What started as lunchtime music concerts in 1989 and shortly thereafter moved to evenings continues this summer in San Jose’s central park, Plaza de Cesar Chavez.
Metro has sponsored the series since its inception and, following the San Jose Downtown Association’s decision two years ago to cease event production, an affiliate of the San Jose-based publisher of this weekly has taken over producing the concerts. Now in its fourth decade, the seasonal event has survived two shutdowns—once when the formerly free concerts outgrew the park, and the second because of the pandemic.
Last year’s lineup incorporated three reggae legends (The Legendary Wailers, Third World, Skatalites), 1980s synth-pop (ABC and A Flock of Seagulls) and Latin classic rock and hip hop (War and Los Rakas).
The park’s music season starts on June 17, when the San Jose Fountain Blues & Brews Festival activates the summer music season. The 40th Fountain Blues production gets underway June 17 with the Devon Allman Project.
Led by late Southern rock legend Gregg Allman’s son, the bluesy outfit also includes Jimmy Hall, lead vocalist and harmonica player for Southern rock band Wet Willie, and guitarist Larry McCray, who has shared the stage with blues greats B.B. King, Albert Collins and Buddy Guy.
Also on the Blues bill are the Chris Cain Band, Diunna Greenleaf and Blue Mercy and Andre Thierry.
On Friday, July 21, Music in the Park bursts into Plaza de Cesar Chavez with a triple bill of Living Colour, Soul Asylum and The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson.
Led by guitarist Vernon Reid, Living Colour formed in New York in 1984, with Corey Glover on vocals, Will Calhoun on drums and Muzz Skillings on bass. Their amalgamation of jazz, funk, hard rock and heavy metal is layered with lyrics ranging from the personal to the political.
Living Colour’s debut album, Vivid, was certified double platinum by the RIAA on its release in 1988. A single off that album, “Cult of Personality,” won the Grammy in 1990 for Best Hard Rock Performance and appears on lists of the Top 100 hard rock and heavy metal songs of all time. Living Colour was notable as one of the only African American heavy metal bands to achieve commercial success, a feat all the more impressive in that it was accomplished amid the conservatism of the Reagan Era.
Today, Living Colour’s three original members plus bassist Doug Wimbish continue to push genre boundaries, bringing in elements of thrash metal, blues and industrial rock.
Also on the bill are Minneapolis alt-rockers Soul Asylum, known from “Runaway Train,” the 1993 hit that won a Grammy for Best Rock Song, and musical contributions to the Kevin Smith films Clerks, Clerks II and Chasing Amy. Despite some lineup changes, lead vocalist and songwriter Dave Pirner still fronts the band, which now features drummer Michael Bland (formerly with Prince), guitarist Ryan Smith and bassist Winston Roye.
The third artist on the bill, Tommy Stinson, not only once played bass for Soul Asylum but also for Guns N’ Roses during the Chinese Democracy recording and subsequent tours—and is a founding member of Minneapolis alternative rock pioneers the Replacements. Stinson has released albums and toured as a solo artist since 2014.
Atlanta-born Thomas DeCarlo Burton, the genre-bending wordsmith known as CeeLo Green, will headline the Friday, Aug. 18 show. Before he became a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, the former member of hip hop’s Goodie Mob was simply Carlo.
Climbing to the top of international charts as half of the enigmatic duo Gnarls Barkley and known as a charismatic judge and mentor for emerging performers on NBC’s The Voice, CeeLo has returned to his urban and alternative R&B roots, engaging audiences with prolific retro-soul releases including “Lead Me,” “Doing It All Together” and “People Watching.”
The last show of the season will take place Sept 22, and the performer’s name will be revealed in July.
Music in the Park is supported by title sponsor First Tech Federal Credit Union. All shows take place from 5 to 10pm at Plaza de Cesar Chavez. A limited number of early-bird tickets are available at $25. General admission is $35, and the VIP Lounge tickets are $75. Season tickets are available prior to the first show at $99. Tickets at CalTix.com.
They used to have much better bands and they were free. Wtf
Hell yeah, Living Color is for the people!