Archive for the ‘Festival’ Category

San Jose Mariachi Festival is underway

The annual San Jose Mariachi Festival, branded this year as VivaFest, is an event that can fly under the radar. It rarely causes blocked roads, and the events are spread across multiple venues and two weeks of the calendar. But it is actually a major production and a great opportunity to see some brilliant music and thought-provoking films.

Starting last night, six films, held at the Tech’s Imax dome, present food for thought about Mexican music and Latino culture in the USA. Wednesday night’s film, “Danza Folklorica Escenica” (Mexican Folkloric Dance) looks to be the most directly informative about Mariachi music, and will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. Saturday’s film, “The Harvest” explores the hard world of immigrant child labor in the United States, and will be preceded by a keynote address by White House official Jose Rico.

The musical highlights are a Friday night concert and Saturday Sunday’s outdoor festival. On Friday night, Spanish Harlem Orchestra will play at the SJSU Events Center with opener Tito Puente, Jr. and a possible special appearance by Los Lobos. Tickets are being sold through Ticketmaster. As an extra tip, visit the website of downtown dinner/dance/margarita club Azucar for a special price deal that just about covers the Ticketmaster convenience fee.

On Saturday Sunday, the outdoor Feria del Mariachi features over a dozen mariachis and folkloric dance groups on two stages. Many of these groups are local, but others will be traveling here from as far away as Texas and Harvard University. Just a few of the groups have preview videos on the VivaFest site. Entrance to the outdoor festival is free.

  • What: San Jose Mexican Heritage and Mariachi Festival
  • When: Sept. 18 – 29, 2011
  • Where: Various sites, including the SJSU Event Center, HP Pavilion, and the Tech
  • How Much: Saturday’s Feria del Mariachi is gratis. Other events priced per event.

Edit: The Outdoor Feria is Sunday, Sept 25, from noon – 7 pm, on Autumn Street near the Pavilion.

Jazz Festival Recap

I spent most of Saturday and Sunday bouncing back and forth between the main stage and the Latin stage at the San Jose Jazz festival. Ray Obiedo on the Latin stage added a driving guitar sound to a mix of latin and straight-ahead jazz selections. It was also a treat to see local favorite John Santos take the main stage early Sunday afternoon.

And on Saturday evening I was able to catch a couple of favorite local acts at some dressy hotel bars. The Jazz Mechanics, with a neighbor of mine at the drums, was grooving it at Mosaic in the Four Points hotel. Meanwhile Brian Ho Organ Trio drew a busy crowd at the Hedley Club in the Hotel De Anza, with John Santos among the crowd. Ho has really come a long way since one of my first Jazz Fests when I saw him playing solo in a nearly empty lounge at one of the downtown hotels.

The big find of the festival for me was Grupo Falso Baiano. The San Francisco-based group plays choro, a Brazilian music style that predates Samba as the music of the streets. The style seemed to combine the syncopation of folk guitar with the foot-moving rythms of more familiar Brazilian music.

Overall, another fine San Jose Jazz Festival. Now its time to start looking forward to next year again.

Friday Jazz Fest images

I wasn’t able to get to too many performances at the Jazz Festival last night, but I did see a couple of good ones:

Over dinner at the Los Gatos Brewing Company, I caught the Steve Nakano Trio (all four of them) playing straight ahead jazz, as well as an impromptu rendition of “Jesse’s Girl” instigated by the crowd in the Brit courtyard listening in from behind the stage.

Later, at the Jazz Beyond Stage, I caught a few minutes of Nonstop Bangra. After a quick dance lesson the brightly-dressed dancers stepped out into the crowd to join a jumping dance party.

A good night, but I’m hoping to have time for more of the festival tonight.

San Jose Renaissance Faire 2011

This weekend, August 6-7, the first annual San Jose Renaissance Faire takes place in Guadalupe River Park next to HP Pavilion.

The faire takes a step back in time and features three stages of entertainment, Queen Elizabeth’s court, expertly staged battle scenes and theatrical performances, lively crafts marketplace, storytelling for children and adults alike, belly dancers, musicians, archery and more

A plethora of costumed performers brings Shakespeare’s England to life with bards telling tales, dancers, singers, jugglers, sword fighting and jousts with knights on horseback.

Artisans and crafters give demonstrations and lectures throughout the day on blacksmithing, weaving, spinning, bow making and creating chainmail.

For shoppers there are handmade goods to purchase including jewelry, pottery, clothing, and leather goods, swords, toys, and lingerie.

Food and drink including hearty ale, turkey legs, and chocolate-dipped strawberries on a stick are available to purchase.

The San Jose Renaissance Faire designed to accommodate youngsters as well as adults.

San Jose Renaissance Faire
Guadalupe River Park
494 West Santa Clara Street

Saturday, August 6 — 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday, August 7 –10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Admission: $17.00 for adults, $12.00 for seniors, and children ages 6-12

Parking – $5.00 at HP Pavilion

San Ramon Art & Wind Festival 2011

The San Ramon Art & Wind Festival this Sunday and Monday May 29 & 30, 2011 in San Ramon’s Central Park from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm both days.

The Wind part of the festival is kite flying demonstrations throughout both days by professionals from all over the country and Weifang, China the home of the Weifang International Kite Museum and Kite Festival

The Art part of the festival features a wide range of artwork including paintings, sculpture, woodwork, toys, and jewelry, hand painted clothing, stained glass, music, photography and more.

The festival includes entertainment on three stages and two large kids’ activity areas with rides, slides, face painting, a rock-climbing wall, hamster balls, and fun crafts for the kids to make.

This year 26 food booths operated by local non-profits that raise much needed funds for their organizations and projects in the area. Goodies include gyros, peach cobbler, barbecued pork sandwiches, Caesar salad, tri- tip sandwiches, sausage sandwiches, ice cream, hot dogs, hamburgers, cotton candy, nachos and more.

San Ramon Central Park

Sunday and Monday May 29 – 30, 2011
10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Admission: Free

Parking: There are two main parking lots that provide easy access to the festival.
The dirt lot is located on the corner of Camino Ramon and Bollinger Canyon.
The Iron Horse Middle School parking lot is located at the intersection of Alcosta and Woodland.  Parking at each of these lots is $5.00.

Festival Map (PDF)

Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras Festival 2011

The 32nd Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras Festival (May 28 – 29, 2011) is a free family-friendly event that features everything mushroom.

Visit the Mushroom Growing Exhibit and see the mushroom growth process in its various stages, learn about compost, and talk with growers.

Enjoy mushroom soup made from local fresh mushrooms. The recipe is free with each bowl.

Take home fresh, just-picked shuttled from the grower, locally grown mushrooms for sale near the inflatable mushroom including Portabella, Crimini and white mushrooms.

The two-day festival includes live stage entertainment, arts and crafts, gourmet offerings, mushroom education, strolling musicians, street performers, and a kids activities area including a petting zoo and pony rides.

Morgan Hill Community & Cultural Center
17000 Monterey Road
Morgan Hill, 95037

Saturday, May 28, 2011
10:00 am – 7:00 pm

Sunday, May 29, 2011
10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Admission: Free

Free parking for the festival is located throughout downtown Morgan Hill
and at the 3rd Street Festival entrance at the Park & Ride lot on Butterfield
Blvd between Dunne & Main Avenue. Entrance to the festival from this
parking lot is located at the train crossing in MunchkinLand.

Live Oak High School is offering parking for a donation of $5 at the dirt lot
located on Church and Depot Street across the street from the main
entrance to the festival.

Both lots provide handicap parking.

Welcome to the 2nd Annual San Jose Short Film Festival

If you’re having a difficult time waiting for Cinequest 2011 (March 1!) or if you’re just looking for an excellent way to spend a few hours this weekend, the 2nd Annual San Jose Short Film Festival is for you.  Held at Camera 3 downtown this Saturday and Sunday, you will be treated to several short films per session and even have a chance to speak to the filmmakers when it’s over.

Yes, to be clear, this is not a short film festival, this is a festival of film shorts.  This means all films are 15 minutes or less, and some are as short as two minutes.  There are two different groupings of films: Program 1 has 16 different films, and Program 2 has 13 films, and there is a great variety of genres and types of films to see.  Everything from drama to comedy to Sci Fi is represented, and I enjoyed almost every film of Program 1 on Thursday evening.  But the best thing about film shorts is that even if you don’t like one particular film it is over in 15 minutes or less!  And then you’re on to the next one!  Program 1 is about 2 hours 30 minutes long and Program 2 is just under 2 hours, and both have a good variety of shorts with some crossover.

Some highlights from Program 1:

BLUEBERRY is the charming story of a darling young girl whose mother has left “on holiday”.  One day her father, who has suffered from “allergies” ever since mummy left, takes little Daisy to the pet store.  When they come home with their new pet, Blueberry the snake, the story really begins.

WINNER BEST SHORT FILM is actually the title of one of the shorts, and is the hilarious story of a man who is sure he will be successful in the industry based on the results of his recent award winning short film.  This film will be fully appreciated by anyone who is in the film business, who has tried or failed to make their own short film, or who has had to sit and watch endless screeners of bad films.  But truly the audience of film lovers last night were laughing themselves silly.

SHELDON is the sad story of a washed up television show puppet, fresh out of rehab.  With no one willing to give him a second chance on film, what choice does he have but to accept the offer of a celebrity wrestling match?

COCKPIT: THE RULE OF ENGAGEMENT is an excellent Sci Fi entry taking place in 2103 when humans are battling creatures who have perfected mind control.  When one fighter returns from battle claiming he never had any contact with the alien mind controllers, should he be believed, or should he be destroyed to protect the human race?  The moral question in this short makes it an excellent Sci Fi pick.

In my opinion, short films are always a great choice, and with $8 for a ticket that allows you to see 13 – 16 films, you can’t beat the price.  If your mind isn’t made up yet, keep in mind that Camera 3 contains the awesome Psycho Donuts in their lobby AND they serve alcohol.  Pop corn, donuts, wine and beer, and two hours of great film…  what better way to spend your weekend?

San Jose Short Film Festival
Tickets $8
Camera 3
288 S. Second Street
Program 1
Saturday, December 11th, 4pm
Sunday, December 12, 4pm
Program 2
Saturday December 11th, 1pm
Sunday December 12th, 1pm

There is also a FREE Film Forum (at their Festival Headquarters: 110 Paseo de San Antonio) from 1pm – 9pm TODAY (Friday, December 10) with filmmaker interviews, equipment and product demonstrations including Red Cameras, DLSRs and sound equipment, plus a terrific panel discussion where you get to ask the questions from their panel of film experts (starts at 6:30pm) and discuss the state of indie filmmaking in the Bay Area.

Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival 2010

This weekend, October 16-17, is the 40th Annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival featuring enormous champion pumpkins, live music, a haunted barn, harvest-inspired crafts, home-style foods, pumpkin carvers, pie-eating contests, costume contests, parade, along with many other events and activities.

The festival includes thousands of handcrafted items in booths covering several city blocks; featuring original work in sculpture, paintings, photography, glass, ceramics, textiles, jewelry, leather, wood, metal, and mixed media. Hand-blown glass pumpkins, vases, flatware, clocks, dishes, wall and table decorations, paperweights, stained and beveled glass, etchings, sculptures, photography, oil and watercolor paintings, beadwork, gold and silver jewelry, vests, handbags, hats, wallets, footwear, wind chimes, and waterfalls are among the one-of-a-kind items available.

Food items available include pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake rolls, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin churros and chicken pumpkin sausages. I think there is a theme here. Non-pumpkin items include hamburgers, grilled corn on the cob, garlic fries, corn dogs, and Brussels sprouts in a zesty marinara sauce. Yes, Brussels sprouts.

The Haunted Johnston Barn features live actors from The Coastside Young Actors Workshop alongside audio-animatronic figures, projected and transparent ghosts, intense lighting, sound, and fog effects, and unexpectedly dropping and swooping objects caused by unseen forces. Some scenes include Pirates trading’ cannon fire with a Ghost Ship along with sword fighting and walking the plank. Children under 5 may find the experience too intense. The Johnston Barn is located behind the Historic Jail, at 505 Johnston Street. Admission is $5 per person; proceeds benefit the non-profit children’s theater group.

Great Pumpkin Parade is Saturday at noon on Main Street. The parade features marching bands, classic cars, floats, and an assortment of costumed ghouls, gargoyles, ghosts, not to mention SpongeBob SquarePants and Diego.

Parking is at the south end of Main Street near Highway, Half Moon Bay High School (Main St. just north of Hwy. 92), and at the Community Center/Shoreline Station complex, located just north of Kelly Avenue on Highway 1. Local non-profit groups who charge a nominal parking fee operate many of these parking areas. There is also limited free parking on several side streets. Police will be citing for illegal parking, so read signs carefully. There will be specially marked handicapped parking on Purissima St. between Correas St. and Kelly Avenue.

The best alternate route is to take Highway 1 both days of the festival.

No Pets!


10:00 am – Costume Contest, HMB Library Parking Lot, 620 Correas St.

12:00 pm – Great Pumpkin Parade

Saturday & Sunday

7:00 am – Pancake Breakfast, Mac Dutra Park, Main St. @ Kelly Ave.

9:00 am – Festival Opens

2:00 pm – Pie Eating Contest, Family Fun Zone (age 11 and under)

2:15 pm – Pie Eating Contest, Family Fun Zone (age 12 and over)

5:00 pm – Festival Closes

Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival 2010
On Main Street
between Miramontes and Spruce Streets

Half Moon Bay, 94019

Saturday & Sunday, October 16-17, 2010
9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Admission: free
Haunted Barn: $5.00
Charges for various items


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