Saturday, August 22, 2015, I left the sweltering heat of the Northern California Delta and made my way to San Francisco for the first annual Acoustic Soul Fest held at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in John McLaren Park.
For a San Francisco summer day, the weather was uncharacteristically GORGEOUS. I can’t say that I was surprised though, as The Universe always shines on those who do good and spread love with a pure heart. Once I saw the patch of blue sky, I knew The Universe sent the sun to shine on Martin Luther, founder of Rebel Soul Records and the mastermind behind this amazing festival.
The Jerry Garcia Amphitheater was buzzing with excitement and filled not only with light, but also with the chatter, laughter, and smiles of attendees of all colors and age ranges. Families were perched in the stands, kids were hopping about and blankets were spread out under the trees. Once the music got started, folks got up on their feet and swayed to the sweet, soulful sounds.
Martin, an international recording artist and San Francisco native, had the vision to organize a festival that showcased and supported the Bay Area’s oft overlooked yet talented soul music artists while also addressing an issue near and dear to the heart of MCNA: the need to revive, maintain and sustain Black culture in a city where the presence of the African American community is rapidly dwindling. Martin placed a few calls, reached out to a couple of friends and within months the Acoustic Soul Fest was born.
The line up was comprised of an incredibly diverse cadre of artists. Kicking things off were The Three Bells, known for their organic acoustic flow, followed by Rojai’s neosoul vibe; socially conscious rapper Khafre Jay; rock soul vocalist Viveca Hawkins (of The Memorials); YouNique Girls (who got everybody in the park funked up); and finally Faye Carol, who closed the show and brought the house down with classic soul and blues. And, somewhere in between emceeing and running thangs back stage, Martin found time to give his fans a little taste of the ML magic.
The Acoustic Soul Fest was a non-stop party taking listeners on a 3-hour journey of soul, funk, hip hop and blues. The energy of the afternoon reminded me of what I call “REAL SAN FRANCISCO”: genuine, positive, uplifting, and universal. I can easily see the Acoustic Soul Fest becoming an annual, signature San Francisco event, one that brings all communities together in the name of soul music.
Martin, MCNA will see you next year! We’ll be right up front, with our dancing shoes, ready to get the party started! Blessings on ya!