Friday, May 23, 2008

Sonoma Jazz + has a Kool opening night

Last night Kool & The Gang kicked off the first night of the Sonoma Jazz + Festival in Sonoma CA. Known for songs like "Celebration," "Cherish," "Jungle Boogie," "Ladies' Night," and "Get Down on It," they have won two Grammy Awards and have over 30 Gold and Platinum Albums. According to the SJ+ program, they've been performing together for over 30 years. I've never had the opportunity to see them perform before last night and I was completely impressed with the show they put on. Their performance was seamless and their energy was contagious--people of all ages were up in front of the stage dancing. They had no problem getting the audience involved, whether it was singing the words to the songs or dancing or jumping to the funky beats. At the end of the night, they fired up the audience with a drum solo that led into their final song of the night, "Celebration."

The festival atmosphere inside the performance tent was fun and friendly. The tent itself was larger than I expected (even though I went in knowing it could hold 3000 people). It was large enough to necessitate two screens on either side of the stage broadcasting the performance for the people in the back and on the sides. The sound was great. The speakers were huge and I could feel the bass notes vibrating in my ribcage. Overall, the night was a success by my standards. I enjoyed the night and it was obvious that the people around me did too.

If you're going to attend the Sonoma Jazz + Festival, here are a couple things I learned from my experience last night:

  1. Bring a jacket. The performance tent was a pleasantly cool temperature, but by the time Kool & The Gang were finished and everyone was going back to their cars, it was windy and cold.
  2. Watch out for unmarked streets. I spent a lot of time being lost before I actually got to the festival. If you're unfamiliar with Sonoma, it would be a good idea to bring a map and/or a cell phone with you. Luckily I had a map with me and access to Google SMS, which provided me with directions that ended up getting me to the festival.
Make sure to stay tuned for more SJ+ coverage. Tonight's big performers are Al Green and Herbie Hancock. I can't wait!

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