13th Annual Art + Soul Shines Spotlight on National, Local Talent and Gourmet Global Cuisine

Thousands enjoy the sites and sounds of the Oakland Art + Soul festival on the lawn of City Hall.

After 12 consecutive years of dazzling talent, food from all over the globe, hundreds of artisans and the largest family fun zone of any festival in the Bay Area, the City of Oakland has once again introduced a star-studded lineup for its annual flagship festival. Named “Best Festival” by East Bay Express and Oakland Magazine, and consistently regarded among the top summer festivals in Northern California, the 13th Annual Art + Soul Oakland promises to rock the town at bargain ticket prices with its stellar two-day show.

Art + Soul Oakland 2013 runs from 12 noon to 8 PM on Saturday, Aug. 3 and from 12 noon to 6 PM. on Sunday, Aug. 4. The festival will deliver non-stop music as diverse as the city itself. Popular mobile food trucks and vendors serving global gourmet cuisine return, along with even more carnival rides, music and art for kids. Add in abundant parking, easy BART access along with bargain prices, and it’s easy to see why the San Francisco Chronicle named Art + Soul “A must-see summer festival,” and proclaimed “There is no better place to celebrate…” The two-day festival will take place in downtown, epicenter of Oakland’s renaissance that lead to the recent “Most Exciting in America” designation in Movoto and “Best Hipster Neighborhoods” listing in Forbes.

Over the past twelve years, Art + Soul Oakland has established itself as the premier regional music festival in the Bay Area. Anchoring this year’s Main Stage on Saturday is the irrepressible Lisa Loeb. If she had never made another record, Loeb would still go down in history as the first unsigned artist to top the American charts. Her meteoric single Stay from the soundtrack to 1994’s Reality Bites spent three weeks at No. 1 soon after the film’s release. Released as a single in May 1994, it reached No. 1 two months later and eventually sold over 750,000 copies in the U.S. alone. Loeb received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance, and won a Brit Award for Best International Newcomer. Eighteen years afterStay, Loeb’s newest release, No Fairy Tale finds her letting her pop instincts hold sway for almost an entire album. She seems to be having a grand time throwing her music into third gear with a sharper and more playful tone. Loeb shows herself to be a great folk/pop singer-songwriter with music that is thoughtful, sweet, melodic and enduring.

Art + Soul Oakland 2013 Performers Lisa Loeb, Tristan Prettyman, Vintage Trouble, The Rescues, Los Rakas, Bang Data,Maisa Santana Duke,Mara Hruby, Ray Obiedo, Leela James and ConFunkShun.

Tristan Prettyman brings her smoky alto voice and laid-back surfer girl charm to the stage. Her songs show genuine artistry etched in lyrical detail, and she spares no one – including herself – when telling of her acute observations. After her 2008 album Hello went to No. 2 on the iTunes digital download chart, Prettyman took time off before delivering Cedar and Gold, a powerful account of a crashed romance. Her intimate vocal performances have been favorites at Alice’s Now & Zen and the recent Bottle Rock in Napa.

Vintage Trouble is simply the hottest band going in both the U.S. and Europe. Their live-wired, straight-shootin’, pelvis-pushing juke music has entranced enthusiastic fans who have watched them open for the likes of Lenny Kravitz, The Who and even the Rolling Stones. Michael Ailshouse from Swerve Magazine sums it up, “Vintage Trouble is a great band, but on stage they are simply brilliant entertainers.” Opening the stage is Los Angeles-based foursome The Rescues who have made a name for themselves as a powerful live act thanks to their flawless, transcendent harmonies. They’ve likewise earned a rep for being TV’s go-to soundtrackers with an uncanny ability to underscore drama on shows like One Tree Hill, Private Practice and Grey’s Anatomy.

Festival partner the East Bay Express will again rock the EBX Plaza Stage in front of Oakland City Hall on both days. The Saturday lineup centers on hot local bands in the urban and world genres. Headliner Los Rakas features Panamanian cousins Raka Rich and Raka Dun, both of whom now call Oakland home. Known for its fresh mix of hip-hop, plena, reggae and dancehall music with both Spanish and English lyrics, Los Rakas represents the cutting edge of Pan-American flows.

Bang Data was born in the Bay Area in 2008 and mixes slick and melodic guitar, bass and electro-acoustic rhythms. Its music is a mash-up of styles combining Latin, reggae and hip-hop a sounds that’s familiar, but seethes with a futuristic vision of Latin alternative music. Performing with Bang Data is Maisa Santana Duke. Founder of the Energia do Samba Dance Company, Maisa has an ability to move her body to the complex, polyrhythmic beats of samba music with a singular beauty and grace. Also performing with Bang Data are theDholrhythms, who co-founded and headline the legendary monthly event Non-Stop Bhangra. Co-founders Vicki Virk and Suman Raj have created fresh exciting dance full of joy, energy, and passion.

Mara Hruby burst onto the local scene in 2010 with a string of well-received shows in the Bay Area. The sultry 21-year-old singer describes her music as “a melodic melting pot.” Her debut EP, “From Her Eyes,” showcases effortless vocals over R&B, reggae, and hip-hop instrumentals with reworked tracks from The Roots, Andre 3000, Mos Def and Bob Marley. Opening the stage is Superfinos VTO, an ultramodern Oakland garage band with gritty production and an indie ethic. Full of powerful, screaming guitars and ripped vocals, this band plays a searing brand of grunge/punk.

The City Center Stage on Saturday features perennial Oakland Latin jazz favorite Ray Obiedo who brings a fresh, worldbeat sound. Oakland artist Quinn Deveaux brings a blend ofNew Orleans soul and early blues that melds into a contagious dance rhythm pounded out by his amazing band. Also on the bill are Klaudia Promessi of Blazing Redheads fame and up-and-coming jazz musicians from Oakland’s Westlake Middle School.

On Sunday KBLX hosts the Main Stage with headliner Leela James, the modern R&B singer with the throwback ‘70s vocals. James has a stunning voice reminiscent of singers like Aretha, Mavis Staples and Tina Turner. Sometimes gritty, sometimes sweet, her voice is always satisfying. She is one of the most talented, yet somewhat underappreciated singers in the business with a voice that makes you sit up and listen  especially at her amazing live performances which have included numerous sold-out shows at Yoshi’s. Leela says, “I want to bring back good lyrics and real singing that touches people in their hearts and melodies that stick to their ribs and nourish their souls.” Leela James is a must-see, one-of-a-kind performer.

Also on the KBLX stage is the old-school funk/soul of perennial East Bay favorites ConFunkShun whose unique brand of funk is polished with spirited horns, titillating guitar rhythms and ear-pleasing vocals. It is great driving music with incessant grooves and emotional love calls that never grow old. Their live shows can always be counted on to get crowds up on their feet and dancing. Oakland’s own Amikaeyla is an astounding talent, deeply moving and endlessly entertaining. Her glowing mezzo-soprano voice and unique interpretations render each song in the style of a jazz singer. She croons and swoons over her vowels, festooning her melodies with vibrato, and adding vocal adornments the way a painter might add a thin coat of shellac. Amikaeyla is a truly stunning talent. Kicking off the stage is Big O, a 19-piece jazz orchestra composed of talented faculty members from the Oakland Unified School District, under the direction of Randy Porter.

On Sunday, the EBX Plaza Stage proudly hosts the ever-popular Bay Area Blues Society’s showcase of local blues greats. The full blues stage lineup will be announced in July on the festival’s website.

Just confirmed as headliner for the City Center Stage on Sunday is Oakland resident (by way of Tupelo, Mississippi) John Murry. His new album Graceless Age is wowing critics with Murry’s gritty singing about heartbreak and salvation. “Completely blows your mind,” raved The Sun. “Extraordinary. I don’t expect to hear a better album this year,” chimed The Guardian. Murry’s live gigs at SXSW 2013 garnered considerable praise, with the Oakland Tribune naming his performances among the eight best of the legendary music festival. Also on the stage Sunday is Monica Pasqual who has a background in classical music and a side career composing film soundtracks. A member of the popular all-female band Blame Sally, her music features signature vocals and piano with a distinctly feminine point of view. Lia Rose opens the stage with her smooth, delicate vocals along with folky pop/rock riffs that combine to form something truly special.

Art + Soul Oakland 2013 has great music but that’s not all. A family paradise, the festival boasts the largest Family Fun Zone of any festival in the Bay Area, complete with kiddie rides, children’s entertainment and free festival admission for age 12 and under. Jam-packed with interactive activities for children of all ages, the Family Fun Zone offers kid-friendly carnival games, inflatable bouncers and hands-on activities for creating their own art to take home. Every year, Art + Soul Oakland features hundreds of artisan and vendor booths as well as a mouth-watering array of food reflecting the rich cultural diversity found in Oakland—the most diverse city in America.

Art + Soul Oakland 2013 is Northern California’s most accessible festival offering direct service from BART (12th Street – Oakland City Center Station) and $5.00 parking for thousands of cars at the adjacent City Center West Garage. Last year, tens of thousands enjoyed sensational music, food, fun, dance and art in beautiful downtown Oakland. “Art + Soul sparked the transformation of downtown Oakland into a happening center for arts, culture and dining,” said Samee Roberts, City of Oakland Marketing Director and festival executive producer. “Festival-goers from all over Northern California flock to Oakland for our diverse music, food and crowds that blend an exciting, eclectic experience unlike any other.”

Art + Soul Oakland 2013 takes place in downtown Oakland on Saturday, Aug. 3 from 12 noon to 8 PM and Sunday, Aug. 4, from 12 noon to 6 PM. The festival is centered in Frank Ogawa Plaza and City Center, encompassing 10 strollable city blocks. Admission to Art + Soul is always a bargain. Adult tickets are $10 per day (with advance online purchase); Seniors (65 and older) and Youth (ages 13-17) are $5 per day (with advance online purchase). At the gate, Adult admission is $15 daily and Seniors/Youth $8 daily. Children 12 & under enjoy free admission. Advance tickets will be available online through the festival website beginning Monday, July 1. For tickets and additional information, visit ArtandSoulOakland.com or call (510) 444-CITY.

Art + Soul Oakland 2013 is co-presented by the City of Oakland and the East Bay Express. Major sponsors include Budweiser, Shock Top and Lucky.

DOWNTOWN OAKLAND
Saturday, August 3, 2013, 12 noon to 8 p.m.
Sunday, August 4, 2013, 12 noon to 6 p.m.
Ticket price:
Advance online (starting July 8): $10 adults; $5 seniors (65 and older) & youth (13-17); free for 12 & under.
At the Gate: $15 adults; $8 seniors & youth; free for 12 & under.

For more info visit www.ArtandSoulOakland.com or call (510) 444-CITY.