Saturday, June 18, 2011

West Oak Lane Jazz Fest

For those of you who read my other blog "Escapades" (shameless plug like a mug time again)..You know that last year I wrote a fictional story of a week long neighborhood jazz festival that featured all of my colorful urban charactors who have frequented my blog since it's inception...Well, like most things fictional, art often imitates life.

Those stories were based off a real life , annual event that occurs in Philadelphia called the West Oak Lane Jazz Festival...My wife and I go often though not every year...Last night we went and were treated to the musical stylings of Chrisette Michelle and a local 13 piece band called The Urban Guerilla Orchestra that turned the few city blocks out for close to two hours with an awesome walk down memory lane to the 70's and Early 80's when there were funk bands all over creation.

These guys, two guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, a percussionist, a keyboardist, two trumpet players, two saxophonists , a trombonist and three vocalists performed an awesome medley of hits by Rick James, Teena Marie, Mandrill,War, Slave, Frankie Beverly and Maze and other soul-funk legends...They were very respectful and true to the original music and played it almost note perfect...They even played a Mary J. Blige tune or two and a couple of new things for the young people who were in the crowd...

For those of you who don't live in Philly, let me give you a brief history of this particular area and this festival.West Oak Lane is a neighborhood in the Northwest Philadelphia section of Philadelphia. It is located between East Mount Airy, East Germantown, Cheltenham, Montgomery County, East Oak Lane, and Fern Rock. Ogontz Avenue runs generally north, then northwest as the spine of the neighborhood and the main business strip. The neighborhood was developed primarily between the early 1920s and late 1930s, with the areas near to Cedarbrook constructed after World War II. At the northeast corner of Limekiln Pike and Washington Lane was the site of the Cedar Park Inn, a historic tavern built in the early 19th century, which was torn down sometime after 1931 as the neighborhood was being fully developed.[2]

Although it was a predominately white neighborhood from its inception until the mid-1960s, West Oak Lane is now one of Philadelphia's premiere middle class African American communities. The area known as Ogontz is widely held to be a section of West Oak Lane. West Oak Lane is commonly referred to by teens with the acronym W.O.L. and Uptown.

The West Oak Lane Jazz Festival has been occurring since 2003 in mid-June. The neighborhood has distinct architecture that separates it from surrounding neighborhoods. Along with larger and sometimes detached houses, West Oak Lane also has many tree-lined streets and small yards. In 2005, the 19126 and 19138 zip codes, which contain West Oak Lane, had a median home sale price of $113,200. This was a 34% increase over the median price in 2004.

While the huge crowd was thrilled to the cool but funky sounds of the Urban Guerilla Orchestra....Ms, Chrisette Michelle and her band was performing a set on another stage a few blocks away...There were several vendors selling hot food and Afro-centric Artwork and CD's amongst other things and all of the local businessess and vendors were open especially late....I mean, what better time to advertise right???

Tonight, The Urban Guerilla Orchestra will be back, along with Mr. Roy Ayers and the Men of Soul- Jeffrey
Osborne, Peabo Bryson, Howard Hewitt and Freddie Jackson. Chaka Khan is supposed to close out the show on Sunday Afternoon.


Jazzy said...

Wow That sounded like a fun time was had by all fam!

James Perkins said...

Nice Line Up!

♥ CG ♥ said...

My kinda fun! :-)


"Mommy, can I go to Timmy's blog and play?"

Click on image to enlarge for reading

Click on image to enlarge for reading

Click on image to enlarge for reading