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Summer Guide 2019: How the South Bay Plans to Party This Summer

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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.

Henrietta (Maria Giere Marquis) is captivated by a look into the heavens.
Henrietta (Maria Giere Marquis) is captivated by a look into the heavens. (Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Sanders)

Silent Sky

May 16–June 16 
City Lights Theater Company, San Jose
More information

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.

Future Win will be performing live at this year's subZERO Festival in San Jose.
Future Win will perform live at this year’s subZERO Festival in San Jose. (Courtesy of Future Win)

SubZERO Festival

June 7–8
SoFA District, San Jose
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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.

The Chidori Band performs at the Obon festival in San Jose's Japantown on July 9, 2016.
The Chidori band performs at the Obon Festival in Japantown in San Jose on Saturday, July 9. (James Tensuan/KQED)

San Jose Obon Festival

July 13–14
San Jose Buddhist Church
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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?

Ceremonial huipil, Santa Lucía Utatlán, 1930’s/1940’s
Ceremonial huipil, Santa Lucía Utatlán, 1930’s/1940’s (Courtesy of Friends of the Ixchel Museum)

Mayan Traje: A Tradition in Transition

July 21–Oct. 13
San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles
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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.

Gregory Porter is just one of a host of nationally known artists performing this year at the 30th annual San Jose Jazz Summer Fest.
Gregory Porter is just one of a host of nationally known artists performing this year at the 30th annual San Jose Jazz Summer Fest. (Photo: Courtesy of Gregory Porter)

San Jose Jazz Summer Fest

Aug. 9–11
Various venues, San Jose
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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.

Nina Sky headline this year's Sonido Clash festival in East Side San Jose.
Nina Sky headline this year’s Sonido Clash festival in East Side San Jose.

Sonido Clash Music Fest

Sept. 1
School of Arts & Culture, Mexican Heritage Plaza
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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.

'The Royal Tenenbaums' is one of a series of Wes Anderson films featured at History Park in San Jose this summer.
‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ is one of a series of Wes Anderson films featured at History Park in San Jose this summer. (Courtesy of the Roxie)

Flicks and Grooves

May 10–Oct. 25
History Park, San Jose
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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, RushmoreThe 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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