Palo Alto World Music Day sees big crowd, diverse music

Mild weather, performances draw 20,000 attendees

World Music Day's varied offerings -- modern and classic rock, blues, African drumming, traditional Indian dance, songs from the Renaissance, Eastern-European folk music, showtunes and more -- drew an estimated 20,000 people from all over the Bay Area Sunday, according to early estimates from one of the festival's organizers.

"It's a wonderful feeling to see all these people," said Claude Ezran, founder and co-organizer of the annual music celebration.

"I'm enjoying the day," said Jan Blas, who came down from Foster City with her husband, Merv. "It's beautiful out and the crowd is really enjoying the variety of music and style."

"It's like being in Europe," Merv chimed in. "It's really fun."

Another festival-goer, Julie Eades, came from Redwood City.

"I think it's fantastic that a city like Palo Alto embraces things like this," she said. "I just got here, but it seems like there's loads of things going on, loads of people and I'm looking forward to being entertained this afternoon."

Big crowds gathered for a number of performances, including the Peninsula Harmony Chorus, which gave a captivating, clap-a-long rendition of Queen's "We Will Rock You" (see our Instagram feed for a video).

The "World Tribal Funk" drumming group Hands on Fire were also a big hit. Performing on the corner of University Avenue and Emerson Street in front of Sushi Tomo, a group of men beat on their drums while group leader James Henry invited children from the crowd to try their hands at drumming and percussion.

After the drumming died down, a large circle formed to watch a group of youngsters from Bhangra Dance Studio perform Punjabi folk dances in the middle of the street in front of Pizza My Heart.

"I think people are having a good time," Ezran said, adding that while he was on the clock, in a sense, he was also enjoying the day. "I've personally run into many friends. "I've discovered some new groups that I didn't know about before."

Check out our video diary of World Music Day and tell us what was the best performance you saw at World Music Day. We want to hear from you -- tweet, email or Facebook us your photos! Or just leave a comment below.

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Like this comment
Posted by LV Krogh
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2014 at 10:14 am

What a blast! Too much talent to take in. Maybe PA could do this event bi annually.

Like this comment
Posted by LV Krogh
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2014 at 10:18 am

What a blast! Too much talent so maybe PA cold do this event bi annually.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I would say this is the cultural equivalent of government surplus cheese. It's nice that the police got paid some overtime, however, if the musicians did not.

By the way, First Amendment permits all Palo Altans to gather, sing, play, make music or noise up to a certain decibel limit, every day, all day, with few exceptions.

Other than using an amplifier during business hours, which might distract the guys managing billion dollar hedge funds nearby, that is, at Lytton Plaza.

By the way, whatever happened to our summer music in the parks serie? We have such nice parks, we should make better use of them.

I would book some reggae and samba bands, with decent sound systems, into Heritage Park, Cogswell Plaza and Johnson Park playing all day and into the night (9-ish) for two or three days, and that would be a World Music Fest. Oddly, as we walked back home, even after an enjoyable couple hours, we were relieved to escape the din -- most of those people are not used to playing in the streets and had really crappy sound systems.

Palo Alto Jazz Quintet at 456 University had my heart skipping a beat in anticipation that someone with a clue would unlock the gorgeous courtyard of the historic and beloved theatre but that is too hip for organizers. Even letting Umami put a couple tables out in the vacant sidewalk (where Waverly t-bones into Uni) would have been a nice little touch, but no, Alo the manager said the City nixed this idea.

Rupa Marya, a Casti grad who leads a world music band, would gladly play this event if someone would raise even the tiniest honorarium - -she's never played here. She was holding the date the first year of this event but organizers wanted to hold the line on only unpaid musicians, like in France.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2014 at 12:51 pm

I think there should be a class-action suit in which anyone who has signed up and played this event, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 or yesterday should be retroactively paid $75 per service for individuals and $150 per group, which is union minimum for musicians.

Why should starving artists work for free to support the spoiled and overpaid and greedy downtown landlords?

One of these days the citizens of Palo Alto, artists and otherwise, organized around a variety of overlapping agendas, will take back the streets quite spontaneously, and with better music and more dancing. Much more dancing.

In terms of a suit, the City, Downtown Business Association, The Rec Foundation or even the organizer as an individual are likely enough, deep pocketed enough and culpable for such. Friends of Lytton Plaza not sure they actually exist but as individuals maybe you could tap them too.

Or as my friend Corey Harris, the Genius Grant laureate, say: If you don’t keep your culture
along come many vultures

Like this comment
Posted by T-Bone
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Actually, Kipling T-bones into University. Waverley just wanders on to Poe St./Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2014 at 1:34 pm

We couldn't attend because we were visiting our dad for Father's Day, but I'm glad that attendance was good. I'm also glad that the city supports family-oriented outdoor cultural events like this.

Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 8:11 am

@Mark Weiss - Boy, way to be a wet blanket on what is a nice event. Must everything be something to complain about?

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 17, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Responding to "Frank" of Barron Park

Speak truth to power with love.

When they came for the underpaid street musicians I did nothing because I was not an underpaid street musician...

I did like: Palo Alto Jazz Quintet, Gaby Castro, Hannah May Allison, people with their dogs, the weather, Dave Hydie who performs often at Lytton Plaza not registered for this event but playing his normal place anyhow, and being pictured above by Nick V of the PAW, my burger at Umami which we ate outdoors within earshot of PAJQ.

I generally stop and listen for a song or two to street musicians, and encourage musicians of all walks of life to keep on keeping on.

I worked on this event the first year. Maybe that's sour grapes or something, but in my opinion Claude Ezran is not much of a leader and not fit to hold elective office here, but voters can certainly make their own choices in November.

Maybe I have an axe to grind, which reminds me of a Bob Marley song about small axe and big tree.

My girlfriend thought they should have swept the streets before the festival. Too much trash and debris.

Like this comment
Posted by paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 17, 2014 at 5:29 pm

I wish we could have attended, unfortunately since its on Father's Day, we are off visiting our dads instead!

Like this comment
Posted by Russ
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Summertime concerts will be returning in July with Concerts at Cogswell. Free every Thursday at noon. Look for banners and flyers advertising the event coming soon. July 10-Sept 11.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Good going, Russ. Actually I was planning to call you about that. I had just posted similarly:

edit to add: Doris Williams, a Stanford music grad who specializes in Celtic Music and was part of the show Sunday, saw my comments and we eventually caught up by phone, to scheme about how to build on this event, perhaps with a nooner series at Lytton Plaza, underwritten by the Palo Alto Downtown Business Association, whose 700 or so members pay between $50 and $500 each so they would have a vested interest in bringing quality programming to downtown and especially Lytton Plaza. Not sure what happened to the word I was told about a local sponsor stepping forward to bring back Brown Bag shows to Cogswell Plaza.

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

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