Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Cupertino Welcomes Coconut’s Fish Café with Aloha

As soon as you walk into Coconut’s Fish Café, you are immediately transported to the Hawaiian Islands. From the Hawaiian music playing in the background, the staff’s welcoming hospitality, to the “ono” (delicious) dishes, Coconut’s in Cupertino is definitely a must-see!

Coconut’s is a fast casual restaurant where patrons order at the counter. From a menu perspective, think of it as a much healthier version of L&L’s. With great Pu-Pus (appetizers), healthy salads, gluten-free options, delicious entree selections to a keiki (kids) menu, Coconut’s has a variety of food choices for everyone.

The restaurant is renown for its fish tacos and it surely didn’t disappoint. The fresh mango salsa paired with Coconut’s famous coleslaw married perfectly #bomb.

















The Fish and Chips were so scrumptious and one of my faves. I loved how the chips weren’t a thicker cut so it’s definitely a great platter for sharing #hellagood.


If I can live on just eating two things in this world, it would have to be calamari and shrimp. So, I was definitely excited that we ordered both of these Pu-Pus. It’s worth noting that the calamari is sliced calamari steak (the best cut)  #obsessed.


















Other tasty recommendations include:
  • Seared Ahi – sesame-crusted, blackened Ahi served with wasabi and soy sauce
  • Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi-Mahi – served with homemade mango coconut sauce, brown rice and coleslaw
  • Poke Bowl – choice of traditional, spicy or teriyaki. Served with coleslaw, brown rice, ginger, wasabi and radish sprouts















As a Hawaiian born, Coconut’s Fish Café definitely has my approval. Sorry L&L’s, but Coconut’s is my new love J

Mahalo to Chad, Erica and Reina for the excellent customer service! Shout out to Sarah Santos for the great photos #Mahalo

Coconut's Fish Café is located at 20010 Stevens Creek Blvd in Cupertino and is open every day from 11am to 9pm.

-Noe Sacoco Jr.

Introducing Noe Sacoco

Today I have the pleasure to introduce a blogger who has given us several scoops in the past.

Noe Sacoco Jr is a "Downtown dweller" and hails from Hawai’i, but has called San Jose home the last 8+ years. Noe works in tech, is a college sports junkie (go Duke!), loves traveling, working out, and enjoys hanging out in San Jose’s best kept secrets. Noe is fascinated with Silicon Valley’s innovation and how the Valley fosters creativity where new paradigms triumph over yesterday’s failures. He believes greatness is born here daily. To pitch him story ideas, you can reach him at noesacoco@yahoo.com.

Noe's first post for The San Jose Blog will go live in an hour!

x


Monday, June 26, 2017

Wishlist: An Urban Linear Park

When traveling, one thing I can count on is that local parks are probably the best way to get to know a city. For some cities, it's due to a signature park or tourist attraction within the park. For the rest, I find it most satisfying to explore a city through a linear park.

Wikipedia defines an urban park as a "park in an urban or suburban setting that is substantially longer than it is wide". This usually means there are two ends to the park, and it is designed to encourage pedestrian traffic between the end points (i.e. a trail). A properly designed, public, pedestrian- and bike-friendly pathway can allow visitors to see more of the city while simultaneously activating otherwise deserted spaces.

Urban Linear Parks in Other Cities

The High Line, New York City

Some of this activation comes from re-purposing paths that are no longer in use. The High Line in New York used to be a stretch of railroad elevated railroad. Now visitors on The High Line can walk parallel to 10th Ave, but with a lot more green and some escape from the rush of the streets below.

Other examples include waterfront walks. While waterfronts are generally already pedestrian destinations, these parks naturally draw visitors to walk along side them. One example not far from home is the Embarcadero in San Francisco. The walk stretches from AT&T Park on the southern end to Fisherman's Wharf in the north. Along the way there is public art, a nice view of the Bay Bridge, restaurants, and of course, piers.

The Embarcadero, San Francisco
My favorite example of a linear park is actually from a recent trip to Panama City (in Panama, not Florida). The Cinta Costera is also a park along the waterfront, but is on a different level when it comes to pedestrian involvement. I walked along most of it, which took approximately an hour.

Playground at Cinta Costera, Panama City
Street vendors at Cinta Costera, Panama City
Here's what it had to offer:
  • Outdoor exercise areas
  • Playgrounds
  • Food carts
  • Toy vendors and DIY carnival games
  • Basketball and futsal courts
  • Sculptures
  • Music
  • People in Disney costumes (for photos)
  • Plenty of seating, and plenty of people seated
This park was the place to be for kids and adults, tourists and locals alike. The eyes, foot traffic, and lighting provided a sense of safety. The entire stretch of the park felt lively and festive. Wouldn't it be nice to have something similar in San Jose?

Guadalupe River Trail & Park

San Jose doesn't have much of a waterfront to flaunt, and it doesn't (yet) have large stretches of unused rail or road to convert into a park. Until Alviso is a more appropriate destination for visitors, the park with the most potential to become an urban linear park to showcase the city is probably Guadalupe River Park and Trail. A large section of it already intersects with the most urban part of San Jose (and the South Bay). It is somewhat connected to various pedestrian walkways, and isn't fully contained within a large, isolated park. 

Interestingly we caught glimpses of what the park could become during the Pokemon Go craze. Just the equivalent of a couple of highway exits down from the park, masses of people gathered between the SAP Center and Little Italy near the Guadalupe River trail. At night there started to be music, hot dog carts started to show up, and people eventually seemed to go to the park just to hang out. The natural benefits of a successful public space were in full display, albeit a result of the mobile game.

Guadalupe River Trail during the Pokemon Go craze

Over time, the crowds started to dwindle until the park was empty once again. However, I couldn't help but wonder how great it would be if we had people enjoying our parks this much on a daily basis.

Safety is #1

From what I see, hear and read, the biggest obstacle preventing many people from visiting parks around San Jose is the fear for their safety. In my observations about Cinta Costera, I mentioned that it felt safe. That's what prompted me to take the one hour walk rather than call a taxi: the park both intrigued and welcomed me. It was easy to call for help with so many pedestrians nearby. The open layout meant I could see what was coming from a great distance. It was next to an expressway, so not many cars were parked on the side of the road. There wasn't a single poorly lit stretch of the path.

On the contrary, the Guadalupe River Trail is mostly isolated rather than integrated with the city. The miscellaneous trees and bushes mean it's hard to know what's ahead or around the corner. While San Jose is still one of the safest large cities in the US, its reputation within the Bay Area has suffered in recent years due to the growing homeless population (and related news). With most people afraid or uncomfortable walking through the parks, and refusing to visit, the opposite of the Pokemon Go impact occurs. The quieter the park, the more people are worried that something bad may happen in the next corner, or behind the next bush, and no one would be around to help them. It's a cruel cycle.

What's Next?

There did appear to be an effort to re-imagine Guadalupe Trail Park from 2009. As far as I could tell, this was nothing more than a brain exercise for the planning group. The presentation certainly looks interesting, but is also clearly outdated. For example, with movement on the St. James Park redesign (which includes a stage), does it make sense for Guadalupe River Park to also have a major entertainment venue?

Ken Kay Associates' vision of Guadalupe River Park
I do like many of the ideas outlined in this plan (an efficiently run fountain would be a great contrast to the mostly dry river), but it's missing a critical consideration. The park is connected to the trail. As the downtown, Diridon, and Japantown areas become more pedestrian friendly, the trail will be the best way for many locals to arrive at the park. Revamping with park itself without turning the stretches of Guadalupe Park Trail into a safe, welcoming walkway could mean that the park remains barren and inactive during most of the week.

As the urban core of San Jose develops, it'll be increasingly important that there's an all-ages, all-genders public space for us to gather as a community. Focusing on making Guadalupe River Park and Trail the best they can be would help us achieve that goal. A comprehensive plan must include turning the urban stretch of the trail into our own take of the urban linear park concept. It has the potential to not only become a unique attraction to the area, but also become a crucial pedestrian pathway between neighborhoods.

- Lawrence Lui

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday Stats: San Jose is one of the best places to live

In a U.S. News report, the largest 100 metros were analyzed to determine the best place to live in the country. The key criteria were desirability, value, job market, quality of life, and net migration. San Jose took 3rd place, behind Austin (#1) and Denver (#2). SF came in at #16.

Sources: SVBJ, U.S. News


Friday, June 23, 2017

The 30th Annual ComedySportz World Championship comes to Downtown San Jose

ComedySportz is a really fun concept where improv comics compete against one another. There is a large amount of audience participation and the competitions vary greatly, so each show is completely different. The San Jose ComedySportz troop runs their shows out of the Camera 3 theater, but there are actually 25 different ComedySportz locations throughout the world. 

Next week the ComedySportz World Championship is taking place in San Jose at the Hammer Theatre (now run by SJSU). This is the second time we will be hosting the World Championship, and San Jose won the first time we hosted it in 2006. You can find everything you need to know about the epic four-day event in the press release below. 

THE WORLD OF COMEDY COMES TO SAN JOSE

WHO: 30th Annual ComedySportz World Championship

WHAT: 22 ComedySportz teams from the United States and England will come together to battle for laughs. (See list of participating cities below)

WHEN: 
Wednesday, June 28  7:30pm Opening Ceremonies and First Match.  
Thursday, June 29  Championship Matches at 7:30pm
Friday, June 30  Championship Matches at 7:00pm and 9:30pm
Saturday, July 1  Semi-Final Matches at 4:00pm and 7:00pm.   FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH at 9:30pm followed by Awards Ceremony with presentation of the "Meaningless Cup” and Closing Party.

WHERE:  Hammer Theatre Center, 101 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose, CA 95113 

WHY: This 30th annual event is fun, fast-paced, family-friendly improvisational comedy played as a sport. Two teams take turns making up scenes, playing games and singing songs – and the audience votes on which team they like best. This is serious funny business.   This is only the second time in the 30 years of the event that the Bay Area will host the games.  Sponsored by San Jose State University.

PRICES: Single Tickets $10 to $20.  All-Access Pass available for $75. (All four days; all events)

Hammer Theatre Center Box Office is open weekdays 12-5pm and 2 hours prior to performance for both phone and walk-up sales. Located on Paseo de San Antonio between Second and Third Streets.

CITIES PARTICIPATING: Boise, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Manchester (England), Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Portland, Provo, Quad Cities, Richmond, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Jose, Seattle, Twin Cities and Washington DC.

SHORT BYTE FOR CALENDARS: The 30th annual ComedySportz World Championship will be held June 28 through July 1 in the beautiful Hammer Theatre Center, 101 Paseo de San Antonio in the heart of downtown San Jose. Nearly two dozen teams from around the United States (and one from England) will compete over the four day event for pride and prizes with improvisational comedy, games and songs based on suggestions from the audience. Tickets are $10 to $20 at 408.924.8501 or online at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/971732

PHOTOS: Photos by PJ Heller courtesy of ComedySportz San Jose.  Comedy as a sport! Two teams battle each other in an improvised comedy competition based entirely on audience suggestions. A referee calls penalties for boring or crude humor. If a player (or fan) uses “foul language" the referee can call the “Brown Bag Foul" and place a paper bag over the offenders head.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Representative teams from 22 improvisational comedy groups from across the United States and England will descend on San Jose June 28 through July 1 for the 2017 ComedySportz World Championship.
ComedySportz isn’t a comedy about sports, it’s comedy played AS a sport. It’s a competition between two teams competing for laughs and for points by making up scenes based on the audience suggestions. There are penalties, there are fouls, there’s a uniformed referee. This is serious funny business.

The four-day event, featuring workshops, public performances and impromptu improvisation sessions stretching into the early morning hours, kicks off on Wednesday June 28th at 7:30pm. San Jose’s own venerable ComedySportz team, founded in 1987, will participate in the opening match. On Saturday, July 1st, after that evening’s 9:30pm championship match, one team will emerge victorious and be awarded the "Meaningless Cup."

The ComedySportz concept, created by Dick Chudnow in Milwaukee in 1984, was inspired by the Canadian-born Theatersports enterprise. Chudnow gave it a sports-themed look and feel, incorporating uniformed referees and devising time limits and a point system that seemed to place the event somewhere between the NFL and "Who’s Line is it Anyway." Chudnow has described the ComedySportz ethos as family friendly, relatively foolproof and pretty much guaranteed to be goofy.

ABOUT US: CSz San Jose, the producer of ComedySportz was founded in 1987 and is licensed by CSz Worldwide, one of 25 teams in cities across the United States and two in Europe (Manchester England and Berlin Germany.) In addition to a year-round schedule of matches at their Arena in San Jose, they participate in programs and road shows for corporate, college, church, school and association clients each year, coach high school leagues, and lead corporate team-building and Applied Improv workshops. 2017 will be the second time that ComedySportz San Jose has hosted the World Championships and they won the title in 2006.



Thursday, June 22, 2017

San Jose Crime

Earlier this year San Francisco kicked off a major benchmarking study against 16 peer cities. The data in the report is completely unbiased in relation to San Jose--our city had no part in the funding or creation of the report.

A striking chart that I came across shows both violent and property crimes in the benchmark cities. The ideal quadrant to be in for this chart is the lower left, meaning cities that have both low violent crime and property crime. The red arrow shows where 0 crime would be. Despite all of the noise regarding increases in San Jose crime over the past few years, not only were we in the best quadrant but we had the lowest per capita violent crime of any city except for San Diego. As for property crimes, we also beat out all but four cities (in a good way).

San Francisco has nearly double the violent crime and property crime in San Jose proper. Oakland takes it to the next level with quadruple the violent crime. So if anyone ever tells you that San Jose is not safe, you can send them the chart below.

Source: SocketSite


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

VTA's BART Phase II Update

Below is a webinar with the latest updates on the $4.69 billion BART Phase II project. This will be the most expensive transit project in Silicon Valley history and add a subway through Downtown San Jose with three stations along with a new terminus station in Santa Clara.

The video is 40 minutes long, but well worth watching if you are interested in transportation projects. One question that came up multiple times is why the heck we are building a completely redundant station in Santa Clara that is already serviced by Caltrain instead of evaluating running BART to San Jose International or Santana Row. Unfortunately, the response was very mediocre--it takes a long time to plan these projects and voters already voted for this specific alignment. I have to say that is a disappointing answer and is completely misaligned with the pace of change in Silicon Valley. It will be 9 years (at least) until this project is completed, so we should make sure we build that most effective system that will maximize utilization instead of making multi-billion dollar errors because we did the easy thing instead of the right thing.

BART itself is built on 45 year old technology. I have been a huge advocate and supporter, but honestly am starting to have doubts that BART will be the most effective transportation solution in 2026. Self-driving cars will completely change the transportation landscape within a decade, and costs will come dangerously close to public transit for point-to-point transportation in a private cabin. I hope that VTA is agile enough to keep up with transit innovations and make sure we are building these epic projects for the future and not for the past.

Video Link


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Content Magazine 9.3 "Future" Pick-Up Party

The latest edition of Content is available today. and the theme is inventors and makers. The new issue kicks off with a party tonight with food, arts, and music provided by those featured in issue 9.3. The pick-up party will be at Local Color (27 South First St.) and run from 7pm-9:30pm.

This latest issue features: San Jose Digital Arts, Nikalabs Digital AgencyShmoop, Gonzalo Juarez, Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose, Dirt Bag Dan,Dream Logic, Moon Express, Theresa Alvarado of SPUR San Jose2nd Story BakeshopThe Catamount, Salty Sherilyn, Active Poet, and more.

To learn more, head over to the Content website.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Omescape San Jose adds a 5th escape game: Sorcerer's Sanctum!

Escape games are now all the rage in the Bay Area, but some rooms are far better than others. The concept is similar for all escape games: you are locked in and have an hour to solve a series of puzzles in order to unlock the door and escape. So far I have done all of the Omescape rooms in San Jose, and they have been by far my favorites. 

Omescape uses a lot of special effects, tactile challenges (as opposed to solving lots of math problems), and utilizes multiple rooms/secret doors for each escape. Some challenges can feature as many as 6 rooms to explore.

Omescape San Jose has recently added a 5th room called Sorcerer's Sanctum, and that officially makes it the largest venue for escape games games in California. There are very few locations in the world with more than 3 rooms. Omescape kindly invited the San Jose Blog team to come to Central San Jose and try out the new room.

Sorcerer's Sanctum has a brilliant set design that sets a new benchmark for these types of game. We were not allowed to take photos in the room, but have provided a few stock photographs below. The theme is magic--there were magical wands, potions, hidden doors, and so many other surprises that you might expect from a Sorcerer's laboratory. Some of the clues and pieces had RFID chips in them so that they would electronically unlock the next challenge when placed in the right spot. It was as high-tech as escape rooms get. Here is the official description:

Sorcerer's Sanctum
You and your friends have accidentally stepped into a house occupied by great magicians. Your team work will be crucial in helping you pass through a series of magical puzzles in order to escape from the spell in time!

I will say that the 4/5 difficulty rating is way off. This room only has a 2% escape rate so far, which is the lowest of any of their games. They are thinking about making some of the challenges easier or bumping up the rating to 5/5 difficulty. We did get out, but it took 72 minutes. If you go over 60, that means you do not win. The brilliant thing about the room is that we had so much fun even though we were not able to get out in time. Most of our team had never done an escape game before, but they all had a blast and are eager to do more! If you are a beginner, I recommend doing Kingdom of Cats to start.

Omescape San Jose is located at 625 Wool Creek Dr, Ste E, San Jose 95112. Check out their Facebook page over here and book tickets here.















Sunday, June 18, 2017

Roots reggae band Katchafire leads off 2017 Music in the Park season in San Jose on June 28th



Blues Traveler, Brenton Wood and WAR dates also set


SAN JOSE – Music in the Park, presented by Metro kicks off its 28th season on June 23 with New Zealand-based roots-reggae rockersKatchafire.

Island reggae artists One-A-Chord from Monterey Bay, Mango Kingzfrom the Bay Area, and guest reggae DJ Robert Rankin from San Jose open the show, which starts at 5:30 p.m. at Plaza de Cesar Chavez, off Market Street in the center of downtown San Jose.

Katchafire, a five-piece all-Maori band formed in 1997, is regaled as one of the most cherished, original live reggae bands in the world.  Roots reggae artists at their core, Katchafire also integrates R&B, funk, dancehall and pop themes into their live playing.  Most recently they put out a single Burn it Down and offered Stir It Up on a recent tribute to Bob Marley, in the wake of four studio albums, multiple awards and platinum sales.www.katchafire.co.nz

Also coming to Music in the Park this summer:
  • July 20:  Grammy-winners Blues Traveler, one of America’s favorite jam bands, celebrating their 30th anniversary.www.bluestraveler.com/
  • Aug. 3:  Brenton Wood brings his chest full of R&B hits up from Los Angeles to perform for his South Bay audience. twitter.com/brentonwood Wood will perform in lieu of Bootsy Collins, who was previously announced but had to cancel for medical reasons.
  • Aug. 25:  WAR, self-described as “The Original Afro Cuban Jazz Rock Blues band.”  Hit parade includes “Why Can't We be Friends,’ “Low Rider,” “Cisco Kid,” “The World is a Ghetto” and more classics.  Eric Burden of the Animals co-founded the band in 1969. www.war.com
All shows include local openers.

Advanced tickets are $10 per adult and free for 12-under when accompanied by an adult.  Tickets and information are available at www.musicintheparksj.comDay-of-the-event admission will cost $15 per adult.

Music in the Park is produced by the San Jose Downtown Association and supported by the City of San Jose.  Other major sponsors include:  Deloitte, Coors Light and Ballast Point.

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About San Jose Downtown Association:  SJDA, a non-profit membership-based organization founded in 1986, represents business and property owners and works to enhance downtown’s vitality and livability.www.sjdowntown.com


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday Stats: San Jose is a "millennial magnet"

Realtor.com has put together a list of the top cities in the country millennials are most interested in moving to, and San Jose just barely squeezed into the Top 10. This is based solely on the age of people researching homes in a region, but it provides some indication that we are attracting millennials despite our reputation for being geared towards families. The writeup below is quite flattering, as it should be (Realtor.com used to be located Downtown).

San Francisco only edged us out by one slot, and Salt Lake City somehow got the gold in this list.

Source: Realtor.com



Friday, June 16, 2017

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Elvin Bishop headlines 36th Annual Fountain Blues Festival presented by Metro

If you are a fan of Blues music, mark your calendar for June 24th. Silicon Valley's longest running music festival is coming to Downtown San Jose and features an amazing lineup of musicians including Elvin Bishop and Bettye LaVette. All sorts of supporting events will also be hosted throughout Downtown (list below).

To feed your appetite, the festival has Southern food from Poor House Bistro, Smoking Pig BBQ, and Seymert's along with a full assortment of craft beers. 

Tickets range from $20 to $75. For more info, check out the press release below or head over here.




San Jose, CA – Silicon Valley’s longest running music festival returns to downtown San Jose’s Plaza de Cesar Chavez, June 24. Back for a 36th year, Fountain Blues Festival Presented by Metro, supported in part by a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San Jose, will feature performances by well-known blues musicians and craft beer tasting from over 20 fan favorite craft beers. Fountain Blues Festival provides a one-of-a-kind, laidback atmosphere that is perfect for blues fans and musicians alike.

  • Legendary blues guitarist, songwriter and singer Elvin Bishop
  • Three time Grammy nominee R&B singer Bettye LaVette
  • "The West Coast Godfather of the Game" blues vocalistFillmore Slim
  • Dynamic front man & traditional blues harp player Aki Kumar
  • Soulful vocalist, guitarist and prolific songwriter Maxx Cabello, Jr.
 
In addition to an impressive lineup of local blues artists playing the SJZ Mobile Boom Box Stage before and between main stage acts – courtesy of Silicon Valley Blues Society, festival promoters are bringing the Brews to the Blues – festival goes can sample over 20 craft beer selections Abita, Allagash, Ballast Point, Drakes, Elysian, Faultline, Firehouse, Firestone, Golden Road, Lagunitas, Lost Coast, North Coast, Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada, Stone, Tilt, Wildcide Hard Cider and more.

“We support blues musicians by facilitating live performances of blues music for seasoned and emerging artists while providing programs to expose and promote blues music to a broader music community; says Fountain Blues Foundation President Bob Gonzalez. “It’s gratifying to be a part of something so positive in a cool downtown San Jose location.”

Southern inspired food will be featured: Poor House Bistro (New Orleans staples); Smoking Pig BBQ; Seymert's (catfish); Nita B's Tasty treats (cobblers and funnel cakes); Crab Fiesta; and Carmen's Taqueria (South of the Border favorites). Picnic-style games and cool fountain for families to enjoy - kids 12 and under are free with paid adult.

General admission tickets are $20, VIP tickets $75 and can be purchased at www.fountainblues.com. There’s VTA light rail stations nearby and free bike valet 10 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. near main entrance, courtesy of Silicon Valley Bike Coalition.
 
BLUES WEEK ACTIVITIES SUPPORTING BLUES FEST:

  • SundayJune 182 – 5 p.m.: Tebo’s Howlin’ Wolf Revue, San Pedro Square Market, 87 N. San Pedro Street, San Jose. FREE.
  • MondayJune 197 – 10 p.m.: John Nemeth CD Release Party, The Studio at Poor House Bistro, 91 S. Autumn St., San Jose. Donations welcomed.
  • TuesdayJune 207 – 10 p.m. Aki’s Downtown Jam, Poor House Bistro. FREE.
  • WednesdayJune 215 - 6 PM: Make Music Day: Fountain Blues Foundation board member Ned Kraft will lead free harmonica lessons. The first 75 lucky participants will receive a free harmonica, Discovery Meadow (West San Carlos Street at Woz Way, San Jose) FREE.                         
  • WednesdayJune 21, 8 p.m.: Matt Schofield with A.C. Myles and Terri Odabi, Club Fox, 2209 Broadway, Redwood City. Tickets:  $20 general admission / $35 VIP  http://www.clubfoxrwc.com/
  • Thursday, June, 22, 6 – 9 p.m.: Big Blues Week Jam with special guests and hosted by Chef Ramon, Poor House Bistro, donations welcome
  • Friday, June 236 – 10 p.m.: Jerry Miller Band (founding member of Moby Grape) at Poor House Bistro, FREE.
  • Saturday, June 24, 9p.m. – midnight: Post Fountain Blues Fest special event with Daniel Castro Band, The Studio at Poor House Bistro. FREE to Blues Festival attendees who show their Fest wristband, or $20 donation to Fountain Blues Foundation at the door.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Elvin Bishop: A lot has happened since guitar legend Elvin Bishop released his last album, 2014’s Grammy-nominated Can’t Even Do Wrong Right. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and soon after into the Blues Hall of Fame. He won the Living Blues Award for Best Blues Album Of 2014 and three 2014 Blues Music Awards: Album of The Year, Song Of The Year (for the title track) and The Elvin Bishop Band took the award for Band Of The Year. 

Now, Elvin–along with his friends, guitarist/pianist Bob Welsh and percussionist/vocalist Willy Jordan–launches The Big Fun Trio. Preparing for one of the first live gigs with his new trio, Bishop told The San Jose Mercury News, “Every time I pick up the guitar, something new comes out of it. I guess you’d call me a late bloomer. When you get to be my age, you’re not expecting to be progressing or coming up with any new ideas, but for some reason, I’m lucky enough that that’s what’s happening to me.” His new album – Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio – is among his very best musical ideas ever. The music is rootsy, spirited and soulful, performed by serious musicians hell-bent on having a good time.

Bettye LaVette: Three time Grammy nominee Bettye LaVette is no mere blues singer. She is an interpreter of the highest order. Whether the song originated as country, rock, pop, or blues, when she gets through with it, it is pure R&B. She gets inside a song and shapes and twists it to convey all of the emotion that can be wrought from the lyric. Her career began in 1962 at the age of 16. Now 71 years old, she is still performing with the ferocity of a woman half her age. Her voice has only gotten better with age. She is one of very few of her contemporaries who were recording during the birth of soul music in the 60s and is still creating vital recordings today.

Fillmore Slim: He grew up on a farm picking cotton and plowing the fields utilizing a mule. As a youngster, he discovered music from his grandmother. He moved to the Los Angeles area in 1955, performing with his band Eddie and the Blues Slayers; he relocated to San Francisco opening shows for the likes of BB King and Dinah Washington; his first single released in the late 50ʼs, was a song entitled ‘You Got the Nerve of a Brass Monkey’ on the Los Angeles based Dooto record label.

This VIP of the music and underworld would go on to be revered by the members of the hip hop world including Snoop Dog, 50 Cent, Big Daddy Kane and MC Lyte. Among other celebrated musicians, he has toured with Joe Tex, Harmonica Slim and Little Willie John, performed with Sly Stone and T-Bone Walker, and recorded with Joe Louis Walker, Bobbie Webb and Rick Estrin. “Fillmore Slim” continues to master his gift of storytelling as singer/guitarist/songwriter. He is currently working on his 7th blues c.d. titled “Playa’s Ball” on the Mountain Top Label.

Aki Kumar: Dynamic frontman and harp player Aki Kumar is a rising star among the next generation of SF Bay Area blues artists. A master of the amplified Chicago blues sound, Kumar inherits his style from the harp legends of the 1950s and 60s. Aki has a unique voice in the blues, blending elements of blues harmonica pioneers of yesteryear with a signature sound of his own.

Born and raised in Bombay – India, Kumar established his mark on the West Coast blues scene starting in 2009 as frontman of the SF Bay Area’s highly acclaimed blues outfit Tip of the Top. His latest venture, The Aki Kumar Blues Band, involves several Bay Area blues luminaries and has been the culmination of his journey through American roots music. The band performs vintage blues with tremendous skill and energy and is guaranteed to entertain audiences across all venues, from intimate listening rooms to large festivals.

Maxx Cabello, Jr.: The American music flame will never go out as long as young artists such as Maxx Cabello Jr. take the torch and keep it burning. This young amazing guitarist, soulful vocalist, and prolific songwriter, hails from the streets of the San Francisco Bay area where he is turning heads and bending the ears of the most jaded veteran musicians and music aficionados. Straight out of the South Bay, this quiet-spoken young man turns into a powerful and captivating artist when he begins to play the guitar. We expect his star to be on the rise in the musical sky before long.

About Fountain Blues Foundation

It all started in the spring of 1981 with a sold-out concert at the San Jose Civic Auditorium by the rock group, Ambrosia. San Jose State University Associated Students wanted to do a Free-of-Charge show to repay their fans for their support during the year. The board of directors decided on a blues festival format for the following year. In 1982, John Lee Hooker and the Coast to Coast Blues Band was hired to headline, over 2,500 people came and the rest is history.

Fountain Blues Festival is organized to preserve and promote blues music. Preservation activities take a variety of forms, including live performances, broadcasts, lectures and community education about the history of the blues, culminating in the annual Fountain Blues Festival.

The Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supports blues musicians by facilitating live performances of blues music by seasoned and emerging artists; providing programs to expose and promote blues music to the broader music community; providing education for musicians, including mentorships and music industry experiences that promote professional artistic exchange; partnering with local venues and merchants to promote a community that supports the blues art form. www.fountainblues.com

18th Annual San Jose International Piano Competition

Between June 16th and June 25th, 83 contestants from 12 countries will compete for prizes and scholarships at the San Jose International Piano Competition. These are the best piano players in the world, practicing anywhere between 2-8 hours per day and ranging in age from 6 to 32.

There are competition rounds everyday which are free to attend. There are also three ticketed events.

Today is the Open Night Gala Benefit Concert. Four of the competition Jury Members will perform, and all are world-acclaimed professional pianists. It's an incredible opportunity to enjoy classical piano music of the highest caliber and dedication in an intimate setting, the Trianon Theatre. Tickets are only $25 ($20 for students)

Pianists on June 16:
  • Antonio Pompa-Baldi – President of the Jury and Van Cliburn top prizewinner, 
  • Chih-Long Hu –  Professor at University of Tennessee, 
  • Stephan Moller – President of the Vienna International Pianists Assn, 
  • Pierre Reach – Professor at Paris Conservatory, and 
On June 24th, the finalists will all compete in the last round. On June 25th the winners will play in a finale concert along with high-end food and wine. To see the full list of both free and ticketed events, heard over here.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

June 2017 Downtown Dimension Highlights

Here are my notes from the latest edition of Downtown Dimension:


  • 2017 Groundwerx scores are in. 71% of respondents saw improved cleanliness, 39% saw an improvement in safety, 66% think our image improved, 85% are satisfied with the condition of Downtown, 94% approve of clean teams, 89% approve of beautification projects, and 75% approve of enhanced security.
  • Music in the Park kicks off on June 23rd with reggae rockers Katchafire. Blues Traveler performs on July 20th and WAR performs on August 25th.
  • DASH has sadly been scrapped after 20 years of service when BART opens later this year.
  • Dine Downtown restaurant week runs July 7-16 and is expected to include more participants this year.
  • Amazon R&D team Lab126 has leased one of the WeWork floors at 75 E. Santa Clara Street.
  • Signet has moved from Santa Clara to 630 S. First Street in Downtown San Jose.
  • Twenty more "Downtown Doors" are now adorned with local art from San Jose high school students.
  • St. John Street will be closed between Market and San Pedro through part of July to work on infrastructure and install sidewalks on both sides.


To read the newsletter, click here!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Le Marché Santana Row Farmers Market

Last week I attended the grand opening of the Le Marché Santana Row Farmers Market, located at the southern end of Santana Row. Le Marché is held every Wednesday from 4-8 p.m. and includes over 50 vendors offering vegetables and fruit, local cheeses, flowers, herbs, olives, and even whole rotisserie chickens! Le Marché passed all of my criteria for what qualifies as a great farmer’s market:

  • “Food on the fly” or food ready to eat from local food trucks in case you’re hungry for a meal right then and there
  • Fruits and veggies to make salads or sides for lunch and dinner during the week
  • High percentage of local vendors
  • Range of dessert, from pies to pastries

Some of my favorite purchases were the scallops from the Santa Cruz fishermen (all fish is sushi grade), the black raspberries from Borba Farms, and the olives from O’Live Healthy.  The live cooking show hosted in the center of the market was also a special treat! There is ample seating around the chef’s table so you may sit and listen to the chef during her show. While there weren’t any arts or craft tables, Le Marché has a smaller footprint than other local farmer’s markets. Le Marché is also very kid friendly as the site is closed off to vehicles and much of the plaza is dedicated to seating, socializing, and eating.

I would highly recommend getting to Le Marché before 6:30 p.m. as the parking garages were decently full by then. Although, a huge benefit to Le Marché at Santana Row is that there is always free parking! And a friendly reminder that due to health codes, dogs are not permitted in the market area. I was unaware of this rule and brought my dog with me, as shown by the picture below, but was never approached to leave the market. 

Overall, great food, great location, and a great time!

For more information, check out the Le Marché website:  http://www.santanarow.com/events/le-marche-on-the-row/

-Kimberly Vacca