With more than 100,000 festival-goers expected throughout the weekend, the 22nd San Jose Jazz Summer Festival promises to be as electrifying and entertaining as ever. The festival run Friday, Aug. 12-Sunday, Aug. 14 and will host 100 live acts ranging from jazz, pop, and soul to salsa, funk, and the music of Brazil, Cuba, Africa, and India.
“We’re not only focused on the big name acts,” says Michael Miller, executive director of the festival, “More of our focus is about having emerging acts and trying to give up and coming bands exposure to a big audience.” Miller considers the diversity of the festival one of its strengths that set it apart from others. “It’s important to have diversity in the music we’re presenting—every type of ethnic music that we can find available to put out there. We really want to be representative of our community.”
Non Stop Bhangra will represent the Indian musical genre at the festival, performing modern reincarnations of bhangra music. Founded in 2004, the collective features comprises the dancers from the Dholrhythms Dance Company, respected Bay Area DJ Jimmy Love, and live dhol (drum) players. Non Stop Bhangra has been a popular monthly event for the last seven years, mixing traditional bhangra with a vast array of reggae, hip hop, and breakbeat dance sounds.
“Our performances always include an interactive portion with the audience where we teach basic bhangra dance steps followed by a DJ set, infused with performances by Dholrhythms Dance Company and live drumming” says Dholrhythms co-founder Suman Raj.
Co-founder Vicki Virk explains the group’s vision, stressing community as a motivating force. “The blend and vision of the group’s musical style is to bring this sound, which is typically only found in the Punjabi community, and open up a dialogue between this music and the greater music community at large, and to make as many people dance as possible.”
The collective seems to have achieved this goal to a large extent, with its monthly dance floor night having received numerous awards and a becoming staple in the San Francisco nightlife scene. Non Stop Bhangra is excited to bring its unique musical style to revelers in San Jose for the first time, “A few years back, Non Stop Bhangra took to the festival scene and has been doing shows on both large and small stages across North America. We are super excited to be a part of the San Jose Jazz Festival” says Raj.
Over half of the performers in the festival line up are based in the Bay Area, and the local arts community, restaurants, and countless businesses will participate through food and craft stalls at the event. The fifth annual Club Crawl will also be held as part of the festival over two nights.
A cross section of musical and cultural styles from across the globe will be showcased, including iconic ’70s band The Ohio Players, Ramsey Lewis and His Electric Band, Cuban piano player Alfredo Rodriguez and trio, and South American trumpet player Arturo Sandoval, to name a few.
A sense of community lies at the core of San Jose Jazz’s purpose and the organization has been strengthening the bond between local musicians, businesses and children in need for over 25 years. Its free Wednesday night jazz concerts throughout the year and monthly South First Friday jazz nights continue to promote local musicians, hotels, and businesses, however it is the organization’s commitment to music education as a means of inspiring underprivileged youth that is the primary focus.
Its latest initiative, Progressions, is a school-based program run in conjunction with the Franklin McKinley Public School District. Taking place after school and on weekends, teachers redirect students’ energy into creative pursuits rather than antisocial activities.
“There’s no cost to the kids at all. We start with them in kindergarten and we stay with them until they graduate high school. We see pretty quickly the attention span going up and test scores improving,” he says.
The summer festival is a grand reflection of the organization’s guiding principle, “The goal is for everyone to have a great time at great value,” says Miller.
DJ Jimmy Love of Non Stop Bhangra shares Miller’s outlook, “Our philosophy is to just have fun with whatever the crowd responds to, and share what we love and let that connect with the crowd.
We always tell ourselves if we get the crowd’s shoulders moving and everyone is smiling, then we have done our job,” he says.
Non Stop Bhangra performance: Friday, Aug. 12, 10-11:30 p.m. Jazz Beyond stage, Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park, San Jose. Festival: $15 Friday evening; $20 Saturday, Sunday (each); $45 three-day festival pass; children under 12 free. www.jazzfest.sanjosejazz.org. http://nonstopbhangra.ning.com/page/non-stop-bhangra.