“I Heard That”: Stern Grove Kicks Off 75th Anniversary Season …

by Rochelle Metcalfe on June 27, 2012

OH, HAPPY DAY! The Stern Grove Festival’s 75th Anniversary season kicked off with an awesome lineup! San Francisco’s popular festival at the corner of Sloat and 19th Avenue, a steep walk down to the concert meadow where many of us music lovers have enjoyed years of hot fun in the summertime, with a PICNIC flavor! Sunday was a gorgeous day – no fog! OVERWHELMING CROWDS! Concert time is 2 p.m. but you have to get there hours before due to Grove crowd capacity. Much to the dismay of many, the gates closed about an hour before the concert started.

Performances by the rousing GLIDE ENSEMBLE kicked off the celebration, captured the day and mood, singing “Oh, Happy Day”! And joyous hand clapping gospel selections! Spirits were high! The FAMILY STONE (MINUS SLY) were funky, fast movin’ – they TURNED the Grove out singing revival hits like, “Every Day People” – different strokes for different folks – ”Dance to the Music,” “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” “Wanna Take You There,” “I Want to Thank You for letting me be myself”. The crowd went wild – the Family should have closed out the afternoon!

Grammy-winning ANITA BAKER brought us BACK TO SANITY! Stylish in classy black dress, fashionable high heels, strolling across the stage; in rapturous soulful jazz and R&B styling, giving us “Sweet Love,” ‘Giving you the Best that I Got,” “Same Old Love,” and more. The lady matched the beautiful serenity of the Grove – performed about 90-minutes.

Seen in the mix – BART Director LYNNETTE SWEET joined by her sister DENISE SWEET. Great to converse with music writer JEFF KALISS, familiar with Sly and the Family, in 2009, wrote the book “I Want to Take You Higher: The Life and Times of Sly and the Family Stone”. Some years since I’d seen Jeff, happy to catch up.

Ironic, Monday night, aired on TV One’s “UNSUNG,” popular weekly segment focused on musicians, featured the life of Sly and the Family Stone. Kaliss among the people who talked about the group, and words heard from the Man himself.

During my partying days, remember those funk, soul, rock and R&B high energy fusion sounds when Sly and the Family burst on the scene in the 1960s. Sly (Sylvester Stewart), a former DJ on radio station KSOL (my fav station) formed the pioneering funk band in the 60s when merged Rock with Funk! Their first hit, “Dance to the Music,” rocked the music scene!

Multitalented Sly – Sylvester Stewart ( leader, instrumentalist, composer, singer, song writer) and family were from Vallejo. HOT on the charts, riding high! Sadly , the Family disbanded in 1975. Sly didn’t want to do it any more! The Family still in the spotlight while Sly is still doing his thing but out of the spotlight!

Just before deadline, Scary news heard about the early morning fire at Stern Grove! According to news report, the main arena was not damaged! This Sunday, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform.

E-mail Rochelle at iheard@earthlink.net

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