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Fillmore Jazz Festival

Swinging in SF

As the nation celebrates Fourth of July weekend, thousands will also experience and celebrate the local treasure that is the Fillmore Jazz Festival on July 3rd and 4th (10am – 6pm).

Billed as the largest free Jazz festival on the West Coast, a number of fantastic acts are on the lineup this year. There has been a distinct buzz around the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, which will perform on the California Street Stage at 4pm on Saturday, and Kim Nalley, who will perform on the same stage at 2pm on Sunday. Both have received many honors and accolades. Always a crowd-pleaser, Bayonics will also take the stage with its mix of funk, hip hop, reggae, and other genres.

On Geary Boulevard and Fillmore Street, the Boom Boom Room will open its doors for a free show with Steppin — a tradition at the club, formerly owned by John Lee Hooker — and it’s brand of “old-school Fillmore Funk and Oakland Soul”. If you love boogying, you’ll love this hip, dimly lit, funky club.

When the scheduled festival performances end, Rasselas Jazz Club & Restaurant should be hopping through the night with live music and a stocked bar, while Yoshi’s provides an upscale environment with its Japanese cuisine and regularly scheduled performances.

What makes the festival one of the city’s treasures is not only the music, but the food and art that mixes along with it. There are tons of great food vendors, from Cajun to Ethiopian to Asian. Neighborhood favorites include soul food from Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles and French/Southern flavors from 1300 on Fillmore.

After you’ve fed your stomach, feed your mind with the art from Michael Rios on exhibit at the Lush Life Gallery and the Koret Heritage Lobby at the Jazz Heritage Center. Rios, a native of Oakland, has transformed his passion for music into art that pays tribute to Miles Davis and Carlos Santana. Back in the 70s, he created some of the first large murals in the Mission, which caught the eye of Santana and led to several collaborative projects with him throughout the years. Numerous clothing and art retail options will also be available at various booths at the festival.

From Eddy to Jackson Street, and everything in between, the Fillmore Jazz Festival will no doubt be a celebration in these trying times. Andrew Gilbert argued that jazz has the “ability to absorb and transform influences” from diverse musical styles. Jazz and San Francisco go hand in hand like chicken and waffles, or red beans and rice, similarly absorbing and celebrating the many diverse cultures and traditions in this historic district.

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