Memorial Day weekend will start with a funky Latin bang this Friday night at the Solvang Festival Theater, where L.A.’s top all-purpose dance band, Ozomatli, takes the stage for a benefit performance. Organized by Lee Rosenberg of the Vineyard Valley Theatre Company, the show will raise money for Youth Down 2 Business, an educational program of the Santa Ynez-based People Helping People (PHP) organization. The fit with Ozomatli is a good one—PHP offers grassroots assistance to residents of the Santa Ynez Valley, and Youth Down 2 Business focuses on the twin goals of 100-percent high school graduation and 100-percent post-secondary employment and education for the children of the Santa Ynez Valley.
Ozomatli, a band that has a storied history of commitment to progressive causes, also happens to be one of the most danceable live acts on the planet. Since their formation in 1995, the group has won three Grammy Awards, including the prize for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album in 2002. And their current lineup reads like a rundown of the wildest street party ever, remixed with a serious lesson in multi-instrumentalism: Wil-Dog Abers plays bass and marimbula; Raúl Pacheco plays guitar, tres, and jarana; Justin ‘El Niño’ Porée provides percussion and rap vocals; Asdrubal Sierra contributes trumpet, lead vocals, and piano; Ulises Bella is on saxophone, background vocals, requinto jarocho, keyboard, and melodica; Jiro Yamaguchi plays tabla, cajon, and assorted percussion; and Mario Calire holds down on drums.
For those who have visited the Solvang Festival Theater before, you know the night will offer a great chance to experience this splendid outdoor venue. For those who have not made it out to Solvang before, a real treat is in store. And with the Santa Barbara Bowl dark until KJEE’s Summer Round-Up on June 3, Friday’s show will be the best area opportunity of the week to jump-start your summer, outdoors and in style.
Ozomatli plays the Solvang Festival Theater (420 2nd St.) on Friday, May 27, at 8 p.m. For tickets and information, call or visit syvphp.org/ozomatli-in-concert.