Art on the Edge, Jazz and John Philip Sousa

With the drone of last week’s grand prix still ringing in my ears (a deafening sound like millions of giant bees on the warpath) I am looking forward to the coming month’s events in downtown San Jose that are of an altogether more low-key variety. Whereas the grand prix may make the biggest noise possible (even drowning out the departing jets from SJC) and attract a lot of commercial hoopla and out-of-towners, it is enduring events like Cinequest and the San Jose Jazz Festival that are really important to the local community and region.

Next week (August 7-13) will bring the new Zero One Festival and the associated International Symposium of Electronic Arts to downtown San Jose. It is hoped that the festival will become a regular biennial staple on the city’s cultural calendar. While the event is billed as a “Global Festival of Art on the Edge,” the angle that will appeal to Silicon Valley denizens may be that all of the artworks presented in the festival utilize new technology in their creation and/or display, and many of them are interactive. Events will take place throughout downtown and include exhibitions, live music, theater, cinema, lectures and educational workshops. The program really is chock-full of exciting things to see, hear and do with something for everyone, even the technology- and art-averse. Their website is very comprehensive and you can download programs and other information here.

The San Jose Jazz Festival has been a huge success locally for twenty years and this year (August 18, 19 and 20) will be no exception. Some of the headliners are the Neville Brothers, Bud Shank, Dr. John and Marcus Miller, with dozens of great performers presented on the nine stages set up around the downtown hub as usual. Those of you who have attended in the past know how much fun it is to wander around the festival taking in the music and a lot of great food that is as varied as the music. The festival website can be found here.  The only unfortunate difference with this year’s festival is that there will be a $5.00 admission fee for each day where it used to be completely free. You have to ask yourself: when this event brings as many people downtown as the grand prix, why don’t they get the few thousand dollars of funding they need from the city to keep it free while the race gets millions?

Finally, last Sunday I made a discovery that I want to tell you about. On the last Sunday of every month in the summer, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at beautiful Shoup Park in Los Altos, there is an old-time band concert given by the community-based Ye Old Towne Band that makes for a delightful afternoon out. The park has plenty of shaded grass for sitting on, and the band is very competent and well-rehearsed. Led by John DeLoach, the band presents a mix of favorite tunes from Broadway, film, television and, of course, marches by John Philip Sousa. The crowd spans all ages and is very appreciative. The next dates are August 27 (at Hillview Park) and September 24 (Shoup Park).
More information can be found here. Take a picnic and something comfortable to sit on.

Anybody who has a favorite summertime public event in San Jose or Santa Clara County, please post it below.


  1. Jack, Give it up on bashing the Grand Prix and the subsidy.  What an easy way to add “drama” to your blog.  Don’t be a hater.  If Reed is elected, you won’t have to worry about more money going into the Grand Prix. 

    Anyway, I am sure someone like yourself would asks the question: How much money/city staff time/police etc. the city is putting into the Zero One.  For that matter how is it helping the economy.  Or since it is arts I guess it doesn’t matter… 

    BTW I am all for positive events in downtown regardless of what type they are.  I just can’t stand some of this logic on how a “good event” is defined.  They all bring something different to the table. 

    Favorite summertime event in San Jose…sitting on the patio – enjoying the evening weather – at McCormick’s during happy hour.  People watching and good company.  Especially after Music in the Park.  Farmer’s market is a close second.  And perhaps the Zero One…who knows?

  2. I completely agree with Jack on the Grand Prix subisdy. Why should the City pay for an event that completely disrupts downtown. They could easily have designed the track to leave the light rail system intact for the weekend, for example.

    I don’t have car racing, but I hate the public subsidizing one.

    Good events downtown? Cinema San Pedro and Music in the Park get my vote. The movies they pick for the former have been excellent this year.

  3. #1
    I agree, the more events we have in S.J. the better.  The more diverse is better also.  We should offer somethig for everybody.  However, we need to look at the return on public investment on each activity.  We should fund as many of these events as possible.  Have they come up with some realistic numbers on the Grand Prix yet?
      As for my favorite downtown event, I would have to say it is the “Fruitcocktail Club”s Movie Night”.  I am not sure if this counts, since it takes place in late Spring.  Each year The Preservation Action Council of San Jose presents old movies about San Jose’s past at the beautiful Le Petit Trianon Theater on 5th St..  They serve unique dishes using fruits that were once grown locally .  The recipes were developed in the 50’s to promote our canning industry and are served by volunteers dressed in 50’s attire.  My personal favorites are spam with fruitcocktail and apricots soaked in brandy.  The movies are always interesting, entertaining and truly unique to San Jose.  The best part is that it”s free to all.  By the way, the city doesn’t contribute one penny!  This year, more citizens attended this event than attended the mayorial debates held at the L.P.T. Theater.  I’m not sure what this says about our city, but I think its citizens prefer fruitcocktail and spam over balony and ham.

  4. The big difference IMHO between the Grand Fix and these other events is that these other events occur without permanent changes to public facilities such as realigning curbs, street resurfacing near the light rail tracks, and tree removals.  Additionally, these event’s don’t disrupt access to other downtown amenities for weeks (i.e the Tech, Childrens’ Discovery Museum, Art Museum,etc.), don’t disrespect and trample on the quality of life of downtown residents (e.g. Balbauch Residents) AND do not siphon off badly needed funds that could otherwise be spent on City services and non-profit community service groups. 

    I believe the real City subsidy is probably twice as large as the published $4,000,000.00 figure once you include all the staff time and resources the City poured into all the event related activities but ignored in the “official” analysis that was cobbled together at the last minute to justify it. Even the Murky News who sponsored the event last year noted that the staff analysis is flawed because it overinflated any potential benefits and the projected attendance figures are questionable.

    Let’s face it folks, this was not an investment in downtown as Cindy tries to spin, but a “Gift of Public Funds” just like the NORCAL deal.

  5. Last night’s concert in the park was the biggest crowd I’ve seen. It was a good show as well. Next week’s Wednesday night flick is Galaxy Quest, a good one.

  6. Fellow posters,

    Your responses about the Grand Prix are all valid.  Probably the most resonable posts on the subject.  If you don’t like the streets torn up, you don’t! 

    We all know there are holes in the pro-subsidy camp.  I was just giving Jack a bad time because it is just too easy to take cheap shots at the Grand Prix and then promote downtown events.   

    I could see voting for Chuck as a vote against subsidies such as this.  It will be interesting to see where the public, as a whole, sits on the issue.

    Anyone see Music in the Park this week?  What a crowd!

  7. Apparently the Grand Prix is still a losing proposition.  I wonder how much more money they’ll be asking for going foward. 

    I wouldn’t be so sure that just because Chuck is in the mayor’s chair that stupid stuff like subsidies for a disruptive event like the GP will be a thing of the past.  I said it the other day and I’ll say it again, Chuck is impotent on the council, that is obvious when you look at how any random council vote has gone down while he’s been there, and there will be 10 other people who can and likely will override him.

    As for the GP itself, I agree that the course is pretty stupidly designed if it takes the cars over the trolley tracks, both for the cars and the drivers, and for the people who would like to use the trolley those days.  It seems like they had to make a choice because closing both Santa Clara and San Carlos St. would effectively cut off downtown completely.  Our downtown simply isn’t big enough to handle a proper course for this race without closing it off entirely to most automobile traffic.  I have my doubts about this event continuing for very many more years.

    Thanks for the info on fruit cocktail nights.  Those sound like fun!

  8. You’re kidding, Right Bear #8? The city would gladly piss away $4 million on the Grand Prix but they’re doing away with Music in the Park. Heads need to roll if that’s true! I hope that’s just a false rumor but knowing this town it’s probably true.

  9. JMO,

    The police are against it.  They claim they don’t have enough staff to police it.  And the event doesn’t pay them enough.  So they want it out and are pressuring city staff.


  10. Bad News # 8.

    As it happens, I bumped into Scott Knies of SJDA on my way to lunch today and asked him. 

    He said the Grand Prix people asked the City to cancel the Music In The Park date for the Wednesday of race week, in order to give them more time to set up.  Without checking with the SJDA, someone (he declined to identify the person or persons) agreed.

    Scott & the SJDA are working with the City on the issue.

    Scott said it was always just that one day, not the entire event.

  11. The problem is that the city doesn’t allow all-ages music clubs like every other major city, so thousands and thousands of kids who want to see live rock music have nowhere to go. So last week, when Smashmouth played at music in the park, many of those thousands came out at once, making for one of the largest crowds ever at that event. So the police declared it the last straw and said they “didn’t have enough staff to police it.” That’s probably what happened.

    They say they don’t have enough resources to properly deal with the mess on Santa Clara Street on weekends. They say they don’t have the staff for Music in the Park. They also ovbiously can’t deal with the gang-controlled neighborhoods. So what is it that is keeping the police so busy that they can’t take care of basic scenarios? Is this why we have so many Starbucks?

  12. Re Music in the Park.  Seems there is a huge difference of opinion here.  The Scott is Scott Knies, exec. dir. of SJDA.  Al other “sources” listed above are anonymous.

    Thanks for the response, Scott.  My “source” is an anonymous blogger; so I have no way to judge credibility.  That’s why I went to you, since you’re probably the most tuned in re these kinds of issues. However, I do recall hearing that SJPD told Mark Ritchie & Barry Swenson off the record that Tower of Power, who had played the week they had their little tent thing behind the fountain,  was persona non grata @ Music in the Park, despite the lack of real problems during the years they were there.
    ——- Original Message——-
    From: Scott Knies
    To: JohnMichael O’Connor
    Sent: Monday, August 07, 2006 4:59 PM
    Subject: Re: Music in the Park

    John Michael, your source is suspect, or spreading misinformation.  We have worked closely with the police on this event for 18 years!  The San Jose Downtown Association is required to pay San Jose police $43/hour to work security, $44.50 per hour for two traffic control officers, and between $49.50-51.25/hour for one supervisor.  These rates are set by SJPD, not us.  We hired 10 officers for the July 28 Music in the Park concert and our total secondary employment bill to SJPD for that one show was $2174.25.  By the way, the police officers are IN ADDITION to 9-13 private security officers we hire per concert.  Scott

    From: JohnMichael O’Connor <[email protected]>
    Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2006 16:17:08 -0700
    To: Scott Knies <[email protected]>
    Subject: Music in the Park


    Apropos of our conversation earlier today, I just received the following: “JMO, The police are against it.  They claim they don’t have enough staff to police it.  And the event doesn’t pay them enough.  So they want it out and are pressuring city staff.”  Any comment?


  13. That would be funny if the police said it was a pain.  Non-city-run events have to pay for police assistance (at least they used to).  I would be amused if the city could not afford the charges they put on everyone else to host an event in San Jose.

    No Music in the Park on a permanent basis would be an outrage! Where is the official insider to squash this rumor?

  14. Thanks JMOC for following up.  That was great for Scott to be straightforward about how much money they put back into the City for police services.  I think people should know that these services are not free to event promoters.  If someone is hosting an event in San Jose they pay a steep price.  Other cities might waive these fees for events that serve its residents.

  15. Local #18:  Yup, no such thing as a free lunch.

    My office is downtown.  we all pay a BID fee annually to put this stuff on.

    I would be interested to hear back from #s 8 & 11 with some hard verifiable data from their sources, if they have any.

    For now, I’ll believe Scott’s version, since he’s always all over this downtown stuff.

  16. I too am curious as to what #8 and #11’s sources would have to say about the rumored demise of Music in the park.  The downtown association produces these shows and would certainly know a lot more than a ‘convention center manager’….although Bad News Bears would like us to trust us, that it won’t be happening next year.

  17. JMO’C- First of all it is on Thursday’s. And 2nd of all, trust me, the City does not want it and it will not be back next year.  It doesn’t have any thing to do w/ police, or at least it didn’t. I have heard this from 1. SJ Downtown employee 2. Convention Center management employee and 3. Upper management City employee. I don’t know the reason. Probably because it’s the only thing that works downtown. But it must be a pain in someone’s ass.

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