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Stay music rebounds from pandemic shutdown to foster renewed sense of neighborhood | Information

On a Thursday night, because the solar goes down and the warmth lamps heat up outdoors Palo Alto’s iTalico Italian restaurant, patrons and passersby alike are captivated by the music of Mike Annuzzi and his shifting roster of collaborators.

In iTalico’s outside eating space on the asphalt of California Avenue, Annuzzi sings and performs guitar whereas additionally conserving an eye fixed out for others he can pull in to take part, whether or not it is iTalico co-owner Maico Campilongo on guitar and harmonica, a passing pedestrian with a ukulele or a toddler within the crowd Annuzzi palms a tambourine to so he can shake it and dance together with the music.

Although the stay music iTalico hosts on Thursdays is not technically an open mic, Annuzzi mentioned in an interview with the Palo Alto Weekly, he is made it uniquely inviting, permitting anybody to hitch in.

“Individuals have such a hunger to share their creative creativity,” he mentioned. “I actually felt prefer it was a accountability of mine to not solely present musical leisure however to supply an area the place others also can give that to the world.”

Annuzzi is not alone in noticing the Peninsula’s starvation for music, particularly for the reason that pandemic shut down communal areas. However now, in just a few native spots, stay music is coming again—on metropolis streets and in neighborhood gathering spots—in some instances restoring longstanding occasions to their former glory, or in different instances, creating a wholly new scene.

Stay music finds a house on California Avenue

In Palo Alto, the stay music scene on California Avenue led by eating places Terun and iTalico, each co-owned by Campilongo and his household, is quenching a longstanding drought of stay music.

Mayor Pat Burt known as the California Avenue music scene one of the optimistic developments from COVID-19’s disruptions. He mentioned it rivals when artists from the Palo Alto-based Windham Hill label performed collectively at downtown’s Varsity Theatre, which closed in 1994.

“I inform individuals it is the very best music scene in Palo Alto for the reason that early ’90s,” Burt mentioned.

A Palo Alto resident for 17 years, Maico Campilongo noticed the dearth of stay music within the metropolis and jumped at a chance in 2020 when California Avenue closed to site visitors. That July, Campilongo requested Annuzzi to come back play outside at Terun and iTalico each week, and the custom has saved going since then.

Campilongo mentioned Annuzzi is likely one of the finest singers and guitarists he is ever heard, noting that it is simple to play together with him, even when Campilongo tries out an previous Italian music Annuzzi has by no means heard earlier than.

“He simply seems at my fingers and routinely catches in control,” Campilongo mentioned. “He is an expert musician.”

The decision to play often at Terun and iTalico in the summertime of 2020 was nice information for Annuzzi, who had been looking for native venues to work with for the reason that shutdown, when he misplaced 60 gigs in a single day.

Not solely was taking part in throughout the pandemic an amazing alternative, Annuzzi mentioned, however understanding that he was a part of one thing larger, getting the neighborhood out and connecting once more, gave him nice motivation.

“I used to be drained, or unhappy, or I did not know what to do, however there have been individuals relying on me,” Annuzzi mentioned. “And understanding that they had been there to assist me was such a drive for me.”

Now, Annuzzi’s casual and welcoming performances have turn into an enormous draw to California Avenue, with a Monday evening of music at Terun bringing in sufficient enterprise to rival a pre-pandemic Friday evening, Campilongo mentioned.

Regardless of the performances’ reputation, Annuzzi offers them a welcoming and off-the-cuff feeling, taking part in every part from traditional rock and people songs by Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen to up to date pop songs by Bruno Mars, John Legend and Ed Sheeran. And at any time when he spots somebody carrying an instrument or simply watching intently sufficient, he pauses to ask in the event that they’d like to hitch in, which they typically do.

Burt recalled a go to to iTalico when a number of worldwide Stanford Regulation college students answered Annuzzi’s name for musicians, spontaneously performing some unbelievable Reggae music.

“I am simply astounded at what number of actually nice musicians there are amongst us who by no means get an opportunity to play music or sing in public,” Burt mentioned.

It isn’t simply musicians seeking to specific themselves who benefit from the nights of music at Terun and iTalico, so do regulars like Dona Rose, a Palo Alto resident who has been strolling from her condominium to see Annuzzi play at each eating places virtually each week since 2020.

Rose, who Annuzzi jokingly launched because the “honorary mayor,” typically requests songs that remind her of her late father, an expert people singer.

“Her request listing is a mile lengthy,” Annuzzi mentioned. “And I play all her favorites of her, each time.”

The stay music at Terun and iTalico has turn into a focus. On any given evening when there’s leisure, diners may be seen listening intently, or taking within the music whereas consuming and socializing. By the sound of their applause, it looks as if a very good time is had by all.

Annuzzi mentioned that Mahmood Saljooqi, proprietor of Moods Wine Bar, not solely turns down his home music on Thursdays so clients can hear the stay efficiency throughout the road at iTalico, however he typically comes and performs with him.

“It isn’t simply iTalico’s evening,” Annuzzi mentioned. “It is offering past only one restaurant. It is like the entire neighborhood is admittedly collaborating.”

Burt mentioned he loves that diners on California Avenue can go eat at Zareen’s Restaurant and different close by native favorites and nonetheless benefit from the stay music from iTalico proper subsequent door.

“(The) assume it is an amazing factor and only a energetic European-style outside eating tradition,” Burt mentioned. “All of them attempt to be collaborative as finest as doable.”

Different eating places on California Avenue even have began internet hosting music nights as nicely. On Fridays, Moods Wine Bar incorporates a DJ evening and La Boheme has stay jazz.

In Los Altos, music on First Fridays

Simply up the street from Palo Alto, one other stay music scene occurs on the primary Friday of each month in downtown Los Altos. Sixteen bands, from solo performers to 17-piece teams, play outdoors of busy eating places and brightly lit shops on avenue corners and sidewalks.

Automobiles transfer slowly however usually are not prevented from driving on the streets; they’re a part of the scene as pedestrians amble alongside the sidewalks, listening, swaying and sometimes dancing to an eclectic mixture of bands on a heat October night.

The narrower roads and slower circulate of site visitors reveals an city planning design that occasion organizers, Jamie Lucia and Carol Garsten, have capitalized on since 2011.

“Closing down streets causes an enormous quantity of crimson tape,” Garsten mentioned. “It disturbs the eating places and shops. However this manner individuals can nonetheless drive and stroll round. They will use their ear to select the music and go to completely different places.”

Sponsored by the nonprofit Los Altos Ahead, the month-to-month music sprang up in response to the rise of web retail and shopping center tradition, Garsten mentioned. It was a method to convey individuals again into public neighborhood areas and assist native companies.

Whereas at all times well-attended, the Friday evening music scene has turn into much more well-liked because it reopened final 12 months when pandemic restrictions had been lifted.

“Persons are a lot extra appreciative of issues we used to take without any consideration,” Katherine Lang, 58, a resident of Los Altos, mentioned. She devoted to Prime Shelf, the band taking part in swing at Veteran’s Neighborhood Plaza.

“It is an actual deal with to come back right here and see them. It has that small-town really feel,” she added.

The recognition of the music scene cuts each methods with not solely extra individuals wanting to hang around in public settings but in addition extra musicians eager to play for an keen crowd. Lucia rotates the bands each month however nonetheless has a waitlist of six to eight bands able to step in at a second’s discover.

The Garden Darts, a classic-rock cowl group, is a part of this new cropping of “COVID-bands.” They began working towards collectively to flee the tedium of social isolation throughout the early days of the pandemic, taking part in music on their entrance lawns in Mountain View. Band member Victor Brilon, who works in Los Altos, discovered concerning the Friday evening music when strolling by it one night. The Garden Darts now have an everyday spot within the parking zone subsequent to Dogma, Lucia’s human-canine chiropractic enterprise.

One other group, Pour Selections, was there to lend ethical assist to Cool Hearth, a band that shared a performing area with on the sidewalk, alternating each month. Typical of what was occurring elsewhere on sidewalks, in parking heaps and alleyways, Pour Selections arrange folding chairs and a desk for a picnic dinner, indicating that they might be there your complete evening.

Jocelyn Tseng, 36, who was watching her toddler son as her accomplice and her daughter completed dinner at a restaurant throughout the road, was delighted with the music scene.

“It is liberating to be right here,” she mentioned, noting that this was the primary time she has attended the occasion, although she has lived in Los Altos for 3 years.

When the music stopped, just a few viewers members dropped some payments in a basket, a token of appreciation, as not one of the First Friday bands obtained fee for his or her performances.

“It isn’t simply concerning the music,” mentioned Scott Davidson, 57, a Pour Selections band member and Sunnyvale software program engineer. “It is every part round it too,” he gesturing to the viewers who confirmed up for his mates.

The way forward for the Peninsula’s scene

Now that Los Altos First Friday occasions have returned, the established occasion is doing higher than ever and again within the swing of getting the neighborhood collectively, the occasions’ organizers mentioned. However Palo Alto’s California Avenue scene is hungry for growth.

Maico Campilongo mentioned he hopes the town can set up a everlasting area for musical performances on California Avenue, whether or not it takes the type of a full stage or one thing else.

“There’s a lot area not utilized by retailers,” he mentioned.

After the scene grew organically, Burt mentioned, he wished to see an city design for California Avenue’s everlasting closure to assist the thriving neighborhood tradition.

“I hope that we’ll determine how you can assist assist the humanities, each performing arts and visible arts, and numerous different kinds of issues which are energetic socially,” he mentioned.

Campilongo particularly admires the format Los Altos has established for its First Friday occasions and desires to see Palo Alto do one thing comparable, utilizing area downtown on College Avenue or on aspect streets, like downtown’s Bryant Road and California Avenue’s Birch Road.

“Los Altos’ concept is good,” he mentioned. “I want to see one thing on that scale, everlasting in Palo Alto.”

The place to seek out the music

California Avenue, Palo Alto

Practically each weekday evening, eating places on California Avenue host all kinds of stay music. At these venues guests can benefit from the music scene as a spectator or, now and again, as a participant.


Terun Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant

448 S. California Ave., Palo Alto

5 p.m. till closing


iTalico Italian Restaurant

341 California Ave., Palo Alto

5 p.m. till closing


La Bohemia

415 California Ave., Palo Alto

6 to 10 p.m.

Moods Wine Bar

320 California Ave., Palo Alto

6 to 9 p.m.

Los Altos First Friday

On the primary Friday of each month, downtown Los Altos options 16 completely different bands, from solo musicians to full set swing and jazz bands, which may be discovered taking part in outdoors on the sidewalks. Guests can hearken to music whereas strolling the streets or frequenting the eating places, bars and outlets that keep open late.

First Friday of the month

Primary Road, State Road, Second Road and Veteran’s Neighborhood Plaza, Los Altos

6 to 9 p.m.

rock the dock

On Saturday afternoons, bands play on the Redwood Metropolis Port as a part of the town’s fall live performance sequence. Guests can convey chairs, refreshments and jackets to benefit from the stay music whereas overlooking the scenic harbor.


459 Seaport Court docket, Redwood Metropolis

3:30 p.m. to six:30 p.m.

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