Ready, set, go … here comes summer
File photograph by George Sakkestad People who attend Jazz on the Plazz concerts bring lawn chairs to sit on because blankets aren’t allowed at the Town Plaza. Blankets are also prohibited at Music in the Park concerts at the civic center, but chairs are OK.
Temperatures are on the rise and summer is officially just around the corner, so plans are well underway for the town’s signature summer events: Music in the Park, Jazz on the Plazz and the Los Gatos Plein Air Art & Wine Festival.
Plein Air artists
The ninth annual Los Gatos Plein Air event is June 13-17, when 34 artists will paint “in the open air” at locations in and around Los Gatos. A “Downtown Paint Out” day is scheduled for 1-5 p.m. June 15, which means the artists will set up their easels downtown and interact with the public while they paint.
“We know Los Gatos is a dining and shopping destination, and we’ve always strived to make Los Gatos the South Bay’s art destination,” Plein Air organizer Carol Waitte said.
Plein Air is sponsored by the Los Gatos Morning Rotary Club, which uses the festival to raise money for arts and education organizations. Recipients this year include the New Museum Los Gatos, Art Docents of Los Gatos, Montalvo Arts Education Program, Lighting for Literacy and the Morning Rotary Foundation.
When the artists are finished painting, they’ll rush their favorite pieces to the Hotel Los Gatos for a June 16 VIP Artists’ reception and silent auction.
“You can’t buy this art online,” organizer Pam Murphy said. “It’s still wet and painted that week when you buy it.”
The VIP artists’ reception is 6:30-10 p.m. Tickets are $135 and include fine wines and small plates by Dio Deka. Purchase tickets and find more information at lgpleinair.com.
Since each Plein Air artist produces four to five paintings in just four days, there will be plenty of works at the free fine art exhibit, sale and wine festival scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 17 at the Town Plaza, corner of North Santa Cruz Avenue and Main Street.
“The festival is a wine tasting and art event,” Murphy said. “This year, several wineries approached us to participate, so only the best wineries got in.”
The featured festival wineries are Black Ridge, La Rusticana D’Orsa, Left Bend, Muns Vineyard, Perrucci Family Vineyard, Radonich Brothers and Testarossa.
Music in the Park
You can bring your own wine to the Los Gatos Civic Center, 110 E. Main St., when the 30th annual Music in the Park concert series kicks off June 18. The civic center concerts are free to the public on Sundays from 5-7 p.m.
The season opens with the Doobie Brothers tribute band Long Train Runnin’.
“They’re very popular, and for the first time they’ve added some dance music from other popular bands like Maroon 5, Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars,” Music in the Park director Scott Canali said. “We’re really putting an emphasis on dance music this year.”
To that end, look for recent Top 40 hits from the Pacific Soul Band on June 25.
“They have fun choreography to watch,” Canali said.
A band that “really knows how to work a crowd,” Wonder Bread 5, performs July 16, followed by the MIP All Stars on July 23. The All Stars are a collection of local rock musicians who are invited to join Music in the Park director Paul Kent on the civic center stage. Kent is the leader of the Los Gatos-based Houserockers.
The Houserockers perform at the final Music in the Park concert that will be held Sept. 2, 5:30-9:30 p.m., at Oak Meadow Park. This final event is dubbed the Los Gatos Park Dance.
“We had about 6,700 people at the park dance last year,” Canali said. “On average, we see between 4,000 and 4,500 people at the civic center concerts.”
The complete Music in the Park lineup and more information are at lgmip.com.
Fiesta de Artes
A program note: There will not be an Aug. 13 Music in the Park concert because of Fiesta de Artes. The free art and music festival is scheduled for Aug. 12, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., and Aug. 13, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Town Plaza. Visit lgfiesta.org for more information.
Jazz on the Plazz
If you love outdoor music festivals, be sure to mark your calendar for June 21, when the 15th annual Jazz on the Plazz concert series kicks off at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Plaza. The series runs through Aug. 23.
The opening act features Nestor Torres accompanied by Antonia Bennett, who just happens to be crooner Tony Bennett’s daughter.
“She does contemporary and timeless jazz standards, so she’ll mix it up,” Jazz on the Plazz founder Teri Hope said. “She’s been touring with Nestor Torres, who’s been one of our featured artists before. I can just imagine him playing the flute paired with her melodic voice.”
This year’s concert series is dedicated to jazz icon Billie Holiday, who is also known as “Lady Day.”.
“We have several women in the lineup because of Billie Holiday,” Hope said. “Paula West is one of the performers who will be doing tributes to Lady Day.”
West takes the stage on June 28.
Hope is equally enthusiastic about Natalie Douglas’ July 26 performance. “She does everything from Nina Simone to Billie Holiday and is in a league of her own; she’s emotional and playful,” Hope said.
The final concert on Aug. 23 features Tom Wopat, who is best known as “Luke Duke” from the “Dukes of Hazard” TV series that ran from 1979 to 1985.
Jazz on the Plazz concerts are free to the public, but people can reserve seats in a VIP section, with access to a hospitality booth, for $350. A reserved seat without hospitality is $250.
Seats can be purchased online at jazzontheplazz.com.
The web site has a wealth of information about Jazz on the Plazz, including details about the July 25 gala featuring Herb Alpert and Lani Hall. Tickets to the 6:30 p.m. private show that’s held at a Los Gatos estate are $200, and include valet parking, dinner, wine and cocktails.
“The gala always sells out,” Hope said. “This is a full 45-minute set. Grammy winner Lani Hall is Herb Alpert’s longtime love and wife, so this will be romantic and also a retrospective of Herb Alpert’s work.”
Jazz on the Plazz falls under the umbrella of the nonprofit Los Gatos Music & Arts group, so funds raised from the gala go to music education programs.
“It’s all for a great cause,” Hope said. “We go to seven schools and do free jazz workshops for students to augment the schools’ music programs.”
Fisher Middle School and Los Gatos and Saratoga high schools are three of the seven schools served by Music & Arts. The group also puts on a Summer Jazz Camp for kids and offers scholarships to youth who can’t afford the camp. There are still some jazz camp openings available, Hope said.
Youth play a big role in the Jazz on the Plazz concerts since Hope hires foster kids from TeenForce to help with set-up and tear-down. But it’s not just youth who benefit from the concert series, Hope said.
“It’s a very wholesome experience that nurtures the whole community,” Hope said. “It elevates our spirits when you have a gathering of family, friends and people coming together to share music.”
There’s yet another opportunity to enjoy music this summer in Los Gatos: The free Vasona Vibrations concert series runs 5-7 p.m. June 3-July 29 at Vasona Park, 333 Blossom Hill Road.
Artists perform a variety of acoustic genres, including Americana, blues, zydeco, Dixieland, big band and contemporary folk. Celtic Heart kicks off the season with its brand of Irish and American folk music, with Grammy-nominated performer Andre Thierry set for June 17 and the Top Shelf Big Band closing the season on July 29.
During the concerts, Vasona Vibrations’ volunteers will be collecting cash and canned food donations on behalf of Second Harvest Food Bank.
Visit vasonavibrations.org for the complete lineup and more information.