World Music Day rocks downtown Palo Alto

Outdoor music festival celebrated on Father's Day

World Music Day returned to Palo Alto for the third year on Sunday (June 19). This time, the dance floor was a lot bigger.

During the free outdoor music festival, musicians of many genres played on sidewalks, corners and plazas in the University Avenue area. This year the city decided to make more room on the street, too.

"I'm very please by the way it turned out," organizer Claude Ezran said. "Everyone seemed to enjoy the event; it was very well-attended."

The event was from 3 to 7:30 p.m. on Father's Day, with the main drag closed between Cowper and High streets from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

"It's not only a celebration of music and of musicians but it's a great community-building event as well, with people meeting their friends and neighbors while discovering new music," Ezran said.

Ezran said the closure of University Avenue for the festival was a success and that the "businesses were booming."

About 50 acts performed as part of an international tradition. The outdoor Fete de la Musique festival started in France in 1982 and spread to other countries; Palo Alto Human Relations Commissioner Claude Ezran started the local version in 2009. Here, World Music Day is now organized by the Palo Alto Recreation Foundation, and attracted some 10,000 attendees last year, according to the city. Sponsors included the Palo Alto Weekly.

More information is at World Music Day.

The City of Palo Alto's other big free summer music event is its Twilight Concert Series. Shows are scheduled from July 2 through Aug. 20, at city parks and on California Avenue, starting at 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

This year's lineup is: the Travis Air Force Base Band of the Golden West, July 2, Rinconada Park; Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums playing jump blues, swing and jazz, July 9, California Avenue; '70s rock band Moonalice, July 16, Rinconada Park, 777 Embarcadero Road; Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble Pellejo Seco, July 30, Rinconada Park; Celtic folk rock band Tempest, Aug. 6, Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive; Beatles cover band The Sun Kings, Aug. 13, Mitchell Park; and various Bay Area teen bands, Aug. 20, Mitchell Park.

Details are at

Also in Palo Alto is the free Summerfest at Stanford Shopping Center. The nonprofit SFJAZZ brings acts to Clock Tower Plaza near Neiman Marcus on Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. through Aug. 18.

The series features the Stanford Jazz Workshop Faculty All-Stars on June 23. Other performers include the jazz-funk-soul quartet Times 4 on July 21 and the French Gypsy jazz ensemble Le Jazz Hot Quartet on Aug. 18. Information is at

Palo Alto's Town & Country Village shopping center at 855 El Camino Real has a free outdoor series as well. Weekly shows on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. start with the Jules Broussard Band — romantic ballads, jazz and Big Band — on July 6 and end with the rock tribute band Double Take on July 27. Information at

— Palo Alto Online staff

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Like this comment
Posted by car free Sundays!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2011 at 10:11 am

This event was so much fun. The city should think about making University Avenue car-free every weekend afternoon. Or maybe rotate the closure to different parts of the city every week so pedestrians all over the city can enjoy not being harassed by cars.

Like this comment
Posted by To Car Free
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 20, 2011 at 10:20 am

Do you have any idea how much it costs the City to close these roads?

Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I did not like the event at all. The performers had no "special" place to perform. Why there was no stages, even small ones, for them to perform. They need to have a better way to show their music. It was horrible.

Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Slone
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:51 am

I thought that this festival was wonderful and am sorry that Ann did not enjoy it! The festival has evolved over the years and just gets better and better. There were multiple "do it yourself" stages. I think the way the organizers had it set up so that the sounds did not seem to bleed into the next musician's space was admirable (not an easy feat!). In the interest of cost containment and a wonderful informal feel I would prefer that they NOT have formal stages. Thanks to all the musicians that come out to perform for free (I think tips are accepted and well deserved!). Can't wait for next year. By the way, Les Campagnards (photos with this article) are some of my favorite musicians! French Traditional music is very hard to come by in the bay area and we really lucked out with their repeat appearances! I also loved the Zimbabwean Marimba Band (Singing Wood) and hope they will return. Hauling those marimbas over from Santa Cruz on a hot summer day to perform for us is noteworthy!

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm

I strongly recommend the SFJazz free show at Stanford Shopping Center this Thursday, June 23 featuring faculty from the Stanford Jazz Workshop, including Andrew Speight, Erik Jakobsen and Patrick Wolff, and also mark your calendars for Scott Amendola Group there July 28. I also like Steve Lucky and Carment Ghetit July 9 on Cali Ave -- they are always fun, and yes Ann of Downtown North the City will provide a stage and sound.

Like this comment
Posted by O to be free of the cars for an afternoon
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm

My sincere thanks to the organizers of this event and to the City for being brave/clever enough to host it. It was just wonderful to be able to stroll on University, listening to music, chatting with friends and neighbors and watching the children enjoy dancing to the tunes. Fantastique!

Like this comment
Posted by Tim
a resident of University South
on Jun 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm

The street was SUPPOSED to be closed until 9:00, but police came through and removed everyone at 7:45. This was the one disappointment of a fantastic day. Can't wait till next year! (And yes, I agree with others that University Avenue should be closed to cars more often... if not forever!)

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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