About 1,000 visitors came to the Downtown for the concerts held on two stages facing each other about a block apart on East Main Street. Los Jornaleros del Norte kicked off the evening inviting the audience to dance and have a good time

Santa Paula is music capital of the world with Downtown Jam Session

June 15, 2016
Santa Paula News

With a lineup including Leila Adu, Dina El Wedidi, ICE, Aruna Sairam, the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA), Davon Tines, Los Jornaleros del Norte and Cambalache, describing historic Downtown Santa Paula as the music capital of the world Sunday was an understatement.

But that’s what Downtown sounded like June 12 when the closing concerts of the Ojai Music Festival brought more than 1,000 people to the Downtown for a free Street Party Jam Session that lived up to its name, brought to the city by the impresario Peter Sellars, the music director of the 70th anniversary OMF. 

The internationally acclaimed Sellars was awash in a sea of music and hugs from those he was meeting, many thanking him for arranging to bring the OMF celebration to the Downtown, the first time it has been held in any venue other than Ojai.

Sellars said it was due to driving into Santa Paula and falling in love with the city’s atmosphere, warmth, history and culture.

And the people, “Very genuine in Santa Paula, very real and very refreshing! Santa Paula is now one of my very favorite places. I love it!”

As he loved bringing world music to the Downtown where stages were set up facing each other a block apart on East Main Street, closed for the festivities while businesses and restaurants were kept busy with visitors. 

Sellars said he especially enjoyed the variety of music and how well it fit into the Downtown and the musical enjoyment of the crowd.

“It’s wonderful to have one of the great Indian singers here, Egyptian music and singers,” all blending seamlessly with Los Angeles-based 

Los Jornaleros del Norte and Cambalache, two bands that Sellars said particularly reflect local culture.

“And of course you never know who’ll be jamming together, that’s the beauty of it!” said Sellars. “And everyone is so happy to be here, it was meant to be!”

With some performers reflecting classical and contemporary sounds, “It’s like a United Nations of music,” said Jeffrey Sanders of Los Angeles, a regular OMF attendee who said he wasn’t even aware of Santa Paula until he heard about the Downtown street party. 

“It’s really like stepping back in time and,” said Sanders, “I’m planning to come back to look around…the weather is amazing and Santa Paula definitely has a vibe all its own.”

The Ojai Music Festival began Thursday, June 9 with an eclectic mix of music ranging from toy pianos to world premieres by famed composers. 

Doreen Pitluk was helping visitors at the Chamber of Commerce table where the co-sponsor of the event was offering cold drinks, snacks and plenty of information about Santa Paula and other upcoming events.

“It’s amazing,” said Pitluk, “we’re getting people from all over and they’re delighted to have discovered Santa Paula!”

Incoming Chamber President Marilyn Appleby and Chamber Coordinator Angie Brinkhoff were busy at opposite sides of the venue. Brinkhoff was making sure members of the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles directed by composer Tania Leon was set up for dinner at Los Arcos while Appleby was huddled with Thomas Morris, the festival’s artistic director.

Both were not only delighted but somewhat taken aback at the turn out and energy being generated.

“This is fabulous, it really brought people to Santa Paula and they’re really enjoying it!” said Appleby.

Morris, an early advocate of Sellars’ wish to stage closing concerts in Santa Paula, was equally enthusiastic, noting, “This is exactly what Peter envisioned and celebrating with our neighbor Santa Paula certainly has worked out even better than expected. We’re very happy, it adds a new dimension,” to the internationally recognized festival, now celebrating its 70th year.

Acclaimed Egyptian artist Dina El Wedidi and her band wowed the crowd at the Street Party Jam Session in Downtown Santa Paula, the closing musical celebration of the Ojai Music Festival. Bands played for more than three hours Sunday with several intermingling to jam and create new music to celebrate the Ojai Music Festival and the Santa Paula concerts.

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