YOUNGE BLOOD: San Jose is ready and willing to accept a thriving music scene. Photo by Greg Ramar.
Gazing up from the orchestra section of the California Theatre and observing the ornamental lattice work flanking the stage, you would be forgiven for mistaking the South First Street landmark for The Fox Theatre in Oakland. After all, the theater was built by the very same architects who erected the Fox.
And if you happened to catch Dakhabrakha’s performance at the historic hall on Sunday, it would be totally understandable for you to wonder why the California doesn’t regularly host the kinds artists that the Fox does most nights of the week. The sound is phenomenal, the space is gorgeous and the city surrounding it—San Jose—seems as if it could easily support a premier venue.
There are plenty of reasons why the California isn’t the Fox. We’ve written about at least one of them, the radius clause, quite extensively. But that’s neither here nor there, because this weekend the entirety of downtown San Jose proved—just as it proves every year around this time—that it has the venues, the population and, ostensibly, the desire to support a thriving live music scene.
San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2016 roared into town this weekend, filling a litany of local bars, clubs and public spaces with the sounds of New Orleans brass, sultry soul, chilly jazz, rollicking blues, swinging bop and so much more. Check out photos from the three-day event here.
The festival—which in recent years has taken a page out of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass playbook by “hardly strictly” sticking to traditional jazz—also presented a bevy of artists on the periphery of jazz: boundary-pushing artists adept at taking the pre-proto-punk ethos of jazz and running with it. Dakhabrakha, a Ukranian quartet specializing in a style of music they call “ethnic chaos,” falls into this category.
They also fall into the category of performers who make appearances on taste-making programs like NPR’s “Tiny Desk” and record impromptu “takeaway shows” for La Blogotheque.
They are pretty damn hip is what I’m saying. And that’s exciting.
Walking around downtown San Jose on Saturday night, as people both young and old scurried between venues, queuing up in long lines to get into venues, it felt a bit like Austin during SXSW—maybe not E. 6th Street, but one of the surrounding thoroughfares—bustling with excited music fans, struggling to figure out which show they ought to check out next. It’s one of those problems that’s a luxury to have, and one we should all hope San Jose has plenty more of in the near future.