St. Elmo Village 40th Anniversary Celebration
Los Angeles-It would be an understatement to say that everyone had a good time at the St. Elmo Village 40th Anniversary Celebration: Drums, Blues and Jazz Festival, Memorial Day Weekend. The celebration was held on Saturday, May 23 and Sunday, May 24. The appropriate thing to say was an excellent time was had by everyone in attendance at the St. Elmo Village 40th Anniversary Celebration: Drums, Blues and Jazz Festival.
Welcome and Introductions were provided by host Charles Reese. He made sure that everyone was constantly aware of different aspects of the Village-The Garden, Pond, and Café de Art and encourage everyone to visit the vendors.
The St. Elmo Village Celebration: Drums, Blues and Jazz Festival were a two day event with good food, inter-active activities that engaged the entire community.
St. Elmo Village Co-founder and artist, Roderick Sykes, says, “Our annual Drums, Blues and Jazz Festival, is the perfect centerpiece for celebrating our history. The art forms speak to the very principles that the Village has lived out for 40 years. The philosophy of the Village is that all people are creative and powerful in their own way. The anniversary is not just our milestone. It celebrates the birth of a shared public history that has inspired countless visitors and friends to ‘love what they do and do what they love’. Through sharing the creative process, we exchange self-confidence, and self-esteem through the arts. We want to create bridges with art, because art helps us to be more humane.”
I had the pleasure of being in attendance on Saturday, May 23. The program got under way with Caribbean flavored sounds featuring Derf Reklaw, Taumbu, Harold Lott aka “Iron Hands Harold” and Karon Harrison on drums. The festivities continued with African flavored sounds as performed superbly by Kabasa West African Drum Ensemble with Harold Lott. Councilmember Herb J. Wesson Jr. - 10th District presented a Proclamation to Roderick Sykes-Executive Director and Jacqueline Alexander-Sykes-Administrator Director of St. Elmo Village from the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed by all of the council members. After taking care of official business, Mr. Wesson sat in on percussions with Kabasa West African Drum Ensemble. Gideon Kahase an up and coming percussionist was also featured with the drum ensemble.
Los Angeles based Blues Dred consisting of Mark Tyson-guitar/vocals, Al Keith-congas/vocals, Jay Mann Jr.-keyboards, Rick Moore-bass and Casey Jones-drums. This tight knit band served up different hues of the blues-old time boogie woogie blues, rhythm and blues, funky blues and reggae tinge blues. They opened their crowd pleasing set with “Big Boss Man,” and continued with “Red Dress,” “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” “I’ve Got Madness In The Middle,” “Love The One You’re With,” “No Women; No Cry,” “IKO- IKO and closed out with Heaven’s Door.”
Sylvia Drew Ivie-Chief of Staff for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, 2nd District made a presentation to Roderick Sykes- Executive Director and Jacqueline Alexander-Sykes- Administrator Director of St. Elmo Village.
The musical performances continued with some straight-ahead jazz performance by Clarence Johnson Quartet, Dwight Trible with Joshua Natural Sound, and the Big Band sounds of Evans Jazz Orchestra.
Sunday, May 24, additional musical performances were provided by S.H.I.N.E. Mawusi Drumming, Fahamu Jazz Quartet, Greg Wright Blues Band, Dwight Trible and La Combinacion Salsa Band.
The festival featured spoken word, one of a kind handmade arts and crafts, clothing’s, jewelry, paintings, photography, and graphic exhibits, Village and Garden tours.
St. Elmo Village 40th Anniversary Celebration was sponsored by MINC- Mid City Neighborhood Council, Allan DiCastro, President, Mid Town Rainbow Block Club, Council District 10- Herb J. Wesson Jr., Earl B. Gilmore Foundation, Wal-Mart- Baldwin Hills, COSCO- Inglewood, and ANZA Event Rental.
Visit www.stelmovillage.org or call (323) 931- 3409 to plan a visit to The Village, as St. Elmo Village is sometimes called. “The Village is a mosaic of humanity” stated C. Jerome Wood- Board Member.