On Saturday, May 24th 2014 the Eastlake Music Festival debuted at the recently inaugurated Lake Merritt Amphitheater and Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center Parking lot with music, dancing, and good times free for the entire City to enjoy. The festival extended into the night at six local venues bringing new life and cohesion to the streets of the Eastlake neighborhood which lies along the South and East shores of Lake Merritt.
The festival’s main stage at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater offered a vibrant and eclectic line-up of local musicians featuring Jennifer Johns, Heather Normandale and the Awesome Orchestra, a sixty plus member community orchestra.
Across the street at the Henry J Kaiser Convention Center, a second stage for electronic music run by the About the Music (ATM) crew featured SF Bay Guardian 2014 Goldie winner, DJ Imani and ATM DJ’s CPJ, Kincaid, and Eric Groove.
Microbrews donated from local breweries Drakes Brewing Company, Linden St. Brewery, Ale Industries, Anchor Steam, Lagunitas Brewing Company, and the Lake Chalet restaurant were featured on tap.
A dozen local indie arts & crafts vendors showcased their creations and four Oakland based food trucks provided good eats to festival goers.
A super bike friendly event, EMF offered free bike repair by the BikeMobile and free valet parked by Bike East Bay.
Kids celebrated the day hula hooping and jumping around the bouncy houses provided by city council candidate Andrew Park.
Local non-profits and politicians engaged festival goers in conversations about their different causes and City issues.
The beautifully diverse crowd, estimated at or around two thousand, filled the air with excitement and eager anticipation for each performance. At noon, the main stage kicked off with the Awesome Orchestra who held an open session with a reading from critically acclaimed, Berkeley composer JooWan Kim’s Malcolm X: A Hip-Hop Oratorio.
Next, the Eastlake’s All Nation Singers played Native American drum beats and led the audience in a friendship dance. They offered thanks and praise and spoke of the history of the amphitheater and the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center.
The afternoon line-up continued weaving genres of progressive rock, modern folk, hip hop, neo-soul, and funk on the amphitheater stage. KPFA’s David Gans entertained with his signature guitar sound and rich anecdotes about the history of the Henry J. Kasier Convention Center.
Noted bicycle & environmental activist, singer songwriter Heather Normandale enchanted the crowd with her trio and featured David Gans on two tracks.
Her sweet, modern folk melodies melded with David’s progressive rock progressions into something refreshing, yet vintage.
Up next, Eastlake neighbor Regina Espinoza shared some original tracks plus an inspiring and soulful pop rendition of Etta James’ “At Last” leaving the crowd with goose bumps and a great feeling for the featured artists, Jennifer Johns and Baby & the Luvies.
Nationally acclaimed and internationally recognized, Oakland’s own Jennifer Johns raised people to their feet with hands shaped an an “O” for Oakland, leading the crowd in the chorus of her signature song “Oakland” off her newly released album: Chronicles of the Aquarian Mind.
As the sun set on the golden hills of Oakland and the peaceful waters of Lake Merritt, 50’s soul revival band, Baby & the Luvies brought the groove and the funk.
With horns blaring and a crowd on the dance floor, the main amphitheater was a spectacle to behold. In appropriate fashion, modern, contemporary & hip hop dance troupes Bahia Movement and Dance-a-Vision closed the main amphitheater with a refreshing take on Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.”
Across the street in the shadows of the Henry J Kaiser Convention Center, soulful house beats provided by the About the Music crew (ATM) and DJ Imani kept the grass dance floor packed. DJ CPJ, Kincaid, and Eric Groove took folks on a journey from funk to reggae to hip hop to house genres of music, representing the migration of people and cultures throughout the development of electronic music in North America.
Evening festivities continued at six local Eastlake venues- Akat Cafe Kalli, Lakeside Lounge, Parkway Lounge, Rooz Café, Portal and La Estrellita- where more than twenty local live acts blasted the neighborhood with the eclectic sounds and beats of Oakland’s burgeoning music scene.
The pioneer Eastlake Music Festival, crowd-funded and organized by a grassroots volunteer committee and fiscally sponsored by Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation, had something for everyone! The event was hugely successful in bringing together and showcasing the Eastlake community and has a bright future in Oakland.
On a foot note, the Eastlake Music Festival began a grassroots hashtag campaign via social media using the phrase #SaveTheHenryJ to get the city talking once again about the blighted Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center. For the last ten years, this Oakland cultural and architectural landmark lays dormant. The success of the Eastlake Music Festival emphasizes perfectly the function of a building like the Henry J. in bringing Oakland’s residents together.
Highlights, photos and videos have begun to surface around the internet. More information, official videos, photos, and more may be found here:
For questions, comments, inquiries or interviews,
please contact EastlakeMusicFestival@gmail.com or
PR Representative Chang Yi.