Ever since he arrived at the San Jose Jazz Summerfest, Mike Johnson has been rocking on his heels.
“You can feel the love coming in,” said the Sacramento resident, who was enjoying the first of three days – Aug. 12-14 – of live music at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez in downtown San Jose and the surrounding area. “It’s just fun. It’s a party.”
Thousands more appeared to be fully satisfied by Johnson’s review on the festival’s opening night. Music lovers will fill the square to dance, sway or just relax to the tunes of Friday’s main stage artists – including the great soul singer Lee Fields – as well as more than a dozen other acts on the festival stages. Featured acts include R&B-soul band Durand Jones and the Pointers and local blues great Chris Kane.
The event is set to continue on Aug. 13 at 11 a.m. with funk-soul star Charlie Wilson, vocalist-guitarist Raul Midon, Afro-Cuban outfit Sabor de Mi Cuba, multi-talented vocalist Kim Naley, R&B singer Lila James and jazz legend the Brubeck Brothers. Among the actions to be seen.
The 2022 festival is scheduled to run through Sunday the 11th with Grammy-winning Oakland R&B vocalist Ledisi, jazz bassist extraordinaire Stanley Clarke, San Jose bluesman Aki Kumar, Orquesta Latin Heat and many other notable artists.
It is the first full-scale summer festival since 2019. The festival was canceled in 2020 due to covid, but was held last year due to limited capacity.
Long-time audiences seem to be thrilled that Summerfest is back – and reminiscing about the pre-Covid years in fashion.
San Jose resident Rudy Rodriguez was enjoying the Blues/Big Easy stage, enjoying another high-energy show from one of the Bay Area’s best blues acts – the Jesse Smith Band. Attending the summer festival is an annual tradition for Rodriguez and his wife — one he says he looks forward to year-round.
“We’ve been coming since day one,” says Smith between an explosive guitar solo. We like it when it’s free, but we don’t mind paying for it.
Rodriguez and his wife were listening to the music with several friends, including two who had traveled a long way to attend the event.
“One came from Arizona and one from LA – just to be here,” he explained.
The party was in full swing on opening night at the Blues/Big Easy Stage, which was hosting an all-408 lineup — both Smith and Chris Kane from San Jose. Smith was up first and as usual wowed his fans with his amazing vocals and guitar work as well as his top band powerhouse saxophonist Noel Katura.
“(Smith) is a great show,” said East Palo Alto resident Sherry Jones. It certainly includes the audience.
With scheduled performances from acts like Aki Kumar, Memphis Sound and the Marina Cruise Band, this stage should remain one of the festival’s highlights throughout the weekend.
For tickets ($35-$190 per day), full schedule and more information, visit summerfest.sanjosejazz.org.