It’s that time of year again–the Fillmore Jazz Festival is coming to San Francisco for a free two-day extravaganza featuring music, food, local arts and crafts and a special homage to Etta James.
During her career, the recently deceased James–a onetime resident of the Fillmore District–performed frequently in the Bay Area, and in a 1994 interview said she was originally discovered by Vallejo native John Otis after he saw her perform in a San Francisco club with her doo-wop group.
To honor James’s memory, acclaimed local jazz and blues vocalist Kim Nalley will deliver a a tribute performance on both afternoons of the festival.
The 28-year-old Fillmore Jazz Festival, centered in the heart of the historic Fillmore District, celebrates the local culture and flavor of the neighborhood. It will include performances from Radio Jazz, Foxtails Brigade, the Mark Rapp Group, the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, Venissa Santi and the Michael Orenstein Group.
Started in 1985 by local neighborhood merchant associations, the Fillmore Jazz Festival capitalizes on the neighborhood’s storied past–jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holliday and John Coltrane were frequent performers in the Fillmore Street clubs that defined cool post-World War II.
During the 1950s, the Fillmore District was at the center of a local cultural renaissance and was arguably the first hipster hangout; back then, it was known as the “Harlem of the West,” and produced numerous musicians, artists, poets and filmmakers.
The Fillmore Jazz Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday July 7 and July 8 from 10 am to 6 pm on Fillmore Street between Jackson Street and Eddy Street. Entrance is free.