We are the world

Gertrude Stein said I write for myself and strangers. As I sit the world around me is increasing, approaching 9 billion souls and bodies. I am actually South County today, so we are more like 2 million not the 60,000 fellow denizens of our fair city, Plastic Alto.

And I am writing to about 10 people in particular, members of leadership: elected council members, appointed commisisoners, paid staff. And the blog – -the name, by the way, is a jazz reference, to Ornette Coleman — gets on average about 500 hits.

And I guess I am writing for or to myself. I am conjuring the familiar subvocal voice that goes with the taptaptaping of the keyboard. I’ve been hearing this voice for about 50 years or so, it started early. I am guided by voices, and only slightly annoyed and not energized by the neo-soul soundtrack at Nirvana Soul, on South First, in the Hotel St. Claire building, across from Anno Domini and near the California Theatre.

“We are the World” conjures the supergroup that sang an antifamine song in the mid-1980s. Lionel Ritchie — who was at Stanford recently – Bob Dylan, likewise, Huey Lewis, whose stepfather was a Paly track star, et cetera.

But my usage today is referring to World Music Day, which is coming back to Palo Alto on Saturday, June 25. I learned this from a blast from City Manager’s office. the City Manager is Ed Shikada — who used to work in San Jose – -he likely knows this building and certainly the South First. He is also Hawaiin and Japanese. He came to my Akira Tana Otonowa show, the day before Covid. I saw Akira with Tammy Hall at First Cong this weekend, the 50th anniversary of Palo Alto Jazz Alliance, started by Herb Wong. Sorry to digress.

I am writing this to Pat Burt, mayor; Tom Dubois, former mayor, current council member for another seven months; Alison Cormack, seven months; Jeff LaMere, parks commissioner; David Moss former Parks Commissioner; David Goldman a retired baseball coach and grandfather currently traveling in Europe – i can tell by the tones when I tried to ring him — we’ve never met; he’s on the board of Palo Alto Recreation Foundation. With Camille Townsend, former school board member, grandmother, and my sometime ally. Kris O’Kane, staff. Claude Ezran, former chair of the Palo Alto Human Relations Commission who most notably and relevantly founded Palo Alto’s World Music Day in 2009, based on his having visited (his native) France during Fete De La Music, which loosely translates as Make Music Day, which I believe meant he was in France during Solstice, in 2008.

Solstice for people new to the hood means the longest day of the year. It’s on Tuesday, June 21 this year which means sunset is not until 8:33 — I looked it up a couple days ago and wrote that from memory. I think today the sun goes down at 8:20. So over the course of the month our daylight increases by about 10 minutes. And, as I said below, here in Plasty, that has made or will make (French: fete or fe or Fais or something) all the differance. Viva the differance. Live the difference. Use this.

In 2009, Palo Alto’s first World Music Day was on both Solstice, the longest day of the year, and Father’s Day, a Sunday. Auspicious start. I was both a member of the first planning committe for such — although I jumped in late, in January or February, i.e. about four months out — presumably Claude was working on it for about a year. Beyond Claude, I am certainly the world’s expert on Palo Alto World Music Day, but I will –seriously — try to self-edit, for brevity. I just said to my wife that the World Music Day meeting was one of our first dates — Terry, Terry Acebo Davis, was chair of the public art commission at the time – -we were suggesting that the Human Relations commission and the Public Art commission should collaborate to make the idea fly.

I was also a participant, a performer at World Music Day that year, althought i am not actually a musician or performer. (I’m a writer, duh!)

Beat Hotel Rm 32, 2009

Steve Rothblatt and I debuted a project called Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads ‘Howl’ which is an Allen Ginsburg tribute project. I read “Howl” the formerly controversial and “obscene” poem – though with, note the quotes, “redeeming social value” and Steve, passbly, played congas, a set of handdrums. Two, if memory serves. The act takes about 25 minutes — it’s a long poem, even without the coda. I don’t recall if I bleeped out the most obvious obscene phrase — with mother finally f_____ — the poem itself I think bleeps it out– and there is a history about buskers of NOT doing blue material. I apologize to anyone who has seen Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads ‘Howl’ on the street and was shocked if I actually said “fucked” and not, for instance “fit” — sometimes I say “fit” not “fucked” and make a hand signal to draw attention to the elission or gap. (note ot self: look up “elisson” –like elipsis i think — I mean a part that has been cut or changed.

Speaking of parts that have been cut or changed, Palo Alto has had 11 World Music Days all of which have been on Sunday except the one coming up three weeks from Saturday. In 2020 , it was cancelled. In 2021 it peeped its nose up more like Killroy than a ground hog and spread itself out over four stages, two on Cali Ave and two on University Ave, and several Sundays and Saturdays. I don’t have the exact number. I know I saw five or so acts, sometimes parts of two concurrent or competing events.

The real World Music Day or Fete De La Musique features multiple stages – I think at its most active Palo Alto had four flights over 10 stages or something. But a main feature of World Music Day or Fete De La Musique is that you cannot see it all, you take your choices, or you graze. Which is similar to saying that no two people see the same event.

I forgot to mention above that I am listed on the program that first year as 1700 Singers – -initially I was trying to form an a capella group with some of my neighbors at Oak Creek — I was in building 1788 and I was trying to impress a young Persian divorced pharmacist in 1728 the buildng next to mine. (I had met her before I met my future wife, Terry, the arts commissoner I mentioned above). There was also an elder piano player at Oak Creek who I met in the clubhouse and we very briefly had a band called One Day Vacation (Tracy Chapmen reference) but she fired me after five minutes becuase I could not sing nor hear the half step between two notes in “They’re writing songs of love but not for me”. It was literally not for me. (I think I sing one measure in the entire 25 minutes readin “howl” — I imitate “Eli Eli” a famous Jewish lament, somewhere in there the the author writes “eli eli” or something. And I had performed or read as Beat Hotel Rm 32 six or seven times before I realized I could compare my reading to things left by Ginsburg himself, again, excuse the digression.


Jujitsu is based on the notion that people need distance to hurt you. Instead of keeping away, you pull your opponent closer, so that your bodies are touching, so their arms and legs are too close to strike you. Then you have to learn to feel at home in the grasp of a stranger. (Adam Johnson, “Teen Sniper”, circa 2000 — besides shooting people, a precocious Palo Altan studies martial arts — and please do not look for a metaphor about judo and me and my wife, or me and leadership, or Earthwise Producitions and either Palo Alto Community Services or Palo Alto Parks Foundation. Or you will be, if not shot, then thrown down metaphorically speaking with great panache, or whatever the Japanese word for panache is, maybe Wa.)

Briefly: I am producing a Marta Sanchez show on Saturday June 25 at Lytton Plaza simultaneous to both World Music Day and a Drew Harrison Sunk Kings Beatles concert at Rinconada Park a mile south – -I am suggesting that rather than staggering the events, so that people can in theory see Marta Sanchez quintet – -five musicians — a very fab five I must say – and the New York Times, in 2,000 words no less — said as much — that we joint market the evens to make the series of six to ten performances seem more like a party, a fete, an event or Make Music Day.

I’m also likely to write to Drew Harrison and ask him to add a sitar player and definitely cover “Norwegian Wood”, “Within You, Without You” and the subset of Beatles songs that are also World music – -jai god day ah and all that.

Or as Stevie Wonder said or says “peace has come to Zimbabwe”.

There’s also an Indian jazz concert that night at Stanford and Jim Nadel of Stanford Jazz Workshop is also someone I think about as I write here. As in:

Palo Alto World Music Day June 25, 2022

Sunk Kings (Beatles Covers, including the Sitar Ones) (Rinconada Park)

Marta Sanchez Quintet (from Spain –Lytton Plaza)

Kale and Brooks Indian Jazz (at Stanford -tickets required)

Music from local and touring groups, 12:30 to Sunset — 8:33 or so.

Some thing like that. (and when I read or write this I say “some” rhymes with “poem”)


I might also add one, two, three, four or even five more acts and close to 20 musicians all in for Lytton Plaza that day — our permit says we are there from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Stay tuned. When a listening occurs, that will make the difference. Differance, even.



one, I am leaving the mistake but modifying here below: The New York Times, perhaps procured across from Lytton Plaza at Mac’s in February, and persisting in mediation on the world wide web had 800 words about Marta Sanchez, the show I am bringing to Palo Alto, drawing from her new recording:

The words, in Spanish, are a bereaved soliloquy: One verse translates to “I had imagined that we would have many days/where you would tell me/the secrets of your past.” This time, writing from inside a desire that will never be fulfilled, Sánchez has crafted a melody of great simplicity and beauty. 

When Marta Sánchez’s mother died unexpectedly in late 2020, the pianist was at a loss. But Sánchez knew, almost instinctively, where she could process her grief: at the piano, pen and paper in hand, sounding out new music for her quintet.

In the decade since she moved to New York from Madrid, the quintet has been Sánchez’s main creative outlet. And since the release of its strong 2015 debut, “Partenika,” it has made itself known as one of the most consistently satisfying bands in contemporary jazz — largely thanks to the well-ordered complexity and openhearted energy of Sánchez’s tunes, which blur the divide between lead melody and accompaniment, steady pulse and unruly drift.

The group’s personnel rotates often, but the format has never shifted: a pair of saxophones out front, often in high contrast with one another; a bassist; a drummer; and the tension-raising technique of Sánchez’s piano.

Two, as I review this I recall Dione Warwick’s song written by Burt Bacharach that came out in 1968 the year I moved from Chicago to Santa Clara Valley but not San Jose. I link to the video above but do not embed it, exsqueeze the expression.

Three, my favorite World Music Day acts include Palo Alto Jazz Quintet, Gaby Castro. I had a guy named Johnny Law play that first year – -he went to high school with my South County friends from grammar school. 

Four, Nirvana Soul, my hosts this most lovely morning is a Black–owned small chain with outlets on South First Street in the old St. Claire Hotel and near Vallco and near Apple in Cupertino. The owners are named Jeronica Macey nd Be’Anka Ashaolu. 

Five, world music in our sense of the world, the instant matter, means “world-wide”. As we are doing our event, so our hundreds of other communities, although this is more true on Solstice, that Tuesday than that Saturday. I am actually as Earthwise Productions doing a show even closer to Sostice on Monday, June 20 with Mary Gauthier. Also at Lytton Plaza. I have shows this month at three locations on the following June dates: 3, 5, 9, 11, 14, 20 and aforementioned 25. Then back on sunday, July 10 at 2 p.m. at Mitchell Park with The Waybacks. Five of those seven shows are free to the public.

Six, world music typically means songs sung in Spanish or Portuguese; music made by brown or Black people; songs from continents or referencing geography beyond Europe and North America; songs from below the equator. In Palo Alto, at best, the event organizers meant to include world music among six or seven types of music welcomed or offered that day.

Seven, one of the debates beween Claude Ezran and I in the meetings that influenced the first World Music Day here, in 2009 were about my suggestion to pay some performers, to seed the event, to have a main stage and not, like in its purest or more French form be mostly local denizens. Honestly when Peter Drekmeier then mayor told me, at Printers Ink a January morning 161 months ago but very much like today, that “Palo Alto” or We The People was hosting a “world music day” I thought he was asking if I would be the talent buyer and that he had a budget for talent of around $20,000 – which would be about $50,000 in today’s dollars. Previous world music concerts I had presented includes ones with Femi Kuti (Nigeria), Bloque (Colombia), Ozomatli (LA but multi-kulti), Danilo Perez (jazz but Panamanian or Pan-Americano – literally, the name of the project) and Kemuri (Japanese ska). My first thought was Rupa Marya, the physician and activist and Castilleja grad who led or leads Rupa And The April Fishes, who sing in French, Spanish, English – in that order – and Hindi. So on some level it is satisfyng  if World Music Day in Palo Alto takes my advice and pays its headliner the Beatles Cover Band Sunk Kings with Drew Harrison. With or without the sitar songs. And I do think it is better to jointly market the Marta Sanchez show with the Sunk Kings show and think of it as giving people options not making them choose. There would be no, excuse the expression, Louisers. Sun Kings on Sostice actually has a ring to it. The song “Sun King” from which Harrison drew his band name actually includes lyrics in Spanish and Italian so in a loosey-goosey sense is world music. And references the French monarchy, preserving the French motif. (As does the cognate “motif”). For the record, and because I was an exchange student, Palo Alto has sister cities in Mexico, the Philipines, Japan, France, The Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden. I often say Neighbors Abroad should be down with our World Music Day.

Eight, Palo Alto’s Tommy Jordan was on David Byrne’s label with Geggy Tah and also plays with musicians from many other countries. Luaka Bop.

Nine, I am producing a reggae concert at Mitchell Park August 7 2 pm with Native Elements. I’d call reggae world music. 

Ten, I don’t often explain within the text or explicate other parts of the text or the headline. But here I am referncing that song and also the idea that leadership is still We The People, government is a we not a they, et cetera. Or I am asking such. Is it? There is an election coming up. I wrote privately two or three previous versions of this. Crickets. As Buddy Holly might say. 

Eleven: Bob Dylan is playing Fox Theatre Oakland Saturday, produced by Another Planet or APE — and Earthwise is one of 156 independent concert promoters in CA according to Pollstar and was founded five years or so before Another Planet and is an influence on Another Planet in that Gregg Perloff had a file on Earthwise like his file on Mystery Machine while at BGP — which is one of the reasons my Russian Telegraph (Beth Custer, David James et al) show is at noon — should be a buzzy downtown since it is also Stanford commencement. 

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
This entry was posted in music, Plato's Republic, sex, this blue marble, words and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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