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Kev Choice Ensemble

Oakland Music Festival highlights local artists

on September 24, 2013

The first Oakland Music Festival took over San Pablo Avenue, Jefferson and 18th Streets for a Saturday full of tunes, art and food.

More than 20 local music acts performed, including the Coup, Religious Girls, James and Evander and Dam-Funk – their party unstopped by the early morning rain on Sept. 21.

“There’s a creative thing going on in Oakland, but it’s just all underground,” said Oakland resident Nikko Myers outside record store Funky Soul Stop, near the entrance to the festival. “This is good because it’s bringing out some different sounds and putting a spotlight on some different people.”

Entrepreneurs Alfonso Dominguez and Jacobo Juarez created the festival this year. Dominguez co-owns Era Art Bar and Lounge, and co-founded neighborhood revitalization startup Popuphood. Juarez owned the now-closed SOM Bar in San Francisco’s Mission District.

“When I approached Jacobo, he was up for it,” Dominguez said. “It was synchronicity.”

“He was booking amazing, young creative talent over there in San Francisco, but he lived here in Oakland,” Dominguez said.  “So when I said we need to do it here because the talent’s here, he said ‘100%’.”

The festival highlighted local musicians, artists, vendors, restaurants and bars. “Oakland needs that extra push, that limelight, because the talent is here but no one is shining the light on them,” Dominguez said.

Food trucks and other vendors like Oaklandish, TopShelf Boutique and El Tacobike were interspersed between music performances on San Pablo at the Uptown Stage, and inside bars New Parish and The Rock Steady.

Still, some vendors said they were underwhelmed by the attendance.

“We expected it to be a bit busier,” said patternmaker Xela Gaerlan who said she assists TopShelf Boutique’s fashion truck on weekends. “It’s been cool though. It’s a good crowd and people are here to shop, which is pretty surprising for a music festival.”

Ronnie Duran of Oakland was also disappointed in crowd turnout. “There was not enough locals there,” he said. “Oakland did not embrace it like it should have been embraced. The musicians deserved far more than they received.”

His friend Joel Valenzuela agreed. “When people get off BART and they’re about to pay $20 to go to a festival and see no one’s there, they’re going to get right back on BART and go home.”

Despite this, Duran and Valenzuela enjoyed festival performances. “Kev Choice and Suns of Temple got down,” Duran said. “Next year, Oakland Music Festival is going to be bad ass,” Valenzuela added.


  1. Mia on September 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    I would have loved to see more advertising for this event. I would have really loved to go but didn’t see enough about it at all. Maybe more online advertising too. Sad to have missed it.

  2. CM on October 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    More pics!

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