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Art Around Adams A Fun Day of Art and Music

Rhythm & the Method

This year’s Art Around Adams Music and Art Walk takes place on June 1. The 16th annual edition of the event will feature more than 80 performers, on both outdoor stages and inside venues, as well as a juried art contest. Taking place along a two-mile stretch of Adams Avenue in Normal Heights and Kensington, the free, all ages, day of fun in the sun runs from noon until 8pm, with something on offer for just about everybody.

“This is not your typical street fair,” notes event organizer Adam Rosen. “There are no vendors in the streets and no street closures. It’s all volunteer. This is more about celebrating the businesses that are already there, alongside showcasing the incredible talent that we have here in San Diego.”

Free music will be available in coffeehouses, restaurants, and bars along the way, including Lestat’s, Rosie O’Grady’s, The Ould Sod, The Rabbit Hole, DiMille’s Italian Restaurant, and the Ken Club. There will also be music at the Normal Heights United Methodist Church. Meanwhile, there will be outdoor stages at Café 21 (indie rock), Kensington Park (Americana/Blues), Smitty’s Garage, and the 91X Loudspeaker, curated main stage at the Adams Avenue Rec Center Park. New this year are various stages that will be hosted, with 91X DJ Tim Pyles (Main Stage), Pony Death Ride (Smitty’s), and author Steve Thorn (DiMilles) amongst those set to take part.

The 2019 line up is particularly diverse. While stage and set times were still being ironed out when we went to press, this year’s headliners include hip hop favorites Parker Meridien, who were winners of both the Best Hip Hop Artist and “Best Hip-Hop Album” categories at the 2019 San Diego Music Awards, rockabilly/cumbia powerhouse combo, The Sleepwalkers and Timothy Joseph, perhaps best known as front man for indie rockers Buckfast Superbee, though here he will performing in solo acoustic mode. Meanwhile the Ken Club will play host to one of Art Around Adams most eclectic bills, topped by tongue-in-cheek rockers, the Spice Pistols, with others on that bill including Ted Washington (spoken word), Black Hesher (alternative hip hop), and Marujah (post Latin alternative).

There will also be jazz from Jason Hanna and the Bullfighters, surf rock from Alvino and the Dwells, singer-songwriter tunes from Lori Aguilar Wilson, blues from S. Mathias, plus dozens more cross genres. “We really do have an amazing array of talent this year, including numerous SDMA trophy holders,” Rosen said. While the focus is on San Diego talent, there are a pair of notable exceptions. Acclaimed powerpop duo, the Armoires (Orange County) and the Cherry Bluestorms (Los Angeles), featuring Glen Laughlin, former guitarist for legendary punk band, the Dickies.

This year’s Best Singer-Songwriter SDMA winner, Evan Diamond (Smitty’s at 3pm), is an event veteran and now considers AAA a summer highlight. “I’m definitely looking forward to getting to play a bigger stage this year and show off some new songs, as well as getting to take in all the art and other amazing music taking place,” she said. “I generally just enjoy being able to be out in the fresh air. I always feel the most connected to the music when I’m playing out in the open and getting to see everyone enjoying the music and art.” Max Eric Bergstrom of rock band Avenue Army (Main Stage 5pm) concurs with Diamond on outdoor stages. “What I enjoy most about playing shows like this, is being out in the open, under the sky and connecting with the atmosphere. The whole ambience is different than indoor shows, and there is something primal and evolutionary about the feeling of creating music outside,” he said. For Nathan Hubbard of Parker Meridien (Main Stage 7pm) part of the appeal of festivals like this is the chance play to new audiences. “Outdoor events are fun, we always enjoy the diverse crowds and the sound bouncing all over,” he said. “We love Art Around Adams for the chance to hear a ton of bands in one day.” Bergstrom notes the importance of AAA. “I am so excited for AAA, specifically because this is a celebration of culture and art. It’s a true San Diego event, and I feel like now, more than ever we need to focus on art, music, culture, and being creators.”

While music is a big part of AAA, there really is so much more. Participants are encouraged to vote for their favorite art, located in shops along the route, with prizes for those who turn in a completed ballot, available at the info booth. For those who would rather not walk the whole way, there will be a free trolley running between the stages, all hosted by local comedians. Meanwhile look for street performers—from magicians to firebreathers and buskers in various storefronts—as well wrestling demonstrations and much more. “Folks will find surprises just about everywhere,” Rosen said. “We try to mix things up, for something that’s family friendly, community minded and a whole lot of fun.”

For lucky San Diego music and arts fans, June first will be a lot of fun. While he will certainly have a good time, for Rosen, June 1 is the culmination of a year’s blood, sweat, and tears. “This is a lot of hard work, but it’s a labor of love,” he mused. “It couldn’t happen without the help of such invaluable people as Vania Zamora and Johnny Tran, to name just a few. Sometimes things could go a little smoother when we’re putting things together, but what’s life without challenges,” he joked. “We just hope we can give everyone an enjoyable day out and that they find music and art along the way, which brightens their day.”
Art Around Adams packs a lot into its eight-hour run time, plus it’s becoming one of the counties premier street fairs. If you are a fan of art and music or great drinks and wonderful cuisine, then Adams Avenue is the only place to be on June 1.

For more info, go to: www.artaroundadams.org