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Home / Articles / Arts / The Short List /  Spring ...
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Monday, Apr 14, 2014

Spring Harp Fest, Live Arts Fest and Alfredo Jaar

Our top three picks of San Diego events this week

shortlistforweb Harp player Aki Kumar
- Photo by Rachel Kumar

1. Harp of a different color 

"Once, a gentleman gave one of my children a tin whistle—a veritable invention of Satan, sir, and one which I have an unspeakable horror of, and so would you if you had eighty or ninety children in your house," Brigham Young reportedly told Mark Twain, according to the author's hysterical travelogue, Roughing It.

That brings us to Saturday, April 19, when, at the family-friendly Spring Harp Fest, a seemingly inexhaustible supply of harmonicas will be available. So, pack the kids, rent a dog and dust off that Frisbee. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Harry Griffen Park (9550 Milden St. in La Mesa), a lineup of regional and nationally known musicians will blow delicious tunes through their tin sandwiches. And the whole outdoor concert's free, with a suggested donation of $10. 

"It's a cool party. You never been?" founder and organizer "Harmonica" John Frazer asks CityBeat somewhat incredulously. "Oh, you got to go. Once you go, you'll never want to miss it again."

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the event features Eric Von Herzen, of Social Distortion, with his band Atomic Road Kings. In the afternoon, there's an audience-participation jam. And the event caps with Chicago bluesman Aki Kumar, backed by Chris James and Patrick Rynn. 

If you forget to pack a lunch and get hungry during the event, there'll be Hodad's burgers and Hooters wings on site, which, like everything at the festival, are donated. Proceeds partially go to fund the Blues in the Schools program, which gives money and harmonicas to schools around the county.

"It's just a fun little family event, a nice day in the park," Frazer says. "Great music. It's something to do between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It's a fucking hoot."

Parking gets tight, so folks are encouraged to use the lot at Grossmont Union High School. If that's full, park and ride the trolley from the Amaya stop.

2. It’s alive

The new White Box venue is like a big, blank canvas enticing artists to perform. Since opening the raw space with a two-week-long performing-arts festival last year, choreographer and San Diego Dance Theater founder Jean Isaacs has dedicated the beautiful building to serving as a home for the live arts. Isaacs is bringing back the spirit of the epic opening shindig with the second annual Live Arts Fest, featuring 10 performances in the next few weeks. The fest kicked off April 15 and runs through Sunday, April 27, at White Box, at Point Loma's Liberty Station (2590 Truxton Road, Suite 205). Performers like Tijuana dance troupe Grupo de Danza Minerva Tapia, experimental puppeteers Iain Gunn and Bridget Rountree and Collective Purpose's Ant Black are in the lineup. $20 per show.

3. Song for Angola

Now through July 8, at the San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) in Balboa Park, you can watch Muxima (mu-sheem-AH), artist Alfredo Jaar's looping 30-minute film about the African nation of Angola. "Muxima" is an Angolan folk song, and the film uses varied recorded versions of it to frame images that refer to Angola's colonial past and its present. We've not seen it, but reportedly, it's lovely. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, Jaar will be the featured speaker at the annual Axline Lecture, presented jointly by SDMA and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and held at SDMA. The Chilean-born Jaar's work is largely geopolitical in nature, and he's known for an installation inspired by the genocide in Rwanda 20 years ago. Lecture tickets are $10.

Does your event deserve to be in our top three? Email Kinsee Morlan.