July 26, 2012
Kids Around the Bay
Art & Soul Oakland plays this weekend. This is the festival that re-launched downtown Oakland. We could not recommend it more highly. There are some great street festivals in the Bay Area, but this is indisputably the best, with 50 bands on five stages. And how can you turn down this lineup of talent, playing jazz, rock, gospel, punk, honky-tonk, metal, world, latin, folk, EDM, and R&B. Plus art shows, including one from the deYoung Museum, hundreds of artisan booths, carnival rides, and gourmet food from around the world.
The shine includes Meshell Ndegeocello, Chris Bruce, Luce, Lalah Hathaway, Souls of Mischief, Blame Sally, Kellye Gray, Oleta Adams, Dyloot, the Edwin Hawkins Singers, Whiskerman, Lyrics Born, Sweet Talk Radio, Garrison Starr, Forrest Day and Tia Caroll. And so much more.
Art & Soul Oakland. In the streets around Civic Center. July 28. 2 p.m. to Midnight; July 29. Noon to 6 p.m. Tickets: $8 to $15.
The Cabrillo Music Festival starts this weekend with "Hidden World of Girls: Stories for Orchestra," the premiere of a multimedia commission about girls and the women they become.
There are two teenage music soloists. One is Jackie Rocks — Jacklyn Partida to her parents and Jackie (Hard) Rocks to her fans — an 18-year-old sensation who just graduated from Pacific Collegiate High School in Santa Cruz and has lead one of the top ten high school rock bands in America.
If you dwell in these latitudes, you know her hit, from 2009, My Own World. The music video is on YouTube. We got hold of her to ask if she had a ritual story like the ones that NPR's Kitchen Sisters collect. Her response was to say, let me think about it, ever so politely, like you imagine the kids must be in Des Moines, and hung up. She called back a few minutes later to say that she didn’t have a ritual story but she could talk about how she got into music and how she knew that would be her life.
Please, we said, and she was off and running about how when she was 9 she went to play for her cousin’s party in Oakland, there were all these college kids from Berkeley and elsewhere, and at one point all the people started cheering and chanting, “Jackie rocks. Jackie rocks.” Which was the first time she saw the effect of what she was doing and, incidentally, gave her a stage name. There were other times, too. Once she played for a sick grandmother in the hospital and the same thing happened. The mood changed.
“Everybody just seems so happy when I play music,” she said, not in a boastful way, but as a simple fact.
All kinds of people come to the concerts, Very young kids, two or three years old. And older people, old rockers, and sometimes autistic kids come and they always love what she does.
She went on to recount how she gets ready for her concerts, how she gets together with the band and they talk about what the concert means to them and what they’re expecting to get out of it. And she herself is thinking how the show will affect people; the show runs through her mind over and over.
She’s always planning, always anticipating. What if they throw rocks? she wonders. No one ever has but what if that happened?
“I just think of all the different scenarios. I always make sure I’m ready.”
And then when she’s warming up she’ll play a little Manic Depression, because she’s always loved Jimi Hendrix and she’s always played that particular song warming up. And then she’ll sing Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar who is another hero and she’s always sung that in warm up.
And now this weekend. What a thrill this is going to be. She’s going to come on stage in her electric way, with all her lightening and thunder. “They’re going to be putting the spotlight on me while I play a solo,” she said and added, “they told me that I am a metaphor for the whole hidden world of girls …”
And what is the metaphor? What has been her struggle in the world of every-girl?
“The hardest thing has been people telling me that I cannot do it. I’ve had a lot of people tell me positive things, but in middle school and high school I had a lot of problems with other teenagers who told me I would never make it, that there was no way I would ever be successful in music. I’ve been working really hard to prove those people wrong.”
The breakthrough came in 2008 when she was picked by Seventeen magazine to play in the Rock The Runway fashion show in Philly. “That was the biggest moment. I was 14. And just when these people said I couldn’t play music. That’s what gave me the strength to work even harder.”
As one of the Kitchen Sisters, Nikki Silva, put it, “Jackie will knock you out.”
Symphony Silicon Valley's summer music festival begins this weekend It’s free, it’s Pops, it’s on the San Jose State University campus. A high summer evening. They even have free valet bike parking. So you if you were coming from San Francisco, you could take CalTrain and ride the rest of the way. Last year the musicians wore red t-shirts. Sometimes people get up to dance. Sometimes you’d think you were on the fantail of the Queen Mary on her maiden voyage in 1936.
Saturday Night (7 p.m.): “A little Classical Night Music.” They’ll have your Satie, your Borodin, your Tchaikovsky, and Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachmusik, of course.
Sunday late afternoon (5:30 p.m.): Fiddles ‘n Fables. Kids may bring grandparents. Music includes William Tell's March of the Toys, Tubby the Tuba including narration, and music from Sleeping Beauty, Empire Strikes Back, Night on Bald Mountain.
Symphony Silicon Valley, San Jose State University, July 28, 7 p.m. July 29, 5:30 p.m. Free.
This is the San Francisco Ballet's only summer performance in the Bay Area, and the program includes Myles Thatcher’s Spinae, performed by a group of ballet students, a hand-selected mini-troupe from one of the best schools in the country. And then after intermission: Solo, music by Johann Sebastian Bach; choreography by Hans Van Manen, and finally, Torke’s Number Nine; choreography by Christopher Wheeldon.
Stern Grove tips: Remember that the forecast for this Sunday in the city is the relentless “mostly cloudy,” a high of 61 degrees, and 15 mph winds. Conditions in the Grove will not be that good. So you dress for the ‘coldest-winter-I-ever-spent-was-summer-in-San Francisco.’ And you hereby acknowledge that there will be long lines for food and toilet amenities, up to one hour before donor acknowledgements, appeals for more donors, and before musicians begin their final tune up.
You also acknowledge that, beyond a certain point, climbing up the hill opposite the stage is like climbing Mt. Surabachi. Many attempt it in full picnic gear. Don’t bring the baby or the heels. It’s a sand dune littered with eucalyptus droppings. In general, the higher up you get the steeper the slope, the louder the chatter, and the worse the sight lines. Which is no problem with the symphony, but it can be more frustrating with the ballet. One last tip: If you’re late, park on the north side of the Grove. Off Vincente at 28th Avenue, there are often a few spaces at the park. Then walk up Wawona toward 19th Avenue to 22nd or 21st. Otherwise you walk down one side of the ravine and back up the other. Get there early. In fact, as soon as you read this, polish your flask, fill it, and GO.
San Francisco Ballet. Stern Grove, San Francisco. July 29, 2 p.m. Free.
Mark MacNamara is a journalist who has written for such publications as Salon.com, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, The Stanford Social Innovation Review and The International Herald Tribune. His website is: macnamband.com.