Category Archives: festivals

Laurel Summer Solstice Music Festival!

Tomorrow marks the 7th annual Laurel District Summer Solstice Music Festival.  It’s an all day event featuring 25 bands, DJ’s, artists, and kids activities, focused truly on the cultural & artistic microcosm that is the Laurel District.

Festivities begin as early as 9am (enjoy your morning coffee from World Ground Café over the acoustic bluegrass and bluesy/folksy stylings of the Clusterpluckers – you’ve gotta love that name!), and will run well past the official 8pm close of the festival as a few special acts move indoors (“King” Sunny Ade’s band will be featured at West African restaurant Miliki, and one of Todd Huth’s current outfits, The Knuckles, will perform at Lounge 3411, which gets nearly 5 stars on Yelp, and according to one Yelper, is “a secret magical place in the hood.”)

The festival is being hosted by the Laurel Village Association (LVA) with a great deal of support from Acme House of Music – a veritable institution to local musicians (check out my post from last year’s festival for a short download on Acme:  Support Local Music in Oaktown – bring your lawn chairs and dancing shoes!).

According to the LVA…

Unbeknownst to many, our neighborhood is represented by some of the world’s most well respected artist/bands within a myriad of musical genres including rock, electronic, soul, jazz, hip-hop, punk, metal, experimental, blues and beyond.  And so, this year the festival has a line-up composed solely of talent from our diverse microcosm of Oakland.  Believe it or not, the outstanding entertainment showcased this year is being provided by your neighbors!

From Carl Lockett (Bay Area legendary jazz/rock/funk guitarist), to Matt Payne of chiptune band The Glowing Stars (for those who don’t know, chiptune is a genre of music created using limited sound cards, usually from retro gaming machines such as the NES, Atari ST, and the original Game boys) to surf-rockabilly outfit Trivalve, to the alt-country stylings of The Rogers… the list goes on and on.  See full list of musicians here.

I’m not sure what else to say, except Go!

laurel district, summer music festival, laurel music festival

BANG! Happy Birthday Ol’ Gal.

Last night I witnessed the culmination of the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th birthday celebration from the deck of a tugboat, bobbing on the undulating bay.  Life is sweet.

I didn’t participate in any of the month-long or day-intensive events leading up to the evening’s pyrotechnics show, but I was inspired to not miss the grand finalé by the email blast of a friend, quoting another friend who was actually on the pyro crew for the event.

His words encapsulate the sheer awesomeness of the display far better than mine could…

I am working on the pyro crew for the event and we are putting on the largest display I have ever worked on or seen. The entire 4000 feet of the Bridge will be covered with pyro positions.  Numerous barges will be on the bay loaded to the gunnels with huge, beautiful and expensive shells that make me weep to handle…

Wow, I can not say enough about this one.
Except. You would be F—ed to miss it.

And so I went.

Here are a couple pics… not my best work, but I’m a bit out of practice and feeling quite rusty.  Maybe I need some International Orange slapped on this ol’ girl’s joints.

golden gate bridge, 75th anniversary, fireworks display, golden gate bridge celebration, golden gate bridge fireworks
fireworks on golden gate, golden gate bridge, bridge 75th anniversary, golden gate bridge birthday
golden gate bridge anniversary 2012, golden gate bridge, bridge fireworks 75th anniversary

Some great pics & history on the bridge for others, like myself, who may have missed out on the bulk of the festivities: The Color, Romance, and Impact of the Golden Gate at 75 (The Atlantic).

Support Local Music in Oaktown – bring your lawn chairs and dancing shoes!

Summer Solstice Music Festival & Acme House of Music… in the Laurel

acme house of music, acme music oakland, acme music laurel

This Saturday, June 25th, the Laurel Neighborhood Village Association will be hosting its 6th annual Summer Solstice Music Festival.  Inspired by Fete de la Musique in France, where both amateur and professional musicians play in the streets on the summer solstice, the Laurel Festival will feature over two dozen local Bay Area musicians performing inside stores or cafes, or out on street corners and parking lots… all FREE.

Performances will begin as early as 9am and will continue throughout the day with the Fete Jam wrapping things up from 7:30-8pm at the main stage, located on Patterson Street which will be closed off to through traffic. MacArthur, though not closed to traffic, will likely be very crowded… best to walk, bike, or take public transit. And don’t forget your dancin’ shoes!

Nearby venues hosting musical acts include:

  • Ace Hardware – 4024 MacArthur
  • Acme House of Music – 3715 MacArthur
  • Kids n Dance – 3840 MacArthur
  • Laurel Bookstore – 4100 MacArthur
  • Monique’s Clozet! – 4140 MacArthur
  • World Ground Café – 3726 MacArthur

See map below, plus the full festival schedule here.

laurel summer solstice music festival, laurel music festival, oakland music festival

Of special note is the Acme House of Music, a neighborhood institution for over 40 years!

The music shop was opened in the early 70’s by jazz drummer Jay Rose, who manned the shop during the days, selling sheet music & instruments and providing lessons to a large roster of students, and spent nights playing gigs in San Francisco in his bow tie and black tuxedo. He kept up this routine for decades until 2004 when a fire destroyed a portion of the store, much of the equipment housed there, and part of the business next door. Needless to say it was devastating and Jay never fully recovered from the loss.

Jay is still a fixture in the shop (I know this because – personal disclaimer – I’ve been taking drum lessons here for the last couple of months), but now he visits as a guest of honor.

Acme was taken over by husband and wife (and friends of Jay’s) Annette & John in late 2009 when it became clear that he needed help… he was then 83! Both music lovers, they were at a transitional time in their lives as well with a new toddler added to the family… they decided to ditch their more conventional day jobs and take on the project of updating Acme into a modern day independent music store. Not an easy task in the day of cheap goods from China readily available with the click of a mouse or big box stores like Guitar Center.

But John & Annette are providing something that you can’t get at a box store or over the internet. It’s SOUL.

Their philosophy revolves around making music accessible to everyone, and providing great value in the services they offer.  Their goals are to provide:

  • A family friendly environment for learning – They’ve spent quite a bit of time clearing out decades of clutter, renovating the space with additional storage and larger practice rooms; and their roster of teacher musicians is quite impressive…  professional working musicians like Donald Duck Bailey (yes, the Donald Duck Bailey).
  • Unique offerings – John is an audiophile with a particular interest in vintage equipment; he’s always on the lookout for hard to find gear and unusual used equipment, and repair services are offered as well (see rave reviews on Yelp)
  • Customer oriented service – They pride themselves on pointing customers to what feels and sounds best rather than a one size fits all approach that’s focused only on the bottom line (often used equipment can be less expensive and sound better than new)
  • Supporting the community with integrity – They are truly part of the Laurel community and take pride in supporting other local business…  getting haircuts at the neighboring salon, flowers at the local florist, etc.  They also pride themselves on being “green” – and repurposed items from Goodwill and the local Hollywood Video that went out of business in their recent renovations.

I asked Annette what the biggest challenge has been, and not surprisingly, she said so much to do with so little time (and a limited budget), plus a 3-year-old in tow!

But more importantly I asked her about the greatest rewards they’ve experienced through Acme. She said it’s the connection they’ve established to the neighborhood and local residents… “It’s our community.  It’s our family.”

John, who has over 25 years experience DJ’ing and recording music, is donating all of the sound equipment for the festival’s main stage, literally saving the Laurel Association thousands of dollars.

Do check out the festival, and don’t forget to pop into Acme Music to say hello.  They’ll have their own set of performers out front, including many of the amazing musicians who teach lessons at their shop.

used guitars for sale, acme house of music, acme music oakland

East Bay Open Studios – don’t let a little rain stop you…

Despite the weather yesterday, we decided to take a little stroll around our neighborhood to check out the local artists participating in East Bay Open Studios. We didn’t make a big production out of it, and you don’t have to either…

It’s easy to focus on a small area, even walkable, with the maps and guides included in the Pro Arts Directory. We just zoomed in on our little stretch of Oaktown and realized if we did a short 10 block loop near our house, we could visit nearly 10 different artists… practically one per block!  Fantastic.  This is why I love Oakland.

oakland map, east bay open studios

We had a lovely stroll… got rained on a bit, but also saw the sun come out and steam the water right off the rooftops.  Gorgeous.

We saw stunningly beautiful ceramics (see Andrea Ciak), wonderful mixed media pieces (Peter Gee), textiles, paintings, and drawings at the nearby church which converted its old Sunday school classrooms into Art studios… brilliant! (See Traci Boya, Angie Wilson, Abby King-Kaiser, Jacqueline Palacios, and Suzanne Yee – creator of Mona Lisa in chalk below).

Suzanne Yee, portrait artist

On our way looping back home, we made one last stop at the studio of half of the team producing the Dimond Farmer Joes’ Murals… Hidden Jewels. (Amanda Lockwood) It was fascinating to see her personal work, so much more complex and intricate than the translations of children’s imagery used in the murals. Her co-artist displayed incredibly whimsical doll creations fashioned out of re-purposed materials as well as beautiful constructions of paper (Barbra MacNair).

I didn’t take many photos of the art so you’ll just have to go see for yourselves. Or better yet, discover the artists in your own neighborhood.  Or explore a new part of town you haven’t been to before.  Meet your fellow Oaklanders.  Have an adventure!

You can also check out studios next weekend, but not all artists are showing all days, so be sure to check Pro Arts’ Guide (available in the recent East Bay Express, at participating artists’ studios, or online).

Speaking of Temescal…

I love this little district in Oakland.  Yes, it’s gentrified… and yes, there are too many hipsters. But I love it just the same as when I called it my home many years ago, even more so now since you can actually get a decent cup of coffee!

It’s just got so much going for it… one of the oldest neighborhoods in Oakland, horse drawn carriages used to run up and down what’s now Telegraph Ave.

The food, of course, is a huge draw… everything from the 80 year old Genova Delicatessen – a nod to the neighborhood’s early Italian-immigrant residents; to those established by more recent immigrant groups – Asmara & Red Sea; to gourmet delights like Pizzaiolo and Doñas Tomás; to the home of the original Betty’s (her ginger molasses cookies are so good I want to cry!)

There’s my beloved Tool Library (see yesterday’s post).

And there’s the art… home to Studio One, the Creative Reuse Depot, ever expanding public projects (see below), and numerous galleries… for those who love doing the Art Murmur thing (tonight!) but are a bit put off by the crowds in Uptown, Temescal is a wonderful alternative.  In fact, tonight they’re hosting a special “Summer Art Hop.” With this weather, perhaps they should call it Winter II Art Hop. Either way, I did the first Winter one and it was a blast.

And speaking of the weather, it looks like the Temescal Street Fair has been postponed.  Originally slated for this Sunday (and partly why I decided to do this post today), it’s been put off until July 10th.

I was wondering how they were going to finish this art project (Temescal Flows by Oakland muralist Alan Leon) in time for the festival… now they have another month.

I’ve been watching its progression for several weeks now and while I wasn’t sure I was going to like it initially, I’m growing rather fond of it.  The flowing/waving lines throughout reference the neighborhood’s Temescal Creek, and specific imagery honors the region’s earliest settlers, the Ohlone.

These pics were shot Wednesday and while much has been accomplished, there appears to be much yet to do…
public art temescal

temescal public art, overpass painting project
Alan Leon, alan leon muralist, oakland murals
temescal flows, temescal flows mural project, alan leon
24 underpass art, temescal art project, temescal murals, oakland murals
temescal creek, waving lines represent water, community art

MAKE stuff ~ it’s fun!

Being a consumer is one thing ~ having the cash to sport those new Dior sunglasses can certainly be satisfying. Most of us gain some kind of positive feelings from the purchases with which we adorn ourselves and our lives, however fleeting

Making stuff is altogether different.  Because the payoff is internal, rather than external.  At least that’s my thinking on the subject…

And in the spirit of making stuff, I want to give a brief plug for the Maker Faire this weekend, despite its distance from Oaktown. This incredible DIY-inspired event (think family-friendly Burningman meets Exploratorium) offers a mind-blowing array of opportunities to “MAKE, create, learn, invent, CRAFT, recycle, build, think, play & be inspired by celebrating arts, crafts, engineering, food, music, science and technology.”

If you haven’t been, it’s well worth a trip down the peninsula.  I’ll be there!

* * * * *

On a separate but related subject, I thought I’d share the product of my Mosaics 101 class last month at IMA. It’s the first mosaic I’ve ever created…

IMA Mosaics 101

I had planned to take pictures throughout the class and do a post on the basic techniques involved, but the project was so engrossing (snipping all those little pieces of tile can either be a calming meditation, or can drive you crazy!) that I forgot to take pictures until we were grouting at the very end. Oh well…

The design for my piece was inspired by an incredible painting by Margaret Chavigny I had seen the night before during my April Art Murmur adventures…

Mercury 20, Mercury 20 gallery, Margaret Chavigny Family Ties

I had a great sense of satisfaction completing my little work of art. It now hangs in my office where I can admire it and remind myself of my desire to make more stuff, especially art.

My next mosaic project will involve tempered glass… Since my car was broken into in West Oakland a couple years ago, I saved all the broken glass (yes, it’s been sitting in a box for 2 years and I even moved it to my new house!) I figure rather than sending it to the landfill, I’ll reconfigure it into something fantastic.

When life give you broken auto glass… make ART!

Please Sponsor Me – Oakland Running Festival!!

Ok, I lied.  I said today would be about Kuhl Frames but that will have to wait till next week, because I just realized it’s only two weeks until the Oakland Running Festival, and I have yet to get my fundraising on.  So here I go…

I’m taking part in the Oakland Running Festival in two weeks. This will be my first competitive running event, ever.

I am raising money for the wonderful Oaktown-based non-profit organization: The Ella Baker Center For Human Rights, working to build healthy thriving communities in Oakland.

I’ve never asked for money before, so please, if you can, support me in this endeavor by making a donation at my FirstGiving page, which contains more details about EBC, how I decided to get involved, my training regimen, and more:

Even the smallest donations will help!

You can donate online with a credit card. All donations are secure and sent directly to Ella Baker Center For Human Rights by FirstGiving, who will email you a printable record of your donation.

And please feel free to share this with anyone you think might like to donate.

Thank you so much!
Oaktown Art

oakand running festival, 2011 5k route