1. Some R&B with your jazz?
Brian Culbertson doesn't just play his keyboard—he kind of seduces it. The contemporary-jazz musician takes his genre decidedly less seriously than did his traditional-jazz forefathers. He's a skillful musician; there's no question about that. But he wants people who show up to his live performances to have fun. If that means being a bit wacky and weird while he plays, then so be it.
"I really try to make the live experience much different than listening to a record," says Culbertson, who recently released a new album and is crisscrossing the globe on his 20th-anniversary tour. "I'm changing the arrangement and making them much more exciting and interesting to the audience... I'm extremely animated when I play, and there's plenty of other creative ways to keep people interested."
Culbertson will be playing the San Diego Jazz Fest along with R&B and contemporary-jazz stars like Jill Scott, Maxwell, Charlie Wilson and Robert Glasper. The two-year-old fest will happen at Omni Resorts La Costa (2100 Costa Del Mar Road in Carlsbad) from Friday, May 23, through Sunday, May 25.
Billed as more than a straight-forward music fest, the weekend includes after-parties, a Gospel Sunday Brunch, casual poolside shows, hotel-lobby performances and more. While the name of the festival suggests a lineup of mostly jazz, Culbertson, who played the inaugural San Diego Jazz Fest last year, says the event packs in more R&B than expected.
"Mixing those genres is really working, and I think they totally fit," Culbertson says. "A lot of the music I play, if you put vocals on it, it's R&B. And if you take the vocals in an R&B song and replace them with a sax solo, suddenly it's contemporary jazz."
Tickets start at $50. Check sandiegojazzfest.com for the full lineup and all the details.
2. Bring on summer
CityBeat throws some great parties, if we do say so ourselves, and few have topped the annual TikiBeat shindig at the Lafayette Hotel in North Park (2223 El Cajon Blvd.). The throw-down, a celebration of the Summer Guide issue you're reading right now, features live music from Creepxotica and Ivan & The Divine Lights, tiki music by DJ Old Man Johnson, a summer-fashion show, a burlesque show, a spanking booth (!), Polynesian dancers and drummers, a Tiki Oasis art show and a mini-arcade courtesy of Coin Op North Park. It goes from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, May 23. The cover is $10 at the door. Go to facebook.com/sdcitybeat and click on "Events."
3. Best estuary ever
Despite its name, the Tijuana Estuary isn't in Tijuana. Nope—it's in Imperial Beach, and, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, it's the "largest coastal wetland in Southern California." The visitor center there (301 Caspian Way), designed by architect Rob Wellington Quigley—the same guy who designed the snazzy new central library—opened 20 years ago and, from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, will be the site of a 20-year-anniversary celebration and rededication. Light refreshments will be served, and you can check out the restored watershed-map mural by artist Robin Brailsford, Wick Alexander's paintings of Dulzura (which is in the eastern part of the watershed) and explore the estuary's stunning biodiversity. trnerr.org
Does your event deserve to be in our top three? Email Kinsee Morlan.