of the migration of African Americans to the area during the war.

Venues included the Club Savoy, Tapper's Inn, Minnie Lue's, the Mekesmo, and Tommy's 250. Performers who started or played in the area included nationally known talents such as Joe Simon and Lowell Fulson, and regional starts such as Jimmy McCracklin, Roy Hawkins, Willie B. Huff, Little Joe Blue, the Golden West Gospel Singers, the Jackson Brothers, Dorothy Morrison, Jesse James, the Two Things in One, and YBS.

Hildebrand, who has been writing about Bay Area music -- and coming to Richmond to see it -- for more than 45 years, will discuss and play some samples of the many talents.

For details about and directions to the visitors center visit www.nps.gov/rori.


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  • Lawrence Beamen, a Richmond product who has gained national fame for his powerful and moving voice, performs "From Renaissance to The Struggle of Paul Robeson," a Black History Month-themed show at 7 p.m. Feb. 17 at Yoshi's Jazz Club, San Francisco, 1330 Fillmore St.

    Beamen has been a finalist on TV's "America's Got Talent" and his vocal talents have been compared to Robeson's.

  • The Thirstbusters, a Berkeley pop/rock band (thirstbusters.net) that formed out of the acclaimed Berkeley High School jazz ensemble, appears on the CW television network show "90210" on Feb. 18.

    The group has been making a name for itself with two albums, a video on the Disney Channel, and a headline appearance at the California State Fair.

  • The Hartfield Brothers, a gospel trio from Richmond with a new album just out, give a free performance at 11 a.m. Feb. 16 at Graceland Christian Books, 4261 Century Blvd. in Pittsburg. Details: http://www.tatemusicgroup.com/epk/?id=18486.

    WEST COUNTY NOTES: San Francisco Beer Week extends outside the city to the East Bay and includes the fourth annual Chocolate and Beer Festival from noon to 6 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way South in Richmond. Elevation 66 Brewery in El Cerrito will be pouring its chocolate coconut stout at the event in the historic Craneway.

    Admission to the family event includes product samplings, live entertainment, and prizes for adults. Children -- admission is free for ages 11 and under with a paying adult -- can have fun at the Kids Zone, which will have a bounce house, arts and crafts, and a face painter.

    There will also be a free shuttle to and from the Richmond BART station.

    For details and tickets visit www.chocolateandbeerfest.com.

  • From beer fests we move on to drunken driving enforcement. Albany police officers Chris Beck and Pete O'Connor were recognized this month by MADD California and the Alameda County Avoid the 21 program for their work in driving under the influence enforcement.

  • The honorees at the Black History Month program held Feb. 8 at the Richmond Auditorium were national park ranger and activist Betty Reid Soskin, longtime physician Dr. Brazell Carter and The Originalz jazz ensemble from the Richmond Police Activities League.

    Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/christreadway. Stay up-to-date on West Contra Costa news at IBABuzz.com/westcounty.