Playing it fast and loose at the 54th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival
It was a beautiful sunny morning at the 54th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival. Held September 16-18 at the Monterey Fairgrounds, the festival boasted a wide array of musical acts on eight stages, making the choice of where to sit (and which artists to see), the most difficult task of the day. Settling in at the Garden Stage, the crowd filled in around me. With two hours to go before the first band, smiles were shared, seats were saved, and the first drinks were purchased.
The courtyard where the food booths were located was a highlight—not only for the amazing vegan Jamaican reggae wraps, macaroni and cheese with collard greens (I’m a vegetarian), and delicious tamales, but also for the Oakland street performers and art collective, the John Brothers Piano Company. The duo performed sets on an upright piano and clarinet throughout the event, perhaps putting in more stage time than anyone else playing the festival. Imagine the soundtrack to a black and white film as the villain ties the heroine to the railroad tracks—add in heroic vaudeville antics, and you get the perfect mix of music and showmanship.