Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - June 4, 2010

Summer sounds

The price and the weather are right for free outdoor concerts on the Midpeninsula

by Rebecca Wallace

While the line-up has shuffled a bit, free outdoor concerts still abound in the Palo Alto area this summer. There's jazz at Stanford Shopping Center, a battle of the bands on California Avenue, and music from lands far and wide at the second annual World Music Day.

So far, 48 groups have already signed up to play at World Music Day, organizer Claude Ezran said earlier this week (42 played last year). The June 20 event runs from 3 to 7:30 p.m. downtown.

It looks like about half of the musicians are returning and half are new, including opera singer Catherine Vincenti, Ezran said. "Finally! I love opera and really wanted to have opera at the festival."

The news is less upbeat from the city of Palo Alto, which discontinued its lunchtime Brown Bag concerts due to budget cuts. But the city's Twilight Concert Series is still planned, moving from Tuesday evenings to Saturdays.

And a new free outdoor concert and dance series kicks off this summer at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto.

The first series to begin is the Stanford Summer Jazz Series, which hosts acts in the Stanford Shopping Center's Clock Tower Plaza (near Neiman Marcus) on Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m., June 10 through Aug. 12.

Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums play jump blues and swing on the first Thursday, with Orquesta La Moderna Tradicion performing Cuban music on June 17. Later performers include Menlo-Atherton High School graduate and singer Hale Baskin on July 8. The concerts are presented by SFJAZZ; for details, go to sfjazz.org and click on "SFJAZZ Summerfest."

At the JCC at 3921 Fabian Way in Palo Alto, the Capriccio Chamber Orchestra is the first performer in the new series at Jessica L. Saal Town Square, playing at 7:30 p.m. on June 12. The events run through Aug. 22 and also include tango with Igor Polk at 6:30 p.m. on June 17 and African folk songs with Baba Ken Okulolo & the Nigerian Brothers at 7:30 on June 26. Go to paloaltojcc.org.

World Music Day brings performers to the sidewalks and corners of downtown Palo Alto on June 20. New musicians this year include Amanda and Art Sirota singing original children's songs; the Ken Brown gypsy jazz combo; and the Menlo Park indie band No Soap Radio. Go to pamusicday.org.

In July, the Twilight series begins with folk/pop/kids' artist Tom Chapin performing on July 17 at Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive. Later performers include the Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble Pellejo Seco on July 31 on California Avenue, and the Greek-music band Foti on Aug. 14 in Mitchell Park. It all wraps up Aug. 21 with a "battle" of local youth bands on California Avenue. All concerts go from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Go to cityofpaloalto.org.

Outside Palo Alto, Menlo Park holds its annual summer concert series on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Fremont Park, at University Drive and Santa Cruz Avenue. The series runs June 23 through Aug. 11 and includes U2 tribute band Zoo Nation on June 30 and Pat Wilder & Serious Business playing the blues on July 7. Call 650-330-2200.

Mountain View's summer series starts July 8 with the Beatles tribute band The Sun Kings and ends with the '80s band The Spazmatics on Aug. 19, both on Castro St. All concerts go from 6:30 to 8 p.m., with some happening in city parks. Call 650-903-6446 or go to ci.mtnview.ca.us.

Downtown Redwood City also has a major outdoor concert lineup, as well as movies and dance al fresco. Go to http://www.redwoodcity.org/events/music.html .

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