British jazz sensations Sons of Kemet perform at this year's San Jose Jazz Summer Fest. (Courtesy Sons of Kemet)
Summertime is the right time in the South Bay for getting outdoors, whether your jam is a movie, concert, or strolling after dinner through the art galleries and museums of downtown. People north of the Peninsula may wonder what's worth driving so far south to see, but let them wonder. We're drawing big crowds from the neighborhoods nearby as it is.
The 2016 movie Hidden Figures wasn't the first to resurrect the previously underreported stories of lady giants of science. But now we're definitely paying attention to what's proving to be a rich and varied genre of entertainment, especially here in Silicon Valley. San Francisco playwright Lauren Gunderson's Silent Sky focuses on a woman named Henrietta Swan Leavitt, whose scientific breakthroughs at the turn of the 20th century laid the ground for later revelations—like the idea that the universe is much bigger than our little solar system. The play is moving tribute to scientists of every stripe.
Produced by Two Fish Design, SubZERO is a "DIY, artistically bent, hi/lo-techno mashup where street meets geek." Got it? Bands, dancers, visual artists and the people who love them will fill the streets of downtown San Jose with sound, as well as craft beer and food trucks. Also, there will be wood carving.
Music in the Park June 21–Aug. 23
Plaza de Caesar Chavez, San Jose More information
For Music in the Park, bring a blanket, sunglasses, a jacket (even San Jose can get chilly at night) and some pocket money for snacks. If you wear comfortable shoes, it's an easy walk from the CalTrain station. This year's line-up includes a range of artists, but they're all chill, i.e. likely to please everybody in the family, from junior to grandma: The Delfonics, Ozomatli, Cuco and J Boog.
In Japan, the Obon festival is one of year's most significant religious and cultural events. In San Jose, it's also a delightful opportunity for the South Bay's Japanese Americans to celebrate one of the last remaining Japantowns in the United States. Also, who doesn't want to watch San Jose Taiko and the San Jose Chidori Band perform while eating teriyaki and tempura?
The Maya of Guatemala are known worldwide for their distinctive trajes (traditional clothing). These were once 100% village-specific, to the extent your hometown could be pegged based on the clothes you wore. Those days have faded, but there's still a lot of Mayan pride in the tradition and a keen regard for the fact it's considered “wearable art”. This exhibit focuses on contemporary clothing as well as historical samples dating back to the early 20th century, drawing from the rarely-displayed collection of the Friends of the Ixchel Museum.
My, how Summer Fest has grown. The 30 year-old San Jose institution now features 100+ performances in jazz, blues, Latin, R&B and more, at venues throughout downtown. This year, headliners include Dianne Reeves, Gregory Porter, Pink Martini, The O’Jays, Sons of Kemet, Monty Alexander and the Harlem-Kingston Express, Ivan Lins, and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. Don't be intimidated! Just try to enjoy as much as you can. Venerable music critic Andy Gilbert suggests a couple South Bay acts, in case you want to support local jazz talent: San Jose vocalist Amy Dabalos (aka Amy D), and the 7th Street Big Band.
This Latinx collective famous for "cumbia, soul, y más" never fails to deliver a pleasing, all-ages party mix on multiple stages. This year's lineup includes Nina Sky, Katzo Oso, Ms Nina, Rudy Da Ana, San Cha, and many more. Also, word: this year, San Jose Jazz Summer Fest includes a Sonido Clash Stage. Really, there's no excuse to miss these guys this summer.
History San Jose hosts movies and music under the stars, and this year's outdoor cinema lineup showcases the idiosyncratic genius of director Wes Anderson the second Friday of each month. Even if you've already seen all of Anderson's films, they bear a second viewing, given the rich, detailed universes he creates. Though the series is already underway at press time, still to come are The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Rushmore, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Fantastic Mr. Fox.
UPDATE: the majority of Flicks and Grooves events have been canceled.
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