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Marcus Shelby, Black London Headline a Day of Free Concerts in SF

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Three musicians smile and pose in front of palm trees.
Oakland's Black London collective features musicians and bandleaders Howard Wiley, Mike Blankenship and Kev Choice. (Ariel Nava)

Even though California’s economy has technically been open since last year, a lot of people are still experiencing their firsts since COVID hit—their first night back to the theater, their favorite club or a concert hall. And if you’ve missed live music over the past two years, SF Music Day is a chance to get your fill and then some.

The free, all-day event takes place 12–7pm on Sunday, March 20, at the War Memorial Veterans Building in San Francisco. It functions like a mini music festival with four stages: the stately Herbst Theatre and Taube Atrium, the green room and the educational studio. And within these rooms both large and small, listeners will have an opportunity to check out the latest in Bay Area classical music, jazz, world music, new music and more.

One of the headliners is Marcus Shelby, the celebrated composer and bassist who makes music about pivotal moments in Black history. His latest album, Harriet Tubman: Through the Eyes of Children, is a collaboration with singer Tiffany Austin. She also performs at SF Music Day and similarly uses music to tell stories and pay homage to the powerful lineage of Black musical traditions.

While Shelby performs inside Herbst, Black London, a jazz trio led by rapper and classically trained pianist Kev Choice, saxophonist Howard Wiley and keyboardist Mike Blankenship, will take the stage in the Taube Auditorium. Other highlights from the lineup include performances by members of Philharmonia Baroque, Lisa Mezzacappa and Jason Levis’ Duo B. Experimental Band, Jeremy Cohen’s violin jazz and new music ensemble Del Sol Quartet.

The full lineup can be found on SF Music Day’s website.

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