Arts Listings

La Fête de la Musique in Oakland

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday June 18, 2009 - 07:15:00 PM

For the longest day of the year, the Laurel Village Association in Oakland presents their fourth annual La Fête de la Musique, amateur and professional musicians playing in “unconventional public spaces” outdoors and in—the website features a photo of a barechested bassist in shades playing his upright, arco, in what looks like a parking lot—from 1 to 7 p. m. along MacArthur Boulevard in the Laurel neighborhood—and all for free. 

The ten stages are on MacArthur, from Launderland (3711 MacArthur) with a lineup running from Funky Tim through House Arrest to Trattoria Laurellinos (4171), which will kick off at 1 p.m. with Al Lazard & the New World Street Players playing New Orleans “Second Line Jazz,” later the Cavepainters play their acoustic folkrock originals. Other venues include the Laurel Bookstore (4100), opening with the Del Mars’ Surf instrumental, later presenting Celtic hip-hop fusion with Beltane’s Fire; the parking lot at the Lucky supermarket (4055) with the Golden Gate Jazz Ensemble at 1 p.m.; Laurel Ace Hardware (4024) with Gemini Soul and Planet Jazz early on and Mike Glendinning’s “grunge jazz” at 6; Citibank (4017) with Ambassador of Trouts at 1 p.m., hip-hop by Nacwon the Beast and Billy Da Kid later on; The Space at Laurel Jujitsu (4148) with Eveli & Nahal’s ethno-fusion tribal through Lisa Cohen’s blues & gospel; Phnom Penh Restaurant (3912), opening at 1 p.m. with Renaissance music by the New Queen’s Ha’Penny Consort; outside at Laurel Lounge (38th Ave.) with Lariats of Fire outlaw country at 1 p.m. and inside at the Laurel Lounge (3932) with folk, neo-soul and new age, and an open mic at 6. For schedules, links to musician websites and more information, visit  

Laurel’s festival was inspired by—and is connected with—a string of solstice fests around the globe, from London, Geneva, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels and Berlin to Tel Aviv, Nairobi, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Hong Kong, Sydney, Manila—across the Pacific to Oakland, New York, Miami—and down to Rio de Janeiro. (Other nations where Fêtes appear include: China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany, Greece, India, Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Pakistan, Romania, Sri Lanka and Venezuela.)  

First suggested by Joel Cohen, an American musician working for the French national radio station, FranceMusique, in 1976, La Fête de la Musique (also called World Music Day) was first celebrated in France in 1982. Musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets, and the shows must be free; Faites de la musique (Make music!), a homophone of Fête de la Musique, is the festival’s promotional slogan.