Need weekend plans? Celebrate Japanese culture at the 63rd Obon Festival, boogie down at the Twilight Concert Series or get in touch with your inner theater geek at Shakespeare in the Park in Redwood City.
Events: Obon Festival
The temple bell will ring in the 100th anniversary of the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple when the 63rd Obon Festival opens on Aug. 2 in Palo Alto. What began as a tiny street fair in 1951 now offers a wealth of ways to celebrate Japanese culture, spread over two days.
A gong and salute from the temple's taiko drum corps opens the festival at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Hungry fairgoers can dine on Japanese and American cuisine, ranging from teriyaki chicken and ribs, sushi, udon, curry and salmon, to hamburgers and strawberry shortcake. Bonsai, cut flowers, plants, traditional Japanese crafts and Japanese ohaji desserts will be for sale, and indoor exhibitions include ikebana, suiseki (stone arranging), mon (Japanese family crests) and paintings.
Palo Alto Minyo Dokokai performs Japanese fold music and dance at 6 p.m. on Saturday, followed by a Koto/Shakuhachi (Japanese stringed instruments and flute) at 7 p.m. Live music by rock group Bad Karma starts at 8 p.m., with tai chi and judo demonstrations at 9 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 3 events include the taiko drum corps at noon, karate and origami demonstrations, a Koto/Shakuhachi performance by Chikushi Kai Koto and kendo demonstrations. San Jose Taiko performs at 5:30 p.m. followed by popular Japanese music. The festival highlight, Bon Odori folk dances, begins at 7:30 p.m. when dancers of all ages can join in. The festival takes place at 2751 Louis Road, Palo Alto. Admission is free of charge. More information is at pabt.org or by calling 650-856-0123, weekdays between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Music: Concert series
Palo Altans have plenty to boogie about this summer with two free concert series that are currently happening in town. The City of Palo Alto's Twilight Concert Series takes place at 7 p.m. on Saturdays.
The concert lineup includes Caravanserai, a Santana-tribute band, Aug. 2 on California Avenue; and three concerts at Mitchell Park Aug. 9, Moonalice performs '70s rock, acid blues and jam-band music; Aug. 16, Mads Tolling Quartet performs jazz; Aug. 23, Teens on the Green perform popular music.
The West Coast Songwriters Cogswell Concert Series, sponsored by Stanford Federal Credit Union, runs through Sept. 11 on Thursdays at noon in the park at the corner of Lytton Avenue and Ramona Street. Performers include Aug. 7, Kaitlin McGraw, jazz, hip hop, pop rock, children's music; Aug. 14, David Lunig Band, indie Americana/alternative country/fold and blues; Aug. 21, Le Vice, hip hop to indie pop, electro, chillwave, '80s synth, pop, new wave, R&B influences; Aug. 28, T Clemente Band, '70s and '80s rock; Sept. 4, Roem Baur, four-octave singer-songwriter with unconventional takes on blues, soul and folk music; Sept. 11, Jacob Jeffries Band, American pop.
Theater: Shakespeare in the Park
The Bard is back in Redwood City, when the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival performs "The Taming of the Shrew." Shakespeare's classic comedy about the courtship of Petruchio, a gentleman of Verona, and Katherina, an unwilling and headstrong shrew he "tames," and the competition between the suitors of her desirable sister, Bianca, has kept audiences in stitches for more than 400 years. Shows take place Saturdays, Aug. 9, 16 and 23 at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, Aug. 10, 17 and 24 at 4 p.m. The performances are free and take place on the park-like grounds of Sequoia High School, 1201 Brewster Ave. at Broadway, Redwood City.