Fillmore Street Jazz Festival 2009
What better way to celebrate July 4th than with the most American of art forms – Jazz. And the Fillmore Street Jazz Festival does the celebration with gusto. This year it was spread across eight or so blocks on Fillmore street, four main performance stages, and many smaller performances going on all along the street and in Jazz clubs lining Fillmore.
For me what made the day was the afternoon performance by our local diva, Lavay Smith, and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. Solid swinging jazz, old standards, no new experimental BS. What completed the setup was the gaggle of swing dancers who were just a joy to watch. It made me nostalgic for a time when not only I had not been born, even my father was just a gleam in my grandparents’ eyes.
There were other performers too, a lone DJ on the sidewalk, a singer in a bar which had thrown open its french windows looking on the street, a young band with a good crowd tapping their feet and swaying their butts to the music, a crooner / emo jazz kid on one of the main stages, yet another decent jazz ensemble on yet another stage. The annoying thing was that none of these guys had their names or the band names displayed prominently. So even though I liked some of them, I will not know who they were until I can find a more informed writeup of the scene than mine.
Which brings us to the next great component of Americana – Thai Kabobs. Yes, there was the regulation barbecued brisket, pulled pork, and barbecued sausages. But, and I say this with great sadness, barbecue in San Francisco is a hit-or-miss affair. Thai grilled meat with its smells of ginger and lemongrass and sweet pork was where it was.
The smell of good food heightening your senses, great music swirling around you, the laid back San Francisco crowd, and the special occasion sun our city gets out for just such times – baby, all was right with the world for those brief hours.