Sunday in the Park


I hear there’s always good music at this little festival near the beach, so last weekend a friend and I checked out the Venice Music Festival. It’s in its 17th year as a benefit for the Venice Community Housing Corporation (VCHC).  It’s a little festival, doing big things.

Located in a courtyard between bungalow apartments, it started with a brunch that featured jazz guitarist Ron Eshete. We hear he was great from others, but we came later and caught Susie Hansen’s Latin Band (above) first. Leading on an electric violin, she looks more like an elementary school teacher than the progressive salsa violinist that she is. (It’s fitting—two Masters degrees from MIT were set aside to pursue her musical career.) Stellar musicians backed her up on upbeat Latin-flavored jazz numbers, perfect for a breezy Sunday afternoon in the shade with a cold beer in your hand.

The fest wrapped up with an amazing seven-member, all-female group of vocalists and percussionists called Adaawe. The ladies are from all over the world, and their infectious music is a fusion of African, R&B, funk and gospel harmonies. They are a celebration in diversity and bring the West African tradition of women gathering in the moonlight to sing about the ups and downs of life to a pop audience.

The brunch, a silent auction and the concert raise money for the VCHC’s ongoing efforts to provide affordable housing, social and family support services to low-income families and at-risk youth in Los Angeles. A good cause—and a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.