This weekend, bestselling author Dave Eggers comes to Kepler's; a concert with JoVia Armstrong & Destiny Muhammad; Scottish fiddlers perform; Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra honors departing director; a kickoff party for Music on the Square.
JoVia Armstrong & Destiny Muhammad, Amendola vs. Blades
Earthwise Productions presents a double bill featuring two unique collaborations. Percussionist, composer and bandleader JoVia Armstrong is teaming with harpist, composer and bandleader Destiny Muhammad in a new project. Both artists' recent work encompasses contemplative, jazz-inflected creations. Armstrong's current project, Eunoia Society, creates rich, ringing soundscapes with an undercurrent of jazz swirling beneath. "The ensemble experiments with immersive technology while composing music intended to be therapeutic entertainment," according to Armstrong's website. Destiny Muhammad's bio describes her genre as "Celtic to Coltrane," and at Muhammad's fingertips, the harp goes far beyond the expected trills and flourishes. She finds the instrument's versatility, coaxing a range of sounds, including percussive and bass notes, that serve as a foundation for her bright, uplifting vocals.
Pumping up the energy will be Amendola vs. Blades making a return to Earthwise's stage. Improvisation has a strong hand in this smart, playful collaboration between percussionist Scott Amendola and organist Will Blades. With Amendola on drums and Blades on Hammond B-3 and clavinet, the duo can leapfrog from funky to soulful to smooth. Their 2019 album, the aptly named "Everybody Wins," highlights the duo's wide range, with an array of tracks to suit just about any mood.
May 21, 7:30 p.m. at the Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Tickets are $20. eventbrite.com.
Music on the Square Kickoff Party
Redwood City Downtown Business Group and the Redwood City Parks & Arts Foundation offer a preview of the upcoming Friday night Music on the Square summer concert series at Courthouse Square with a kickoff party that also looks to raise funds for the event. Guests can dance to a DJ spinning tunes by each of the bands featured at Music on the Square and they can also sample dishes from nearby restaurants, so they'll know where they might want to grab a bite before or after the concerts. The Redwood City Parks & Arts Foundation will be serving up beer and wine, and other local businesses will also be on hand with giveaways. Music on the Square runs June 2 through Sept. 1 and features Bay Area bands playing a variety of genres, including rock, soul, alt-country and reggae.
May 19, 5:30 p.m. at Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway St., Redwood City.redwoodcity.org.
Dave Eggers is a bestselling author, an editor and a publisher, but his vast catalog of work also includes more than a dozen children's books, most recent among them the picture book "The Eyes and the Impossible." The book tells the story of Johannes, a dog who lives in a big city park, and the whole community of other animals, from seagulls and squirrels to bison, who also call the park home. Johannes is the "Eyes" who keeps watch over everything that happens in the park, in particular the increasingly suspicious activities of the humans, who seem to be making more incursions into the animals' peaceful home. Eggers signs the book in an appearance at Kepler's Books.
May 20, 6:30 p.m. at Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. Guests must purchase a copy of "The Eyes and the Impossible" to enter the signing line; each copy costs $30.63 plus $3.81 fee. keplers.com.
Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra
The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra's (PACO) May 20 concert is not only a season finale, but it also marks a special send-off for PACO's departing music director, Ben Simon, who is stepping down after 20 years leading the youth orchestra. Simon's farewell appearance at PACO's podium will be a two-part program that pays tribute to Simon and looks to the near future. The first half offers a preview of works that the orchestra will play during its upcoming international tour, with Vivaldi's Concerto for Four Violins in D Major and Florence Price's Five Folksongs in Counterpoint, Nos. 2, 3 and 4. The program's second half features one of Simon's favorite works, Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, with violinist and former PACO concertmaster Robin Sharp as soloist, and fittingly, Haydn's "Farewell Symphony."
May 20, 7:30 p.m. at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church,600 Colorado Ave, Palo Alto. Admission is free. PACO's preparatory orchestra also performs this weekend, with a concert May 21 at the Mitchell Park Community Center. pacomusic.org.
San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers
Led by top Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser, a group of over 100 fiddlers and other musicians take the stage together for a show that one might call the reel deal. Fraser, a two-time winner of the Scottish National Fiddle Championship, has performed with artists such as The Chieftains, The Waterboys, Itzhak Perlman and his music has been featured on small and big screens, including Ken Burns documentaries and the film "Titanic." He is the founder and music director of the group, the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers — who are the first to point out that in their 40 years of existence, they have welcomed numerous non-Scottish, non-fiddle-playing members from around the Bay Area. The group's wide-ranging membership plays a variety of instruments, not only fiddles but harps, flutes, drums, other stringed instruments such as guitars and mandolins, and of course there may also be some bagpipes. The fiddlers' repertoire highlights traditional and newer music from Scotland, plus a large swath of western Europe, from Scandinavia to Spain. Their May 20 performance in Palo Alto is the second in a trio of concerts taking place this weekend around the Bay Area.
May 20, 7 p.m. Spangenberg Theater, 780 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto. Tickets are $14-$28. sffiddles.org.
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