The indomitable Will Downing tops Sunday’s Main Stage line-up (in association with KBLX 102.9 FM) In late 2006, Downing was diagnosed with polymyositis, a disorder causing weakness in joints and muscles. As a result, Downing recorded the majority of his vocals for 2008’s After Tonight from a wheelchair. Buoyed by fan support, Downing continued to struggle against the disease and released the soulful Classique in 2009. His gorgeous, smooth, deeply personal delivery connects emotionally with the listener, his song choices are excellent, and his arrangements are extremely sophisticated. Also on the Main Stage is blue-eyed soul singer Bobby Caldwell. Best known for his What You Won’t Do for Love, Caldwell provides a genuine mix of R&B and jazz signatures with his bittersweet, buttery vocal tones that make him equally adept at his own originals or classic standards.
A perennial favorite, the Oakland R&B Reunion Stage is loaded with great acts. Zakiya Hooker, daughter of the legendary John Lee Hooker, brings her jazzy, sassy, soul blues to the stage. Freddie Hughes, who had R&B hits all the way back in the 60s, will pump out a set of Southern Soul blues. Derick Hughes adds his powerful, moody blues voice and crack band to what should be a great day of blues. The Caravan of Allstars featuring some of Oakland ‘s finest blues musicians and singers are next. Their shows are very funky, filled with some of Oakland ‘s greatest legends performing in front of the Allstars roaring rhythm section and horn section. Rounding out a great Blues afternoon is Frankie Lee, a legendary, underrated blues singer with more than 45 years experience. Known for his incredible live shows, Frankie says, “Whether it’s one or 1,000, me and my band are gonna put on a show.”
Expect people to be up and dancing at the Latin Stage on Sunday. Chino Espinoza y Los Dueños Del Son headline. Their high energy, infectious music is perfect for the dance club and has made them the most popular Salsa orchestra on the West Coast. Building up to Chino’s show we have Ba-Tu-Ke with their heady mixture of Cumbia, Son, Merengue and Samba mixed with Brazilian and African percussion and sweet vocal harmonies. Sandy Perez y Su Lade offer Afro-Cuban folkloric music with a strong percussion base, and Fito Reinoso returns to Art & Soul Oakland with his stunning Salsa Cubana.
On Sunday, the Plaza Stage is dedicated to World Dance. The stage opens highlighting the youth and adult classes of Bay Area dance studios. That will be followed by a steady stream of Bay Area hip-hop dance crews. The highlight of the afternoon is sure to be Tribute to Michael Jackson presented by Bay Area hip-hop dance companies and featuring dancers from the hit TV series So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew.
Art & Soul Oakland has great music but that’s not all. A family paradise, the festival boasts the largest Family Fun Zone of any festival in the Bay Area, complete with kiddie rides, children’s entertainment and free festival admission for ages 12 and under. The ever-expanding Family Fun Zone is jam-packed with interactive activities for children of all ages, as well as kid-friendly carnival games, inflatable bouncers and hands-on activities to create their own art to take home. Every year, Art & Soul Oakland features hundreds of artisan and vendor booths as well as a mouth-watering array of food reflecting the rich cultural diversity found in Oakland–the most diverse city in America.
The 9th Annual Art & Soul Oakland is Northern California ‘s most accessible festival offering direct service from BART ( 12th Street – Oakland City Center Station) and free parking for thousands of cars. Last year more than 60,000 people enjoyed sensational music, food, fun, dance and art in beautiful downtown Oakland . “Downtown Oakland is hot,” says Samee Roberts, City of Oakland Marketing Director. “Scores of new restaurants, clubs, galleries and the renovated Fox Theater are drawing people from all over the region in droves. It all started with Art & Soul — a multicultural mecca of music, art and food with the most wonderfully fun, diverse festival crowd you will find anywhere.”
The 9th Annual Art & Soul Oakland takes place in downtown Oakland on Saturday, August 15 and Sunday, August 16, 2009 from Noon-6 PM. The festival is centered in Frank Ogawa Plaza and City Center , encompassing 10 strollable city blocks. Admission is $10.00 per day at the door; $5 for seniors, disabled and youth 13 to 17, with 12 and under free.
For more information on the 9th Annual Art & Soul Oakland , visit www.ArtandSoulOakland.com or call (510) 444-CITY.
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Michael Coats (707) 935-6203 or email@example.com
Lance Cutler (707) 996-5980 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Harry Hamilton (510) 238-2107 or email@example.com
Photo of Wayman Tisdale at Art & Soul Oakland 2006 by James Knox. RIP Wayman.